Thinking Anglicans

Responses to the Apology from the Archbishops

The original signatories of the Open Letter have issued this public response


Whilst we are grateful for the Archbishops’ apology and the recognition that their statement has jeopardized our trust, the fact is more than words are now needed.

Over 3500 people have now signed our open letter, which includes nearly 90 members of General Synod and a range of other senior church leaders.  This shows the strength of concern that exists across the Church of England that its mission is being significantly damaged and that their promise of a “radical new Christian inclusion” must now be delivered.

We await the evidence that they have truly heard and taken onboard our concerns by what comes out in the Living in Love and Faith report, and the willingness to engage directly with those whose lives it primarily affects.

Christina Baron
Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain
Ven Peter Leonard
Jayne Ozanne


Statement from the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England about the recent apology from the house of Bishops for their ‘Pastoral Statement on Same sex Civil Partnerships

We welcome the Archbishops’ apology and acknowledgement of the hurt & division their words have caused.
We regret that they have neither withdrawn their ill-advised Statement nor sought to amend its harsh and cruel wording. It still stands in its entirety as an attack on the integrity and lives of not just many in the LGBTI communities but also to the countless committed and faithful straight couples and lone parents raising children whose love and commitment they have disparaged.

We are disappointed that they do not address the undermining of the trust in their leadership and the Living in Love and Faith process that the release of the Statement has caused. Trust cannot be simply rebuilt by ignoring that reality. Bridges have to be built from both sides and the Statement released last week demolished the foundations on the Bishops’ side.

We had hoped that the Bishops might have learnt from this embarrassing experience but they appear not to have done so. We invite the Bishops to reach out and ask to meet with representatives of the LGBTI communities and sit down and ask how trust can be rebuilt. Telling us it will simply be so suggests that they are still unwilling to listen, unable to learn from this very public embarrassment and does nothing to inspire confidence for the future.

We would welcome an invitation to meet with the Bishops to discuss how that trust can be re-established.

Friday 31st January 2020


At Via MediaGiles Goddard an LGBT member of the co-ordinating group for the Living in Love and Faith project has published After the Apology – What Next?

…I have heard a great deal of contrition from the College of Bishops and from the Archbishops and I am grateful for that. I hope it will help us to move on. But I also have a strong sense that the underlying causes for the publication of the Statement have only just begun to be addressed. I have had very recent conversations with bishops who remain dismayed by the Church’s way of being: still, deep down, dominated by a world-view which feels white, male and patriarchal in its teaching on sexuality and relationships. Women still find it hard to be heard. There is still a huge problem with BAME representation. There is only one out LGBTI+ bishop…

Do read it all.


Archbishops apologise

Church of England Press release

Statement from Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Sentamu following the College of Bishops Meeting

We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.

At our meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England this week we continued our commitment to the Living in Love and Faith project which is about questions of human identity, sexuality and marriage. This process is intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.

In addition Martin Seeley, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has issued a message, copied below the fold, which includes the text “I and a number of my colleagues asked that the document be withdrawn, but this was decided against by the majority.”



Opinion – 29 January 2020

Michelle Montrose preached this sermon at Liverpool Parish Church on 26 January. Do read it to the end.

Ray Gaston Medium On being pastorally (ir)responsible — and not waiting for bishops

Mandy Ford ViaMedia.News What the Bishops Could Have Said…

Janet Fife Surviving Church Vignette in the Vestry

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of safety in church


Prolocutors respond to House of Bishops statement

Simon Butler and Chris Newlands, the prolocutors of Canterbury and York respectively in the General Synod, have made public the letter they have written to the archbishops. The full text of this is available here.


General Synod – press previews

Madeleine Davies Church Times Absent children will be a focus at next month’s General Synod

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian
Church of England could stop heating cathedrals to hit 2045 emissions target
Church of England urged to apologise for Windrush racism
Church of England could seek to end paupers’ funerals

Patrick Sawer The Telegraph
Time for church to own up to past and present racism, say clergy
Heated cushions for zero carbon churches as Bishop praises ‘brilliant’ Extinction Rebellion

Zaina Alibhai iNews Church of England urged to apologise for racism toward Windrush generation

Steve Doughty Mail Online Will paupers’ funerals be banished? Church of England set to help families who can’t afford to pay for a loved one’s send off


Bishop of Repton to step down

The Diocese of Derby has announced that the Rt Revd Jan McFarlane will step down as the suffragan Bishop of Repton in April to become a Residentiary Canon (House for Duty) at Lichfield Cathedral and Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Lichfield. Details are here.

1 Comment

Opinion – 25 January 2020

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley The Beaker Folk Issue a Pamphlet About Civil Partnerships

Andrew Wilson NewsThump Church of England challenges Roman Catholicism in bid to be Christianity’s moral mafia

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of ministerial training; what did full time training do for anyone?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Reflections on the life of Bishop Peter Ball
This refers to a Church Times letter by Colin Buchanan; it is the second one here.

