Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting

See our earlier article Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an interview by Donna Birrell with the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North (starts at 32 minutes, 45 seconds).

BBC Radio Cornwall has a longer version of this interview, listen over here.

A transcript of this (longer) interview is copied below the fold. (more…)

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Opinion – 29 June 2019

Sylvia Keesmaat Empire Remixed What ever happened to the Bible in the Marriage Canon Debate? A Look at the Classic Texts

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Safeguarding and the Clergy Discipline Measure

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of liberalism

Hayley Matthews ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say….that Families Need a “Mummy and a Daddy”?

9 Comments

Two cases of abuse involving evangelical Anglicans

Updated

The Daily Telegraph published a news article on 21 June: Minister ‘spiritually abused’ the vulnerable. This is behind a paywall, but the substance of it was subsequently reported elsewhere:

The original report prompted two statements, one from the Diocese of Southwark and another from Emmanuel Church Wimbledon.

In addition, Emmanuel Church has established a separate website to deal specifically with this, which is located here. It has links to several further documents, including the following:

Two notices dated April and May 2019 signed by the Bishop of Maidstone and 3 others.

Statements and a video recording from an event on 27 June, at which Vaughan Roberts, Sarah Hall (Emmanuel’s Safeguarding Officer) and Andrew Wales QC describe in some detail what the abuse consisted of, and what actions have been taken by Emmanuel Church and by others, in response to the disclosures received. The transcript is worth reading in full.

In a separate but related development, two statements were recently issued by the Anglican Mission in England:

To date, two articles have been published which comment on all of this:

Update

Church Times now has a further story  Fletcher faces allegations of naked beatings which includes the full text of a statement from Jonathan Fletcher:

“As part of a long-standing prayer group, I have in the past been involved in a system of mutual encouragement whereby we set ourselves targets in healthy and holy living and then imposed what I thought of as light-hearted forfeits if we failed.

“These included going without chocolate, cold baths and school-type gym shoe punishments. Although at the time we definitely did not think we were doing anything wrong, I’ve seen since that it could have caused much harm both to individuals and to the reputation of conservative evangelicalism for which I am profoundly sorry. Needless to say, this activity has now stopped.

“In addition, a number of people are reporting that I have had naked massages with them. I enjoy massage and benefit from it. To that end I regularly have it professionally administered. However, if I can avoid the cost by finding a male friend to administer, and in return receive, massage, I do.

“These sessions categorically do not have erotic or sexual overtones and I have never coerced or intended to coerce anyone into an arrangement. If any have felt pressurised by me to do this, I apologise.

“Again, I realise that in the position I have held in the past as an incumbent, it was unwise of me to involve anyone to whom I was also ministering and I apologise for doing so.

“I confirm that I no longer engage in public ministry.”

38 Comments

Rose Hudson-Wilkin to be next Bishop of Dover

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Dover: 28 June 2019
Queen approves appointment of the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin to the Suffragan See of Dover.

Published 28 June 2019
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the appointment of the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, BPhil Ed, Hon LLD, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and Priest in Charge of St Mary-at-Hill, in the Diocese of London to the Suffragan See of Dover, in the Diocese of Canterbury, in succession to the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, MA, who resigned on 31st May 2019.

Rose was born and raised in Jamaica. She was educated at Montego Bay High School for Girls and later at Birmingham University. She trained with the Church Army and was commissioned in 1982 as an Evangelist; she later trained for ordination at Queens Theological College on their part-time course, ordained deacon in 1991 and ordained priest in 1994 serving her title at St Matthew’s Church, Willenhall Road in the Diocese of Lichfield.

For sixteen and a half years she served as a priest in Hackney (Holy Trinity with St Philip, Dalston and All Saints, Haggerston). In 2007 she was appointed as a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and in 2010, she became the first woman appointed to the position of the 79th Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. In November 2014, she took on the additional responsibility as Priest in Charge of city Church, St Mary-at-Hill near Monument. She is an Honorary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral and a Priest Vicar of Westminster Abbey.

She has previously served as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and also as one of the Panel of Chairs of the Synod. She has twice represented the Church of England at the World Council of Churches (in Zimbabwe & Brazil); she served as its priest representative on the Anglican Consultative Council for 9 years. She also served as a Selection Secretary for the Church of England, helping to select men and women seeking to test their vocation to the ministry. She does numerous preaching and speaking engagements nationally (and occasionally overseas). She was a member of the Broadcasting Standards Commission and has wide experience of media engagement including some religious broadcasting.

