Thinking Anglicans

TEC adopts compromise solution on same-sex marriage

Updated Saturday evening

See our earlier report here.

Yesterday, the Church Times reported that Episcopal Church in the US widens access to trial same-sex marriage rites.

The General Convention of The Episcopal Church has now approved legislation making same-sex marriage rites available to all Episcopalians without making changes to the 1979 TEC Book of Common Prayer.

The Living Church reports: Compromise Reached on Same-sex Marriage.

Episcopal News Service has reported it this way: Convention lets its ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ agreeing to give church full access to trial-use marriage rites.

Religion News Service via the National Catholic ReporterEpiscopal convention approves a ‘pastoral solution’ on same-sex marriage.

The approved version of the resolution can be read in full here.

Update The Communion Partners have issued the Austin Statement (July 13, 2018).

The Bishop of Dallas, George Sumner, has issued a letter to his clergy. A portion of this is copied below the fold. (more…)


Lord Carey permitted to resume public ministry

Updated Saturday afternoon

Harriet Sherwood reports in the Guardian that the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft has permitted former archbishop George Carey to resume public ministry. Her report is headlined George Carey allowed church role despite part in abuse cover-up.

George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury who was heavily criticised in an independent report for his part in the cover-up of sexual abuse carried out by a bishop, has been allowed to resume an official role in the Church of England.

Lord Carey stepped down last year as an honorary assistant bishop at the unprecedented request of Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, after a damning report which found the church had colluded over the abuse.

But it emerged this week that Carey has been granted “permission to officiate” (PTO) by Steven Croft, the bishop of Oxford, allowing him to preach and preside at churches in the diocese. Croft is reportedly under police investigation for allegedly failing to respond properly to a separate report of clerical sexual abuse.

The decision to grant the PTO was made in February despite expectations of further revelations this month about Carey’s role in the case of Peter Ball, a former bishop of Gloucester, at the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA)…

Statement from the Diocese of Oxford on the granting  of “permission to officiate” (PTO) of the Most Rev. George Carey by the Rt. Rev. Steven Croft:

In the wake of Dame Moira Gibb’s review, Lord Carey stood down from the role of Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Oxford in June 2017, and withdrew from public ministry for a season. Lord Carey accepted the criticisms made of him at the time and has apologised to the victims of Peter Ball.

In February 2018 Lord Carey contacted the Diocese of Oxford to request PTO (permission to officiate). This was granted by the Bishop of Oxford later the same month.

The granting of PTO enabled Lord Carey to preach and preside in the church where he worships, a church where his ministry is much valued. The granting of a PTO does not indicate a planned return to the role of Assistant Bishop.

Concerning the police investigation mentioned above, the Guardian report continues:

…Croft is one of several senior church figures, including John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, who are reportedly being investigated by South Yorkshire police over alleged failures to act on disclosures of an alleged rape of a teenage boy by a clergyman in the 1980s. The force declined to confirm or deny an investigation was under way.

Matthew Ineson claims he was raped by the Rev Trevor Devamanikkam, and in 2012 and 2013 reported the crime to senior figures in the church, including Croft. He alleges they failed to follow proper procedures and did not advise him to tell police.

Devamanikkam was later charged with indecent assault and buggery without consent, but killed himself in 2017 before coming to trial.

A spokesperson for the diocese of Oxford said: “Written records and notes taken at the time give a different picture to the one Mr Ineson is presenting about how his case has been handled.”

An independent review had been commissioned by the C of E’s national safeguarding team, the spokesperson said…


Earlier, another report on this subject had appeared in Private Eye. This article is now on the web: Cover-up of a cover-up.

There is now also a report in the TelegraphFormer Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey given permission to preach by the Church of England.

The BBC has reported (5.5 minutes in…) that Lambeth Palace was consulted by the diocese before this action was taken.

Premier Radio has this: Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey allowed to preach his church again.

The Daily Mail has: Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey is allowed to preach again just weeks before child sex inquiry looks into allegations that he ‘covered up’ abuse.


Jackie Searle to be next Bishop of Crediton

Press release from Number 10

Queen approves nomination to Suffragan See of Crediton

The Queen has approved the nomination of Venerable Jacqueline Ann Searle, BEd, MA, Archdeacon of Gloucester, to the Suffragan See of Crediton.

