Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – day 1

Last update – Tuesday morning

The Church of England’s General Synod meets virtually from 1300 today until 1530 on Wednesday. The papers are available here. There will be a live stream of the proceedings here.

Stephen Lynas previews the business in some detail: I only had a picture of you. So too does Andrew Nunn but only briefly: Here we go again!

Order paper 1 – details of the afternoon’s business

The Archbishops gave a joint presentation to Synod, summarised in this press release: We must change to become a ‘simpler, humbler, bolder Church’ – Archbishops tell Synod. There are links to their full remarks here and here.

There was a debate on the response to the covid-19 pandemic (GS 2192) at the end of which this motion

That this Synod, recognising the profound challenge to life and wellbeing posed by the Covid-19 pandemic:
(a) call upon the whole church to hold in prayer all those ill, bereaved, unemployed or suffering mentally as a result of the virus, to pray for Her Majesty’s Government and all who hold responsibility for navigating the intractable dilemmas that Covid-19 poses;
(b) give thanks for the continuing selfless service of NHS and social care staff, scientists, and key workers in every sector, encouraging all to follow their example by affirming the common good over sectional interests;
(c) request the church’s representatives, in conversations with Her Majesty’s Government, to press the case for reducing social inequalities, especially the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME people, children living in poverty, disabled people, elderly people and those living with chronic health conditions, and to reflect concerns expressed by Synod in debate on this motion;
(d) express concern that the God given image, dignity and value of disabled and/or elderly people, including all those in residential care homes, are diminished when they are denied access to the same level of health care as the rest of the population;
(e) call on Her Majesty’s Government to preserve the United Kingdom’s foreign aid budget at 0.7% of GDP, sending a strong signal that the United Kingdom is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe;
(f) celebrate the role of churches in building mental and spiritual resilience to face the crisis and, affirming the role of worship and the sacraments as the source of Christian service and discipleship, call upon Her Majesty’s Government immediately to review the decision to curtail public worship during lockdown.

was passed by 401 votes to 4 with 8 recorded abstentions.

There was then the usual debate on the Report of the Business Committee (GS 2179). There was a counted vote on the motion to take note of this report with 207 votes in favour, 67 against and 29 recorded abstentions. The significant vote against might be explained by this speech from Jayne Ozanne.

Reports from members and the press

Stephen Lynas Can’t take my eyes off you

Andrew Nunn Crystal Maze

Church Times Synod: Archbishops defend LLF and warn of post-pandemic changes

2 Comments

A sheep or a goat?

What is it about sheep and goats? Today’s gospel reading (Matthew 25.31–46) for the feast of Christ the King portrays the Son of Man, Jesus himself, coming in glory and seated on his throne, taking up his kingship, separating the people into two groups: the sheep who are to enjoy eternal life, and the goats consigned to eternal punishment.

I’ve come to see this story as part of a commentary on, or explanation of, the Summary of the Law. In the famous passage in another gospel, Luke 10.25–37, Jesus gives the Summary (essentially: love God, love neighbour) but is asked in response Who is my neighbour? He answers with the story of the Good Samaritan: our neighbour is whoever helps us, and by implication whomever we help. In today’s passage from Matthew, on the other hand, Jesus turns to the implied other question: What does it means to love God?

Jesus’s answer is that we love God when we love our neighbour. We take God’s name in vain when we say we love God, but don’t feed the hungry, don’t house the homeless, don’t nurse the sick, don’t visit the prisoner, and so on. That’s taking God’s name in vain because it is saying we love God, but not actually doing so, because loving God is doing those things. And those things are the things that happen in God’s kingdom, so when we do those things we live in the kingdom – the kingdom is truly at hand. When we do this then our allegiance is truly to God and God’s principles, rather than those of this world. When we don’t do them then we are not dwelling in the kingdom, and instead are far from God, condemning ourselves to live apart from God. That’s the scenario, in highly rhetorical and apocalyptic language, that Jesus presents us with in this passage.

