Thinking Anglicans

Living in Love and Faith resources – publication postponed

Update  – Helen King writes about the postponement: Stopping: and starting?

The Church of England issued the following press release today.

Living in Love and Faith: update in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
29/04/2020

The House of Bishops has agreed that, in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the publication of the Living in Love and Faith resources, which had been scheduled to take place in June, should be postponed.

In a statement, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the Bishops of Coventry and London, emphasise that work on the Living in Love and Faith resources continues and that the situation will be monitored to discern the most appropriate time for their publication.

The archbishops and bishops also reiterate that the publication of the resources will initiate a process of whole Church engagement, within a clear timeframe, to enable the Church to discern and decide about the way forward for the Church in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

They said:

In recent weeks and months, almost every aspect of our lives – and the life of the whole Church – has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inevitably, that has prompted some serious thought about our plans for the publication of the Living in Love and Faith resources and what we envisaged might come next: a process of church-wide engagement and episcopal discernment and decision making about the way forward for the Church in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

The LLF resources were due to be published at the end of June 2020. However, the Church’s focus is now on ministering to people who are experiencing so many challenges – of bereavement, sickness, isolation, uncertainty about livelihood and fear for what the future holds. That is why we have decided to delay the publication of the resources. We know that there may be real disappointment about this delay, especially for LGBTI+ people, and we are grateful for the continued engagement of so many in the LLF process.

It is important to say, however, that while the publication date has been delayed, Living in Love and Faith has not simply been parked. Far from it: a huge amount of work and prayerful engagement has gone into the resources and we are more hopeful than ever that they will enable the people of God to learn together about human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in the context of our life together in love and faith.

No one can predict how COVID-19 will affect the life of the Church or society over the coming months and years. That is why we will monitor the situation to discern when might be the earliest appropriate time to publish the long-awaited LLF resources and thereby launch the process of whole-church engagement.

The production of the resources continues to be in hand under the leadership of the Bishop of Coventry. We hope that, when the time is right, they will serve the life of the Church. It is likely that the resources will seek to reflect and give due attention to the context in which they will eventually be launched.

As well as the resources themselves we have also been giving prayerful thought to what would come next following their publication. The House of Bishops has agreed that, when that time comes, there will be a process of engagement right across the Church.  This will take place within a clear timeframe under the leadership of the Bishop of London and will enable the Church to discern and decide about the way forward for the Church in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

We will say more on how that might be shaped when our current situation becomes clearer. The Archbishop of York Designate, who will be in post when the resources are published and disseminated, has been consulted about these plans and supports them.

The vision continues to be one of enabling the whole Church to explore the resources together and so to contribute to the Church’s discernment about these matters that affect deeply our life together in love and faith.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of York

The Bishop of Coventry

The Bishop of London

48 Comments

Opinion – 29 April 2020

Fergus Butler-Gallie reviewed streamed services from the Church of England and protestant churches for BBC Radio 4‘s Sunday programme (listen from 3 min 16 sec).

Peter Anthony Are virtual celebrations of the Eucharist a good idea or not?
[21 minute YouTube video]

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church What are Safeguarding Core Groups in the Church of England?

Savitri Hensman ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back….to Pretending Closeness is Unnecessary

Doug Chaplin Liturgica When catching a virus changes the church.

39 Comments

New Suffragans for Chichester

The Prime Minister’s Office has announced today two new suffragan bishops for the Diocese of Chichester. Ruth Bushyager is to be Bishop of Horsham and William Hazlewood is to Bishop of Lewes. The two press releases are copied below and there is more detail on the Chichester diocesan website

Suffragan See of Horsham: 29 April 2020
Queen approves nomination of the Reverend Ruth Kathleen Frances Bushyager to the Suffragan See of Horsham.

Published 29 April 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Ruth Kathleen Frances Bushyager, BA, MSci, Vicar of St Paul’s Dorking and Area Dean for Dorking in the Diocese of Guildford to the Suffragan See of Horsham, in the Diocese of Chichester, in succession to the Right Reverend Mark Sowerby who resigned on 1st September 2019.

Suffragan See of Lewes: 29 April 2020
Queen approves nomination of the Reverend Prebendary William Peter Guy Hazlewood to the Suffragan See of Lewes.