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News Restoring Trust….In Church and State

Paper and String Church The Cliff Face


Open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

In response to the recent House of Bishops statement on Civil Partnerships, an Open Letter has been published. If you are based in England or are part of the Diocese in Europe you are invited to sign.

Signatures can be added by going to this page.

The list of those who have already signed is over here.

The full text of the letter is

 Your Graces

We write to express our anger and disappointment regarding the recent House of Bishops ‘Pastoral Statement’ concerning Same Sex and Opposite Sex Civil Partnerships.

Since the public defeat of your ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships’ report to General Synod in 2017, we have waited for you to deliver on your promise of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’.  We have been patient believing that nothing further would be said regarding sexuality and relationships until after the publication of the Living in Love and Faith report.  It seems our trust has been misplaced and we feel badly let down.

The pastoral statement makes clear there has been no desire to listen or learn from those of us who spoke to explain how offensive we found the tone of the House of Bishops’ previous document.  Indeed, the statement is anything but “pastoral”- it is cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects.

The Church of England has this week become a laughingstock to a nation that believes it is obsessed with sex.  More importantly this statement has significantly damaged the mission of the Church and it has broken the trust of those it seeks to serve.

We ask you to consider how we can, together, build a truly radically inclusive Christian Church.

Yours sincerely


Pre-Synod press release

The Church of England has issued its usual press release (copied below) in advance of next month’s meeting of its General Synod. Also released today is the second batch of papers for the Synod meeting; links to them have been added to my earlier post.

Church of England launches energy rating tool as Synod considers new ‘net zero’ carbon target

The Church of England is launching an energy rating system similar to those used for household appliances to help monitor the carbon footprint of its almost 40,000 buildings, as General Synod considers a major new proposal to reach ‘net zero’ CO2 emissions.

Members of Synod, which meets in London next month, will debate a motion calling on all parts of the Church of England – from parishes to national bodies – to aim for ambitious year-on-year reductions in emissions to reach “net zero” by 2045 at the latest.



Responses to the House of Bishops statement

Updated again Sunday evening

Andrew Foreshew-Cain has written a detailed response to the document published on Wednesday. You can read it here.

Jeremy Pemberton has written this: Making a Case for Pastoral Guidance.

Trevor Thurston-Smith has written this: The Bible, Bishops and Bedrooms.

LGBTQ UK Faith Blog published The Bishops’ unpastoral statement.

Helen King How not to be pastoral: the bishops’ new statement on civil partnerships.

Simon Butler As a vicar I know it’s time the Church stopped telling people to be abstinent.

From Bishops:

Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester A message from Bishop Rachel to the Diocese of Gloucester regarding the release of the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships.

Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, has tweeted this

As @cofe ‘s newest bishop (though not in HoB) I was deeply saddened by the unpastoral tone of the HoB statement on civil partnerships. Cold. Legalistic. Loveless. Astonishing timing – mid LLF discussions. Please know that Bishops are not of a mind on this #sorry ☹️

Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich has tweeted this:

1/2 With @BishGloucester I’m frustrated by the process which led to the publication of a House of Bishops statement on civil partnerships, not least because it was deemed business and not discussed and debated by the House. But more, I’m deeply saddened by the hurt is has caused.
2/2 I pledge to do all I can to ensure that the Living in Love and Faith project has a tone and warmth and care that seeks a way forward that, whilst acknowledging different opinions, puts precious life and love at the heart of the conversation and our welcome.

There are also tweets in support from the bishops of Newcastle, Bristol, Sheffield, Worcester, Repton, Crediton.


Civil Partnerships for opposite-sex couples

Updated on Thursday and Friday to add press reports

The Church of England has issued this press release today.

Following the recent change in the law to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, the House of Bishops has agreed a pastoral statement.

I have copied the text of the statement below the fold.


Church Times No blessing for straight civil partnerships, say Bishops

The Guardian Sex is for married heterosexual couples only, says Church of England

The Telegraph Civil partnerships should be no more than ‘sexually abstinent friendships’, Church of England Bishops rule

Pink News Church of England emphatically declares that sex is only for married, heterosexual couples

Independent Only heterosexual married people should have sex, Church of England says

Huffington Post Church Of England Ridiculed For ‘Sex Is Only For Married Heterosexual Couples’ Guidance

Christian Today Sex is for male-female marriage only, Church of England confirms

MailOnline Sex is for straight married couples only says Church of England as it calls on gay or straight civil partnerships to be abstinent

Press Association (via MailOnline) Civil partnerships no more than `sexually abstinent friendships´, says CofE

Sky News Civil partnerships should be ‘sexually abstinent friendships’, says Church of England

i News Only people in heterosexual marriages can have sex, Church of England says in new advice

Evening Standard Church of England declares sex is only for married heterosexual couples

Metro Sex should be only for husbands and wives, rules Church of England

The Living Church Church of England Bishops Say No to Blessing Civil Partnerships



Opinion – 22 January 2020

Daniel Inman Church Times Don’t allow residential training to collapse
“The market is now saturated: action must be taken to ensure that institutions are not forced to close”

Mandate Now ‘The Church has some form of Mandatory Reporting’ (Peter Hancock – Lead Bishop for Safeguarding) | “Oh no it hasn’t!”