And when does this judgement happen? In the apocalyptic language of the passage it happens when the Son of Man comes in glory – at the end of the age. A friend once pointed out to me, however, that the story does not have to be interpreted as about a final judgement. That is Jesus’s rhetoric of hyperbole, catching the attention of his hearers and getting them to think, to remember and to act. Instead we can see it as judgement here and now on each act that we do or do not undertake. At each moment, each act or non-act, when we do these things we are close to God, participating in the kingdom, and when we do not then we are far from God.

The same theme can be seen in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s name is hallowed when his will is done here on earth as it is in the heavens. And what does that mean? It means when the hungry each day have bread to eat (and by association, or the rhetoric of synecdoche, the other needs are met too – sheltering the homeless, protecting the oppressed, and the like) and when we live at peace with each other, forgiving and being forgiven. That is when we dwell in the kingdom, and we pray that we will not be tempted away from it by the glamour of worldly evil.

That is when Christ reigns. That is when Christ is king.

Image of sheep and goats from Bucheit Agri.

16 Comments

Opinion – 21 November 2020

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News LLF – Patience & Pain

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News LLF: Power, Fear & Our Inability To Do The Right Thing

Andrew Village and Leslie Francis Church Times The writing is on the wall for fragile rural churches
“The pandemic has exacerbated the crisis, and action is needed urgently”

Gilo Surviving Church BLM and Redress Schemes
[In this context BLM is a law firm – ed]

Lee Gatiss Church Society Initial thoughts on LLF

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Mirror, Mirror : A Journey in Imagination for the Heterosexual Christian

Philip Murray Dinner at the Vicarage Wine for the Feast: the wine cellar and eschatology

82 Comments

General Synod questions

The questions (and their answers) for next week’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod have been published.

Questions

Question 4

16 Comments

Cathedral Statistics 2019

The Church of England has released its Cathedral Statistics for 2019. There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

Visitor and worshipper numbers to England’s cathedrals grew prior to lockdown
20/11/2020

England’s cathedrals continue to play a huge role in the worship, heritage, and civic life of the country according to the latest figures from the Church of England.

In 2019, 1.3 million people attended services at cathedrals across the country, with midweek service attendance continuing to grow.

England’s cathedrals also attracted nearly 10 million visitors a year, the new data predating Covid-19 restrictions shows.

(more…)

5 Comments

A new complaint about the Dean of Christ Church

Updated Friday evening

The Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Martyn Percy is now the subject of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure, according to the Diocese of Oxford, which has amended the statement it first issued on 18 November and it now reads as follows:

19 November 2020
Following media reports, our statement is updated as follows

We are disappointed that those seeking to support the Dean are reportedly trying to downplay the severity of the complaint. Such actions belittle the complainant and only add to the distress of anyone else considering a complaint against someone in a senior position. The complaint, which has been brought to the Church under the Clergy Discipline Measure, will be properly and thoroughly investigated.

18 November 2020

The Bishop of Oxford has agreed with the Very Revd Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, that Martyn will step back from office, while a complaint is properly considered.

Christ Church is a complex institution and, uniquely in the Church of England, the Dean of the Cathedral is also Head of an Oxford College. Christ Church has written to students and staff with the following statement. The statement has also been shared with the Cathedral congregation and those at the Cathedral School.

“The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Martyn Percy, has voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities in his role as Dean of the College and Cathedral. Christ Church will not be commenting further whilst necessary inquiries are under way. The Charity Commission and relevant Church of England authorities are being kept fully informed.”

The Bishop of Oxford is in close contact with all concerned. His prayers, and those of the Diocese, are with everyone at Christ Church.

Christ Church itself has today issued the following press release:

Statement regarding the Dean of Christ Church

Yesterday Christ Church wrote to internal stakeholders to say that the Dean of Christ Church has stepped back from his duties in the College and Cathedral.