She is married to The Reverend Kenneth Wilkin, a Prison Chaplain and they have three adult children.

The Canterbury diocesan website states that her consecration will be on 19 November 2019.

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Church of England response to IICSA’s report

Press release from the Church of England

Church of England response to IICSA’s report
27/06/2019

The Church of England has published today its response to IICSA’s report on the Chichester diocese and Peter Ball case studies. This is ahead of next week’s wider IICSA hearing on the Anglican Church in England and Wales.

The timetable for the first week of the IICSA hearing on the Anglican Church in England and Wales is available here.

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Anglican influence in Botswana’s decriminalisation of same-sex relationships

Earlier this month, there was surprising news from Botswana: Botswana scraps gay sex laws in big victory for LGBTQ rights in Africa.

Botswana’s High Court has overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations in a landmark victory for Africa’s LGBTQ movements.
The court in the southern African country unanimously ruled on Tuesday that the legislation was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the public interest.
“A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness,” Justice Michael Leburu said, noting that discriminatory law not only serves as a detriment to LGBTQ people, but holds back all of society.
“Societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity,” he said…

CNN also carried this comment article the next day: Africa is doing better on LGBTQ rights than you think.

Living Reconciliation reported on the role of Alice Mogwe in this achievement: We Believe in Human Dignity

Decriminalisation of LGBTQI people is a victory for human dignity.
The 11 June 2019 decision of the Botswana High Court, to strike down colonial laws which discriminated against LGBTIQ persons was greeted with joy by those seeking to promote human dignity.
Alice Mogwe – Anglican lay woman, Human Rights defender, and founder and Director of DITSHWANELO – the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, welcomed the ruling with joy.
‘We believe in human dignity: that all are made in the image of God’ she said. ‘This is a step on the road to dignity for LGBTIQ persons in Botswana, a great step, but still a step. It offers the hope of more to come. LGBTIQ people need to have dignity in all our communities, in their families and among all of our people. This can make it possible.’
Alice has been journeying with LGBTIQ people on their road to freedom for over 20 years. In 1998 DITSHWANELO created a project focused on the rights of LGB persons. This led to the establishment of a fledgling group called LeGaBiBo – Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo).  It was seeded and nested by DITSHWANELO.
Many human rights groups advocate for the voiceless and speak for the oppressed. Alice has long championed human dignity over human rights and her aim is to enable people to speak for themselves, not to be spoken for…

Law & Religion UK reported on the court’s decision here: Same-sex relationships in Botswana:Motshidiemang 

On 11 June, in Motshidiemang v Attorney General [2019] MAHGB-000591 16, the Botswana High Court held that the criminalisation of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex was unconstitutional. Tafa, Leburu and Dube JJ concluded that ss.164(a), 164(c), 165 and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code violated the constitutional rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons to dignity, liberty, privacy and equality. The Court began from the proposition that sexual relations between consenting adults in private were none of the law’s business:

“What regulatory joy and solace are derived by the law, when it proscribes and criminalises such conduct of two consenting adults, expressing and professing love to each other, within their secluded sphere, bedroom, confines and/or precinct? Is this not a question of over-regulation of human conduct and expression, which has the effect of impairing and infringing upon constitutionally ordained, promised and entrenched fundamental human rights?”…

3 Comments

Bishop of St Germans to be CofE’s Director of Ministry

The Church of England announced yesterday that Bishop Chris Goldsmith is to become its next Director of Ministry. The bishop is currently the suffragan Bishop of St Germans in the diocese of Truro, so that post will become vacant when he takes up his new position in September 2019.

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Opinion – 22 June 2019

Marcus Green ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say…that St Paul ‘Hates Gays’?

George Sumner The Living Church Why should Anglicans want to be a Communion?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church John Smyth and the question of Anglican membership

116 Comments

General Synod preview

Updated Saturday

General Synod meets in York next month and the Church of England issued its usual pre-Synod press release this morning, and this is copied below the fold. It concentrates on one item (youth violence and knife crime).

Madeleine Davies in Church Times has a fuller preview of the Synod agenda: Synod to focus on youth violence and knife crime.