Published 11 July 2018
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Jacqueline Ann Searle, BEd, MA, Archdeacon of Gloucester, to the Suffragan See of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter. This is in succession to the Right Reverend Sarah Elisabeth Mullally, DBE, MSc, DSc, RGN, who was translated to the See of London on the 8 March 2018.

From the Exeter diocesan website: Next Bishop of Crediton announced today

The new bishop will be consecrated on 27 September at Southwark Cathedral.



Church of England funds ambitious growth programme

Updated Thursday

Scroll down for press reports

Press release from the Church of England

Church of England funds ambitious growth programme

More than a hundred new churches are to be created in a £27 million drive by the Church of England to revive the Christian faith in coastal areas, market towns and outer urban housing estates, it was announced today.

New Christian communities in areas including the Kent coast, housing estates in Plymouth and market towns in Cambridgeshire are to be set up by the Church of England as part of its Renewal and Reform programme.

The plans have been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as a ‘wonderful example’ of how churches are seeking to be faithful to God and to serve their communities.

He said: “The Church of England exists to share the good news of Jesus through our words and our actions. Across the country, churches are bursting with life – which in part is shown through how they love and serve their communities. I’m especially pleased about these grants because they demonstrate our commitment to following Jesus to the places of greatest need in our society.

“These projects are wonderful examples of how churches are seeking to be faithful to God – and faithful to their communities in love and mission. Through their innovation, they signal a growing determination in the Church to share the good news of Jesus Christ in ways that make sense for those in our most deprived communities.”

John Spence, chair of the Church of England’s Strategic Investment Board, which approved funding for the work by the dioceses, said: “These grants are funding bold ambitious initiatives. Their scale and breadth show that the Church is feeling confident about its future.”

In Canterbury Diocese, a pioneering café-style church called ‘Ignite’ in Margate, Kent, is to be used as a blueprint for nine new worshipping communities in the coastal towns of Herne Bay, Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey and St Peter Port in Guernsey as well as Sittingbourne, Maidstone and Ashford.

The Ignite project was founded at St Paul’s Church in Margate 10 years ago, aiming to reach marginalised and deprived communities in the town.

The scheme has been announced alongside a £1.69 million grant to create three new churches for people living in outer urban estates in Plymouth. It is hoped that the new churches will provide support and inspiration for up to nine new churches in and around the city.

In Ely Diocese, the Church of England is to fund a project promoting church growth, focussing on the market towns of Wisbech, March, Chatteris, Littleport, Ramsey, Huntingdon and Downham Market.

In Swindon, a former railway works building is to be transformed into a church, aimed primarily at people aged under 40 years old who have no current connection with a church. Bristol Diocese anticipates the new church will act as a catalyst for training clergy and supporting mission in both new and established churches across the area.

A grant has also been made to Worcester Diocese to fund staff and a refit of St Thomas and St Luke’s Church in Dudley, and to boost work already under way at All Saints Church in Worcester. In Southwell and Nottingham Diocese, existing churches will be given further support in Nottingham, Retford and Mansfield in Nottinghamshire which in turn will help to support 75 new worshipping communities.

In Leicester Diocese a £5.3 million grant has been awarded to support six existing larger churches or teams, in developing up to 50 new churches, or worshipping communities, in the area. In Newcastle, a new church will be created in the city centre that will provide support to churches throughout the area.

A grant of £2.14 million has been awarded to Manchester Diocese to create 16 new small churches over six years, and to work with children in Bolton, especially at the points of transition from pre-school to primary school and from primary to secondary school. In Peterborough Diocese a £1.1 million grant will be used to invest in ministry with children and young people.

The grants from the Church of England’s Strategic Development Fund have been awarded to the dioceses as part of the Renewal and Reform programme aimed at creating a growing church in all places for all people.

Press reports

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Churches meet in coffee shops to reinvigorate congregations
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E to create 100 new churches as number of Anglicans hits new low
Christian Today
 Church of England goes for growth with more than 100 new churches planned
Madeleine Davies and James MacIntyre Church Times Communities on the edges gain funding

A list of the 10 dioceses to receive funding is below the fold. (more…)


General Synod – Tuesday

Order paper of the day

The main business of the morning was the Report of the Cathedrals Working Group (GS2101A and GS2101B). Synod passed this motion:

That this Synod:
(a) welcome the recommendations in the Report of the Cathedrals Working Group (GS 2101A);
(b) request the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward a draft Measure for First Consideration at the July 2019 group of sessions to give effect to the recommendations that involve legislative change; and
(c) call on all concerned, including bishops, cathedrals and the National Church Institutions, to give effect to the recommendations that do not involve legislative change as soon as practically possible.