There have been some suggestions in the media that the Dean has resigned. We can clarify that this is not the case. The wording of Christ Church’s statement is set out below:

“The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Martyn Percy, has voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities in his role as Dean of the College and Cathedral. Christ Church will not be commenting further whilst necessary inquiries are under way. The Charity Commission and relevant Church of England authorities are being kept fully informed.”

The Church Times has reported this as Supporters warned off as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, steps back. This story was updated on Friday, and now contains the following:

SUPPORTERS of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, have been reprimanded by the Oxford diocese. The supporters, in turn, have asked why members of the college’s Governing Body have not been criticised…

…The diocesan statement, in turn, has been criticised by David Lamming, a friend of Dean Percy and a General Synod member, as a “wholly inappropriate public comment while the current allegation is under investigation”. He objects, in particular, to the reference to “severity”, and asks for information about the authorship of the statement.
Other allies of the Dean have pointed out that the diocesan reprimand is one-sided. It is said that at least one member of the college’s Governing Body was known to have briefed journalists anonymously about the case…

 

22 Comments

Opinion – 18 November 2020

Helen King ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – Waiting for Godot

Diarmaid MacCulloch Modern Church Living in Love and Faith

David Monteith Dean of Leicester Living in Love and Faith
“No change but change?”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church ‘Vulnerable Adults’ and Safeguarding literature.

Church of England Evangelical Council The Beautiful Story “a film to encourage and enable evangelicals to engage and contend in discussions about human sexuality”. It’s 32 minutes long. They have also published a fuller introduction and suggested ‘next steps’ for church leaders here.
Charlie Bell has published this response.

74 Comments

Update on Church’s response to IICSA report

One of the papers, released ten days ago, for next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod is GS 2184 Response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s Final Investigation Report into the Anglican Church. This has been followed up today by the following press release.

Update on Church’s response to IICSA report
16/11/2020

Following the publication (Oct 6) of its overarching IICSA report, the Church’s national governing bodies have all endorsed a motion apologising to victims and survivors and committing to urgently implementing the six IICSA recommendations. There will be a particular focus on independent safeguarding and redress for survivors and victims

Project groups will be set up including for independence and redress work streams. The independence workstream is about scoping the best structure for independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in place of the Archbishops’ Council. The House of Bishops also agreed that an interim arrangement is put in place prior to the establishment of this new body.

A further project group will also be set up to implement Recommendation 1 which proposes that diocesan safeguarding officers (DSOs) employed locally would be professionally supervised and quality assured by the National Safeguarding Team.

The Archbishops’ Council committed to finding significant additional financial resource to support the interim support scheme for survivors, which was announced in September, while work begins on a full redress scheme. The NST is in the process of appointing a new staff member to lead on the redress work.

It was agreed that workstreams must be undertaken in consultation with victims, survivors and all relevant Church bodies

The National Safeguarding Steering Group will establish a coordinating subgroup to oversee the work on all six IICSA recommendations and ensure they are implemented swiftly with the particular focus on independence and redress for survivors and victims. The recommendations also focus on CDM reform, information sharing and external audit.

A full background paper on these proposed changes has been published for a presentation and debate at General Synod which meets online from November 23-25 (timetable) with a further detailed response to the recommendations then to be drawn up, published and sent to IICSA.

4 Comments

Opinion – 14 November 2020

See also opinion on Living in Love and Faith here; I’ve been adding to this daily.

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Nourishing and enriching our innate goodness and love

Paul Wilkinson Church Times Threat that is keeping our solicitors busy
“The pandemic has spurred greater numbers to consider leaving their affairs in good order”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Safeguarding Complaint against Archbishop Welby dismissed

Jayne Ozanne PinkNews The Church of England is ‘deaf to the cries’ of the LGBT+ people it is harming. Its recent actions have proven that

13 Comments

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury

The following statement has been issued by Lambeth Palace this morning.