There are two other Church Times articles.
Invest in refugees, Synod motion proposes
Synod will be asked whether it ‘gladly bears’ eucharistic presidency by Methodist presbyters as ‘temporary anomaly’

Update

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England urged to offer haven from knife crime

Izzy Lyons and Laura FitzPatrick The Telegraph Churches should become knife crime sanctuaries with weapon amnesty bins, General Synod to discuss

(more…)

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Church of England Safeguarding Data Report 2015-17

Updated Thursday

The Church of England issued the following press release today.

Safeguarding Data Report 2015-17
19/06/2019

Safeguarding data has been published today taken from annual safeguarding returns, collected by dioceses from 2015-17 and sent to the National Safeguarding Team. This is the first time that trends have been analysed over a three-year period.

The Church of England consists of more than 16,000 churches across the country; with around 1.14 million adults and children making up the regular worshipping community. This means it comes into contact with vast numbers of children, young people and adults every day of the week and safeguarding them is a priority. The majority of safeguarding-related concerns or allegations relate to children or vulnerable adults who attend or who have contact with the Church and their lives within the community.

In any report about data of this nature, it is important to recognise that behind each statistic is a person. Safeguarding is about everyone’s wellbeing and means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture; it is about valuing every person as made in God’s image.

Update

Press reports

Madeleine Davies Church Times Safeguarding reports grow by a half in two years
The full text of the MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) press release referred to in this article is here.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England finds 50% rise in abuse claims and concerns

 

5 Comments

Opinion – 19 June 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Mandatory Reporting and the Church of England

Mark Clavier The Living Church The Church of the Introverts

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Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball

Updated Friday

The bishops, dean and archdeacons in the Diocese of Blackburn have written to all clergy, readers and safeguarding officers in the diocese. They reflect on reflect on the IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.

The press release states:

Since the recent publication of the report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on the Diocese of Chichester and the Peter Ball case, Bishops’ Leadership Teams across the country have been strongly encouraged to read and reflect on the reports in their entirety.

Having done this in our Diocese, the Bishops, Archdeacons and The Dean of The Church of England in Lancashire were moved to send a message across our Diocese to urge others of the need to be ‘spending time with the report’; the reading of which they describe as a ‘powerful, emotional experience’.

The text of the letter follows below the fold and can also be viewed in its original form here.

Aban Quaynor writes about the letter in The Lancaster and Morecombe Citizen: Senior leaders in Diocese of Blackburn call on church to protect children from sex abuse.

SENIOR clergy in the Blackburn Diocese have written a joint letter to Christian faith leaders urging them to ensure ‘local churches are places where children and vulnerable adults are entirely safe’ from sexual abuse.

The letter … also states that members of the diocese should take a collective responsibility for abuse which has taken place within the wider church because ignoring it becomes a form of re-abuse…

This article is also published in the Lancashire Telegraph.

Stephen Parsons writes about the letter on his Surviving Church blog: The Blackburn Letter. A new beginning for the Church?

Update

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Child sexual abuse: the Blackburn Pastoral Letter is game-changer for the Church of England

Adam Becket Church Times Safeguarding not just about box-ticking, say senior clergy in Blackburn

(more…)

8 Comments

Opinion – 15 June 2019

Meg Warner ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say….that Sodomites were sodomites?

Laudable Practice Newman, Keble, Pusey: High Church Parsons on Trinity Sunday

John Barton Church Times Richard Hooker and Puritans: Of sundry things, in the light of reason
“Richard Hooker’s engagement with the Puritans has much to teach those who debate scripture today”

Paul Bayes Thinking in Liverpool Believing in the Public Square

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July General Synod – online papers

Update 1: Synod members reading this might like to note that the deadline for the submission of questions is a week earlier than normal; it is 12 noon on Wednesday 19 June 2019.

Update 2 [18 June]: More online papers linked

Update 3 [21 June]: More online papers linked

Update 4 [3 July]: Link to Questions notice paper added.

Update 5 [5 July]: Links to more notice papers added

Update 6 [7 July]: links to more notice papers added

Update 7 [8 July]: links to more notice papers added

Update 8 [8 July]: link to The Archbishops’ Council Annual Report added

Update 9 [9 July]: link to second mailing zip file and final order paper 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 21 June and I will add links when these become available.

Papers with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets from Friday 5 to Tuesday 9 July in York.

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

Timetable
[This is a revised version of the timetable originally noted here.]