Published 29 April 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Prebendary William Peter Guy Hazlewood, Vicar of the United Benefice of Dartmouth and Dittisham and Honorary Canon at Exeter Cathedral, in the Diocese of Exeter, to the Suffragan See of Lewes, in the Diocese of Chichester, in succession to the Right Reverend Richard Jackson following his translation to the See of Hereford.

29 Comments

John Smyth review – timing of publication

Updated Tuesday afternoon to add response from Andrew Graystone
Updated Wednesday to add report of the resignation of the Titus Trust chairman.

The Church of England issued the following press release today.

John Smyth review – timing of publication
28/04/2020

The Learning Lessons Review, commissioned by the Church of England, into its handling of the allegations of abuse committed by the late John Smyth continues to be delivered according to the terms of reference. To ensure the review is as comprehensive as possible and that the large volume of information submitted can be fully studied, completion is now expected into 2021. This timeframe will also allow for any impact the COVID-19 restrictions may have on the review’s day to day workings.

The review, led by Keith Makin and supported by Sarah Lawrence, has to date focussed on engagement with victims and survivors who have bravely provided invaluable and full accounts of the abuse. In addition, the reviewers have continued to receive contact from individuals and organisations wishing to submit accounts and written materials of vital interest. This has been wider than could have been anticipated when the review began.

It should be noted that the reviewers continue to welcome any further submissions from victims and survivors who have yet to come forward along with other individuals or organisations that wish to participate. Contact details below.

The terms of reference suggested a timeline for completion of the review within nine months from commencing in October 2019 (having been announced in August). Progress updates have been held at regular intervals since then between the National Director of Safeguarding and the reviewers.

Work has been taking place to ensure cooperation between parallel reviews being delivered by organisations listed in the terms of reference. This is to ensure appropriate, safe and legal information sharing takes place to protect confidentiality of victims while at the same time ensuring minimal impact on individuals in terms of repeating their traumatic and damaging experiences of abuse.

The Covid-19 crisis will undoubtedly have some impact on the review process and timeline although virtual meetings are being used where possible.

Keith Makin, Independent Lead Reviewer said: “Sarah and I have been privileged to speak to many brave victims and survivors as part of this review process so far and would like to thank those people for their most valuable accounts of the terrible psychological and physical abuse experienced at the hands of John Smyth.

We know the delay in completion will be a great frustration for all those involved but we are absolutely committed to making this review as comprehensive and thorough as possible to ensure lessons are learnt.

To do this properly, I have asked for more time to allow Sarah and I to continue to meet with individuals and analyse the evidence submitted. The Church has agreed that this additional time will be time well spent and vital for the Church’s safeguarding learning.”

Contact

Keith.makin@independentreviews.live               07713149683

Update

In response Andrew Graystone has released the following.

Church of England announces further delay to Smyth Review

The Church of England has announced a further delay to the publication of its review of abuse by John Smyth QC. The church says that the review, which was originally scheduled for publication next month, will now be completed in “early 2021” and published some time later. The postponement, which was announced on the Church of England’s website, is the second time that the date has been put back.

The first announcement of a review was made by the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding Peter Hancock on the day of Smyth’s death in August 2018. It was a further 12 months before a reviewer was appointed, and Terms of Reference were announced in August 2019. At that stage the review was expected to last nine months. The church later revised the Terms of Reference to accommodate the fact that work on the review had not started until October 2019.

In a note to some victims yesterday, the reviewer Keith Makin said that “The response from victims and survivors as well as many other interested parties and organisations to our request for information has been immense. The timescale change reflects this as we continue to receive new lines of enquiry to investigate along with vast amounts of written materials and individual accounts.” He said that the difficulties caused by Covid-19 are not currently a factor in the timing of the review.

Victims’ advocate Andrew Graystone said “This review is the last opportunity for Smyth’s victims to receive some form of justice, so the additional delay will be difficult for them. Hopefully it is a sign that the Church of England is coming to terms with the scale of abuse, and the extent to which it is embedded in the church.”

If the review is completed in 2021 it will be almost a decade since the abuse was first reported to the Church of England, and almost forty years since it was first brought to the attention of the Iwerne Trust. Parallel reviews into John Smyth’s abuse are being conducted by Winchester College and Scripture Union. The experts conducting those reviews were not informed in advance of the decision to extend the Church of England’s review.

