Each day during Lent 2020 Clare Hayns will be posting on her blog about a different woman from the Hebrew Scriptures, and each post will end with a guide for personal prayer. She starts today with Hagar.
Simon Butler ViaMedia.News The Darkness Within…
Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Welby brings peace and reconciliation to South Sudan
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Christian Celebrities and Betrayal2 Comments
The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group in the UK Parliament has today published a report on Religion or Belief in the UK Parliament: Time for Reflection. Much of it is devoted to the 26 Church of England bishops in the House of Lords; the report calls for an end to their automatic seats.
There is a comprehensive summary of the report on www.politics.co.uk which starts
Humanist MPs and peers have today called for a major rebalancing of the relationship between religion and state in the Westminster Parliament. Their new report calls for parliamentary prayers to be replaced with a ‘time for reflection’ inclusive of all, for the Commons speaker to consider introducing additional forms of religious and pastoral support alongside that provided by the Anglican chaplain, and for an end to automatic seats in Parliament for Anglican bishops.
Time for Reflection: A report of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group on religion or belief in the UK Parliament examines these matters in more detail than ever before, uncovering issues which have restricted non-Anglican parliamentarians from fully participating in the life of Parliament as equally as their Anglican colleagues…
Other coverage includes:24 Comments
Anthony Archer ViaMedia.News Church and State – The State We’re In!
Janet Fife Surviving Church Being a Witness
Cherry Vann was interviewed on BBC Radio4’s Woman’s Hour; it’s the first item.39 Comments
Here are a few online articles relating to last week’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod.
Tim Hind Open Synod Group report of proceedings
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK “Public health funerals” and “direct cremation” – an update
The rules and related items for the forthcoming General Synod elections are here.3 Comments
Giles Fraser UnHerd Churches are closing down – I won’t let mine be one of them
John D Alexander The Living Church The Bishop Who Foretold Dresden
Richard Peers Oikodomeo Growing the Church: parish weekends and events36 Comments
The Mail on Sunday reported: Revealed: The emails dripping in poison that dons at Oxford’s most prestigious college tried to cover up – including one which read, ‘Think of the Morse episode we could make when his wrinkly body is found!’
And: The alma mater of 13 Prime Ministers, Christ Church is Oxford’s grandest college… but now a toxic feud among its dons is set to spill out in court – threatening what one distinguished alumnus calls ‘a horror movie’
There are later reports (£) in the Telegraph: Oxford College dons in ‘poison’ email row over attempt to oust Christ Church Dean who was labelled ‘little Hitler’
and in The Times: Oxford dons and dean of Christ Church in feud over email slurs
Christ Church has issued this statement: Christ Church statement in response to media interest 14 Feb 2020
In response to recent media interest, we can confirm that we are in receipt of two Employment Tribunal claims from the Dean of Christ Church. We are all too conscious that a disagreement over pay and remuneration with the Dean has led, over the last two years, to significantly-heightened tensions between him and Governing Body. Personal relationships have undoubtedly suffered, and we all regret this deeply. We take our responsibilities towards all members of our community very seriously, and believe that we have acted in the best interests of Christ Church, including its students and staff.
While the specific matters being raised by the Dean should be left to the Employment Tribunal to consider, the Governing Body remains committed to achieving a satisfactory resolution. Christ Church expects members to show respect towards one another at all times, but equally we acknowledge that individuals are entitled to their personal opinions. Frustrations conveyed about – but not to – the Dean, exacerbated by the dispute over his pay, were in the past expressed in some private emails. However, mediation with the Dean, funded by Christ Church, resumed in November 2019 and is now ongoing. We very much hope that we can find a way forward through this process, and avoid considerable further cost.
The Diocese of Oxford has issued this: The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy
Sunday 16 February: following media reports this weekend the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, has issued this statement:
“Martyn is a close and valued colleague, widely respected across the Diocese of Oxford and the wider Church. What happens next is for the employment tribunal to determine, but it is never too late to begin a process of reconciliation. This will require acknowledgement of responsibility, and also transparency on all sides. Recent events, while painful, are but a moment in the lifetime of this historic and unique dual foundation which contributes so much to the University and to the Diocese of Oxford. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved.”
Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Ten Top Ways to Get the Church to Carbon Neutral
Erika Baker ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – a View from the Pew
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Living in Love and Faith – what are we missing, what are we not understanding?
