Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 30 January 2019

Savi Hensman Ekklesia Welcoming transgender Christians and valuing discipleship: letter to Bishops misses the point

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News Transphobic Letters, Mansplaining & Male Violence.

Katie Gaddini and Linda Woodhead The Conversation Brexit shines light on Church of England rift between leadership and Anglican majority


Further opposition to the bishops’ guidance on transgender services

There continue to be developments in the campaign against the House of Bishops’ guidance on transgender services which we first reported here, and then here. Reports of the criticism are first of all here, and subsequently here.

More recently, this petition has appeared: A Response to the House of Bishops Guidance on Transgender Welcome.

This was reported in the Church Times: Letter urges House of Bishops to ‘revise, postpone or withdraw’ its trans guidance

…The open letter, which has been signed online by members of the clergy and laity, is being circulated by critics of the guidance, including the conservative Evangelical organisation the Church Society (full text below). It is understood that the letter was intended to be made public in the week before the General Synod’s sessions next month.

Everyone should be welcomed in churches, the letter says, but “we do not believe that the Guidance is the right way to do this, since it raises some significant issues for the Church’s belief and practice.”

It continues: “The House of Bishops previously stated that no new liturgy would be offered. The title of ‘gender transition services’, the focus on the use of a person’s new name, the use of oil and water contrary to previous rubrics in Common Worship, and the description in the later explanatory note confirming that this service is to be used to ‘mark gender transition’ amount to the offering of a new liturgy, since existing wording is now being put to a new purpose…”

And has also been reported in the Sunday Times [£] Church of England faces backlash over services for trans people

This statement was issued by Church of England (as reported in the Sunday Times):

“The bishops will give the letter their serious consideration, especially in the context of the preparation of a major new set of teaching and learning resources on identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality, ‘Living in Love and Faith’, which will be published next year.

“Transgender matters will be covered in those resources and the pastoral guidance does not pre-empt the work of the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ process. The guidance is not a restatement or a new statement on matters relating to gender, nor does it change the Church of England’s teaching.”

Two of those involved in organising this petition have written about it:

GAFCONUK has now chimed in: “Transgender Baptism” – How Should We Respond?


Opinion – 26 January 2019

Updated Saturday afternoon to add last two items

Laudable Practice The myopia of not propagating Anglicanism

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Deference and Obedience – Christian Virtues?

 Unadulterated Love On Being a Feral Priest

Andrew Forshew-Cain ViaMedia.News The First Signs of Spring?

Hattie Williams interviews Meg Munn, the independent chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, for Church Times No one ‘should ever stop being vigilant’ of risks

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Meg Munn CT interview – signs of hope for the future


General Synod to debate call for reconciliation for divided nation

The agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod (released yesterday) includes an addition to the original timetable, this motion from the two archbishops:

That this Synod, knowing through the experiences of parishes across the country that social divisions feel more entrenched and intractable than for many years, and concerned at the divisions within the major political parties which are stifling the emergence of a hopeful and viable vision for the common good in our communities:
(a) call upon every diocese and parish regularly to hold in prayer their local MPs and politicians and the members of Her Majesty’s Government and civil servants, seeking God’s strength and wisdom for the responsibilities they bear;
(b) reaffirm the Christian commitment to putting the voices of the poor and marginalised at the heart of the nation’s concerns; and
(c) call upon the nation’s leaders, drawing on Christian hope and reconciliation, to work together for that common good at this time of division.

The debate will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 23 February, the closing day of the Synod meeting.

There is this official press release:

General Synod to debate call for reconciliation for divided nation

The UK’s political leaders should draw on “Christian hope and reconciliation” to help steer the country through a time of seemingly “entrenched and intractable” divisions, according to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The call comes in the text of a special motion on the state of the nation, tabled by the two archbishops, to be debated by the Church of England’s General Synod, which meets in London next month.

It speaks of divisions within the major political parties and calls for every parish and diocese to pray regularly for their local MPs, other politicians, the Government and civil servants.

The timetable for February’s meeting of Synod had been amended to make time for the special debate.

An updated timetable and full agenda are published today alongside the first set of papers.

A further batch of papers for Synod will be published next Friday (February 1, 2019).

Synod meets at Church House Westminster from Wednesday February 20 to Saturday February 23.