Andrew Graystone

07772 710090

andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

Further updates

Anglican Ink reports that the Rev Simon Austen, the Titus Trust chairman, resigned on 9 April 2020. According to this “A spokeswoman for Mr Austen at the St Leonard’s Church office said the reason for his resignation as chairman of the Titus Trust was that he ‘intended to serve in this capacity for two years and has now come to the end of his term of office’.”

Law and Religion UK bring a lot of useful background links together here.

8 Comments

Dean of Derby

It was announced today that the next Dean of Derby is to be the Venerable Peter Robinson, who is currently the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne in the Diocese of Newcastle.

19 Comments

Opinion – 25 April 2020

Paul Bayes Viamedia.News We Can’t Go Back….Remember, These Are Early Days

Peter Anthony Church Times No, this is not like the Early Church
“Worship in homes is not a return to the pre-Constantinian era”
[This is a shortened version of the talk that we linked to here.]

Janet Fife Surviving Church Memories of Communion

Alice Whalley Church Times YouTube sermons will not feed the hungry
“The pandemic is driving many into poverty: they need more than online worship”
Alice’s most recent sermon is here.

Charlie Bell Anglicanism.org The Eucharistic Feast: participation, representation and sacramental integrity in the time of social distancing

64 Comments

Opinion – 22 April 2020

Mandy Ford ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back – Hidden Lives & Untold Stories
This is the first in a series on the topic ‘We Can’t Go Back…’ based on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words in his Easter sermon. They will also be available as podcasts; this one is here.

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Online Worship – the Beaker Guide

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Power and Influence in the world of Safeguarding

Al Barrett This estate we’re in Resurrection deferred? COVID-19 & the disruption in liturgical time (5)
This is the fifth in a series; it has links to the earlier items.

Peter Anthony How should we celebrate the Eucharist at a time of lock down and social isolation?
[28 minute YouTube video]

Archbishop Cranmer Rev’d Marcus Walker returns to his pulpit: “Here I stand!”
Canon Simon Butler responds to Archbishop Cranmer & Fr Marcus Walker

53 Comments

Titus Trust: some updates

On 4 April, we reported on the connections between the Titus Trust, John Smyth, and Jonathan Fletcher.

Today, a further statement has been issued on behalf of survivors:

There has been some confusion about the statement published by Titus Trust on 3rd April 2020 responding to the settlement of claims by three victims of John Smyth. I hope these facts will clarify the situation.

The settlement
John Smyth’s known victims currently number in excess of 110. The Titus Trust has settled with just three of them. The three men initiated a civil action because, after several years of being blanked and ignored by the trust, they felt that this was the only way to force the trust to confront its responsibilities.

In response, the Titus Trust has spent well in excess of £100,000 in legal fees defending the civil claim. This is many times the amount that the claimants will receive in settlement. In addition, the trust has retained one of the most expensive secular Public Relations consultancies in the UK to manage their profile. The Titus Trust had an income of £1,934,000 last year, of which £1,078,000 was donations.

The statement
The three claimants were given no prior sight of the statement, which was released by the Titus Trust without warning on a Friday evening, 3rd April 2020.

The Titus Trust statement, and the settlement itself, contains no admission of liability or involvement in Smyth’s abuse, no reference to the involvement of key members of the Iwerne network in arranging Smyth’s removal to Africa, no acknowledgement of his continuing abuse there over three decades, and no reference to the covering-up of Smyth’s abuse since it was disclosed in 1982. Indeed, the settlement repeats several times their assertion that the Titus Trust was not and is not responsible in any way for Smyth’s abuse. This is in spite of the fact that there is a significant continuity in activities, personnel and culture between Titus Trust and its predecessor. In terms of apology, all that the statement says is, “We are sorry that the Titus Trust’s earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others.” They are sorry for their language.

The Titus Trust continues to maintain that the Iwerne camps network was the responsibility of the Scripture Union.

Reviews and inquiries
The Titus statement describes three “actions” that they say that have taken, or are taking, in response to the revelations of abuse by John Smyth.

i)    A full independent review of safeguarding practices
A review was conducted in 2018 by the reputable independent safeguarding consultancy thirtyone:eight. It examined safeguarding on camps and activities currently run by the trust. Titus Trust has not published this review. The trust is within its rights to keep such a review confidential, though in the circumstances it might have helped public confidence if it had been published.