David Walker ViaMedia.News General Synod: The Highs & Lows
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Listening to the General Synod Safeguarding Debate20 Comments
The day’s business is in Order Paper Six
Official press releases
General Synod approves Channel Islands legislation
Legal aid an ‘essential service’ that should be preserved for the ‘benefit of the nation’, Synod votes
Archbishop of Canterbury pays tribute to the Archbishop of York
Synod says yes to Channel Islands transfer
Members’ blogs10 Comments
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love LGBTI+ and Church of England Teaching Documents – a history
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church General Synod, Survivors and Institutional Power
Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Salt and Light
Savitri Hensman ViaMedia.News Church & Sexuality: Like a Mighty Tortoise…
Jon Kuhrt Psephizo Why do churches manage people badly?
Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Safeguarding: the Church of England’s house is slowly being rebuilt21 Comments
As usual, Stephen Lynas is providing his excellent summaries of each day’s business.
Stephen Parsons wrote this in advance of the first item of business on Safeguarding: Is Synod overseeing a revolution in the treatment of abuse survivors? We also covered this here.
At the end of the Safeguarding debate Synod passed the following motion by 361 votes to nil, with no recorded abstentions.
That this Synod
(a) endorse the Archbishops’ Council’s response, set out in GS 2158, to the five recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in its investigation report Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball (May 2019) at pages 206 to 207;
(b) welcome the statement in paragraph 4.1 of the response that the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) “remains committed to ensuring that words of apology are followed by concrete actions”;
(c) urge the NSSG to bring forward proposals to give effect to that commitment that follow a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors;
(d) request that the NSSG keep the Synod updated on the development and implementation of responses to recommendations relating to the Church of England that are made by the Inquiry, including by submitting a report for debate by the Synod not later than July 2021.
The paper (GS 2158) referred to in the motion is online here.
The rest of the morning session was devoted to a debate on the Climate Emergency and Carbon Reduction Target. The motion as originally proposed was amended, most significantly when “2045 at the latest” in paragraph (a) was replaced by “2030”. This amendment was quite narrowly carried by 144 votes to 129 with 10 recorded abstentions. At the end of the debate, the amended motion below was carried on a show of hands.
That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;
(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs, education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals and the NCIs, to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;
(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCIs every 3 years beginning in 2022 and;
(c) call on each Diocesan Synod and cathedral Chapter to address progress toward net zero emissions every 3 years.
The first item of business in the afternoon was a debate on so-called Paupers’ Funerals. The motion before Synod (after amendment) was
That this Synod noting:
(a) the substantial rise in the number of ‘pauper funerals’ in England and the pain and hurt arising from them; and
(b) the call of the Gospel to meet people as Jesus does, in their time of need, as well as the duty of Christians to the poor as set out in Proverbs 31.8-9 and Deuteronomy 15.7-8;
call upon the Archbishops’ Council to direct and resource the Life Events Advisory Group, in consultation with the Churches Funeral Group and the British Council of Funeral Services to:
i. undertake the formation of plans at national, diocesan and parish levels to utilise Church resources (whether in the form of finance, volunteers or buildings) to tackle the issues relating to and, where possible, end ‘pauper funerals’;
ii. work with other stakeholders to find ways, at an affordable price, to deliver a more compassionate send off for the departed and to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of those left behind; and
iii. report progress made with reference to the above by the end of 2021;
and further call on Her Majesty’s Government to develop with Council leaders, a national plan and basic standards for pauper funerals, which should include allowing a Christian funeral service to take place in Church or at a Crematorium; for family or others to attend; and the return of the departed (where permitted) to family members.
and this was carried by 273 votes to nil, with one recorded abstention.
Next was a debate on Children and Youth Ministry. The motion before Synod (after amendment) was
That this Synod, recognising the continuing decline in numbers of under 16’s engaging with Church:
(a) encourage dioceses to act urgently and consider practical ways they can support and resource those churches both with significant numbers of children and young people and with specific aspirations to increase their numbers of the same;
(b) encourage dioceses to make provision to support and resource those churches serving communities which currently have small numbers of children, teenagers and young people;
(c) request dioceses to share good models of practice through churches helping to resource others so that we have many more churches engaging with children and young people;
(d) request the NCI’s to commit funding for qualitative research on the data received to help understand best practice in a variety of contexts;
(e) encourage dioceses to explore new ways to grow new church communities with young people as a primary missional focus;
(f) request the Evangelism and Discipleship team to ensure this work is clearly joined up with Growing Faith; and
(g) request an update from the Evangelism and Discipleship team in two years with analysis of progress in these areas.
and this was carried on a show of hands.
