Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 29 August 2020

James Hadley All Things Lawful And Honest Irregular & Unlearned
“In the light of attempts to hold irregular ordinations without the Eucharist, the Rev’d Dr James Hadley suggests it may be a sign of the lack of depth in current theological thinking and formation in the Church of England”

Gilo Surviving Church The bigger the mitre the larger the parachute!
“Fear of reputational damage is causing reputational damage”

Mary Harrington UnHerd England will miss our Church when it’s gone
“Without the steadying influence of Anglicanism, our politics could descend again into extremism”


Individual cups at Holy Communion

Updated Thursday afternoon

Are individual cups at Holy Communion legal in the Church of England?

Mrs Mary Durlacher asked a question about this at the online meeting of General Synod members in July and was told that the answer is “no”.

Mrs Mary Durlacher (Chelmsford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q68 Will the House of Bishops reconsider the prohibition of use of small individual cups as a valid ‘common sense’ pro tem way of sharing the Communion wine while current constraints remain?
The Bishop of London to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:
A The Legal Advisory Commission has stated “it is contrary to law for individual cups to be used for each communicant” and that “the doctrine of necessity cannot be appealed to in order to justify the use of individual cups even in circumstances where there is a fear of contagion from the use of a common cup. … the Sacrament Act 1547 makes provision for cases where a necessity not to deliver a common cup arises: in such a case the normal requirement that the sacrament be delivered in both kinds is disapplied by statute. Even if a shared cup cannot be used for medical reasons, the use of individual cups remains contrary to law … . In such cases reception should be in one kind only.” The House cannot authorise or encourage a practice which would be contrary to law.

The reply refers to this Legal Advisory Commission paper and to the Sacrament Act 1547. Also relevant is this Church of England advice Holy Communion and the distribution of the elements issued on 1 in mid-July 2020 after the Synod meeting.

Mrs Durlacher subsequently instructed a group of six barristers to prepare a legal opinion. They disagreed with the Bishop’s reply and concluded that there was nothing in law to prevent the use of individual cups at  the administration of Holy Communion. Their opinion is here: The legality of the use of individual cups for communion wine.

Ian Paul has published a number of relevant articles on his Psephizo blog.

Andrew Goddard Can we receive both bread and wine during the pandemic?
Andrew AtherstonReceiving Communion in individual cups: round two
Ian Paul Did Jesus use multiple cups at the Last Supper?

This has now been picked up by the secular and church press.

The Telegraph Row over Communion wine as lawyers challenge CoE ruling it is against Covid guidelines
Church Times Barristers challenge Bishops’ legal advice against individual communion cups

It has been pointed out (by Matt C on Twitter) that, even if legal, “Individual communion cups are not covered by either List A or List B of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules” (and so their introduction would require a faculty).


I have corrected the date of issue of the Holy Communion and the distribution of the elements paper above. The paper issued on 1 July was this COVID-19-Advice-on-the-Administration-of-Holy-Communion-v3-1.7.2020, although that has been subsequently updated. The current version is version 5.1.


Opinion – 26 August 2020

Charlie Bell Defining ecclesiology – alarming developments in the Church of England
Do read the full article, which is here.

Edward Dowler All Things Lawful And Honest Safety First
“It sometimes feels like the Church’s and Government’s response to COVID is governed by thinking that is not much more complex than the axiom ‘Safety First’. Edward Dowler explores what principles might undergird a more theologically robust and pastorally honest response to our present crisis.”

Rowan Williams New Statesman Covid and confronting our own mortality
“The pandemic has forced us to confront the issue of death: how do we think about dying, and what does it mean for how we live?”

Kevin Makins Experimental Theology Church is Gross


Opinion – 22 August 2020

Interview by Benjamin Wayman for Christianity Today
Rowan Williams: Theological Education Is for Everyone
“To do theology is to rediscover the strangeness of the Christian framework.”

Anna And Noah Sutterisch Earth & Altar Becoming Humble Skeptics: Rejecting Anglican Identity

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Thinking about bullying in the Church


General Synod – 24 September 2020

The outline timetable for the meeting of General Synod on 24 September has been issued, and is copied below. Papers for the meeting are here. There may be a revised draft of the measure; if so it will be issued on or before 9 September.

Synod members have been told that “The meeting will start at 10.30am and we would ask those attending to be available until 7pm. It is expected that the business will finish before 7pm but we need members to be available so that we are quorate for the final vote. We appreciate that this may mean that some members will need to book overnight accommodation.”

GENERAL SYNOD: September 2020 Timetable

Thursday 24 September
10.30 am – 2.45 pm

10.30 am – 10.45 am Opening worship
10.45 am – 11.45 am Draft General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure First Consideration
11.45 am – 12.00 pm Adjournment
12.00 pm – 1.45 pm Draft General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure Revision in Full Synod

3.15 pm – 7.00 pm
3.15 pm – 4.30 pm Draft General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure Final Drafting and Final Approval
*6.55 pm Prorogation
Closing worship

Please note that all timings are indicative. It was decided to offer a longer envelope than it is anticipated the business will take in order to enable maximum flexibility
Morning session expected to finish by 1.45pm.
Afternoon session expected to finish by 4.30pm
Deadline for receipt of amendments to the Measure: 5.30pm Friday 18 September 2020


Opinion – 19 August 2020

All Things Lawful And Honest We don’t need no education
Angela Tilby asks challenging questions about the capacity of the Church of England’s theological institutions to prepare adequately ministers who love, know and understand both the Scriptures they preach, and the Church they serve.”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Time for Disclosure instead of Silence- Jonathan Fletcher

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Further Discussions on Redress


Reforming Clergy Discipline

We linked some weeks ago to an article at Surviving Church titled The Clergy Discipline Measure – RIP? but we have been remiss in not following up on this topic.

The Church Times had reported on 16 July: ‘Toxic’ CDM leaves clergy suicidal, research finds

THE Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) is part of a “toxic management culture” in the Church of England, and is so flawed that it needs complete replacement.

This conclusion, in a paper published on Thursday by Dr Sarah Horsman, Warden of Sheldon, an independent retreat centre and support hub for those in ministry, is based on the results of a survey of one third of the C of E clergy, carried out with the University of Aston…

That paper by Dr Horsman and others can be found here.

Dr Josephine Stein has now responded here.

The Clergy Discipline Measure was a disaster from the word go.  Ten years ago, I wrote to the Chair of the Clergy Discipline Commission to explain why the CDM was not an appropriate instrument for dealing with clerical sexual abuse, and why a completely different approach was needed.  My paper was circulated to the Commission and put on the agenda for their next meeting.  But did they ‘listen’?  It appears that they did not; the amended measure, the ‘Safeguarding and the Clergy Discipline Measure’, only exacerbated the problems.

Things may be different now.  The devastating impacts of the CDM on clergy, two thirds of whom are innocent of any wrongdoing, have been exposed by the Sheldon Community’s research and Dr Sarah Horsman’s report.  The findings make depressingly familiar reading for survivors of clerical sexual abuse.  Survivors encounter similarly horrendous responses to disclosures and experience the same sorts of impacts on our mental and physical health, finances, careers and relationships as clergy subjected to CDMs.  And it is for similar reasons: the Kafkaesque ‘toxic management culture’ that privileges arcane, inhumane processes (often themselves incompetently managed) over appropriate professional judgement, practical and pastoral support, and working towards healing and reconciliation.

Put simply, both the CDM and the Church’s responses to disclosures of ecclesiastical abuse are incompatible with Christian discipleship.  Not only is the CDM time-consuming and expensive, the human cost can be hell on earth.  The adversarial, legalistic approach causes structural damage to the relationships between bishops and clergy, between clergy, church-goers and congregations, and between the faithful and the Church itself.  Some survivors and clergy lose their faith; some their very lives.  The CDM is a disaster for the life of the Church.

It doesn’t have to be this way…

Do read the whole article.


Charity Commission letter: further reports

Updated twice on Monday afternoon (scroll down)

Surviving Church has a further article: Micah 6:8 and the Letter to the Charity Commission.

…The letter to the CC would seem to have made some considerable impact since it appeared on Tuesday last.  It seems to be saying two fundamental things.  It was, first of all, accusing the Church of England and especially the Archbishop’s Council and the National Safeguarding Team of authorising and using legal processes to cope with safeguarding issues in inconsistent and secretive ways – such that do not further the cause of justice.  The letter was also suggesting that in the administration of these in-house forms of justice, fundamental ethical and biblical principles were being ignored.  Although not mentioned in the text of the letter, it is apparent that the authors were thinking about the passage in Micah 6 about the importance of justice etc.  Gilo makes clear this connection of ideas by calling the appeal for additional signatures, the Micah 6:8 initiative…

The Church Times has this report: Money for abuse survivors is dwarfed by legal and admin bill.

SURVIVORS of abuse in a church context receive about £55,000 in redress from the Church of England out of an estimated £20 million spent on safeguarding annually, independent research released this week suggests.

The estimates were collated by Dr Josephine Anne Stein, who is an independent researcher, policy analyst, and survivor of ecclesiastical abuse (Comment, 6 April 2018). She completed the work in response to a question from Canon Rosie Harper during the February General Synod meeting, at which an increase in the redress given to survivors was agreed (News, 14 February)…

The article contains a lot more detail on what is included in the estimates.

The BBC Sunday radio programme today has a lengthy report on the letter to the Charity Commision, starting at about 31 minutes into the programme here. This includes interviews with both Lord Carlile and Bishop Jonathan Gibbs which are very informative and interesting. I recommend listening to the whole segment.


Archbishop Cranmer has an article by Martin Sewell: Lead Safeguarding Bishop to critics: “You don’t understand”. Two extracts:

..One of the most extraordinary claims by the Lead Safeguarding Bishop, Jonathan Gibbs, was the notion that critics of the NST ‘core groups’ misunderstood their character and functioning. The signatories to the letter include Lord (Alex) Carlile QC, who was the reviewer chosen by the Church of England to conduct the comprehensive review into the Bishop George Bell ‘core group’ process. He made significant recommendations for the improvement of the system and these were accepted by the Archbishops on behalf of the Church.

Those recommendations have not been implemented…


…All in all, the Bishop’s press release advances what we in the legal profession sometimes refer to as a “very brave” position. Renaming a function does not change its reality: it is like insisting that a duck is a platypus; the walk and the quack tend to give it away. You can rename what you do a “statutory strategy meeting” if you want, but if you lack a ‘conflicts of interest’ policy, an appeal system, and fail to take minutes, and sit a communications officer at the table but not a competent lawyer, and don’t run a system where those at risk of catastrophic consequence of malpractice either as complainant or respondent have confidence, you will continue to have dissatisfaction…

The Church Times has published this: Safeguarding bishop sides with critics of the Church of England’s policy which includes the following:

…He later told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday, however: “In one sense, I welcome this letter, because it adds weight to my desire to bring about the kind of root-and-branch change that we all long for: in particular in the way in which we respond to survivors, the way in which we deal with complaints, the way in which we change the culture of the Church.”

The letter to the Charity Commission, which also criticises the “impaired transparency and intermittent accountability” of the NST, calls for a complete reform of safeguarding practice and policy within the C of E. It urges the Church not to wait for the final report of the Anglican investigation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is due to be published this autumn (News, 1 May), before acting.

Dr Gibbs told the programme: “There is no doubt that, in the past, our systems have failed considerably, and that was made very clear during IICSA. That made very painful listening for all of us involved in the Church and our hearts go out to and our principle focus must be on survivors, and improving the way in which we respond to survivors. . .

“There is still a long way to go. There is journey; but it is a journey to which we are absolutely committed. . . The direction of travel is going to be substantially influenced by the IICSA report when it comes out very shortly. We made clear our commitment to that journey of change especially in the debate at the General Synod back in February” (News, 14 February).


Opinion – 15 August 2020

Church Times Lambeth Conference: Early steps on the path to unity
“One hundred years ago, Anglican bishops made a bold ecumenical move. Mark Chapman describes its impact”

Ben Thompson Earth & Altar The Church of England as a model of pluralistic unity for the “One Holy Catholic Church”

Laudable Practice Thoughts on Mitregate


Prime Minister announces Appointments Secretary

Press release from the Prime Minister. The Anglican interest is in the second paragraph.

Prime Minister announces Appointments Secretary
The Prime Minister has announced that he has appointed Mr Richard Tilbrook to be his Appointments Secretary.

Published 13 August 2020
From: Cabinet Office and Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Prime Minister has announced that he has appointed Mr Richard Tilbrook to be his Appointments Secretary following the retirement of Edward Chaplin CMG OBE at the end of last year.

Mr Tilbrook will work with the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary on the consultations for diocesan bishop and Crown deanery appointments, attending meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission as appropriate.

Mrs Helen Dimmock in the Cabinet Office remains responsible for parochial appointments where the Crown or Lord Chancellor is patron.

Mr Tilbrook is Clerk to the Privy Council and has been acting as the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary since January, having previously served as Deputy Appointments Secretary. His earlier civil service career was spent at the Government Communications Headquarters, in the Department for International Development and in the Cabinet Office, where he oversaw the operation of the honours system for a number of years. He is also responsible for advising the Prime Minister on the appointment of Lord-Lieutenants.

Mr Tilbrook is a communicant Anglican, worshipping at St Andrew’s, Naunton, in the Diocese of Gloucester. A classicist, he is an alumnus of Queens’ College, Cambridge, and the Royal Grammar School, Guildford.


Opinion – 12 August 2020

Jonathan Bish All Things Lawful And Honest Tune in, or Turn Off

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Peter Principle. Incompetence and the Church


Charity Commission asked to intervene in CofE safeguarding

A letter has been sent to Baroness Stowell, chair of the Charity Commision,

“to ask that the Charity Commission exercise its powers of intervention to address the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England (charity number 1074857) to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress to all parties engaged in safeguarding complaints…”

The letter is signed by a wide range of people including Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE, QC, Lord Lexden, His Honour Alan Pardoe QC, Sir Jonathan Phillips KCB, Prof Sir Iain Torrance KCVO, Kt and Prof Nigel Biggar. It has also been signed by many survivors of sexual abuse.

The full text of the letter and the list of signatories can be found here.

There is a petition at the Micah 6:8 Initiative, to enable others to add their names to this list. The notes at the end explain:

If you wish to support this initiative publicly please sign the petition.

Some may wish to signify support privately by sending an email to with your name/chosen signifier, any brief self description you choose, and if appropriate, your CofE Diocese so that the range of support can be seen. We shall send this list to the Charity Commission with the request that it remain private.

We link to the booklet We asked for Bread but you gave us Stones which compiled a number of survivor responses to the experiences received at the hands of the Established Church. Plus a link to the book Letters to a Broken Church which includes some of our signatories as contributing authors.

The full text of the letter also appears at Surviving Church: Letter to Charity Commissioners over concerns about Church of England Safeguarding.

And it is also available at Archbishop Cranmer: Calls for Charity Commission to intervene in CofE safeguarding saga.

The Times has this news report: Bishops take aim at ‘unjust’ handling of abuse claims. It includes this:

..Four of the past five archbishops of Canterbury and York had been the subjects of formal complaints about their alleged failures to act against clergy accused of sexual abuse.

Lord Carey of Clifton, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, has been prevented from performing his religious duties while the church’s national safeguarding team investigates his past conduct.