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury
12/11/2020

The abuse carried out by the late John Smyth was horrific and support continues to be offered to survivors. The Makin review is currently looking at the Church’s handling of allegations about his abuse, including the response of other organisations involved.

A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated. The complaint referred to Lambeth’s response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified. All the information reviewed will now be sent to the Makin Review, due to publish next year, for further scrutiny.

Archbishop Justin is deeply sorry for the abuse that was carried out by John Smyth. The Archbishop has committed himself to leading the change needed in the Church of England relating to safeguarding and is personally keen to listen to survivors and striving to keep developing and learning in his own ministry.

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. Support can be offered to victims through the National Safeguarding Team’s survivor engagement worker Emily Denne, who can be contacted at emily.denne@churchofengland.org or do contact Keith Makin, the independent reviewer, direct at keith.makin@independentreviews.live.

52 Comments

Opinion – 11 November 2020

See also opinion on Living in Love and Faith here.

David Brown Surviving Church Leaven. Challenging the Power of Culture in our Church

Brian Castle Church Times Comment: What the Government fails to grasp about public worship
“Theresa May was right to draw attention to the sinister precedent that the lockdown ban on gathering for services sets”

Ian Paul Psephizo Should church buildings close during lockdowns?

3 Comments

Living in Love and Faith – news and opinion

More articles will be added as and when they are published.

News

Church Times LLF: Archbishops apologise for harm caused to LGBTI+ people

Church Times leader comment LLF: it’s out, it’s long, it’s good

Christian Today Church of England publishes landmark resources on sexuality and relationships

Christian Today Evangelicals will ‘engage’ with Church’s sexuality resources but say key issue is ‘obedience’ to Scripture

The Guardian Church of England could rethink stance on LGBTQ+ issues by 2022

Anglican Communion News Service Church of England publishes major teaching resource on identity and sexuality

Premier Church of England outlines plans to tackle sexuality disagreements

Telegraph Church of England could hold historic vote on gay marriage in 2022 (£)

Reuters Church of England leaders apologise for ‘damage and hurt’ to LGBT+ people

Religion Media Centre Living in Love and Faith: ‘What is means to be human’

The Times Church of England to rethink same-sex marriage (£)

Daily Mail Church of England paves the way for same-sex marriages after three years of behind-closed-doors arguments on issue – as Archbishops apologise for ‘damage’ caused to LGBT community

Press Association (at the Daily Mail) Church of England decisions on sexuality and marriage `could be made within two years´
This PA article is also on the websites of a great many local newspapers.

PinkNews Church of England delays decision on same-sex marriage and LGBT+ rights until 2022 despite admitting it ‘continues to hurt’ queer people

The Living Church New C of E Resource for Discernment on Sexuality

Church Times Campaigners welcome Living in Love and Faith resources

Opinion

Helen King sharedconversations Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (1)
Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (2)
Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (3)
Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (4)
LLF and IICSA, revisited

Helen King for Modern Church Living in Love and Faith: doing history

Marcus Green
Living in Love and Faith: One – Suddenly Equal?
Living in Love and Faith: Two – Predictably Discriminatory
Living in Love and Faith: Three – Stubbornly Hopeful

Nikki Groarke ViaMedia.News Scripture & Sexuality – Taking Nothing For Granted

Andrew Goddard Fulcrum LLF for Dummies: 10 FAQs about the Church of England’s new teaching and learning resources on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage

The Church of England Evangelical Council Living in Love and Faith: evangelicals say they are ‘ready to engage and ready to contend’

Student Christian Movement A response to the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ resources

Alex Clare-Young Trans. Christian. Human. LLF: Call, Response, Prayer

Jayne Ozanne

General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group

Prudence Dailey Christian Today First impressions of the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith are very disappointing

David Baker Christian Today ‘Living in Love and Faith’: there may be much to encourage, but there is also every reason to stand firm

Oliver O’Donovan The Living Church Mapping the Terrain for Engagement on Human Sexuality

Colin Coward LLF: it’s long, complex, and fails LGBTI Anglicans

Ozanne Foundation

Andrew Symes Anglican Mainstream Living in Love and Faith: early thoughts

Ian Paul (How) should we engage with Living in Love and Faith?