Official press releases
Overwhelming support for Synod safeguarding motion – This includes links to some of the speeches in the debate.
General Synod sets 2030 Net Zero carbon target
General Synod calls on Government to act over ‘pauper’ funerals
[This page will be updated during the day.]9 Comments
Synod papers are online here.
As usual, Stephen Lynas is providing his excellent summaries of each day’s business.
Much of the morning was spent on the Draft Cathedrals Measure. This had been revised by a revision committee and it was now Synod’s turn to accept or revise it. The proposed amendments are in order paper two. All were accepted by Synod except for 510 and 516. The Measure now goes to committee for final drafting before coming back to Synod for final approval at a later group of sessions.
The other item of business before lunch was deanery synod term limits. The recent complete rewriting of the Church Representation Rules (the “Rules”) included a provision to limit lay members of deanery synods to two consecutive terms of three years (although APCMs could vote not to apply this). There was opposition to this at the time but by the time people realised the significance of the change it was too late to do anything about it. However the Business Committee had undertaken a consultation and proposed to introduce a change to the Rules so that the default position would be no term limit, although APCMs would be allowed to make a limit. Today’s debate was to see if there was sufficient support in Synod to make it worthwhile starting the process of amending the Rules. Because this requires a two-thirds majority in each house of Synod, today’s vote was by houses with this result:
Bishops for 14, against 6
Clergy for 66, against 31
Laity for 128, against 14
There were recorded abstentions of 1, 3, 2 respectively.
Today a simple majority in each house was sufficient, so the motion asking the Business Committee to introduce the necessary resolution at the July 2020 group of sessions was passed. However it should be noted that whilst the laity today were overwhelmingly in favour, the bishops and clergy only just reached the two-thirds majority that will be needed in July.
The afternoon started with a presentation on Living in Love and Faith the Pastoral Advisory Group – see the Church Times story linked below for details.
Later there was a private members’ motion on Windrush Commitment and Legacy. After some amendments the motion before Synod was
That this Synod, commemorating in 2018 the martyrdom of the Revd Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., noting with joy the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush liner in the United Kingdom in June 1948 bringing nearly 500 Commonwealth citizens, mainly from the Caribbean, to mainland UK; and the eventual arrival of approximately half a million people from the West Indies, who were called to Britain as British subjects to help rebuild the post-war United Kingdom:
(a) lament, on behalf of Christ’s Church, and apologises for, the conscious and unconscious racism experienced by countless Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Anglicans in 1948 and subsequent years, when seeking to find a spiritual home in their local Church of England parish churches, the memory of which is still painful to committed Anglicans who in spite of this racism from clergy and others, have remained faithful to the Church of England and their Anglican heritage;
(b) request the Archbishops’ Council to commission research to assess the impact of this on the Church of England in terms of church members lost, churches declining into closure, and vocations to ordained and licensed lay ministries missed, and to report back to this Synod and the wider Church.
(c) express gratitude to God for the indispensable contribution to the mission, ministry, prayer and worship of Christ’s Church in this nation made by people of BAME descent in the Church of England;
(d) acknowledge and give joyful thanks for the wider contribution of the ‘Windrush generation’ and their descendants to UK life and culture in every field of human activity, including service across the Armed Forces and other services during and after the Second World War;
(e) resolve to continue, with great effort and urgency, to stamp out all forms of conscious or unconscious racism, and to commit the Church of England to increase the participation and representation of lay and ordained BAME Anglicans throughout Church life; and
(f) request the Archbishop’s Council to appoint an independent person external to the Church to assess the current situation as regards race and ethnicity in the Church, in order to present a report to this Synod with recommendations for actions to achieve reconciliation and authentic belonging so that we can move towards truly being a Church for all people;
to the greater glory of the God in whose image every human being is made.
The motion was carried by 295 votes to nil, with no recorded abstentions.
Official press releases
Stephen Lynas All kinds of everything11 Comments
The February group of sessions of the Church of England’s General Synod opened this afternoon. Proceedings can be watched live here.
The first day’s business is in Order Paper One.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a presidential address; you can read a transcript here.
There is some background information on one item, the draft Channel Islands Measure, in the item below. Synod voted to proceed with this draft measure, and it will be considered for revision in Full Synod tomorrow (Tuesday).
Synod voted to proclaim the Clergy Covenant for Wellbeing as an Act of Synod. The Covenant is here, and a paper on the Act of Synod, and an update on progress is here. There is also a Document for Reflection and Action for the Clergy.
The day’s business ended with Questions.
