The Church of England House of Bishops met this week. The following report was issued today.
Report from the December House of Bishops
The House of Bishops met in London at Lambeth Palace from the 10th to the 12th of December.
The agenda was wide ranging. On the first day, the bishops considered the priorities for the Church over the three-year period 2020 to 2022. They reviewed progress with the Church’s body of work called Renewal and Reform, which is intended to bring more people to know the good news of Jesus Christ. They explored the Church’s mission with children and young people and made a renewed commitment to that mission. They agreed to examine some areas where Church law might be simplified.
On the second day the Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, Ms. Meg Munn, addressed the House with her initial observations on taking the role. A more detailed briefing on safeguarding followed. The bishops engaged with the issues facing the nation in the current turbulent political climate. The Pastoral Advisory Group reported to the House on its recent work on gender, identity and sexuality.
On the third day the Bishops participated in exploratory work related to the Living in Love and Faith project.
The House of Bishops prayed for the nation and all our politicians at this challenging time.0 Comments
There have been strong conservative responses to the recent announcement from the Church of England’s House of Bishops.
Christian Concern has published this: New CofE guidance on gender transition services follows “devastating trajectory”.
Lee Gatiss of Church Society has written Transitioning a Liturgy which helpfully includes links to previous materials from that source on this topic.
Ian Paul has written Wisdom and folly: the bishops’ guidance on transgender welcome.
Anglican Mainstream has published a more comprehensive roundup of conservative reactions, also including links to earlier articles. In addition there is this contribution from Andrew Symes: The secular, postmodern re-shaping of church and society (the relevant part comes towards the end).6 Comments
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The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today published this:
Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition.
The press release about it is headlined: Guidance for gender transition services published. The full text of that is copied below. (more…)12 Comments
The Ozanne Foundation has today announced this:
The 2018 Faith & Sexuality Survey is designed to explore the impact of religious belief on people’s understanding and development of their sexual orientation and identity. It is as such not designed to understand in any depth people’s gender identity.
It is open to all individuals living in the UK who are over 16 and should take about 10 – 15 minutes to complete. Please be assured that your responses will be treated in the strictest of confidence.
To take the survey go here.
The research project is being managed by the Ozanne Foundation and is being overseen by an Advisory Board that consists of:
Dr Jamie Harrison, Chair of the House of Laity, Church of England
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
Martin Pollecoff, Chair of UK Council of Pyschotherapists
Teddy Prout, Director of Community Services Humanists UK
Khakan Qureshi, Founder of Birmingham South Asian LGBT+ – Finding a Voice
Professor Sir Bernard Silverman, Former President of the Royal Statistical Society
Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
The survey will run until December 31st 2018 and the results will be presented at a fringe meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2019.
The December 9th 2018 Press Release is available here.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Comments
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Updated again Thursday and Friday (scroll down)
Channel 4 News broadcast a news item this evening (Wednesday): there is a link to the 5 minute video in this online article:
A woman who claims she was abused by a vicar has told Channel 4 News she was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) – before she was allowed to read an official review accusing the Church of England of mismanaging her complaints…
…A 2012 inquiry ordered by the then Archbishop Rowan Williams into multiple failures in safeguarding in the Diocese of Chichester concluded: “A confidentiality clause should never be included in any agreement reached with a survivor. It is essential that there is complete transparency about any abuse that has occurred.” mismanaging her complaints…
The Telegraph has also covered the story: Church of England embroiled in NDA controversy after allegedly hushing up findings of harassment probe.
The Church of England has been accused of using non-disclosure agreements to hush up a sexual harassment case involving one of its vicars…
…However the institution is likely to face fresh scrutiny over its alleged use of an NDA, after the Archbishop of Canterbury, its most senior cleric, questioned their legitimacy this year.
He told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in March: “A non-disclosure agreement seems to me to be dangerous because it creates suspicion, ‘Why are you doing an NDA? Surely you’re trying to cover something up’.”
The Diocese of Birmingham has published a document titled Lessons Learnt Review Statement.
A complaint has been made regarding the way in which the Church of England Birmingham handled and investigated a complaint made by an adult of alleged sexual abuse between 1989 and 1991.
Whilst we investigated the complaint with best intentions so as to honour the complainant’s feelings, and to sensitively communicate with all those involved, we accept that we fell short of achieving those aims.
We want to learn from the mistakes we have made, so as to make improvements to our policies and procedures.
With that objective in mind, the Bishops Safeguarding Management Group authorised an independent Lessons Learnt Review…
The Daily Mail has now also covered this story: Church of England ‘forced woman abused by a vicar to sign a non-disclosure agreement over her abuse claims’ then paid her £40,000 but denied liability
The Times also carried a short item in its News in Brief column.
The Church Times published Birmingham diocese defends gagging order for survivor.
The Birmingham Mail reported: Church cover-up claims over ‘sex pest Harborne vicar who walked around naked’.
The Diocese of Birmingham on Thursday afternoon issued this on its website:
Response to Channel 4 News story
In response to the news report and interview with Jo Kind on Channel 4’s news programme (Weds 5 Dec 7pm) we believe that it is important to clarify a number of elements of the story as reported in that instance.
Most importantly, we need to make clear that the Church of England – Birmingham has never restricted, or sought to restrict Jo from telling her story. This is not the purpose of the NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). It was and will always be her story to tell. The decision with regards to the NDA was made to protect the many contributors to the report, some of whom wish to remain unidentifiable, along with the many others whom this situation affects. The suggestion of asking Jo to sign the NDA was also made by the independent reviewer once the report had been finalised. We encouraged Jo to seek legal advice, which she did, before signing the NDA, rather than ‘forcing it on her’ as reported.
It is important to understand that Jo was not asked to sign a ‘confidentiality clause’. Such a clause would have prevented her from disclosing information contained within the reports that she was already aware of, or where elements were already in the public domain. Jo was asked to sign an NDA with the intention to prevent from sharing information not belonging to her that she was not previously aware of (for example elements within the report that refer to information provided from or by other individuals, along with factors that could lead to the identity of the contributors and others who have been affected by this from being identified).
Simply put, Jo is and always has been free to tell her story, but we need to protect others who do not want their story to be told. We needed to put measures in place to safeguard the contributions and identities of these others. For us to publically share personal details regarding private individuals, some of whom have requested anonymity, would be irresponsible, unethical and contravening their understanding of what their contribution is being used for. It is not about protecting the Bishop, protecting the Church of England – Birmingham or the wider Church, it is about protecting the identities and rights of private individuals. We have not attempted to cover up our failings in dealing with this case and have publically acknowledged them here: www.cofebirmingham.com/hub/safeguarding/lessons-learnt/.
The Church of England has issued the statement below on the structure if its National Safeguarding Team.
Hattie Williams writes about this for Church Times: New post advertised to ‘strengthen’ C of E’s restructured safeguarding.
Statement on structure of National Safeguarding Team
Following the establishment of the National Safeguarding Team in 2015 – replacing a 0.5 national post – the Archbishops’ Council has recently reviewed its structure and after consultation will be advertising for a Director of Safeguarding.
Secretary General’s letter to the College of Bishops about staffing developments at the National Safeguarding Team While this appointment is in process an interim director will lead the National Safeguarding Team and Sir Roger Singleton* has been appointed from January 2. This proposed change is about having the right structures in place to ensure good safeguarding is embedded across the Church in the most effective way possible.
*Sir Roger Singleton is a former Chief Executive of Barnardo’s and chaired the Independent Safeguarding Authority from 2007-2012. He also led the Independent Scrutiny Team which assessed the adequacy of the Church of England’s 2008-2009 Past Cases Review.5 Comments
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