The date in paragraph (b) had been amended by Synod from February 2019 to allow more time to decide what should be in the draft measure. There was criticism particularly of the proposal in the report for there to be a vice-chair of the chapter to be appointed by the bishop.

Official press release: Church of England approves ideas to support and streamline England’s cathedrals

Stephen Lynas reports on the final day’s business: The Can(n)on’s thunder can’t prevail.

Press report

Church Times General Synod welcomes cathedrals reform but plays for time



General Synod – Monday

Updated Tuesday morning

Order paper for the morning session
Order paper for the afternoon session

Stephen Lynas writes on Monday’s events: I fought the law…

In the morning Synod agreed the expenditure of the Archbishops’ Council for 2019.

It then spent the rest of the morning, and much of the afternoon, considering the legislation listed in the morning order paper. For the record the items for final approval were given this. Of the amendments to Draft Church Representation and Ministers Measure and the associated Amending Canon, only 518, 524 and 525 were passed. Finally the second miscellaneous provisions measure was sent to a revision committee.

This only left time for the debate on the National Health Service. This was on a Diocesan Synod Motion from Carlisle.

After amendment (to add paragraphs (b), (d) and (e)) the motion read:

That this Synod:
(a) welcome and commend the report The Long-term Sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care published in April 2017 by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS;
(b) express its heartfelt gratitude for the dedication of NHS and social care staff, and call on local churches to support those working in the NHS and social care, and to pray for them regularly publicly and privately;
(c) call upon Her Majesty’s Government to implement the recommendations made by the Select Committee, giving particular consideration to:
(i) the problems arising from the use of urban models of strategic care in the rural context;
(ii) whether social care is being adequately funded in the context of an ageing population; and
(iii) whether sufficient resources are being given to the recruitment, outside larger urban centres, of experienced and highly qualified health professionals;
(d) call upon Her Majesty’s Government to establish a Royal Commission to consider how the United Kingdom’s health 2and social care needs might best be delivered and financed in the period to 2040, taking into account expected changes in life expectancy, demography and medical technology; and
(e) call upon local churches to lead by example in showing Christian compassion and care to the elderly and vulnerable in our local communities, as we have done historically and is now especially needed, given the shortfall in the funding of social care.

The motion was carried by 267 votes to none, with no recorded abstentions.

Official press release: Synod backs Royal Commission on future of health and social care

Press report

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Church of England sees fall in planned donations for first time in 50 years as millennials fail to engage



General Synod – Sunday

Updated Monday morning, Tuesday morning

Stephen Lynas reports on Sunday’s events: No-one to save, with the world in a grave.
He does not restrict himself to the debates in the Synod chamber.

Synod members joined the regular congregation at York Minster for the morning Eucharist.

The afternoon session was devoted to three debates on the Church and the World.

Order paper for the day
Video of the day’s proceedings

Climate Change and Investment

Synod passed this motion by 347 votes to four, with three recorded abstentions.

That this Synod:
(a) welcome the worldwide agreement in Paris in December 2015 to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and to pursue “efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”;
(b) affirm, as it did in 2015, its support for the climate change policy recommended by the EIAG and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’) in 2015;
(c) welcome the NIBs’ disinvestment from companies focused on thermal coal mining and the production of oil from oil sands;
(d) welcome the NIBs’ establishment of the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) to track whether major companies associated with high carbon emissions are aligning their business plans with the Paris Agreement;
(e) urge the NIBs to engage urgently and robustly with companies rated poorly by TPI and, beginning in 2020, to start to disinvest from the ones that are not taking seriously their responsibilities to assist with the transition to a low carbon economy;
(f) urge the NIBs to ensure that by 2023 they have disinvested from fossil fuel companies that they have assessed, drawing on TPI data, as not prepared to align with the goal of the Paris Agreement to restrict the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C;
(g) urge the NIBs proactively to seek and scale up investment in renewable energy and low carbon technology; and
(h) request the NIBs to report to Synod within three years on progress, with a timetable for rapid continuing action.