Official press release
Church Times No biting, Welby tells his fellow Anglicans
Press Association (via This is Money)
Archbishop says technology could be `danger to flock´ or `aid to shepherd´
Members’ blogs13 Comments
There is a proposal before the Church of England General Synod this week to transfer the Channel Islands from the diocese of Winchester to the diocese of Salisbury. This follows from the recommendations of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on the Relationship of the Channel Islands to the Wider Church of England (GS Misc 1241) which was chaired by Richard Chartres, the former bishop of London. This requires a Church Measure (the Church of England’s equivalent to an Act of Parliament) and it is intended to take all stages of this before Synod closes on Thursday. The first stage will be taken this afternoon and this will primarily deal with the principle.
Not everybody agrees with the proposal. One such is Simon Cawdell, a Synod member from Hereford. He has written a paper which has circulated amongst some Synod members and this has prompted a response from the Deans of Guernsey and Jersey (the senior clergy on the islands). With permission I have copied the texts of both papers below the fold.17 Comments
Updated Saturday evening
The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London from Monday to Thursday next week. I published a list of news stories here. Here is some more news and comment.
Stephen Lynas bathwellschap Return to Sender [Stephen’s usual informative introduction to the Synod]
Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News Is All Well with the “Clergy Well Being” Covenant?
recent Church Times news and comment
Synod members are invited to climate vigil
Priestly formation needs revising to benefit children’s ministry
There are links to Synod papers here. The official General Synod app is available to download on iOS and Android devices. It is described as “Once downloaded, the app allows access to an electronic version of the timetable as well as all the documents you need to take part in the session as a member. Any changes or updates to the timetable and documents are also sent to the app.” Although primarily intended for Synod members anybody can use it.6 Comments
Jeremy Pemberton From the Choir Stalls Sexuality and Intimacy: are we thinking straight?
Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News After the Apology – Surely the Centre Cannot Hold?
Helen King and Judith Maltby ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – What the Bishops Need to Learn…
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Love, honesty, openness, courage and integrity please, bishops
Living in Love and Faith – a doomed project
Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of trust, mission, leadership and governance
Helen King sharedconversations Bishops to show us the way
Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Church of England’s response to IICSA33 Comments
The Church of England’s General Synod will have its usual question and answer session on Monday afternoon next week. The questions, and answers, have been published today (see links below). These will not be read out at Synod and the session will be devoted to supplementary questions.
Update: A list of errata has been published.1 Comment
The new Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, on behalf of the Church Commissioners. There is a transcript of the questions and answers here. Questions were asked about LGBT+ equality, civil partnerships, church buildings, church schools and universities, HS2, and Christians in Nigeria.
Readers may be particularly interested in the question on Civil Partnerships.
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Whether the Commissioners were consulted on recent guidance by the Church on civil partnerships; and if he will make a statement.
Andrew Selous: I am accountable for the Church of England in this place. The Church Commissioners are not consulted on announcements by the College of Bishops. The archbishops have since apologised for the division and hurt caused by the pastoral statement.
Mr Bradshaw: Regardless of that, I think it was discourteous of the bishops not to inform the Second Church Estates Commissioner. The legislation was passed overwhelmingly in this House with all-party support. It is bad enough that the Church still treats its LGBT+ members as second-class Christians, but to say to the child of a heterosexual couple in a civil partnership that they should not exist because their parents should not have had or be having sex is so hurtful. Will he tell the bishops that unless this nonsense stops serious questions will be asked in this place about the legitimacy of the established status of the Church of England?
Andrew Selous: I will certainly feed back the right hon. Gentleman’s strongly felt concern on this issue to the College of Bishops. In their apology, the archbishops did recognise that the pastoral statement had jeopardised the trust that has been built up as part of the Living in Love and Faith project, which is intended to discern the way forward for the Church of England on this issue.1 Comment
New Lead Safeguarding Bishop and Deputy Announced
The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs has been announced as the Church of England’s new lead safeguarding bishop, taking over from Bishop Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells who leaves the role at the end of February.
Bishop Jonathan, a member of the House of Bishops, will be supported by the Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, as deputy lead safeguarding bishop.
Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie will work closely with the national director of safeguarding Melissa Caslake, who took up the role six months ago, along with the all members of the National Safeguarding Team as they continue to develop the Church’s safeguarding practice. Bishop Jonathan will chair the National Safeguarding Steering Group, the delegated House of Bishops body responsible for making national safeguarding decisions.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “We are truly grateful to Bishop Peter who as lead safeguarding bishop, represented the Church at its three IICSA hearings over the past two years as well as leading on the response both to the recommendations and the important calls for change from survivors. His commitment to safeguarding and the mission of the Church is exemplary and the House of Bishops has learnt a lot from him.