Christopher Cocksworth Living in Love & Faith – My Journey

Ann Memmott Ann’s Autism Blog Living in Love and Faith – How the CofE failed the autistic LGBT+ people

43 Comments

Living in Love and Faith resources published

Update I have been advised that the Living in Life book is available for download (without registration) from here as a single pdf file.

The Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith resources were published this afternoon, along with a press release (copied below). There is some introductory material at the first link below (Living in Love and Faith), but for most of the resources are in the Living in Love and Faith Learning Hub; to enter this requires registration.

Hard copies of the Living in Love and Faith book are (or will be) available from Church House Publishing or your favourite online bookseller (although none of the three that I tried have it in stock).

You can download the book from within the hub, but it does come in the form of 27 separate files.

Press release

Living in Love and Faith resources published as bishops issue appeal to Church to ‘listen and learn together’
09/11/2020

The Church of England has published a landmark set of resources drawing together the Bible, theology, science and history with powerful real-life stories as it embarks on a new process of discernment and decision-making on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

The product of three years’ work by more than 40 people, led by the Bishop of Coventry, Living in Love and Faith includes a 480-page book, a series of films and podcasts, a course and an online library of other publications, in what is thought to be the most extensive work in this area by any faith group in the world.

It comes as the House of Bishops issues an appeal to the whole Church of England to participate in learning together, using the resources for open, honest and gracious discussion, listening and learning.

A group of bishops, chaired by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, will lead the process of discernment and decision-making about a way forward for the church in relation to human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

It is anticipated that the period of church-wide learning and engagement would take place during 2021. The House of Bishops would then bring the discernment and decision-making to a timely conclusion in 2022 which would then be put before Synod.

In a foreword to the Living in Love and Faith resources, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, acknowledge and apologise for the “huge damage and hurt” that has been caused particularly to LGBTI+ people within the Church.

“At the heart of our failure is the absence of a genuine love for those whom God loves in Christ, knowing as God does every aspect of all of our lives,” they write.

But addressing the future, they add: “Our prayer for the Church through this work is that collectively we demonstrate the same love to one another that we have experienced from God.”

The book opens with an account of how Jesus invited people to sit down together as he fed the 5,000. It notes how Jesus often sat down with people with radically different lives and views.

In their invitation to the church, the bishops say: “Our prayer is that as all of us, the people of God, take time to listen and learn together, our love for one another will be deepened and our faith in Jesus Christ strengthened so that His joy will be made complete in us.”

The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, who oversaw the Living in Love and Faith project, said: “These learning resources are the fruit of an extraordinary collaborative process.

“This has involved intense and prayerful study and reflection as well as listening to as wide a range of voices and experiences as possible.

“Our hope is that through them people will be inspired by the Bible’s glorious and joyful vision of God’s intention for human life.

“Questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage are deeply personal with real life consequences. Engaging with these resources will be enriching and, at different points for different people, deeply challenging and uncomfortable.

“They ask us to examine afresh what it means for Christians to live in love and faith.

“We offer them in the hope that the whole of the Church of England will embrace this opportunity to learn and reflect together across difference for the sake of our unity in Christ.”

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who will lead the ‘Next Steps Group,’ said: “The challenges of the pandemic have underlined how we need each other more than ever.

“At the same time, we can see how deeply divided the Church is over these questions, and we must seek God’s will by learning together, listening to each other and to God.

“We will encourage and support churches to do this in ways appropriate to their local contexts over the coming year, inviting people to reflect on their learning, both as groups and individually.

“This must be a meaningful process with a clear way forward.