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E leaders rebuke politicians for ‘stifling’ Brexit reconciliation

Adam Becket Church Times Synod to debate the country’s ‘entrenched and intractable social divisions’


February General Synod – online papers

Update (1 February) Links to the second batch of papers have been added
Update (19 February) Link to Questions notice paper added
Update (20, 24 February) more notice papers etc added

The first batch of papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online. The remaining papers will be issued on 1 February and I will add links when these become available.

Papers in numerical order with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23 February in London.

The Agenda is here and the Report by the Business Committee (Guide to the February 2019 group of sessions) is here.



Briden report on the Bishop Bell case is published

Updated Friday morning with media coverage (scroll down) and again Saturday

The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team has today issued this:

National Safeguarding Team statement on Bishop Bell

A ruling by Timothy Briden, a senior ecclesiastical lawyer, relating to fresh information received about the late Bishop George Bell, has been published today. Mr Briden was appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to make an independent assessment of the evidence that had been brought before the core group, the Church’s response to any safeguarding situation…

…The core group took the view that there were no safeguarding issues arising out of the fresh information and Mr Briden concluded that the allegations presented to him were unfounded.

Lessons have already been learnt from this case and we have apologised for mistakes made in our processes. Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester have released their own statements.

The full text of the Briden report is available here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today issued this:

Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell. The reputation of Bishop Bell is significant, and I am clear that his memory and the work he did is of as much importance to the Church today as it was in the past. I recognise this has been an extremely difficult period for all concerned and I apologise equally to all those who have come forward and shared stories of abuse where we have not responded well.

An allegation against the late Bishop George Bell, originally brought in 1995, was made again in 2013 in the context of a growing awareness of how institutions respond to safeguarding cases. A review carried out by Lord Carlile into how the Church of England handled the case concerning Bishop Bell made a significant number of recommendations, and the Church of England accepted almost all of these.

At the end of 2017 several people came forward with further, fresh information following the Carlile review, and after a thorough, independent investigation, nothing of substance has been added to what has previously been alleged. A statement from the National Safeguarding Team explains the processes involved in reaching this latest decision more fully…

The Bishop of Chichester has released this:


…The Carlile report, and this subsequent investigation, have however shown how much we have had to learn about dealing with cases from the distant past. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has already questioned the Church over its response to the Bishop Bell case and the review by Lord Carlile. We expect that their report on our two hearings – to be published later this year – will address further the complex issues that have been raised and will result in a more informed, confident and sensitive handling of allegations of abuse in the future. We have learned much about what makes for better process and continue to do so.

In particular, we have learned that the boundaries of doubt and certainty have to be stated with great care, that the dead and those who are related to them have a right to be represented, and that there must be a balanced assessment of the extent to which it would be in the public interest to announce the details of any allegation.

It became obvious that a more thorough investigation must be made before any public announcement can be considered and that the level of investigation typically undertaken for settlement of a civil claim is not adequate to justify an announcement. It is now clear that if an announcement about any other person is to be made, it must not imply certainty when we cannot be certain. We have also now understood much more besides, in particular about the trust that people place in us and their legitimate expectations of us as guardians of the inheritance of faith.

We recognise the hurt that has been done to all who have been directly involved, including the family of George Bell and those who continue to respect his achievements, as a result of the areas where we have fallen short. We apologise profoundly and sincerely for our shortcomings in this regard. The responsibility for this is a shared one, as are the lessons learnt from it…

Updates – Media coverage

Church Times Archbishop Welby apologises for ‘mistakes’ in case of George Bell. This includes a report of a press briefing held yesterday with extensive quotes from “a Church House spokesman”. There are also quotes from Professor Andrew Chandler, Bell’s biographer. Strongly recommended to read in full.

Times (£) Sex-claims bishop George Bell will get a statue (this refers to a planned statue at Canterbury Cathedral)

Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

Guardian C of E apologises for its handling of George Bell abuse allegations

Daily Mail Archbishop of Canterbury apologises over ‘mistakes’ in how Church of England handled allegations against Bishop George Bell as it emerges they were ‘unfounded’

BBC Bishop George Bell abuse allegations ‘unfounded’

Anglican Communion News Service Abuse allegations against the late Bishop George Bell are “unfounded”, inquiry finds

Archbishop Cranmer Martin Sewell and David Lamming How far is Bishop George Bell’s reputation restored? When is a cloud not a cloud? This detailed analysis is also strongly recommended reading.