Their statement of April 2020 says that “among other things, [the review] has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.” It is not clear what this means, since I am not aware that any survivor of abuse has received any pastoral care or support from the trust. The three men who brought the civil action against Titus Trust have received no contact from the trust at all since the abuse became public knowledge.

ii)    An internal Cultural Review
The statement says that “an internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices.” No information about this review has been published. This review was not conducted by thirtyone:eight. It is not clear what aspects of culture this review covered, who conducted it, what was concluded, or what if anything has changed.

iii)    An independent Cultural review
The statement says that “an independent Cultural Review will begin shortly” that will “enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.” This review has not yet taken place, and no information about it has been published. It is not clear what it will cover, what form it will take, who will conduct it, when it will take place, or whether it will be published.

The statement also makes reference to “the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin.” This review was announced by the Church of England in August 2018, commissioned in August 2018 and begun in October 2019. The Makin Review was originally due to be completed by April 2020, but this was put back to June 2020. The current best estimate is that it may be complete by early Summer 2021.

The Makin Review is one of three inquiries currently being conducted into the abuse by John Smyth. Clearly the existence of three separate reviews is far from ideal, and causes additional suffering to the victims. It became necessary to conduct separate reviews because The Titus Trust refused to cooperate with one overall review when it was first proposed, insisting that they had no connection with John Smyth. Smyth was the chair of the Iwerne Trust, which was the predecessor of the Titus Trust.

More recently the Titus Trust has agreed to cooperate with the Makin inquiry, the civil claimants having made that a condition of the settlement of their claim. We cannot yet know what the extent of that cooperation will be. The Titus Trust is not conducting its own review into the activities of John Smyth.

In addition to the well-publicised abuse by John Smyth, there have been at least four other corroborated instances of abuse against boys and young men by members of the Iwerne network. Others are under investigation.

Victims of John Smyth continue to believe that the Titus Trust should close.

Andrew Graystone
April 2020

Also, this recent article, by Matthew Mason, may have some bearing on the matter: Where Did the Holy Spirit Go?

29 Comments

Opinion – 18 April 2020

Andrew Walker Ship of Fools The doubting disciple

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of Church: dispersed yet communal & catholic

Kelvin Holdsworth Grace Received: communion on the battlefield

Emma Major Building community in a crisis Church Online: Nothing New

Ann Memmott Ann’s Autism Blog Who is welcome? A reflection for churches, during online times.

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Coercion and Control and the Church

36 Comments

Opinion – 15 April 2020

Mark Vernon Medium Easter And The End Of Christianity
“If Coronavirus turns Christian leaders into exemplary citizens, the gospel is lost”

A K M Adam AKMA’s Random Thoughts On Streams and Places

Paul Vallely Church Times This is teaching us about the mass
“Paul Vallely samples eucharists on the internet”

Jeremy Fletcher Rules for Lock Down Reverends

Dana Delap Church Times How we shared the bread and wine on Zoom
“Parishioners were asking for communion on Easter Day, says Dana Delap, and she wanted to feed them”

28 Comments

House churches in the early church

The Revd Peter Anthony, Vicar of St Benet’s, Kentish Town in London has recorded a half-hour talk on why what we’re doing now is not a copying of the house churches of the patristic era.

View it here on You Tube. I strongly recommend this video.

53 Comments

Opinion – 11 April 2020

Mia Kyte Hilborn Church of England A chaplain’s view – the Coronavirus pandemic
“The NHS has withstood many emergency situations. It will withstand this one, but this crisis is different.”

Hilary Ison ViaMedia.News Trauma & Tragedy in Congregations & Communities

Giles Fraser UnHerd Where is God in this Covid horror?
“Church is one of the few places where we can acknowledge the existence of futile suffering”

Martyn Percy Modern Church Dean’s Diary: Light and Dark in Holy Week

Luke Coppen The Spectator Will coronavirus hasten the demise of religion – or herald its revival?
“The lockdown is testing believers of all stripes”

Anglican Communion News Service Primates’ Easter Messages 2020
A collection of Easter Messages from Anglican Primates and other senior Church leaders.

12 Comments

Churches deal with the Covid-19 lockdown

Updated 6 pm Thursday

With reference to the stories below about hospital chaplaincy, the bishops who signed the previous document, linked below, have published A letter regarding hospital chaplaincy. The content of this new letter is copied here below the fold.

————

The Church Times today has a comprehensive report:  Churches co-ordinate their CV-19 response as figures go on rising.