“However, it will not succeed without love, grace, kindness and compassion.”

Notes

Register to explore the Living in Love and Faith Learning Hub.

The members of the Next Steps Group are:

  • Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally (chair)
  • Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker
  • Bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain
  • Bishop of Loughborough, Guli Francis-Dehqani
  • Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas
  • Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher
  • Bishop of Ripon, Helen-Ann Hartley
  • Bishop of Sherborne, Karen Gorham
  • Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen
  • Bishop of Warrington, Beverley Mason
  • Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin
  • Bishop of Bradwell, John Perumbalath
30 Comments

House of Bishops

Press release from the Church of England

A meeting of the House of Bishops took place today Monday 9 November 2020 via Zoom
09/11/2020

The House has now reverted to a schedule of monthly meetings with this meeting being the meeting for November.
As one of the first items of substantive business, a series of proposed amendments to the Standing Orders of the House were approved. As a result of recent demands brought on by the pandemic, the House endorsed the proposal for the Secretary of the House to be to be able to call a meeting of the House of Bishops with just 24 hours’ notice in circumstances of special urgency, rather than the current 7 days. The House agreed to two other procedurally related proposals.

The House then discussed the imminent publication and communication around the publication of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) resources planned for later that day. The House was addressed by Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Living in Love and Faith Co ordinating Group and parties working collaboratively on the launch, including the enabling officer of LLF and the Director of Communications.

The House then received an update on the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Housing, Church and Community Commission (HC&C). The update was given by the Bishop of Kensington and Charlie Arbuthnot, the co-authors of an interim report that was shared with the House. The interim report was discussed and the House approved the general direction of travel of the report and agreed to receive the final report in February 2021.

The House then heard from the Bishop of London in her capacity as the Chair of the Recovery Group charged with the Church’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. An overview of the current situation was given with an update on discussions on the Places of Worship Task Group and ongoing negotiations with the Government regarding the opening of churches for public worship. The House agreed that its December meeting will include a more detailed discussion on the regional impact throughout England of the pandemic.

The House was then updated by the Bishop of Huddersfield, (Bishop for Safeguarding) and the Director of Safeguarding on a range of safeguarding matters. The House noted and agreed that progress on the Interim Support Scheme must be made by the end of the year.

The House also received updates from the various works streams operating under the auspices of the Emerging Church Groups.

An overview by the Chair of the Co-ordinating Group, the Bishop of Manchester was followed by reports from the Chair of the Vision and Strategy Group, the Governance Group and the Transforming Effectiveness Group.

The House agreed, as part of the Vision and Strategy Group, to note and prepare for further discussion at the December meeting of the House on a series of proposals replacing the three Quinquennium Goals dating from 2010.

The House also agreed to offer comments and advice on the workplan of the Transforming Effectiveness group with further suggestions and proposals to be tabled at the December meeting. The House agreed to the same for the Governance group.

The Bishop at Lambeth informed the House that there will be a longer detailed decision on Emerging Church at the scheduled two day December meeting of the House.

3 Comments

Opinion – 7 November 2020

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim The Harsh Truth Unlocked by Lockdown

Giles Fraser UnHerd Boris Johnson doesn’t get God
“This second lockdown has robbed church-goers of more than community”

Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff Church Times The Church’s sacramental ministry is not an optional extra
“The precautions in place in churches mean that there is no justification for suspending public worship”

Church Times Leader Worship banned

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News Uphill Struggles and the Road to Peace

11 Comments

Pre-Synod press release

The Church of England has issued its usual press release (copied below) in advance of this month’s meeting of its General Synod. Also released today are the papers for the Synod meeting; links to them are in my post below.

Church of England to detail Net-Zero bid at first online General Synod
06/11/2020

The Church of England has clarified the scope and definition of net-zero following General Synod’s pledge to achieve net-zero by 2030.

