Thinking Anglicans

Solution proposed for full access to TEC same-sex marriage rites

Readers will recall the letter that William Nye sent to The Episcopal Church recently.

Three bishops of The Episcopal Church have made a legislative proposal for the forthcoming General Convention to consider, which attempts to find a solution to the issue.  See this ENS report by Mary Frances Schjonberg: Bishops propose solution for full access to same-sex marriage rites.

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely said in a news release late on June 28 that their Resolution B012 is “an attempt to move the church forward in an atmosphere of mutual respect, reconciliation and the love of Jesus Christ.”

The resolution continues to authorize the two trial-use marriage rites first approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention without time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

“Given our particular time in history, this resolution provides a way forward for the whole church without the possible disruption of ministry that might be caused by the proposed revision of the Book of Common Prayer,” the three bishops said.

The news release from the bishops is here: “Marriage for the Whole Church”, Resolution B012, Proposed for General Convention.

…This resolution re-authorizes the two Trial Use marriage rites first authorized in 2015, but with modified terms. Resolution 2015-A054 stated that bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority “will make provision” for all couples to have access to these liturgies, while also providing that trial use in a diocese requires the permission of the diocesan bishop.

By contrast, this resolution proposes that access to these trial use liturgies now be provided for in all dioceses, without requiring the permission of the diocesan bishop.

Additionally, this resolution proposes to authorize Trial Use versions of “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage” and “An Order for Marriage,” suitable for use by all couples. These services were not authorized in 2015.

Finally, this resolution calls for a Task Force on Communion Across Difference, tasked with finding a lasting path forward for all Episcopalians in one church, without going back on General Convention’s clear decision to extend marriage to all couples, and its firm commitment to provide access to all couples seeking to be married in this church…

This proposal has been given qualified approval by another group of seven bishops, who are opposed to same-sex marriage, see this statement by the Communion Partners of the Episcopal Church: The Vocation of Anglican Communion.

…While we cannot endorse every aspect of this proposal, we will be grateful should it help us all to continue contending with one another for the truth in love within one body.  It preserves the Book of Common Prayer as established by our church, and it preserves our dioceses for the exercising of the “historic episcopate, locally adapted” (Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral).  If our church chooses not to preserve these two institutions — the historic Prayer Book, and the historic episcopate with jurisdiction in dioceses — we would no longer have a place in this church.  With the protection of the prayer book and episcopate, we can carry on as loyal Episcopalians and Anglicans, in charity with our sisters and brothers in Christ.

The inclusion of a Task Force on Communion across Difference is of utmost importance.  Parity requires that if congregations in our dioceses must be granted delegated episcopal pastoral oversight at their request, this should be reciprocated throughout the church for Communion Partner congregations.  For them, it is not simply a matter of whether or not a conflictual relationship exists with their bishop, but instead whether the bishop whose spiritual care guides their common life is one that they understand as in full communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.  These and other matters need to be worked out carefully and coherently for a lasting truce of God, one that will allow all of us to re-focus our energies on mission and proclaiming the Gospel to all people, as our Presiding Bishop calls us to do…


Opinion – 30 June 2018

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau New directions for the Church 7: decentralise

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Vicky Beeching & Jayne Ozanne. Narratives of hope

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Church plants and the problems of ecclesiology and doctrine

Editorial The Guardian view on an Anglican cover-up: the church that didn’t want to know

Donna Birrell Coffee Time The Week That Shook The Church…..

Theo Hobson The Spectator Justin Welby needs to get off the fence

Kelvin Holdsworth Civil Partnerships – What now for the churches?



Supreme Court rules on Civil Partnerships

Updated to correct first sentence

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that restricting civil partnerships to same-sex couples is discriminatory.

The court’s own press release is here, and the full text of the judgement is over here.

UK Human Rights Blog published this beforehand: The ‘straight civil partnership’ challenge: All you need to know before the Supreme Court Judgment.

As yet it’s quite unknown how the UK government will respond to this decision. It had earlier embarked on a consultation, to which the Church of England has already responded. See our earlier article: Church of England opposes end to civil partnerships.

Some earlier articles on what the Church of England thought at the time:



Opinion – 27 June 2018

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity Mindfulness: the answer to our Missional Problem?