Telegraph Letter from Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson (scroll down)

Tablet Archbishop apologises for shortcomings over Bell


Opinion – 23 January 2019

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News The Power of Grass Roots Rebellion

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity The Truth About Changing the Church

Andrew Brown The Guardian Justin Welby’s speaking in tongues makes sense to his evangelical tribe

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking in praise of the elderly and the young.

Jeremy Morris ViaMedia.News IICSA – Holding the Past to Account?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Help required for Safeguarding incident
[If you have any advice or help for Stephen please post it on his blog and not here.]


GDPR and Preparation of Electoral Roll 2019

Church of England parishes are required to prepare a new electoral roll before this year’s Annual Parochial Church Meetings. The CofE’s Parish Resources website has published the following advice on the effect of the GDPR on the electoral roll.

GDPR and Preparation of Electoral Roll 2019

We are aware that GDPR has raised some concerns regarding the renewal of the Electoral Roll. As the law currently stands, there is no need to amend the electoral roll forms, consent is not required. An informative note explaining the legal bases will be added to the forms in due course but the legal position is not dependent on this note.

The Church of England’s GDPR Team have produced guidance to clarify these issues (link below). They have also produced an electoral roll Privacy Notice which explains the GDPR issues for those individuals applying to the electoral roll.  You should publish this on your website and/or give it to people who request an application form.

Download Guidance on the Electoral Roll and GDPR
Download the electoral roll Privacy Notice

[H/T to Law and Religion UK for bringing this to my attention.]


Tennessee diocese implements same-sex marriage procedures

We reported earlier on the situation in the Diocese of Albany in Upstate New York. Another of the previously dissenting bishops in the Diocese of Tennessee (which covers the Middle portion of that state) has taken a rather different course of action:

Episcopal News Service Tennessee bishop recruits neighboring colleague to implement same-sex marriage rites

Bishop John Bauerschmidt announced Jan. 18 that neighboring Bishop Brian Cole of East Tennessee will “provide pastoral support” to Tennessee couples, clergy and congregations who want to solemnize same-sex marriages.

To begin that process, Bauerschmidt wrote in a two-page description of his policy, all canonically resident clergy in the diocese must notify him and assure him that the cleric’s congregation agrees to their use.

Bauerschmidt, who opposes same-sex marriage, said that “where there is disagreement in teaching about the sacramental rite of marriage between bishop and clergy there can be no effective oversight of marriage by the diocesan bishop.” Thus, another bishop must be available to “provide whatever episcopal support is needed for couples and clergy preparing for marriage.”

Bauerschmidt said his policy applies whether the trial-use rites or any other marriage rite is used…

The Living Church Same-sex Marriage In the Diocese of Tennessee

Tennessean Tennessee bishop issues same-sex wedding guidelines for Episcopal clergy, couples

Here are links to the original documents:

Readers may find interesting the materials linked in footnote 1 to the latter. These were published in 2011.

[1] The Anglican Theological Review, Vol.93.1, “Same-Sex Relationships and the Nature of Marriage: A Theological Colloquy” contains both “traditional” and “liberal” accounts of marriage. This work was commissioned by the Episcopal House of Bishops’ Theology Committee.


Opinion – 19 January 2019

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Being who I am

Malcolm Doney and Martin Wroe Church Times Is Christian language to blame for falling church attendance?

Terence Handley MacMath interviews Natalie Collins, gender-justice specialist for Church Times
‘Christianity should be at the forefront of gender justice, but it isn’t’

Kelvin Holdsworth What’s in Kelvin’s Head How shall we pray for our elected representatives?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Churches – further reflections


IICSA announces its plans for July hearings into the Anglican churches

IICSA held another “preliminary hearing” on 15 January. “Preliminary” in relation to the further two weeks of hearings planned for 1 to 12 July. The transcript from yesterday can be read here. Most of it is taken up with the Counsel to the Inquiry setting out her plans for July. At the outset she said:

The purpose of today’s hearing is to provide an update on the work that the inquiry has been carrying out since the hearings in July 2018, and to discuss the necessary preparations for the hearing to commence in July 2019.
I will deal with this in the following order:
Firstly, the broad themes and approaches to the national church hearing as the investigation team currently envisages them.
Secondly, how the inquiry has dealt with, and will be dealing with, the material received in the investigation and how such will be disclosed.
Thirdly, the requests made for statements pursuant to rule 9 of the Inquiry Rules, and when these will be ready for calculation.
Fourthly, hearing dates and any next steps. And lastly, any other business.
In what follows, I intend to explain what the inquiry has been doing and where we are now and set out what is going to happen over the next four months.