Detail was shared with General Synod members today as papers were published for the forthcoming meeting of General Synod, the first full meeting of the Synod to be held remotely.

Today’s environmental publications follow a February 2020 motion setting the Church a target of cutting its carbon emissions year-on-year to reach Net Zero emissions by 2030.

Among other Agenda items, Synod will also debate the recent IICSA report endorsing a motion to urgently implement its recommendations, a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Archbishops’ Council budget and proposals for apportionment for 2021.

In legislative business, the Cathedrals Measure will receive its final drafting and approval and there will also be a number of items of Safeguarding legislation as the Church continues its work to strengthen its procedures in this area.

First official remote synod

In response to the challenges presented by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, special changes to Synod rules were approved in October enabling a full meeting to take place online.

This will be the first such official meeting of the Synod to take place online, over three days between Monday 23rd and Wednesday 25th November.

Dioceses and cathedrals consult on net-zero

Despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 during the past nine months, the vast majority of dioceses and cathedrals have responded to a consultation to shape a definition and scoping of net-zero. This has been sent to General Synod members today for information ahead of its November meeting.

Of 35 dioceses and 23 cathedrals that replied, 81% of consultees agreed fully with the definition as now drafted (or with minor variations). Of those who did not fully agree, half still expressed a desire that it should go further.

Among the key details from the papers:

  • The current carbon footprint of the Church of England is between 600k and 1000k tCO2e (metric tonnes of carbon dioxide) per year.
  • More than 80 per cent of the average church’s energy use goes on heating.
  • A clear definition of what achieving net-zero carbon would look like. This includes all carbon emissions in churches, church halls, offices, Royal Peculiars, and Theological Education Institutions among other examples of buildings that are included.

Revd Professor Martin Gainsborough, who moved the 2030 amendment, said that he was “hugely impressed” by the way in which the Environment Working Group has been working since the momentous vote in February.

“The definition of what is included for our net-zero carbon target seems the right one. It is also widely supported, as the consultation process relating to it shows,” he continued.

“It is now absolutely critical that the whole Church commits to this agenda. Of course, aspects of it will be challenging but I am convinced that if we work systematically and work together we can pull this off. What an achievement and what a legacy that would be.”

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop for environmental affairs, welcomed the publication of the Synod papers.

He said: “In the months since Synod set its 2030 target for net-zero, despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19, parishes, dioceses and cathedrals have demonstrated their urgency by completing the energy footprint tool and participating in a consultation on the scope of net-zero.

“While reaching our target remains a huge challenge and will require prayer and concerted and sustained action, this work moves us closer to having a reliable baseline for our current carbon impacts and a roadmap to achieving net-zero.”

The Church has also rolled out the Energy Footprint Tool, and since April 2020 (following the 2030 target introduction in February) the tool has seen 4,500 churches formally submitting their data or nearly a third of parishes in England. A further 1,500 churches tried the tool but did not submit their data.

The Environmental Working Group will next report back to General Synod in 2022, at which time a detailed roadmap will be reviewed.

Work will continue at all levels in the meantime with a national programme of church energy audits, renewable electricity tariffs through parish buying, ARocha’s Eco Diocese programme, events for Climate Sunday and a series of net-zero carbon webinars which are free for parishes.

Notes

3 Comments

November General Synod – online papers

The Papers for this month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online.

Papers with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets virtually from Monday 23 to Thursday 25 November. They can be downloaded as two zip files.

GS papers .zip folder
GS Misc papers .zip folder

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

Timetable

Synod members reading this might like to note that the deadline for the submission of questions is 12 noon on Wednesday 11 November 2020.

(more…)

0 Comments

Churches to hold month of prayer as second lockdown begins

Church of England press release

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and a number of senior church leaders are inviting Christians across the nation to participate in the month of prayer as a second lockdown in England comes into force.

Throughout the month, Christians will be encouraged to pray daily for a specific area of national concern, wherever they are, culminating in a collective moment of prayer at 6pm each evening, with cathedrals and churches across the country invited to ring a bell at this time.