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim When Nice and a Cappuccino Won’t Do

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Married State


Principles of Church Planting

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has published a paper titled Church Planting and the Mission of the Church.

There is a press release (copied below) to explain it: Bishops set out principles for church planting.  The paper itself can be downloaded from here.

The House of Bishops has published a paper on church planting and the mission of the Church.

Church planting is one among a variety of ways by which the Church of England seeks to share in the apostolic mission by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The paper gives a set of principles for church planting and also offers practical suggestions and theological grounding for this work.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, said: “A few years ago there was a wonderful series on the radio called ‘Things we forgot to remember.’
“It explored various ideas and movements through human history that simply got forgotten.
“If the church were to construct such a list, then church planting would be near the top. It only feels like something new, because we forgot to remember it. Every church was planted once.
“Every church had a beginning.
“This beginning arose out of a response to God and the desire to reach out to a community of people who did not yet know Christ.
“Forming a new Christian community was the best way to serve these people and share the gospel. In our own day we are beginning to remember how to plant churches. This is a great movement of the Spirit and a huge blessing to the nation we are called to serve.
“This brief report gathers together some insights from our recent experience and offers guidelines for parishes and dioceses encouraging us all to put church planting at the centre of the missionary agenda.”

The Bishop of Islington, the lead bishop for church planting, explained why this paper has been published now.

He said: “In every generation, and with every tradition, the Church of England has planted new churches to reach new people in new places in new ways.
“Most recently, a number of dioceses have now committed to planting over 2,400 churches of all shapes and sizes by 2030. There is a real desire to see this work grow and gather momentum.
“This paper brings together learning from recent experience and the theology of church planting in order to provide guidance for everyone and everywhere in the Church of England.”

The bishops hope that this can also be a helpful tool for dioceses, deaneries and parishes, in thinking about establishing a new church plant or working with others who are in the process of church planting in their area.

The Bishop of Aston, Anne Hollinghurst, said: “This House of Bishops paper is very timely as interest in church planting as an important aspect of mission grows across the Church of England.

“In Birmingham we are conscious of how important a great wave of earlier church planting was in the mission of our diocese.
“In the last century many new Christian communities were established throughout our city and region in response to a rapidly growing, changing urban population and new industrial developments.
“Today dioceses, deaneries and parishes find themselves seeking to respond to many new changes in society and the context in which they are set.
“We hope they will all be encouraged by this short paper which gathers together principles based on good practice which will be invaluable to those considering planting a new church as well as those working with neighbouring church plants.
“We hope these principles will inspire confidence to explore opportunities for establishing new Christian communities in different contexts and across the diverse traditions of the church.”


More about the Singleton report

There has been extensive media coverage of this, following its publication last Friday.

This morning’s Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4 carried a 9 minute segment including interviews with David Greenwood and Bishop Peter Hancock. You can listen to that in full here.

Telegraph Church of England downplayed extent of child abuse allegations to protect its reputation, report finds

The Church of England disregarded dozens of allegations in its inquiry into child sexual abuse and then downplayed the issue to protect its reputation, a critical report has found.

A report by former Barnardo’s chief executive Sir Roger Singleton found that close to 100 cases were whittled down to just a handful for a review released in 2010…

BBC Church of England ‘needs to review’ abuse inquiry in seven dioceses

Times (£) Church of England inquiry missed abusers, review finds

ITV Church of England’s 2010 review of sex abuse was ‘botched’ and ‘flawed’

Christian Today Church review of abuse cases failed to show full picture

Press Association via Guardian C of E ordered investigation after ‘botched’ 2010 abuse inquiry

And there is more:


Opinion – 23 June 2018

Church Times ‘God was still my highest priority and my greatest love’
Vicky Beeching talks to Madeleine Davies about ‘unlearning a lifetime of shame’

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News For the Love of God….
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Time to confront and end abusive, homophobic teaching, theology and practice

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of words within the word

Daniel Hill Law & Religion UK The State and Marriage: Cut the Connection

Mark Vernon Church Times Why people don’t come to a worldly church
“Seekers are looking for spiritual depth and inner transformation — not anxiety and manic overwork, argues Mark Vernon”

Angela Tilby Church Times We need to talk about cathedrals

Caroline Davies The Guardian Are Church of England’s dabbing deacons and jumping bishops a leap too far?
“Informal ordination photos may be a sign of holy joy for some, but traditionalists are less than elated”


Some reports on the Gafcon Assembly

The Global Anglican Future Conference which has been meeting this week in Jerusalem has issued a communiqué. The full text is here: Letter to the Churches – Gafcon Assembly 2018. The full text of the Presidential Address by Archbishop Okoh is available: Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations God’s Gospel.