The Telegraph reports:(£) Archbishop of Canterbury says Jesus is ‘quite up to date’ with technology and urges churches to stay closed. The video mentioned was published here yesterday.

The bishops of the Church in Wales have published this guidance on the matter of livestreaming from church buildings:

…All church buildings remain closed until further notice. This means churches must not be open for public worship or solitary prayer.

Worship has been recorded and broadcast both commendably and effectively from parsonages over recent days. Whilst the Welsh Government Regulations now permit a cleric to record or broadcast a service (without a congregation) from church buildings, the desirability and advisability of doing so will vary between different contexts. Individual Bishops will advise further on this matter within their respective dioceses and any such events should be held only in strict accordance with those diocesan guidelines, or with the explicit permission of the diocesan Bishop.

The Welsh Government Regulations also permit clergy to visit their churches, and for other church officers and volunteers to visit churches only to undertake a voluntary or charitable duty, where it is not reasonably practicable to undertake that duty from home. It is therefore possible for essential and urgent site inspections to be undertaken by clerics, or by another person nominated by the Incumbent, Ministry/Mission Area Leader, Area Dean or Archdeacon. We ask that such visits are kept to an absolute minimum…

The Times has this report (£):  Coronavirus: Bishop bans clergy from bedsides of the sick and dying

Members of the Church of England clergy who have volunteered their services as hospital chaplains during the crisis have been told that they will not be allowed to minister to any sick or dying patients at the bedside, even when wearing protective equipment, because of the risk of spreading the infection.

In a letter sent to all bishops and those involved in chaplaincy provision, the Right Rev Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, under whose authority the new Nightingale Hospital in east London falls, wrote of the need to maintain “extremely strict discipline regarding contact”. He said that volunteer chaplains would be banned from going on wards or near patients, including those not displaying symptoms of Covid-19…

The Church Times also covers this: Volunteers’ help for stretched hospital chaplains to be tightly restricted

CLERICS who have volunteered to become temporary chaplains in emergency field hospitals in London during the coronavirus crisis have been advised not to have any direct contact with patients, even when wearing protective equipment.

The new guidance was issued by the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, this week in a letter to diocesan and area bishops and others involved in chaplaincy provision. It has been produced in consultation with the Barts Health NHS Trust, which is hosting the recently opened 4000-bed Nightingale Hospital in Newham (News, 9 April)…

Here is the full text of the letter mentioned above: NHS – Nightingale Hospitals – Barts 2020.

The Church Times report continues:

…In an article in The Times on Thursday, the Rector of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, in London, the Revd Marcus Walker, wrote that other denominations had found ways of “safely recruiting and dispatching people to minister to their own faithful — and quite rightly.

“It is only the Established Church which has decided not to allow the upscaling of its presence. The two chaplains, divided (by some miracle) over five different locations, and working all hours of day and night, will have to engage in this desperately important but hugely challenging ministry by themselves.”

Last week, the lead chaplain for chaplaincy and spiritual care with bereavement services at Croydon University Hospital, the Revd Andrew Dovey, said that providing God’s grace in all situations, regardless of the risk, was “the calling that Christ gave [chaplains] and our Christian responsibility” (News, 3 April).

Fr Walker writes that the new advice goes against this calling. “Today we are banned from doing this, not by a hostile government or a suspicious health service but by our own Church.”

The Times opinion article by Marcus Walker quoted above can be found here: (£) Clergy must be free to minister to the sick in this crisis.

(more…)

37 Comments

Archbishop: on the need to keep church buildings closed

This video has been published today by the Church of EnglandA message from Archbishop Justin Welby on the need to keep church buildings closed.

Transcript:
There’s been a lot of comment, both publicly and privately, about the closure of church buildings and all sorts of strange ideas about why the bishops and archbishops felt it was necessary to close the building. They range from conspiracy ideas that we’ve always really wanted to, through to comments about obsession with health and safety and all this sort of thing.

There are actually five very simple reasons, all of them pretty positive. The first is to set an example: the government has said again and again, and every public health official in the country is saying, stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives. It’s a very simple message and it’s a very ethical message – it’s about looking after those who look after us, and it’s about looking after the most vulnerable. By closing the churches we make a powerful symbol of the need to listen to that message: stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives. The second reason is that part of the church’s role is to be with people. The church building is a building, the Church is the people of God, and when we don’t go to the church building we go back to what we did in the early centuries of the Church and what churches all around the world do at present, which is we meet in homes, just family and household, we use the wonders of technology to be in touch with each other, but we recover the sense that Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name I am there with them.” And they don’t even actually to be physically gathered, virtually gathered does very well indeed. Jesus is quite up-to-date on this stuff.