First mailing .zip file
Second mailing .zip file

(more…)

13 Comments

Opinion – 12 June 2019

Sue Wallace Precentor Sue Smoke – Part 1
Smoke – Part 2
“In this Pentecostal time of year it seemed a really good time to talk about incense, which seems to me to be a bit like the Marmite (you either love it or you hate it!) of the liturgical world!”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church A Church that cares for Survivors?

Michael Fitzpatrick The Episcopal Café False Gospels?
“Many of my fellow Anglicans do not seem as excited as I am about the upcoming Lambeth Conference…”

56 Comments

Safeguarding issues in an Essex school

There has been discussion recently in the media and on social media of an incident at a Church of England school in Essex. This involved a Church of England priest who has resigned as a governor of a church school and also as the local incumbent because he did not like the way that the school handled the gender transition of a child.

This discussion began on 25 May when the Mail on Sunday reported: Vicar resigns after being ‘silenced’ over a Church of England school’s plan to keep an eight-year-old pupil’s sex change a secret from parents.

That provoked a detailed press statement the same day from the Mermaids charity: Response to Mail on Sunday.It is worth reading..  You can read more about this charity here. It is recommended as a resource in Valuing All God’s Children, the Church of England’s guidance on challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, republished in Autumn 2017 (see page 39 here.)

The next day, 26 May, Christian Today reported: Vicar quits over transgenderism policy at Church of England school.

Premier published on 28 May: Read the letter from the CofE vicar resigning over the Church’s approach to sexuality.

Christian Concern published  a statement dated 31 May:  Statement from Reverend John Parker.

Subsequently Christian Today reported twice on responses from the Bishop of Chelmsford:

1 June ‘I’m at a loss to know where this comes from’ – bishop responds to transgender accusations

5 June Bishop of Chelmsford denies suggesting vicar could leave Church of England over transgender views

The Diocese of Chelmsford then published the full text of the bishop’s Ad Clerum which I recommend reading in full.

On 6 June, Premier published this report: Bishop defends actions after suggestion he told vicar to leave Church over transgender complaint.

You can find other articles published earlier by Christian Concern about this incident here and here (26 May),  also here and here (28 May).

36 Comments

Opinion – 8 June 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Safeguarding in the Churches. Dreams for the future
Unity and conservative Christian groups

David Gillett ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say that….Same-Sex Love is Wrong?

Giles Fraser UnHerd In praise of incompetence
“To be a priest is to be a failure”
and in response Jeremy Pemberton From the Choir Stalls In Praise of Method and Application

Jeremy Pemberton Openly The Anglican Communion must act against the Church of Nigeria’s homophobia

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau The biblical power of the moon

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Kenyan Anglicans support continued criminalisation of homosexuals

Two recent news reports from Kenya:

Anglican Bishops Extend Special Gesture To The Kenyan Gay Community

Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Bishops on Sunday welcomed gay worshippers to fellowship with them but held on to the principle of not officiating their marriages in church.

This came after the high court ruling that declined to repeal sections of the penal code that criminalized same-sex relationships…

ACK Church shuts doors on gay marriages but welcomes gay worshippers (emphasis added)

The Anglican Church has declared it will not officiate same sex marriages.

The stand comes just weeks after the High Court in Kenya declined to declare unconstitutional some parts of the Penal Code which criminalises same sex relationships.Today, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby from the Church of England said the Anglican Church believes in the biblical definition of marriage and relationships. He however noted that with the modern world, Christians should learn to respect each other’s differences in order to preach God’s word.

He said there exists so many differences in the world that the church has to deal with.”My own view of the Christian marriage is the traditional marriage (between a man and woman),” said Welby who is in the country for a visit. Welby steered clear of the Kenyan court ruling, which is the latest upset of the global gay community saying he is not fit to directly comment on it.

“But just so you know in England, it is not currently possible to have same sex marriage in the church,” he said. Same sex marriage is however legal in England…

The Anglican Church of Kenya has published this video recording of a Press Briefing by the Archbishop of Kenya And the Archbishop of Canterbury at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi. So you can see and hear for yourself exactly what the two archbishops actually said.

To understand how all this is.viewed from a GAFCON perspective, you need to study this lengthy article by Phil Ashey whose formal position is President & Chief Executive Officer of the American Anglican Council and leads the GAFCON Lawyers Task Force.