The Church Times has two reports: GAFCON participants lay claim to Anglican orthodoxy and Two thousand meet at GAFCON conference in Jerusalem.

Covenant has some commentary from Esau McCaulley of ACNA, including Kenya Ponders Future with GAFCONThe Living Church reports: ACNA Archbishop Named GAFCON Chairman.

The Anglican Communion News Service was refused accreditation to cover this event. See Third Gafcon conference underway in Jerusalem and then also Facts, fiction and fake news.

There was also a row about this letter to the GAFCON primates from the Secretary General which led to this Response to the ACC Secretary General’s Criticism of Gafcon’s Ministry Networks.

Prior to the conference there had been the regular monthly letter from the then Chairman: Chairman’s June 2018 letter.


Singleton report on Past Cases Review published

The Church of England has today published a report into its handling of the 2007-2009 Past Cases Review. The full text of the report can be downloaded from here.

There is a press release: Report into handling of Past Cases Review which explains the background. Sir Roger Singleton authored the report and chaired the independent scrutiny team.

…In November 2015, in his report to the Archbishops’ Council, the newly appointed National Safeguarding Adviser noted ‘growing recognition of shortcomings of PCR’; inconsistencies in the application of the House of Bishops Protocol designed to bring consistency and independence to the process, cases of abuse coming to light that should have been identified in the PCR and survivors not being engaged in the process.

Following an initial screening process by the National Safeguarding Team, Sir Roger Singleton was asked to independently review the adequacy of the Past Cases Review and makes recommendations to the Church of England.

The report sets out the findings of this independent scrutiny and makes nine recommendations. These have been accepted by both the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops, and action is now being taken to address both the shortcomings of the original PCR and to instigate a further review known cases and new appointments made since 2007.

Today’s report will be sent to the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to which Sir Roger Singleton gave evidence during the Chichester Case Study public hearing in March of this year…

The BBC had a report about this earlier, Church of England ‘s 2010 abuse inquiry was ‘flawed’ and ‘failed‘, which currently notes that the report is not due to be published until next month. There were items on the Radio 4 Today programme about this too, including an interview with Sir Roger Singleton.

There has also been a Press Association report published at Care AppointmentsInquiry into Church of England historic sexual abuse was ‘botched’.

…The PCR looked at more than 40,000 case files relating to allegations of abuse dating as far back as the 1950s and concluded that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse needed formal action.

After survivors complained that the report was inadequate, Sir Roger was commissioned to carry out an independent review of how it was conducted.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “botched in three ways”.

“The survey wasn’t completely comprehensive,” he said. “It didn’t include some cathedrals, it didn’t include employees working with children in some parishes.

“The attempts really to make the survey absolutely complete were flawed.

“In the public statement that it issued reporting on the review, (the Church) rather failed to give a comprehensive picture of the concerns that existed.

“It narrowed down the definitions of who had actually been responsible for abuse by limiting it to just new cases and cases where the Church took formal action. This had the impact of reducing the numbers from probably nearer 100 to just two which appeared in the public statements.”

Asked whether he found that Church officials were concerned to avoid reputational damage, Sir Roger said: “I think that is one of the factors that led those who prepared the press statement to emphasise the positive points for the Church and rather to downplay the negative aspects.”

He said it appeared “extraordinary” that some survivors were denied the chance to give evidence.

“There is no doubt that some victims and survivors came forward and offered to meet with the reviewers carrying out this work and that offer was refused,” he said.


update to July General Synod – online papers

The second batch of General Synod papers have been released today. I have updated my list published last week.


National Safeguarding Steering Group identifies priorities

This morning, GS 2092 Report by the National Safeguarding Steering Group has been published.

For the context, see our earlier article: Safeguarding debate at General Synod.

The Church Times has a report: National register proposed for clergy to ease safeguarding concerns.

Update: The Bishop of London has published a blog article: Safeguarding – independence V responsibility? This also appears at Christian Today.


Questions about the Teaching Document

Colin Coward has published an article titled  Ten questions about the House of Bishops Teaching Document.

In this he refers to GS Misc 1158, published in June 2017,  Next Steps in Human Sexuality, which was the subject of a presentation at the 2017 July General Synod sessions in York.   A more up-to-date list of members of the various groups can be found here.

See our two articles from last year on GS Misc 1158

Our recent article about the presentations planned at York this year is here.


We have moved — welcome to our new home

Thinking Anglicans has now moved to its new home.

We hope that you’ll find all functionality and content here. If there are any transitional glitches, we’ll try and sort them out as quickly as we can. Issues can be reported by adding a comment to this article. If commenting itself is the problem then you can email

You can take advantage of one immediate improvement, and we encourage you to do so. The site is now available over secure, encrypted, https, as well as over the old unencrypted http. Just access the site at and update your bookmarks. Note the ‘s’ after ‘http’; and you should see the https padlock appear in the URL bar.

We hope to introduce other improvements in the coming weeks and months.

We continue to be hosted by our friends and colleagues at Justus.


We’re moving

Later this week this Thinking Anglicans site will be moving to a new home. We hope to make the move as transparent and as painless as possible, but as it involves a little bit of internet magic (updating the DNS of there may be a short period when you can’t reach the new site. We hope this period will be no more than a few minutes, and most readers may not notice it at all.

All posts and comments will be moved across to the new system and no data will be lost. We’ll post a further note here before moving out, and after that point no further comments on the old site will be approved, only on the new site.

This represents the biggest change we have made in the 15 years we have been publishing Thinking Anglicans. From the start we have been hosted by our friends and colleagues at Justus. The new site continues at Justus, and we are grateful for their support.


Opinion – 20 June 2018

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News A Via Media in Safeguarding?
Janet Fife ViaMedia.News The Trouble With Fish….

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer CofE Safeguarding: General Synod is being managed, manipulated, duped and disrespected

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church How do we expect Church Abuse Survivors to feel?

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau New Directions for the Church 6: accept diversity of belief


Opinion – 16 June 2018

Anna Norman-Walker ViaMedia.News Who Speaks for Anglican Evangelicals?

Rachel Williams spends a day with the Community of St Anselm
Evening Standard These millennials have left behind their friends, families and jobs to live like monks for a year

Andrew Brown The Guardian Taking a lesson from Michael Curry could just save the Church of England
“It is so handicapped by self-importance that applying the flexibility of other churches could revive its plummeting numbers”

Andrew Brown Church Times How right-wing populists appropriate Christ

Philip Welsh Church Times Time to retreat from throwaway liturgy
“Under Common Worship, service sheets have started to get in the way of God, says Philip Welsh. He proposes a solution”

… and here’s one I missed last week:
Torin Douglas Church Times Maintaining faith in the mainstream media
“Religious broadcasting has had a rocky 40 years — but it is now being taken more seriously, says Torin Douglas”


General Synod agenda – press reports

Updated Friday afternoon

Madeleine Davies Church Times Canons most critical in response to cathedrals consultation

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of England sexuality debate off the cards until 2020
‘Michael Curry effect’: Church of England opens up congregations to black-majority pastors

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Church of England bishops will call on Theresa May to surrender Britain’s nuclear deterrent


Madeleine Davies Church Times General Synod discussions to go nuclear in York


Beyond Inclusion

OneBodyOneFaith published this on 5 June:

We’re delighted that this film, funded by our supporters and members and featuring John Bell and Nick Bundock, has now been completed and can be viewed on our YouTube channel. As you’ll probably recall, the film arose out of John hearing about Nick’s church’s response to Lizzie Lowe’s death, and the films are a conversation between the two of them, with ideas for reflection by church groups.

Please share the films and encourage others to do so too; we want them to reach the widest possible audience because we believe they have the potential to help people move on in their journey of understanding, and to make real change. If you need more resources for study and reflection, check out some of the books in our online shop – or get in touch and we can help you identify people to talk to, speakers and other sources of support, reflecting your particular context.

Today is Lizzie’s 18th birthday. Her parents Kevin and Hilary appear briefly in the film. Notwithstanding the remarkable transformation of their church following her death, would still give anything to have their daughter back. Please remember them, and Lizzie’s siblings and many friends, today.

Part one of the film is here.
Part two is here
. Do be sure to watch both parts.

And then consider this question: So – how’s the ‘radical Christian inclusion’ coming along then?


Safeguarding debate at General Synod

On Saturday morning, 7 July, following Morning Worship and a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York, the synod will consider the topic of Safeguarding. There will be a presentation, followed by questions, followed by a debate. However, the relevant document, GS 2092 will not be published until Friday 22 June but we do now know the wording of the motion that will be proposed. It is highly likely to attract numerous amendments.


7 Presentation under SO 107.

Note: The Business Committee has determined under SO 107(3) that this presentation should include an opportunity for questions.

8 The Bishop of Bath and Wells to move:

That this Synod, recognising that safeguarding is at the heart of Christian mission and the urgent need for the Church of England to continue to become a safer place for all and a refuge for those who suffer abuse in any context:

(a) endorse the priorities for action outlined in the report (GS 2092); and

(b) call on the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to ensure that the plan of action is implemented as a matter of priority.

GS Misc 1192 Summary of decisions by the House of Bishops and Delegated Committees, contains brief reports of various meetings that have considered Safeguarding. The relevant extracts are copied below the fold. I have changed the order of the meetings to put them in chronological order.



General Synod and Sexuality on Saturday afternoon

The Business Committee report GS 2091 contains the following:

Arrangements for the Saturday afternoon

25. The Business Committee has agreed that on Saturday afternoon the Synod will not be in session. Instead, members will be invited to attend a choice of seminars intended to update members on various important areas of work and to encourage our participation in the development of them.

26. The seminars will cover the developing work of the House of Bishops Teaching Document on Human Sexuality, the Pastoral Advisory Group, Digital Evangelism, the Evangelism Task Group and the Environmental Working Group, as well as Children and Young People. Each seminar will be 1 hour long and will take place 3 times on a rotating basis in order to allow those members who wish to attend up to three different seminars. There will also be workshops available on a number of these topics. Full details of these opportunities are set out in GS Misc 1188. This conference style session will be introduced at the end of the Saturday morning session by the Chair of the BC and some of those leading the different workstreams.

27. After due consideration, the Business Committee has come to a mind that the various PMMs and DSMs relating to the matters which are intended to be addressed by the proposed House of Bishops Teaching Document on Human Sexuality will not be scheduled for debate until that document has been published. This decision was taken on the understanding that the work on the Teaching Document will be completed by 2020. In addition, there has been an understanding that from the inception of the project there will be regular opportunities for members of the General Synod to engage with that work, as it develops at each group of sessions. This process of engagement begins with the seminars arranged for the Saturday afternoon of the July group of sessions.

The details of the arrangements for the Saturday afternoon are contained in GS Misc 1198.

The programme for the afternoon comprises

  • four separate seminars and three workshops relating to the four strands of work contributing to the Episcopal Teaching Document on human identity, sexuality and marriage;
  • a seminar on the work of the Pastoral Advisory Group
  • a seminar on mission among children and young people;
  • a seminar on the Church’s environment programme
  • a seminar on digital evangelism; and
  • a seminar on the work of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group

The nine seminars will each run three times during the afternoon, for an hour, at 2.30 pm, 4.15 pm and 6.00 pm.

The three workshops are described as follows:

…organised so that you can visit them at your own pace and in your own time throughout Saturday afternoon. Each workshop space will have information about aspects of the work of the Teaching Document and offer ways in which you can participate in shaping its work.

One or more members of the Co-ordinating Group for the Teaching Document will be available to respond to your questions and tell you more about the work of the group. These workshops are as much for the benefit of the Teaching Document as to inform you about the project..

There is a lot more detail in GS Misc 1188.