And thirdly, for ministers, for priests and bishops it’s about sharing in the inconveniences, the restrictions, the isolations imposed on us. It’s about being part of the flock rather than some super special category that can go and do its own thing.

Fourthly, we need to remember that the Church of England is the Church for England. There are all kinds of arguments about being an established church but deep within our DNA, deep within our nature, in every parish, for all of us who’ve been parish priests, there is the sense you’re there for everyone. And if you’re there for everyone, it means you have to think about everyone. You have to be available in whatever way is best, and the public health message is, let me say it again, stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives. So if we’re the Church for England we pay attention to that.

And fifthly, it’s not just about us you know, the believers, it’s about everyone, it’s about being welcoming in every way we can. The online services are being accessed by vast numbers of people – they may not be everything that those of us who are regulars, lifelong churchgoers want, but they are a way of reaching out. It’s a way of saying we don’t depend on the buildings, It’s a way of saying we don’t depend on the buildings, wonderful as they are, and they are treasures. What we depend on is the presence of God,through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, who leads us into his love, into his mission, into following him.

May God bless and keep you in this difficult period.

45 Comments

Opinion – 8 April 2020

Stephen Cottrell The Spectator A first for Christendom: Holy Week without church
“We are going to have to follow Jesus in his isolation”

Georges Staelens Blogue de Georges Ajourner la Pâque. Postpone the Easter.

Jonathan Jong St Mary Magdalen School of Theology On receiving communion in desire

Kevin J Moroney The Living Church On Presence, Real and Impaired

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Do We Believe in Life After Death – A Response

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Safeguarding Adults

Janet Fife Surviving Church Surviving Creeds

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Who’s Caring for our Nation’s Spiritual Health?

4 Comments

London tightens its position on livestreaming

Yesterday the Telegraph published an article with the highly misleading headline,

Vicars told they can ignore guidelines banning them from their own churches ahead of Easter service

And this strapline: The Bishop of London, has written to her clergy telling them they can conduct church services, contradicting Archbishop of Canterbury

Today the London College of Bishops have published a new Ad Clerum which you can read in full here.  Or alternatively here. The text is also copied below.

(more…)

19 Comments

CofE Briefing Paper on COVID-19

This paper, dated 31 March, has been circulated to at least some clergy by their diocesan bishops. The authors are listed as

Rt Revd Dr Michael Beasley
Revd Prof Gina Radford
Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy

COVID_19_Scientific_and Medical_Background_Briefing_Paper

5 Comments

Titus Trust, John Smyth, and Jonathan Fletcher

The Titus Trust published this statement yesterday:

John Smyth: statement on settlement

The Trustees of The Titus Trust wish to make this statement now that a settlement has been reached with three men who have suffered for many years because of the appalling abuse of John Smyth.

We are devastated that lives have been blighted by a man who abused a position of trust and influence to inflict appalling behaviour on others, and we have written to those concerned to express our profound regret at what happened and also to apologise for any additional distress that has been caused by the way The Titus Trust has responded to this matter.
The emergence of details about the abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher has caused us to reflect deeply on our current culture and the historic influences upon us. Although the culture of the camps that The Titus Trust runs today has changed significantly from the Scripture Union camps of the late 70s and early 80s we still want to look hard at our traditions and practices and to invite feedback from those currently involved and also those who are no longer involved.
This reflection includes a number of elements and has led, or is leading to, the following actions:

  • A full independent review of our safeguarding practices took place in 2018 by thirtyone:eight and the recommendations have been implemented in 2019 to ensure that we operate best practice across all our camps to protect the children and adults involved in our activities. Among other things, this has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.
  • An internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices and identified risks to and ways of building healthy cultures across our leaders teams.
  • An independent Cultural Review will begin shortly which will include inviting feedback from a wide range of individuals and organisations to enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.

The Trustees regret that we have not been able to speak out while the legal situation has been ongoing and want to take the opportunity now to listen well to people’s experiences of our camps to inform our future planning. We would therefore invite anyone who would like to share their experience to email safeguarding@titustrust.org.  If anyone wishes to contribute to the forthcoming Cultural Review, we invite them to be in touch too, so we can pass their details to the review team once their work gets underway.