Official press release: National Investing Bodies’ approach to climate change affirmed by General Synod

Environment Programmes

After two successful amendments this motion read.

That this Synod:
(a) recognise the escalating threat to God’s creation from global warming and climate change, and the suffering caused, particularly to the poor;
(b) recall the previous resolution of the Synod, including ‘to develop Shrinking the Footprint (StF) to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change;
(c) call on every diocese to have an environment programme with a designated member of the bishop’s staff team to lead and advocate for the programme;
(d) call on the Environmental Working Group, supported by the national teams for the Church of England Environmental Programme (CoEEP) and Mission & Public Affairs;
(i) to prepare and submit a framework plan to the Archbishops’ Council for the promotion, co- ordination and rapid acceleration of the CoEEP, with particular attention to reducing the Church of England’s energy use and CO2 emissions;
(ii) to continue developing, and making available, tools for the annual collation of the energy consumption of cathedrals, churches and church halls and calculation of their total CO2 emissions to enable monitoring of progress towards the Church’s target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050;
(iii) to promote communication and peer-review between individual dioceses as a means of encouraging best practice in the area of environmental policy, with special reference to investments, property and land use; and activities supporting the CoEEP and Eco Church Initiatives;
(iv) to compile and submit a progress report to the Synod at least every three years; and
(e) call on the Archbishops’ Council urgently to assess what human and financial resources would be required to enable the work in (d) above, and to report this back at the February 2019 group of sessions.

Synod then passed a motion to adjourn debate on this item until February 2019.

The Ethics of Nuclear Weapons

The final business of the day was this motion:

That this Synod, mindful that a faithful commemoration of the centenary of the 1918 Armistice must commit the Church afresh to peace building; and conscious that nuclear weapons, through their indiscriminate and destructive potential, present a distinct category of weaponry that requires Christians to work tirelessly for their elimination across the world:
(a) welcome the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the clear signal it sends by a majority of UN Member States that nuclear weapons are both dangerous and unnecessary;
(b) call on Her Majesty’s Government to respond positively to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by reiterating publicly its obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and its strategy for meeting them; and
(c) commit the Church of England to work with its Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners in addressing the regional and international security concerns which drive nations to possess and seek nuclear weapons and to work towards achieving a genuine peace through their elimination.

The motion was carried by 260 votes to 26, with 21 recorded abstentions.

Official press release: General Synod calls for renewed efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament

Press reports

Adam Becket, Hattie Williams and Madeleine Davies Church Times The General Synod sets church investors target on fossil-fuel recalcitrants
Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Church of England to withdraw funds from polluting firms that fail to tackle climate change
Attracta Mooney Financial Times Anglican £12bn investment funds in threat to fossil fuel companies
Ekklesia Christian Aid responds to General Synod vote on Church’s fossil fuel investments
BBC News Church of England threatens oil firm crackdown
Josh Gabbatiss Independent Church of England votes to withdraw funds from companies that contribute to climate change
Steve Doughty Mail Online Church of England launches fresh campaign for Britain to give up its nuclear weapons
Hattie Williams Church Times The General Synod calls for ‘elimination’ of nuclear weapons
Ekklesia General Synod calls for renewed efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament


Opinion – 7 July 2018

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Priesthood – An Unpredictable Journey

Daniel Hill Law & Religion UK The State and Marriage II: How would things look after the Cutting of the Connection?

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of blessing

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love
Traditional or Revisionist – LGBTI+ Anglicans and the Teaching Document – a history
The Government’s LGBT+ Action Plan and the Church of England’s systemic homophobia

Jeremy Morris ViaMedia.News Are We Truly a Church “Of the People”?

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes St Bride’s Liverpool Encouragement for churches: Four points on welcoming children by our Rector Miranda


General Synod – Saturday

Updated Sunday

Order paper for the day
Video of the day’s proceedings

The day began with a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York.