Christians will be encouraged to follow a simple seven-day prayer cycle, praying for a specific area each day including the NHS and frontline workers, the bereaved, and those struggling with physical and mental ill-health, and for children and young people.

Prayers and other resources will be shared on social media with the hashtag #PrayerForTheNation.

The prayer call has the support of senior church leaders including Churches Together in England (CTE) Presidents Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; Pastor Agu Irukwu, the CTE Pentecostal president; His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, and the CTE Orthodox President; and Pete Greig, Founder of 24-7 Prayer International and Senior Leader of Emmaus Road, Guildford. It is also being supported by the Church of England’s House of Bishops.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “On the brink of this second lockdown we might understandably feel helpless, anxious and vulnerable. And we do what we can to halt the spread of this virus – but we can still feel powerless.

“Is there anything else we can do? Really do?

“Yes. Yes there is. We can pray. Prayer is my first response when I feel out of my depth, when I need help, when I am worried, when I am concerned for those I love.
It is a gift that God gives to all – whether you are a regular pray-er or not – bring your cares and the cares of the nation to God. For God loves and hears and holds. Prayer changes things.”

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “Prayer changes things. It changes things by inviting God into the room.

“At this challenging time when all of us are fearful and anxious, and when so many are suffering, it is the one thing we can all do.

“We can pray and invite God to change us, giving us the solace, strength and comfort we need for the difficult winter that is ahead of us.

“Let’s pray together at this difficult time.”

A selection of resources to suit Christians from across all denominations and traditions, and those exploring faith at this challenging time, will be made available on the Church of England website to guide prayer during this period.

This includes several newly written prayers for the nation from Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, NT Wright and Pete Greig.

Cathedrals will ring a bell as a call to prayer for the nation throughout the month. The Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, who is Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, said:

“We know our cathedrals are places of assurance and inspiration for many people when life is tough and hope is short, and now more than ever, it is important to show our presence and mark each day of this lockdown with prayers, and keep a time each evening to ring our bells as a call to pray for our nation.”

The call to prayer comes as both Archbishops, in a letter issued last weekend, encouraged churches to redouble their efforts to serve their local communities – caring for the elderly and most vulnerable – ahead of the second lockdown.

To find out more information about the invitation to pray visit: churchofengland.org/PrayerForTheNation.

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Archbishops write to the nation

Church of England press release
Calm, courage and compassion needed in face of new lockdown – Archbishops

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited the nation to join them in prayer, in a message encouraging ‘calm, courageous and compassionate’ responses to the difficulties of the second national lockdown in England.

In an open letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, assure the nation of their prayers. They highlight the love of God for us all in the midst of ‘deeply challenging and difficult’ times facing the country.

“We are writing to share our belief that whoever you are, and whatever you happen to believe, you are loved by God. Beyond measure. We also want you to know that we are praying for you, particularly asking that Christ’s love will comfort us, calm our fears, and lead our nation and our world through this terrible pandemic,” they say.

In the letter, the Archbishops encourage everyone to adopt ‘calm, courageous and compassionate’ responses in the face of the difficulties posed by the lockdown.

“So many of us are holding so much pain – our own and the pain of those we love. We will need to be gentle, kind and patient with each other,” they write.

“In the first wave, we showed we are a nation of compassion and kindness. Let’s dig deep and keep that love for our neighbours strong in this second time of struggle.

Anyone who wishes to do so is invited by the Archbishops to join them in daily prayer at 6pm during lockdown using resources that will be published later today on the Church of England’s website and social media channels.

The resources mentioned above can be found here.
A PDF version of the open letter is available here.

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General Synod (Remote Meetings) (Temporary Standing Orders) Measure

This Measure was debated, and passed, by the Houses of Commons and Lords last month. It received Royal Assent today and came into force immediately. This month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod can now take place remotely.

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