We are sorry that the Titus Trust’s earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others. We recognise the impact that this guarded use of language has caused, and apologise if this has contributed in any way to the anguish experienced by the survivors and their families.

The Titus Trust is co-operating fully with the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin. Extensive documentation has been provided to the Reviewers and the Trust has met with them and expects to do so again to further assist in the Review.
3/4/20

Today, the following statement has been issued in response:

Statement from victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
4th April 2020

We call for the Titus Trust to cease its activities immediately, and to disband.

Yesterday the Titus Trust issued a statement following the settlement of three civil claims in respect of abuse by John Smyth QC. The statement comes no less than eight years after a victim of Smyth bravely came forward to inform the trust of the appalling legacy of abuse upon which their organisation is built. It is an astonishing 38 years since the leaders of the Iwerne network were first made aware of the criminal nature of this horrific abuse.

When the abuse came to light, the trustees of the Titus Trust, who now run the Iwerne network, did everything they could to protect their own interests. They did not offer care and support to the victims. They refused to cooperate with an independent inquiry. If the Titus Trust had been open and transparent with what they knew years ago, John Smyth could have been brought to justice. Instead they repeatedly blanked the victims, refusing to speak with us and denying any responsibility. Perhaps we should not have expected them to act with care or candour, since some of most senior members of the network had been complicit in concealing the abuse for 38 years.

In the face of this intransigence we felt compelled to take action against the Titus Trust, so that they would be forced to confront their responsibilities. Even so, the trust has spent eye-watering sums of money fighting our claims – many times the amount they have offered us in settlement.  We are pleased that they have finally issued a limited apology for their recent behaviour, but we note that none of those responsible has resigned. They have not acknowledged the historic cover-up. There is no evidence that the culture of moral superiority, exclusivity and secrecy that has pervaded the network for decades has changed in any way.

Those of us who suffered as victims of John Smyth through our contacts with the Iwerne network simply want to uncover the truth. We want an accurate narrative of the abuse and its cover-up, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of scores of victims of Smyth in Africa, and for the sake of those young people who even today come under the toxic influence of this network. John Smyth is only one of several abusers known to us who have been closely associated with the Iwerne camps network over many years. Events of recent years lead us to believe that there are still some within the Titus network who value their own reputations more than they care about the children they work with. Shockingly, some of those are ordained clergy in the Church of England. Such attitudes should have no place in any organisation working with children.

The Titus Trust has consistently said that they were not prepared to take part in the Church of England’s Makin Review into John Smyth whilst litigation was outstanding. Now that this settlement has been reached, that excuse is gone, and we urge the trustees and all those involved in the Iwerne network to cooperate fully with the Makin Review, and the other reviews being held into abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher.

A culture that has resisted reform in the face of overwhelming evidence of damage over many years is beyond reform. It is our wholehearted belief that in the light of these events the Titus Trust and its work should cease immediately.

To those within and beyond the Titus/Iwerne network who have come to understand that they too are victims of abuse, we urge you to take courage and seek help outside the network.

Issued on behalf of victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
For more information, contact Andrew Graystone
07772 710090
andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

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Opinion – 4 April 2020

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London bishops write about the Eucharist

The London College of Bishops has published this excellent article: The Eucharist in a time of Physical Distancing. It is reproduced in full below. The current advice mentioned therein can be found here.

The Eucharist in a time of Physical Distancing

A paper from the London College of Bishops:

Since the earliest days of the Church, Christians have gathered together to bless, break and share bread and to bless and share a cup of wine in obedience to the Lord’s command, given on the night before He died, to ‘do this in remembrance of me.’ The Church of England which emerged from the upheavals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, has maintained in its ‘historic formularies’ the centrality of the Eucharist in its account of Christian living. Along with Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, is a ‘Sacrament ordained of Christ’ (Article 25) and ‘a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death.’ (Article 28).

The Canons of the Church of England teach the importance and centrality of the Eucharist. Canon B14 requires the celebration of the Holy Communion in at least one church in every benefice on all Sundays and principal Feast days, as well as on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday. Canon B15 teaches that it is the duty of all who have been confirmed to receive the Holy Communion regularly, and especially at Christmas, Easter and Pentecost.