The remainder of the morning was devoted to Safeguarding. After a presentation there was a debate on a motion which, after amendment (to add paragraphs (b) and (d)), read:

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);
(b) endorse as an additional priority the support of safeguarding at parish level to create a safer church for all;
(c) call on the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to ensure that the plan of action is implemented as a matter of priority; and
(d) call on the House of Bishops to introduce, as a matter of urgency, ways to improve relations between the Church and those survivors currently in dispute with the National Church Institutions including, where appropriate, by the use of mediation processes.

The motion was carried by 368 votes to none, with two recorded abstentions.

Official press release: Synod backs action on IICSA themes

Stephen Lynas writes about Saturday’s business: There’s a shadow hanging over me…

Press reports
Hattie Williams Church Times Synod hears from abuse survivors and pledges reform
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England ombudsman to oversee sexual abuse cases
Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Hostility and anger towards church on social media is stopping abuse survivors coming forward, vicar warns

GS 2092 Report by the National Safeguarding Steering Group
GS Misc 1188 Saturday Seminars

In the afternoon Synod members attended a series of private seminars.

Watch the live stream of General Synod here.


General Synod – Friday

Updated Sunday

Stephen Lynas writes about Friday’s business: Football crazy, football mad

Video of the day’s proceedings

Official General Synod Twitter account

Order Paper for the day

Questions order paper


Pre-Synod news and comment

Stephen Lynas (bathwellschap) previews the agenda: Off we went, to make a great big tent, on the weekend

David Walker ViaMedia.News Synod Goes Nuclear

Christian Aid Christian Aid calls for Church of England to divest from fossil fuel companies ahead of crunch Synod vote

Madeleine Davies Church Times Oxford amendment calls for National Investing Bodies to show sense of urgency on climate change

Anglican Communion News Service Britain’s Methodists debate Church of England full communion proposals


General Synod Questions – and Answers

The questions to be asked at General Synod tomorrow evening have been published.

Questions Notice Paper

The notice paper contains the answers as well as the questions. The questions and answers will not be read out, but Synod members have the opportunity to ask supplementary questions.


Time for General Synod to protest?

Ahead of the General Synod debate on Saturday  (see our earlier articles first here, and then here) Martin Sewell has written a detailed analysis of the current situation regarding safeguarding in the Church of England, which has been published at the Archbishop Cranmer blog:

It is time for General Synod to protest: victims of sexual abuse deserve better than ‘adequate’

Martin refers also to the Singleton report, whose publication we reported here, and then again over here. Martin incorporates into his article (scroll down some way) a further analysis of Singleton prepared by ‘Gilo’.

Although this is long, it is worth a very careful read.

As @His_Grace has tweeted

By giving no prior debate, so little time to digest the material, so little briefing material, and no alternative, the Bishops and senior ranks of the are treating their General colleagues and victims of abuse with some disdain”

I don’t often say this, but the below-the-line comments on that article are also worth reading.



CofE response on conversion therapy

The UK Government yesterday published an LGBT Action Plan. This is 32 pages long and includes 75 action points. The government press release is over here.

One of these action points has attracted a lot of media attention. It’s on page 15 in the category of Safety. It reads:

We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK. These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue. Led by the Government Equalities Office, we will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy. Our intent is protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context. We are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Church of England responded with this press release: Government pledge to eradicate conversion therapy

Following the publication of the Government’s LGBT Action Plan, a spokesperson for the Church of England said:

“We warmly welcome the Government commitment to eradicate gay conversion therapy in this country.

“As a motion endorsed overwhelmingly by the Church of England’s General Synod last summer concludes, the practice is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world.

“Since then the Church of England has pressed the Government to consider outlawing the practice and the Second Church Estates Commissioner Dame Caroline Spelman has held a number of meetings with ministers to that end.

“As we await the detail of any proposals, we also welcome the recognition that any steps taken should not have the unintended consequence of preventing people seeking spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The General Synod motion mentioned was the subject of a church press release at the time.  The detailed tally of the voting on this motion last July can be found here.  In summary the voting was:

House of Bishops 36 in favour, 1 against, 0 abstentions
House of Clergy 135 in favour, 25 against, 13 abstentions
House of Laity 127 in favour, 48 against, 13 abstentions

Further analysis was reported here.

Religion-based promoters of such practices have also issued press releases:

Christian Concern  Ten Good Reasons not to restrict therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction.

Core Issues Trust Statement on Proposed Restrictions on Therapy for Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions