Thinking Anglicans

Church of England’s Anti-racism Taskforce launches

Church of England press release

A Taskforce set up to make bold changes to ensure greater racial equality in the Church of England has got under way, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York joining its meeting today.

The Anti-Racism Taskforce will carry out preparatory work ahead of the launch of the Archbishops’ Commission to address racism in spring next year.

The nine members of the group will make recommendations for immediate action that can be taken by the Church of England to improve its record on racial justice and equality. They will also recommend the proposed remit and membership of the Commission.

Jointly chaired by Revd Sonia Barron, Director of Ordinands and Vocations for Lincoln Diocese, and Revd Arun Arora, a Vicar in the Diocese of Durham, the Taskforce is expected to complete its work by the end of January.

Revd Sonia Barron, Co-Chair of the Taskforce, and a former adviser to the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, (CMEAC) said: “The Taskforce has been set up at a critical time in the history of the Church of England, with the Black Lives Matter movement pushing racial justice right up the agenda. The Church has an opportunity that it cannot afford to miss – we cannot just pay lip service to issues of racism as we have done for so long. It is vital that we listen to all the different voices out there and having listened, fulfil our mission as a Church, by taking appropriate action.”

Revd Arun Arora said: “For more than thirty years the Church of England has been talking about racism, making recommendations and passing resolutions. Despite this the Church remains a place which is poorer for the lack of participation of all God’s people in the fullness of its life together. The time has now come for urgent implementation and action. The purpose of the Taskforce and Commission will not be to produce more reports but rather to directly address the sin of racism and those impediments that prevent the Church from fulfilling its call so that racial justice is both done and is seen to be done.”

The Taskforce and Commission, a joint project by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, were announced earlier this year amid rising concern about insufficient progress towards racial justice, equality and inclusion within the Church of England.

There are five serving bishops from UK minority ethnic (UKME) backgrounds currently in the Church of England. But there are no diocesan bishops currently from UKME backgrounds, following the retirement earlier this year of the former Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Fewer than four per cent of serving clergy identify as being from a UKME background, according to the latest statistics. One in 10 of the people recommended this year for training for ordained ministry in the Church of England were from UKME backgrounds.

The General Synod voted in February to apologise for racism experienced by UKME people in the Church of England since the arrival of the Windrush Generation.

Speaking to the General Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said there was ‘no doubt’ that the Church of England was still ‘deeply institutionally racist’.

Notes to editors:

  • As part of its work, the Taskforce is examining more than 160 formal recommendations since 1985 on racial justice in the Church of England, the overwhelming majority made in reports from the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) and its predecessor, the Committee on Black Anglican Concerns.
  • One of the aims is to identify any recommendations which have not yet been implemented that could be put into force immediately.

Taskforce members:

  • Revd Arun Arora (Co-Chair), Vicar of St Nicholas, Durham.
  • Revd Sonia Barron (Co-Chair), Lincoln Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Vocations, former Adviser to Archbishops’ Council’s Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns.
  • Revd Dr Anderson Jeremiah, Lecturer, University of Lancaster, CMEAC member.
  • Annika Mathews, Lay Representative of the Church of England to the Churches Together England Enabling Group, former Church of England Youth Council member and Synod representative.
  • Joanna Moriarty, Partner (Charities and Social Enterprise) Green Park leadership and recruitment consultancy services.
  • Revd Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, BAME Mission and Ministry Enabler (Leicester Diocese). CMEAC member.
  • Ben Nicholls, Youth worker at St Paul’s, Hammersmith.
  • Canon Dr Addy Lazz-Onyenobi, Deanery Lay Chair, Diocese of Manchester, CMEAC member and member of the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN).
  • Ven Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol.

Bishop of Rochester to retire

The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, has announced today that he intends to retire at the end of July 2021. He was consecrated the Bishop of Lynn in 2004 (Norwich Diocese) and appointed Bishop of Rochester in 2010. In 2014 he entered the House of Lords as one of the 26 Lords Spiritual.

Simon Burton-Jones, Bishop of Tonbridge, will take on responsibility for the Diocese from then until the next bishop is in place.


Statistics for Mission 2019

Updated Wednesday

The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2019 and its 2020 digital report today.

Statistics for Mission provides the latest figures including:

  • Attendance at Church of England services
  • Baptisms
  • Marriages
  • Funerals
  • Youth provision
  • Enquiry and Christian basics courses

Detailed Diocesan tables (excel file) are also available.

There is a press release which concentrates on the digital report; it is copied below.


David Keen has analysed the statistics: Last Chance To See…… Church of England Membership and Attendance Stats 2019. Do read what he has to say; it is very good.

Press release

More than 17,000 online services and events provided by Church of England parishes

More than 17,000 online services and events are being provided by Church of England churches following the introduction of the lockdown and restrictions on public worship earlier this year, according to a new report published today. (more…)


Opinion – 10 October 2020

Sam Dennis All Things Lawful And Honest Mass Education
“As many churches are forced by the pandemic to reconsider their Sunday School or Children’s Church, Sam Dennis asks whether the Mass is the best place for teaching the faith.”

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Resignations, Dysfunctionality and the House of Bishops

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Cultural Change and the Church

We have added several Church Times opinion pieces to our post: More about the IICSA report.


Episcopal retirements and appointments

Here at Thinking Anglicans we try to note announcements of the retirements of Church of England bishops and cathedral deans, and the names of their successors. We do not always succeed and I have just discovered that the Bishop of Lynn announced in June that he would be retiring on 25 January 2021.


More about the IICSA report


See also Wednesday’s Opinion roundup.

Church Times Julie Conalty Comment: the IICSA report sheds light on darkness in the Church.

Religion Media Centre: Church of England concerned for its reputation rather than dealing with child sex abusers and the video recording of the media briefing (chaired by Andrew Brown) is here: Damning report says Church of England more concerned for reputation than dealing with sex abusers. (40 minutes, but well worth the time to watch).

Giles Fraser UnHerd Can the Church solve its paedophile problem?

Open letter regarding IICSA to the parish of St Margaret’s Rainham: Also in a PDF here.

Updates Friday

The Church Times today has a great deal more material related to the IICSA report:

Religion Media Centre also has Fact Sheet Abuse and the Church of England – timeline.


Opinion – 7 October 2020

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Rebuilding Trust after the IICSA Report

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer The Church of England – a safer space for abusers than for the abused

Peter Ormerod The Guardian Think unconscious bias training is a fad? It’s been going for at least 2,000 years
“MPs balking at ‘PC gone mad’ forget that Jesus instructed people to examine their consciences for unacknowledged sin”

Christina Baron ViaMedia.News Living in Love and Faith – Is There Really Hope for Change?


Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Statement

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following personal statement following the publication of the IICSA report:

To fail on safeguarding casts a profound stain across every good thing we do. I have said this before and I continue to stand by it. But I am acutely aware as we come towards the end of this year that while there is a genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, it is evident we still have not got it right.

The report published today is a stark and shocking reminder of how so many times we have failed – and continue to fail – survivors. Apologies are vital, but they are not enough. We have to listen. We have to learn. And we have to act.

In calling for the enquiry, through a letter to the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, I was aware that although it would be something that survivors had demanded it would also be a deeply painful process to tell their stories. I am very grateful to them for their courage. We cannot and will not make excuses and I must again offer my sincere apologies to those to have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues.

There is clearly much to respond to and an in-depth consideration of today’s report is vital. IICSA has shone a light on the past and present to help us better inform our future safeguarding work. They are owed our thanks which we give wholeheartedly. I pray this report and its recommendations will result in the changes needed to make our Church a safer place for all now and for future generations.


IICSA publishes report on Anglican Church

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its long-awaited report on the Church of England and the Church in Wales. The report totals 154 pages.

Here is a link to the Recommendations section of the report. And here is a link to the Executive Summary.

Press releases:

Initial media coverage:


Looking ahead to IICSA report on Tuesday


The Church Times has reported on the open letter published on Friday: see Archbishops pledge to act on IICSA report.

Surviving Church published this article by Gilo Looking ahead to IICSA report day on Tuesday.

By no means a comprehensive list. Just a brief visit across a number of things we may probably see further comment upon after the Inquiry makes its final Anglican report…

Gilo also was interviewed by the BBC Sunday programme (along with Bishop Jonathan Gibbs). Listen here: (25 minutes in)

For the first time The Church of England has announced a scheme offering financial support to abuse survivors. Emily [Buchanan] gets reaction from one survivor and talks to the Church’s Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gibbs, about how he hopes this will pave the way to a full redress scheme in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Carlisle also made the news, but not in a good way: Bishop under investigation for giving paedophile Wiltshire vicar a reference.
Update: more detail here: Investigation after Bishop of Carlisle gives child abuse canon a character reference.


Bishop of Albany found guilty of violating ordination vows

Updated Tuesday morning

See our September 2019 report:Bishop of Albany to face disciplinary hearing.

A disciplinary hearing was duly held in June 2020, and Episcopal News Service reported here: In disciplinary hearing, Albany Bishop William Love defends prohibition of same-sex marriage in his diocese.
The Church Times carried this: Zoom tribunal for US Bishop of Albany.
The full recording of that can be found here.

The hearing panel has now published its decision, available in full here (42 pages). This does not include any decision relating to disciplinary consequences. That will be the subject of a further hearing to be held within the next month. An extract:

This Panel unanimously concludes that TEC has met its burden of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that Bishop Love has violated Canon IV.4.1(c) in that his November 10, [2018] Pastoral Directive violated the Discipline of the Church, as Resolution B012 was properly constituted and passed as an authorized revision to the BCP as expressly provided for in Constitution Article X, thus requiring that all Bishop Diocesans permit their clergy the option to utilize such rites. TEC has further met its burden of establishing that Bishop Love’s Direction also violated the Discipline of the Church in that it violated Canon I.18. The canonical legitimacy of Resolution B012 rendered Canon I.18 mandatory, requiring adherence by Bishops Diocesan in permitting their Clergy the option to perform same-sex marriage rites. TEC has also met its burden of establishing that the Direction violated the Worship of the Church in that Resolution B012 added canonically-authorized same-sex marriage rites to the Worship of the Church pursuant to the BCP.

Bishop Love has published a letter to the diocese, which you can read here.

Hat tip to Episcopal Café.  

Update: Episcopal News Service has now published its report, which contains a summary history of the case: Disciplinary panel finds Albany Bishop William Love broke church law in banning same-sex marriages.


Dean of Sheffield resigns

The Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, has announced his resignation from the role of Dean with effect from 31 December 2020.


Opinion – 3 October 2020

John Sundara The Living Church A Thicker Constellation of Vocation

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Is the Church of England ready for new moves in Safeguarding?

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Time for Review

Rogers Govender ViaMedia.News Walking in Beauty – Contemplation in times of Struggle, Suffering and Exclusion

Paul W Thomas Church Times Deaneries’ moment of truth has at last arrived
“It is time that they replaced parishes as the locus of the Church of England’s mission”

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Lament, Joy and Hope in a Time of Pandemic


Church of England publishes open letter ahead of IICSA report

press release  02/10/2020

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse; an open letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the lead safeguarding bishop and the national director of safeguarding.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, will publish its overarching investigation report into the Church of England (and Church in Wales) on Tuesday (6th October).

For survivors, this will remind them of the abuse they suffered and of our failure to respond well; it will be a very harrowing  time for them.  Some have shared courageously their story at the IICSA hearings or in other forums.  For others this report will be a reminder of the abuse they have never talked openly about. We are truly sorry for the shameful way the Church has acted and we state our commitment to listen, to learn and to act in response to the report’s findings. We cannot and will not make excuses and can again offer our sincere and heartfelt apologies to those who have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues.

We, as the Church of England, are ready to support anyone who comes forward.  We must honour our commitment to change. Survivors have told us that words without actions are meaningless; we are taking action but we are also aware that what we have done has neither been soon enough nor sufficient.

Please pray for all those who will be affected by the publication of the report on Tuesday and that as a Church we are able to respond with humility and a shared determination to change.  We must listen carefully and reflect honestly on all that the report says and continue to drive change towards a safe Church for all.

At this point, we know that the report is based on the main public hearing in July 2019, which examined the response of the Church of England and Church in Wales to allegations of child sexual abuse, as well as the adequacy of current safeguarding policies and practices. The report will also focus on common themes and issues identified by the overall investigation which included the case studies into Bishop Peter Ball and the Diocese of Chichester, both held in 2018. The report will identify failings that we are already working to change, and failings that we will need to work harder to change. There will no doubt be strong recommendations  and we welcome that. We make an absolute commitment to taking action to make the Church a safe place for everyone, as well as to respond to the needs of survivors for support and redress.

Safeguarding is valuing every person as one who is made in God’s image.  It is the prevention of harm, and the promotion of well-being.  It is about responding compassionately to victims and survivors, addressing issues of justice with regard to survivors, other complainants, respondents and all others affected and helping them to rebuild their lives.  Safeguarding is fundamental to our faith.  Whatever part we play in the life of the Church, safeguarding is the responsibility of each one of us, guided and advised by our safeguarding professionals.  Church leaders have a particular responsibility to work together to bring about the change in culture and practice that we need to see and has simply been too slow.

If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the publication of this report and want to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056  or email:  There are also other support services available.

Alternatively feel free to contact the diocesan safeguarding team in your area.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell
Lead safeguarding bishop, Jonathan Gibbs
National Director of Safeguarding, Melissa Caslake


Church Times criticises Church of England safeguarding

Today, the Church Times has a lengthy news report, Church safeguarding activity accelerates in advance of IICSA report, which lists various initiatives that have been announced recently by the Church of England.

And it also has a very strongly worded leader (scroll down):

Long overdue

WE HAVE often written about safeguarding in these pages, and will again next week, when the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) delivers its final report on the Church of England. The array of new initiatives unveiled in the past week — the interim fund, the Safe Spaces service, the admission that an independent system is needed, etc. — gives the distinct impression of a church hierarchy that is scrabbling about on the bedroom floor looking for items of underwear to cover its nakedness, knowing that IICSA is about to draw back the curtains and expose its carelessness, cruelty, and neglect. We would have been more impressed by something not so obviously prompted by IICSA and the approach to the Charity Commission.

It is worth quoting from an earlier leader comment, from April 2018: “Past blunders, defensive policies, and deliberate obstruction have cast such a pall that they overshadow the better practices now being introduced, and have left a trail of damage in their wake.” Survivors have, of course, welcomed the new urgency given to this topic, but will be forgiven for not trusting an institution that has put off improvements till this last minute. And there is much still to do. The emphasis during the IICSA investigation was on the Church’s treatment of survivors and perpetrators. Since it finished, much more has emerged about the ill-treatment of those falsely accused, and of faulty procedures that have led to unsafe conclusions. We, too, welcome the new commitment, but will withhold judgement until we see wholesale reforms.


General Synod November 2020

The timetable for November’s virtual meeting of the Church of England General Synod was published today, and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD: November 2020
Timetable for VIRTUAL Meeting
(subject to General Synod (Remote Meetings) (Temporary Standing Orders) Measure receiving Royal Assent)

Monday 23 November
1.00 pm – 7.00 pm
1.00 pm – 1.15 pm Opening worship Introduction and welcomes
1.15 pm – 2.00 pm Ratification of Standing Orders to enable virtual meetings
2.00 pm – 2.05 pm Enactment of Amending Canon No. 40
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 41
2.05 pm – 2.50 pm Business Committee Report
2.50 pm – 3.20 pm screen break
3.20 pm – 4.20 pm Presidential Address (both Archbishops, to include reference to LLF, and opportunity for questions)
4.20 pm – 5.05 pm break out rooms (To enable to Synod engage with points raised in Presidential Address)
5.05 pm – 5.30 pm screen break
*5.30 pm – 7.00 pm Question Time
7.00 pm Close of Business

7.15 pm – 8.15 pm House of Bishops Meeting

Tuesday 24 November
9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am – 9.30 am Opening worship
9.30 am – 11.30 am Vision and Strategy, to include the opportunity for 30 mins breakout room discussion
11.30 am – 11.50 am screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
*11.50 am – 1.00 pm Cathedrals Measure – Final Drafting and Final Approval

2.30 pm – 6.30 pm
2.30 pm – 4.30 pm Archbishops’ Council Budget 2021 and Apportionment
4.30 pm – 5.00 pm screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
5.00 pm – 6.00 pm First Consideration of Measure amending Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016
6.00 pm – 6.30 pm Appointment of the Chair of the Dioceses Commission
6.30 pm Close of Business

Wednesday 25 November
9.15 am – 2.00 pm
9.15 am – 9.30 am Opening worship
9.30 am – 11.30 am Safeguarding (presentation and debate)
11.30 am – 12.00 pm screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
12.00 pm – 1.00 pm Diocesan Boards of Education Measure – Final Drafting and Final Approval
1.00pm – 2.00 pm Regulations under section 2, Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 20[21] (national ministry register)

2.30 pm – 3.30 pm
2.30 pm – 3.30pm Deemed Business (if required)
*3.30 pm Prorogation

Deemed Business:
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2020,
Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2020,
Church Commissioners’ Funding Order for the Churches Conservation Trust 2021-24,
Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme (CEFPS) Rules Consolidation,
Terms of Service Amendment Regulations on Bereavement Leave,
Diocese of Manchester (Deanery Synods) Scheme 2020,
Regulations under Canon DA 1 (religious communities).

* not later than
Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk
Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Wednesday 11 November 2020