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Rev Christopher Lowson, has been suspended for more than a year. He has been accused of failing to respond “appropriately” to safeguarding allegations. He has said that he is bewildered by the accusations. The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, had apologised for failing to respond correctly when he was told about domestic violence by one of his priests when he was Bishop of Reading…

The Church Times has a news article: Charity Commission asked to tackle C of E safeguarding ‘failings’. In addition to reporting on the letter above, it also has this:

…Separately, seven survivors have written to Bishop Gibb; the director of safeguarding, Melissa Caslake; and the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, Meg Munn, calling for the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, to resign pending further safeguarding training.

The letter refers to internal email correspondence from Bishop Thornton, who sits on the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), about one of the survivors. The letter states: “The attitude displayed here confirms what many survivors have long thought: that the adversarialism towards victims of abuse has not just extended to their litigation and insurance agents, but has its roots in the most senior members of the Church’s structure.”

Before publication of the letter, the Church of England had issued a press release, which was also sent to all members of General Synod: Charity Commission complaint – message from Lead Safeguarding Bishop, Jonathan Gibbs. It includes the following:

…I am very aware of the current criticism of our core group process and some of this seems to be based on misunderstandings about what is involved.  There has been confusion as a result of them being likened to core groups in the statutory sector which have a different purpose and follow different processes.  Revised guidance will make it very clear they are more equivalent to a statutory strategy meeting (there will also be a change of name to help make this clear), where decisions are made collaboratively about what the next steps should be. This may include an independent investigation of allegations that have been made, including that senior members of clergy have not followed due safeguarding processes.  As part of such investigations, those concerned are given details of any allegations and the opportunity to respond.  These processes are confidential while they are taking place and therefore we cannot give public explanations of everything that is happening, which of course brings its own challenges.

It is evident that about three quarters of current national cases are about senior clergy failing to act rather than a direct allegation of abuse, but that can still have serious consequences. We always try to make that difference clear, and although the current guidance does not distinguish between those accused of abuse and those accused of failing to act properly on information received, the revised guidance will address this difference.  Statistics about the number of cases involving senior clergy (currently around 30) can also be misleading as a significant number relate to concerns raised about the past conduct of now retired clergy…


Special Session of General Synod on 24 September 2020

The two Archbishops have called a special session of General Synod on Thursday 24 September 2020. The only business expected will be a draft measure to allow Synod to meet remotely in November (and subsequently) if necessary. The Archbishops wrote to all synod members last month to explain why this measure is necessary and can only be taken at an in-person meeting; their letter is copied below.

It is hoped that most members will not exercise their right to be present, but arrangements will be made to ensure that enough do attend to provide a quorum in each of the three houses.

Subsequently the text of the draft measure and explanatory notes have been published.

GS 2175 Draft General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure – First Consideration
GS 2175X General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure – Explanatory Notes

Letter from the Archbishops

22 July 2020
To: All Members of General Synod

Ref: Special Session of General Synod on 24 September 2020

Standing Order 2(6)(b), provides that in circumstances of special urgency or importance, the Presidents of the General Synod may summon a special session.

We consider that such circumstances exist. It is not practically possible at present to hold a group of sessions in the usual way and we do not know when it will be again possible to do so. Nor is it currently possible, under the Synod’s Constitution and Standing Orders, for the Synod to transact business remotely. There is important business which the Synod must transact before the end of this year. This includes the approval by the General Synod of the Archbishops’ Council’s budget for 2021, which is a statutory requirement under the National Institutions Measure 1998, and the approval of Fees Orders for 2021. Other business the Synod needs to address without delay includes amending safeguarding legislation to take account of recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and the giving of final approval to the Cathedrals Measure.

For those reasons, we need legislation that will enable the Synod to meet and transact business remotely should it still not be possible by November for it to meet in the usual way. The Government has not been able to make time for this in Parliament. We therefore need to legislate by Measure and are summoning a special session of the General Synod for this purpose on Thursday 24 September 2020.