Mark Bennet Surviving Church Have attitudes to sex changed in the Church over the past 30 years?

Surviving Church BBC Interview of Julie Macfarlane. Seeking Justice after Abuse

David Ison ViaMedia.News Abusers of Faith

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel BBC Documentary


Opinion – 18 January 2020

This article dates from 1996 but may be of interest
Andrew Brown Prospect The unholy mess

Savi Hensman ViaMedia.News Secularism – A Force for Good?

Angharad Woolcott Church Times ‘As a survivor, I believe that by talking out, I may be able to help others’
“A survivor of clergy abuse reflects on the BBC2 documentary Exposed: The Church’s darkest secret, on the serial sex-offender and former bishop Peter Ball”

Richard Harries Church Times What it feels like to believe
“Richard Harries argues in the last in his series that, in a sceptical age, an appeal to personal experience remains paramount”


Next Suffragan Bishop of St Germans

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of St Germans: 17 January 2020
The Queen appoints Reverend Hugh Edmund Nelson, BA, MTh, to the Suffragan See of St Germans.

Published 17 January 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Hugh Edmund Nelson, BA, MTh, Vicar of Goudhurst with Kilndown, in the diocese of Canterbury to the Suffragan See of St Germans, in the diocese of Truro, in succession to the Right Reverend Christopher David Goldsmith, BA, DPhil, who resigned on 29th September 2019.

Hugh was educated at Worcester College, Oxford and spent 13 years living and working in L’Arche London, one of the Christian communities for people with and without learning disabilities founded by Jean Vanier. He trained for ministry at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, served his title at The Benefice of The Six in the Diocese of Canterbury and was ordained Priest in 2010.

In 2012, Hugh was appointed to his current role as Vicar of Goudhurst and Kilndown. He also served as Chaplain to Blantyre House Prison from 2012-2016.

There are more details on the Truro diocesan website.


February General Synod – online papers

Updated 24 January to include second batch of papers

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 24 January 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 Monday 10 to Thursday 13 February in London.

The Agenda is here and the Report by the Business Committee (Guide to the February 2020 group of sessions) is here.


Synod members reading this might like to note that the deadline for the submission of questions is 12 noon on Wednesday 29 January 2020.

First mailing .zip file

Second mailing .zip file



Opinion – 15 January 2020

The Fence Diary of an Urban Parson
The Reverend J J Cowan goes on a ‘modulated exploratory learning course’.

Mtr Kate St Chrysostom’s Church News and Views Compassion easier than Justice …

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – The Importance of Speaking the Truth

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Church’s Dark Secret – Reflections


BBC documentary on Peter Ball

The BBC has transmitted a two-part television documentary programme:
Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret.

The Church of England has issued two press releases. The first one was issued last week, the second one yesterday after both episodes had been shown:

BBC2 documentary on Peter Ball

Response to BBC 2 documentary on Peter Ball  from the Bishop of Bath & Wells, Peter Hancock

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, has also issued a response (includes video).

Media coverage includes:

Guardian Friendship with Prince Charles made paedophile bishop Peter Ball ‘impregnable’

Daily Mail  Sister of a man who took his own life after being abused by bishop Peter Ball claims the paedophile’s ‘friends in high places’ like Prince Charles are ‘to blame’ for her brother’s death in a new documentary

Church Times Bishops shamed by BBC documentary


Opinion – 11 January 2019

Adrian Chiles The Guardian My atheist family was appalled when I converted to Catholicism – but it’s given me great peace

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Taking stock in 2020. Where is the Church going with Safeguarding?
Private Eye Silence of the Lambeth

Richard Harries Church Times Coming in from the outside
“In the second of a series of articles exploring apologetics in a secular age, Richard Harries considers what it might mean to know God”

David Walker ViaMedia.News All Things Considered….Including ‘Living in Love & Faith’


Second Church Estates Commissioner: Andrew Selous MP

Updated Monday

Press release from Number 10

Second Church Estates Commissioner: Andrew Selous MP

The appointment of Andrew Selous MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

Published 10 January 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and Andrew Selous MP

The Queen has approved the appointment of Mr Andrew Selous MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

Notes to Editors

Andrew Selous has been a Member for South West Bedfordshire since 2001. He is a confirmed member of the Church of England.

There is information on the role of the Second Church Estates Commissioner here. The Commissioner’s primary parliamentary role is to answer oral and written questions from MPs about Church of England matters.


Church Times has more information: Andrew Selous is new Second Church Estates Commissioner.


Anglican Communion Office updates


Three articles from the Anglican Communion Office:

Changing the way the Anglican Communion communicates

A look ahead at 2020 for the Anglican Communion Office

Anglican Primates gather in Jordan for “very strategic meeting” ahead of Lambeth Conference

Anglican Primates meet with King Abdullah II and Heads of Churches in Jordan

The Church Times has this report:

‘Grown-up’ Primates’ Meeting affirms Anglican links with Canterbury