What, however, of the present circumstances in which, however desirous they might be of attending Holy Communion, the faithful are prevented by the strictures of lawful authorities both secular and ecclesiastical from doing so?

Rubrics at the end of the BCP Communion office plainly declare that ‘there shall be no celebration of the Lord’s Supper except there be a convenient number to communicate,’ a number which is further defined in a parish of twenty persons or less to be ‘three at the least.’

This reflects a ‘rule,’ which is both desirable and to be enjoined in all normal circumstances, that there should be communicants other than the minister at every celebration of Holy Communion. In teaching and holding this position, the Church of England does so in common with Christian tradition back to apostolic times. The Eucharist is intended, normatively, to be a corporate, not a private act, because it is given to offer the people spiritual nourishment (to “feed on the banquet of that most heavenly food“) [Exhortations in the BCP service of Holy Communion] build up the body of Christ in love and fellowship (Christ ordained the sacrament to move and stir all men to friendship, love and concord“) [Thomas Cranmer’s Treatise on the Lord’ Supper (1550)] and to “strengthen and confirm our faith in him.” [Article 25]

In Anglican understanding, sacraments are signs that both point to and embody the things they refer to. They are both “sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace” (Article 25). They both direct our attention to the ascended body of Christ, yet they also make the ‘benefits of his passion’ available to us here and now. There are therefore two aspects of sacraments as signs – they both point to and embody the reality to which they refer – the benefits and presence of Christ given to us and received by faith.

In our current circumstances, to the extent that they embody and offer the spiritual food of the body and blood of Christ, not being able to partake of the sacrament physically is an occasion for sadness and lament, as we are denied the opportunity of this particular aspect of this ‘holy communion’. At the same time, to the extent that they signify the promises of God and the gift of Christ, they can still benefit those who observe but cannot partake.

There is a benefit to be had for those who are ‘present’ at a celebration of Holy Communion, yet unable physically to partake of the elements. Because the sacrament is “given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner” (Article 28), even if a person cannot physically receive, their faith and love can still be strengthened by seeing, even if not tasting or feeling the gifts of bread and wine that signify the body and blood of Christ. As an example, the rubrics at the end of the order for the Visitation of the Sick in the 1662 Prayer Book envisage a situation in which someone might be in such grave or advanced sickness that they are unable to receive the Sacrament at a bed-side celebration of the Holy Communion. In such circumstances (and for a number of other causes), the sick person may, by associating him or herself with the benefits of the Sacrament which is not being physically received, nevertheless receive the gifts and graces which it brings.

Consistent with this position, we offer several options for parishes as long as the current physical distancing restrictions apply:

  1. Some parish churches may wish temporarily to suspend the celebration of Holy Communion until they are able to meet together in person again. We are already having to cease the practice of public Baptism for the duration due to the restrictions placed upon us, and so a church may choose to do the same with the other dominical sacrament. As one incumbent put it recently: “We will take this opportunity to fast from the Sacrament while we feast on the Word.”
  1. To ensure congregational involvement, where a parish church wishes to continue to celebrate the eucharist within the current advice issued by the London College of Bishops, and only the priest can be present, it should, whenever possible, be livestreamed, so that others can at least (as Cranmer put it) “see with our eyes” even if they cannot “smell with our noses, touch with our hands and taste with our mouths.” This enables the kind of spiritual reception that is at the heart of the sacrament, even if physical partaking is not possible.
  1. If that is not feasible, at the very least, it should be clearly advertised in the parish and among the congregation when the Holy Communion is to be celebrated in the home of the priest, with or without the presence of another member of that household. Such public advertising is insisted on in the ‘Exhortations’ in the BCP that are inserted between the Prayer for the Church Militant and the Confession. This way, others can be invited to pray and perhaps read the Scriptures at that time, so that the service takes place within some kind of extended communal act of worship in that parish, even if dispersed, and does not become merely a private act of devotion. Some prayers that would enable people to take part in such a celebration might be prepared.

In granting permission, exceptionally, for the clergy to celebrate Holy Communion in this way, our prayer must be that this time will be short. We pray too that God will give us a hunger and a thirst for that time when once again we can gather together to lift up our hearts in praise and adoration, to be nourished by the bodily reception of this sacrament which the Lord instituted on the night before he died and which he commanded us to continue ‘until he comes again’, to do again, indeed, all that is ‘meet, right and our bounden duty’ so to do.

The London College of Bishops

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