Walking In The Light: A Study In Contrasts

He refers to the video recording:

At about 3:00-3:37 in the video you can listen to what Archbishop Justin Welby says about the upcoming Lambeth Conference 2020.  He says that the Lambeth Conference of Bishops has always been marked “by controversy” since it began in 1867.  He notes that the Lambeth Conference scheduled for 2020 has not met since 2008.  He notes that “When we are able to meet together rather than…not communicating, not meeting together we are able to listen to each other. And so we will see what happens in the Lambeth Conference when we get there.”

And further on he continues:

Beginning at 3:56 Archbishop Welby says “the Bible is clear,” and that “my own personal view, which I have stated on numerous occasions in public…is the traditional view of Christian marriage…which has always been the view of Christian marriage…”

But note what else he says and what he does not say:

  • That he is also “deeply torn” on the traditional definition of Christian marriage as between a man and a woman for life, and that he confesses publicly that “I am equally convinced that it may be that I am wrong… and that “Anglican theological methodology never closes things down.
  • That, therefore, he believes that Marriage is a secondary issue over which Anglicans can agree to disagree;
  • That he would approve the Church of England’s blessing of same-sex “unions” as a way to gain traction within English culture;
  • That he approves the public, liturgical celebration of “gender-transitions” in rites approved by the Bishops of the Church of England that are almost identical to baptism;

And there is a lot more about what is wrong with the Church of England and the Lambeth Conference which you can read for yourself.

But earlier in the article Ashey says this about Archbishop Ole Sapit:

With regards to the question about the Kenyan Supreme Courts recent decision against legalizing same-sex marriage, he applauds the Supreme Court for upholding the traditional view of marriage as between a man and a woman for life, for not introducing into the laws of Kenya a redefinition of marriage contrary to the teaching of the ACK;

The recent Kenyan Supreme Court decision was not about same-sex marriage per se, but about retaining the criminalisation of homosexuals generally. It seems nobody is prepared to comment on this, although the primates of the Anglican Communion have previously spoken quite clearly.

51 Comments

IICSA report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions

In addition to the several investigations  by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse into specific religious organisations, including the continuing investigation into the Church of England, IICSA’s separate Truth Project has recently published a Thematic Report: Child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions.

The full report (92 pages) can be downloaded from this link.  There is also an executive summary available here.

IICSA also issued a press release: Shame and guilt stop survivors reporting child sexual abuse in religious institutions.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published a research report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions, based on accounts shared by survivors at its Truth Project.

The report includes data on religions with a significant presence in England and Wales, including the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Christian faith communities such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Methodists, and Islam and Judaism.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in the same institution.
  • Over half of survivors did not report the abuse due to feelings of shame (37 per cent) and guilt (18 per cent).
  • Half of victims (48 per cent) knew of others being abused by the same perpetrator.
  • One fifth (18 percent) of survivors reported a loss of faith as a consequence of the abuse.

The report also examines institutional failures, with most participants firmly believing others were aware of the perpetrator’s behaviour but did nothing. Sexual abuse was most frequently perpetrated by an individual with an official religious title, such as priest, vicar, imam or elder.

At the Truth Project, survivors are invited to make recommendations for change. Participants told the Inquiry that it needs to address the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption that religious figures are automatically moral…

The Church of England issued this press release in response: Statement on IICSA Truth Project report.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has recently published a research report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions, including the Anglican Church.  It is based on accounts shared by survivors at its Truth Project, and its conclusions and findings are disturbing and in many places shocking.

One of the report’s key findings includes that those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in other institutions. We would urge anyone who wants to report abuse and find support to come forward and we promise they will be heard.

IICSA continues to shine a light on the safeguarding practices of religious institutions, including the Church of England, and we are working constructively with the Inquiry as we approach our wider Church hearing on July 1.  We commend those survivors who have had the courage to come forward to share their experiences to the Inquiry and in particular to the Truth Project, knowing how difficult this would have been.

We welcomed the findings and recommendations published by IICSA this month, on the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. This states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors but it failed to do this. It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in both these reports and also strengthen our resolve to make the Church a safe place for all.

Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop

There has been some media coverage of this:

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Opinion – 1 June 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Patronage and Power Abuse in the Church

Michael Roberts Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin The Church of England and Creationism.

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Holding the House of Bishops to account – Sara Gillingham’s challenge

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of LLF (Living in love and faith)

Martyn Percy ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really…Give Us a Clear Definition of Marriage?

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity Inclusive, Expanded … He, She … – what language should we use about God in our worship?

50 Comments