In addition to her statement, two legal representatives of groups of abuse survivors also made statements. Scroll down to page 8 of the PDF to read these.  David Greenwood makes extensive reference to the case of Matt Ineson.

For a more detailed discussion of IICSA plans, see this summary at Law & Religion UKIICSA 7th preliminary hearing on Anglican investigation.

The Church of England issued this press release: Statement following IICSA preliminary hearing.

Bishop Peter Hancock, lead safeguarding bishop for the Church of England said:
“We welcome the comments today from Fiona Scolding QC* on the wider church hearing scheduled for July which outlined the focus of the Inquiry.
We fully support the emphasis on the present and future of safeguarding in the Church of England which will help with our commitment to make the Church a safer place for all. Miss Scolding QC said the Inquiry will be looking at whether changes being implemented by the Church of England are relevant and purposeful. I believe this part of the Inquiry will be critical in helping us ensure that our safeguarding work is effective and rigorous and that survivors’ and victims’ views are heard.
We continue to be committed to working closely with the Inquiry in a constructive and transparent way.”

*Fiona Scolding is the counsel to IICSA for the investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales.

IICSA has also published a number of the written closing submissions made at the conclusion of the Peter Ball hearings in July last year. Here are links to some of them, which readers may find interesting despite their length.

On behalf of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England

On behalf of Baron Carey of Clifton

On behalf of Slater and Gordon survivors

On behalf of Switalski survivors


Opinion – 16 January 2019

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau Can evangelicals evangelise?

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity Candlemas: for schools and homes
The Bible in a Year?: Evangelicals, lectionaries and apps

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church ‘Concerned Anglicans’ in Oxford- who are they speaking for?
and Concerned Anglicans in Oxford. Are they all Anglican?

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Saving the Best Wine Until Last

Laudable Practice Giving Thanks for Elizabeth I


Opinion – 12 January 2019

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of being in Christ as the gateway to radical new inclusivity

Clare Hayns Consider the Lilies Head above the Parapet

Marcus Green The Possibility of Difference fake good news

Angela Tilby Church Times The trans guidance is not radical

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Church Times Evangelism isn’t just for the Evangelicals
“Progressive Christians have good news to impart, not pre-packaged solutions”


Presiding Bishop Curry partially restricts ministry of Bishop Love

Updated again Monday morning

The Office of Public Affairs of The Episcopal Church has today (Friday) issued the following statement: Presiding Bishop’s response to Bishop William Love’s November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Directive.

The Episcopal News Service reports this under the headline Albany bishop is barred from punishing priests for same-sex marriages, faces disciplinary review.

ENS story updated on Sunday to include Bishop William Love’s response to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s actionsBishop will appeal restriction on punishing priests for same-sex marriages, challenge convention action:

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has temporarily restricted part of Diocese of Albany Bishop William Love’s ministry because of Love’s refusal to allow same-sex marriages even after General Convention mandated liturgical marriage equality in the church’s U.S. dioceses.

Love is “forbidden from participating in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage,” Curry said in a document released Jan. 11. The restriction applies both to the Episcopal Church’s formal Title IV disciplinary process and to any action “that has or may have the effect of penalizing in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his diocese or elsewhere.”

The restriction appears to enable Episcopal Church clergy in the upstate New York diocese to solemnize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples, something Love steadfastly refused to allow…

The ENS report gives a detailed account of the developments leading up to today’s action, and is recommended for reading in full.

The full text of Bishop Curry’s statement is copied below the fold.


Bishop Love has responded by issuing a letter to his diocese. You can read the text of that on the Albany diocesan website.



House of Bishops issues clarification on gender transition guidance

The Church of England issued the following statement today:

Statement on Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition

Last month, during its regular December meeting, the House of Bishops published new guidance on how an existing rite, for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith, could be used to enable transgender adults to mark their transition.