This meeting will be held physically at Church House, London. Although no Synod member can be denied admission to this meeting, we will in practice hope to work with the three Houses to ensure that only a quorum-plus of members need attend to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements.

The only business we envisage being on the agenda for the special session is a draft Measure to enable the Synod to meet and conduct business remotely. It is proposed that all stages of the Measure would be taken at the special session. We do not expect to have any other business at this meeting, even urgent business outlined above. These items will be taken to the November Group of Sessions.

Members will receive further details, including the draft Measure, from the Synod Office in due course.

Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of York
Presidents of the General Synod


Opinion – 8 August 2020

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Not Going into a Church for Private Prayer

Giles Fraser UnHerd The neoliberal revolution within the Church
“The ancient institution has been asset-stripped by an expanding bureaucracy of management-speak types”

Paul Bradbury His Light Material Is pioneer ministry a ‘neoliberal destruction’ of the parish system?

Janet Fife Surviving Church Bethel Sozo Part 2 Being Sozoed
Part 1 is here.

Kelvin Holdsworth Every Eucharist is a Virtual Eucharist

Religion Media Centre Holiness and desire: how the C of E can keep the conversation open


Opinion – 5 August 2020

Giles Fraser The Telegraph Is the Church of England determined to kill off the parish church?
There are some letters in response to this article in today’s Telegraph.

Silvia Gosnell Institute of Sacred Music Inside!

Andrew McGowan Journal of Anglican Studies Communion and Pandemic

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Human evil -individual and corporate

Ian Paul Psephizo Bishops should throw away their mitres


Delayed consecrations – Doncaster and Sherwood

The consecrations of the new bishops of Doncaster and Sherwood were postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. They will now take place in two separate services in York Minster on Monday 21 September.

The Minster has this morning published these details of who will consecrate and preside.

The Revd Canon Sophie Jelley, former Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Durham and Canon Missioner at Durham Cathedral, will be consecrated as Bishop of Doncaster in the Diocese of Sheffield. Sophie will be consecrated in the morning by The Archbishop of York, The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, assisted by the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler and the Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox.

In the afternoon, the Revd Dr Andrew Emerton, former Dean of St Mellitus College, London, will be consecrated as Bishop of Sherwood in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. Andrew will be consecrated by the Bishop of Durham, the Right Revd Paul Butler, assisted by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally and the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Paul Williams. The Archbishop of York will preside at both services.

There is more detail here.


More criticisms of CofE safeguarding procedures

Andrew Brown has written at Religion Media Centre: Church of England safeguarding inquiries go to the top.

The Church of England has admitted that there are about 30 separate safeguarding inquiries under way into senior clergy — bishops or cathedral deans…

…A C of E spokesman said: “We have approximately 30 national cases with the majority being where senior clergy or church officers have not reported allegations of abuse to the relevant safeguarding adviser, the local authority or the police, or made other inappropriate decisions.”

The highest-profile involve the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and a predecessor, Lord Carey, who are subject to inquiries for safeguarding lapses, Carey for the second time. ..

The article lists some of the other cases and discusses the apparent inconsistencies in the handling of them by “core groups”.

Surviving Church has published the text of a letter from seven clerical sexual abuse survivors to the Lead Bishops, Director of Safeguarding, and Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel (Bishop Jonathan Gibbs, Bishop Debbie Sellin, Melissa Caslake, Meg Munn): “Neither here nor there”.

This letter complains about the handling of survivor complaints, with specific reference to the Bishop at Lambeth and the National Safeguarding Steering Group. It asks for various actions to be taken to improve the processes for dealing with survivors. Receipt of the letter was (as shown in the article) acknowledged in a reply of 7 July.

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Opinion – 1 August 2020

Stephen Stavrou All Things Lawful And Honest Watch your language

Giles Fraser UnHerd Church philistines have got high culture all wrong

Janet Fife Surviving Church Bethel Sozo Part 1: Coming to a Church near You?

Laudable Practice Why I Support The Ordination Of Women: A High Church Reflection