We welcome Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie and commend their willingness to take up this role which is a vital part of the work of the Church. I am aware of the immense time commitment involved and pray for them as this new chapter begins.”
Bishop Jonathan said:
“Having been a member of the NSSG for the last two years, I am deeply grateful to Bishop Peter Hancock for all that he has done, as well as very aware of the responsibility involved in taking on this role. I am profoundly conscious of the work that lies ahead, both in response to the findings of IICSA and beyond. In particular, I am committed to working closely with the survivor community, to whom we owe a huge debt of thanks for their courage, integrity and willingness to hold us to account. Safeguarding is about enabling the Church of England to go on becoming a safer, healthier place for all, and it is a sacred responsibility in which every single one of us must share.”
Bishop Debbie said:
“It is a privilege for me to take on this role, and to play my part in helping the Church respond well to survivors. Having begun ministry as a Family and Children’s Worker, I am committed to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and supporting families in need. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and I am pleased to be working with the National Team in developing our practice further.”11 Comments
Updated Thursday evening
A group of survivors of sexual abuse committed by Church of England clergy have written an open letter to General Synod members. The full text of that letter is copied below the fold (and is also on the Surviving Church blog).
Amendments, supported by the survivors, to the proposed motion due to be debated next week regarding the recommendations from IICSA to the Church of England have been proposed by David Lamming and Peter Adams.
Peter Adams has written an article about the need for stronger action by General Synod: Closing the door on a shameful past: the need for a fully rounded response by CofE General Synod to IICSA.
These amendments have however been ruled out of order. See today’s Church Times news report Safeguarding amendments to give Synod motion ‘more teeth’ are rejected.
The full text of the proposed motion if the proposed amendments had been accepted, is as follows.
GENERAL SYNOD FEBRUARY 2020 GROUP OF SESSIONS WEDNESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2020
AGENDA ITEM 9 Safeguarding: Response to recommendations in IICSA May 2019 Investigation Report (GS 2158)
COMPOSITE DRAFT OF THE MOTION AS IT WOULD BE IF AMENDED BY THE AMENDMENTS PROPOSED BY DAVID LAMMING (GS 399) AND PETER ADAMS (GS 392)
That this Synod:
(a) lament the Church of England’s abject failures in dealing with reports of abuse, as revealed during the hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and documented in its interim report, Anglican Church Case Studies: Diocese of Chichester and The response to allegations against Peter Ball (May 2019), and accordingly welcome the terms of the Diocese of Blackburn ‘Ad Clerum’ letter dated 17th June 2019, reflecting on the IICSA report and commend its victim-centred approach to all in authority within the Church as a suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission;
(b) affirm (in the words of the National Director of Safeguarding at para 4.1 of paper GS 2158) that the Church of England “remains committed to ensuring that words of apology are followed by concrete actions to improve how all worshipping communities across the whole Church in its many forms – across its parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, religious communities, national church institutions and other church bodies – respond to concerns and allegations of abuse and to all victims and survivors of abuse and others affected by this, whilst at the same time working to prevent such abuse from occurring in the first place.”
(c) endorse the Archbishops’ Council’s response, set out in paper GS 2158, to the five recommendations made by IICSA at pages 206 to 207 of its said report;
(d) request the Archbishops’ Council, National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), National Safeguarding Team, and House of Bishops to respond immediately to the recommendations of the final IICSA report on the Anglican Church when it is published, and bring their response to General Synod for debate no later than July 2021; and
(e) request the Archbishops’ Council, NSSG and House of Bishops, working in conjunction with the Church Commissioners, to bring forward proposals for an appropriate and properly resourced compensation and redress scheme, so that words of apology are matched by actions that truly reflect the justice and righteousness of God’s kingdom.
Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Candlemas: from the Presentation of Christ to ‘Radical Inclusion’
Andrew Nunn the Dean of Southwark What’s love got to do with it?
Jayne Ozanne gave this lecture Love, Sex and Power to the William Temple Association on Monday.
There is a report of the lecture in The Guardian: C of E sex guidance row: synod member calls out ‘deep’ hypocrisy.
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love How to confront a hypocritical and abusive institution
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church ‘Trials’ in Church and State
Stephen’s article alludes to this article in InsurancePOST: Ecclesiastical faces fresh allegations of unethical treatment as case of ‘suicide watch’ claimant comes to light