Thinking Anglicans

Church of Nigeria criticises ACNA

Updated again Tuesday 2 March

On 19 January, the Anglican Church in North America published Sexuality and Identity: A Pastoral Statement from the College of Bishops.

On 22 February there was a response from some individuals within ACNA in the form of a public letter addressed to “Dear Gay Anglicans”. Although this has been withdrawn by the originator as discussed here , you can read a copy of it here. This prompted a response on 23 February: Archbishop Beach writes to the Diocese of the South about the “Dear Gay Anglicans” open letter.

On 26 February, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) published a letter signed by Archbishop Henry Ndukuba, the Primate, which heavily criticises ACNA for the original pastoral statement. The original PDF format of this letter can be seen here: Church-of-Nigerias-Position-on-the-Recent-Developments-in-ACNA-February-2021, and there is a copy of the letter at Anglican Ink, over here.

That in turn generated a response from ACNA on 27 February: Clarity in the Midst of Confusion: A Provincial Statement on the Events of the Week.


No British mainstream media reporting of this yet, but some other websites have pieces:

Episcopal Cafè Nigeria’s archbishop to ACNA: no such thing as “Gay Christian”

Living Church Sexuality Conflict Roils ACNA

Fulcrum Andrew Goddard Gay Christians, ACNA and GAFCON

Episcopal Cafè Without mention of Church of Nigeria criticism, ACNA responds

Living Church Nigerian Primate Lashes Out at ACNA

Church Times GAFCON leaders at odds over pastoral care of gay Christians

The Standard (Kenya)  Cracks within Anglican Communion widens over same-sex relationships

Daily Post (Nigeria) Homosexuality: Anglican Church in Nigeria wants American bishops sanctioned

Surviving Church Words sometimes break. Divisions and Disputes in the ACNA world


Update from the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce

The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce, set up last autumn to recommend changes to ensure greater racial equality in the Church of England, has issued an update on its work. The full text is here. The Taskforce aims to publish its final report on 22nd April 2021 – Stephen Lawrence Day.

More information on the group and its work is available here.

The Taskforce recently (8 February) also issued a statement expressing pastoral concern for Jarel Robinson-Brown (see our earlier article Jarel Robinson-Brown and the Diocese of London).


General Synod Reports

Updated Monday evening

Church Times
Archbishops’ message: Don’t be unkind to the Church or each other
Church’s vision is for more front-line ministry, not less, Archbishop of York tells Synod members
Synod members hear significant changes planned for church safeguarding
This is the right moment to act, housing commissioners tell Synod

Press release from the Church of England
Report on housing crisis ‘challenge to the soul’ of the Church of England – Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of York General Synod Address on progress of Vision and Strategy – February 2021


Stephen Lynas bathwellschap I can’t see nobody…

There is a recording of the whole day’s session on YouTube here.


Opinion – 27 February 2021

Nikki Groarke ViaMedia.News Change is Coming…Even if We Feel the Record is Stuck

Anonymous Surviving Church Nuremberg at 75: Trials and Tribulations


Clergy Discipline Measure Reform

The Ecclesiastical Law Society working group that has been looking at a replacement for the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) produced its final report on Wednesday. This document can be found here.

The Church Times reports on this: New C of E disciplinary process ‘could save £250,000’ and boost legal aid

..The working group, chaired by Peter Collier QC, the Vicar-General of York, calculates that its proposed scheme will cost the Church an average of £652,000 p.a. This includes £294,000 to provide legal aid for all respondents accused of serious misconduct.

The group reckons that the average annual cost of the existing, discredited system under the CDM to be approaching £900,000, with only £104,325 allocated for legal aid (2019 figure).

The working group predicts a saving even if legal aid is offered in minor as well as serious complaints. This would put the annual legal aid bill at £438,000, making the total cost of dealing with complaints £796,000…

Bishop Tim Thornton, who chairs the official working group charged with making proposals to General Synod for CDM reform issued this Response to Ecclesiastical Law Society report on CDM

“As chair of the Clergy Discipline Review Group I welcome the report published by the working group of the ELS.
“It has been very good to work with them and especially good to have two of their group on our group.
“As I have made clear publicly I am committed to finding a replacement for the CDM and I am clear that many of the ideas and detailed work in the ELS report is enormously helpful to us and all who will consider what a replacement Measure will look like.
“I am especially grateful to Peter Collier for the immense amount of time and effort he has put in to chairing the group and bringing this Report to publication.”

His group published a progress report in December, which we reported on here.

The Sheldon Hub has undertaken considerable research on this topic, since 2017, as summarised here. On 21 February they wrote:

Sheldon remains very concerned that detailed proposals are being brought forward for the replacement of CDM without any published document on the Scope and Purpose of such a Measure. As no-one else appeared to have the appetite to produce one, Sheldon offers this document as a starting point : Purpose and scope of proposed replacement of CDM.


General Synod questions

Updated Saturday morning

The February 2021 General Synod Questions (and answers) have been published. These are written answers only as there will be no opportunity for supplementary questions at the informal meeting of Synod on Saturday.

The papers for the meeting are online here; they include these.

Why the Church should care about housing
Independence in Safeguarding – with a Cover Note for Synod members, February 2021

We have published articles about the second and third of these here and here.


Church Times Synod Q&A: safeguarding, CDM, and the Church’s future

Stephen Lynas previews today’s meeting on his bathwellschap blog: We don’t talk any more.