This was a direct response to a vote of the General Synod in 2017 calling for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in the Church and requesting the House of Bishops to consider whether nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

The guidance now commended by the House seeks to fulfil that remit.

The House decided that no special or new liturgy should be prepared for this purpose. Instead, it decided that existing liturgy could be used, and has provided guidance for clergy on how they could use it in this context, should they wish to do so.

The pastoral guidance is not intended as a restatement or a new statement on matters relating to gender. The guidance makes no change to the Church’s teaching. Next year the Church of England will publish a major new set of teaching and learning resources on identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality, “Living in Love and Faith”. Transgender will be among the matters covered in those resources. The pastoral guidance does not pre-empt the work of the “Living in Love and Faith” process.

What the House produced is guidance, not a new set of rules. It should be read alongside existing Notes on the use of the texts.  It commends and encourages the use of An Affirmation of Baptismal Faith for the purpose of a transgender adult wishing to reaffirm their Christian faith and mark their transition; but there is no obligation on anyone to offer the rite in this or any other context. Any priest who feels unable to offer this rite in this context is free not to do so. They should find appropriate ways to offer welcome and pastoral care, as they would to all people.

William Nye, Secretary to the House of Bishops


American progress on marriage equality

We last reported on the situation in the American Diocese of Albany on 11 November.

Episcopal News Service has now published a comprehensive status review of all the dioceses where difficulties had arisen in implementing Resolution B012. In most of them some form of compromise solution has been adopted.

Celebrations planned, tension lingers a month after marriage equality resolution takes effect.


Interim Director for Anglican Centre in Rome

Further to our report of 21 December, the directors of the Anglican Centre in Rome have made this announcement: Appointment of an Interim Director for the Anglican Centre in Rome.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome are very pleased to announce the appointment of The Very Revd Dr John Shepherd as the Interim Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See.

Dr Shepherd was Dean of St. George’s Cathedral, Perth, Western Australia from 1990 to 2014. During his time as Dean over $19,000,000 was raised to fund a complete restoration and development of the cathedral and Old Deanery alongside the building of the Cadogan Song School. Dr Shepherd has had a distinguished ministry in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. He was ordained at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne in 1966 having completed his BA at the University of Melbourne. He also has a Master of Sacred Music degree from Union Seminary in New York and a PhD from St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge — his doctorate focused on the changes in the doctrine of sacrifice in sacred music during the English Reformation.

He has been a parish priest in Melbourne, on Long Island, in Manchester and Cambridge and he was Chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford from 1980-1988. He is a regular contributor to the Expository Times and The Times, in London. He has taught music as a university lecturer and is a noted theological commentator. Dr Shepherd’s wife, Joy, was Principal of St. Hilda’s Anglican Girls’ High School in Perth from 1997-2014.


Some Oxford clergy criticise diocesan LGBTI guidance

We reported earlier on the Ad Clerum issued in the Diocese of Oxford on 31 October last year: Oxford bishops expect inclusion and respect for all, and subsequently on the immediate responses: Responses to the Oxford bishops’ letter.

Two documents have been published today on the website of the Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship:

Letter from Concerned Anglicans in the Oxford Diocese in Response to Ad Clerum of 31stOctober 2018

Joint response from bishops of the diocese to this letter

The Church Times reports on all this: More than 100 Oxford clergy criticise bishops’ LGBTI guidance:

MORE than 100 clerics in the diocese of Oxford have written to criticise their bishops’ approach to LGBTI+ people. A letter released on Monday warns that, if the bishops cannot affirm traditional teaching, many of the signatories will consider seeking alternative oversight.

The letter, signed by 104 serving clerics in the diocese, questions whether people in same-sex relationships should be ordained, or receive communion.

The letter addresses the diocese’s four bishops: “We would ask them to recognise the seriousness of the difference between us: advocacy of same-sex sexual intimacy is either an expression of the love of God or it creates an obstacle to people entering the kingdom of God. It cannot be both. The situation is serious.”


Opinion – 9 January 2019

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Church of England Safeguarding Guidelines: progress, regression or PR spin?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The mystical Jesus and non-dualism

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Steeplejacking – subversion and schism in the local Church


Bishop of Hereford to retire

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Frith has announced he is to retire in the autumn. His public ministry will end with a service at Hereford Cathedral on Saturday 23 November at 11am. The diocesan press release is here.