You can watch General Synod live here.


Proposals on NST independent oversight published

See previous report from 15 December.

CofE press release today:

The Archbishops’ Council has approved the next steps in independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team (NST), with the first phase to be implemented by the summer. The paper by Revd Dr Malcolm Brown on the proposed interim arrangements is to be presented to General Synod members on Saturday. The proposals for this new structure were presented to an informal meeting of the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council this week, with Council members then approving the paper. During the meeting members noted the importance of being able to review the structure after a set period and further detail needed on Phase 2 once the Board was in place. Dr Brown noted his thanks to MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) and members of the Survivors’ Reference Group who acted as consultants. Together, they formed a Focus Group and considered an early draft of the proposals and their report offered numerous comments and suggestions, with as many as possible incorporated into this paper.
The Archbishops’ Council originally voted on independent oversight in December.

The paper containing the proposals as issued to General Synod is a page longer than the version linked above.
Here is a link to the copy that includes the cover page (total page count 20).


John Smyth review delayed – again

The following text has been added to the John Smyth Review page of the Church of England website.

Further update on timing of publication

To ensure the review is as comprehensive as possible and that the large volume of information submitted can be fully studied, it is now likely that the completion of the report will be mid-summer 2021 at the earliest. Following that, there will be a need to ensure that the report is legally sound and that people who may be directly referenced will have had the opportunity to comment on those references.


Opinion – 24 February 2021

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News It’s Time to Talk About…Sex!

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Some Reflections on Vocation and the Ravi Zacharias story

Georges Staelens Blogue de Georges Tiny dioceses and bishopped subdeans / Diocèses minuscules et évêques-doyens.


Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today released Coming Home: Tackling the housing crisis together, a report from the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community. There is a lengthy press release, which is copied below. The Church Commissioners have also issued a press release welcoming the report.

The report and an executive summary can be downloaded from here.

Press reports include

Church Times This is how to solve the housing crisis, says Archbishops’ Commission
The Guardian Church of England land should be used to help tackle housing crisis, says report

There will be a presentation by the Archbishops’ Commission on the key actions and recommendations from the report at the informal meeting of General Synod on 27 February. Synod members have been sent this briefing paper, which includes  a copy of the Grove booklet Why the Church Should Care About Housing written by two members of the Commission.

Archbishops’ Press release

Church must play key role in national effort to solve housing crisis, says Archbishops’ Commission

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have released a landmark new report, ‘Coming Home’, which sets out a bold new vision for housing and community

The Church of England should lead by example, including delivering more truly affordable homes on its own land, to help solve the housing crisis, says a landmark report published today by the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community.

A collective effort at all levels of society including Government, local authorities, landowners and property developers as well as the Church is needed to help tackle an acute shortage of truly affordable homes, the report Coming Home, says.

Published after two years of research, the 10-strong Commission warns that the housing crisis has left an estimated eight million people living in overcrowded, unaffordable and sub-standard accommodation with increasing numbers of families unable to put down roots in their communities.



MOSAIC coalition launches

A new coalition, named MOSAIC, which is an acronym for Movement Of Supporting Anglicans for An Inclusive Church, has been launched. The website is at The press release (copied in full below the fold) explains:


Leaders from across the full breadth of inclusive networks have united to create a “Movement of Supporting Anglicans for an Inclusive Church” that will campaign together for a more inclusive church.

The movement aims to have a presence in each diocese of the Church of England, where it will work with local clergy and laity on projects that promote inclusion for all those who are currently marginalised by the Church of England – whether that be due to race, ability, sexuality, gender or gender identity.

Launching just ahead of the February Synod, the co-chair of the initiative Revd Canon Tim Goode, a newly elected clergy member of the Archbishops’ Council said:

“I am delighted that we have been able to bring together such a broad coalition of leaders who represent the full range of marginalised groups within the Church of England. We stand far stronger together – for you cannot be a little bit inclusive!

…The Movement is keen to connect with anyone who is interested to get involved. More details can be found on their website…

The Church Times has reported this: New coalition seeks greater ‘inclusive’ clout in Church of England dioceses.

A NEW coalition describing itself as a “movement of supporting Anglicans for an inclusive Church” — and to be know by the acronym Mosaic — is to bring together campaigns on issues of race, ability, sexuality, gender, and gender identity.

One of its two co-chairs, Canon Tim Goode, a newly elected member of the Archbishops’ Council, said that Mosaic represented “the full range of marginalised groups within the Church of England. We stand far stronger together — for you cannot be a little bit inclusive.”

The coalition draws together leaders from the Campaign for Equal Marriage, Disability and Jesus, Inclusive Church, Modern Church, One Body One Faith, and the Ozanne Foundation. It hopes to grow to include other organisations.

Each of these bodies will continue to function independently, but the coalition is an attempt to co-ordinate their efforts to eradicate discrimination from church statements, policies, appointments, and actions…

The article also contains a Q and A section, with information that is not to be found at present on the MOSAIC website.



Opinion – 20 February 2021

The Guardian Ash Wednesday under Covid restrictions – in pictures

Ben Phillips All Things Lawful And Honest Super Bishops & Simpler Structures
“Ben Phillips reflects on the increasingly top-heavy structures of the Church of England and commends a radical rethinking of diocesan boundaries which would enable bishops to be both real pastors on the ground and effective symbolic leaders of the wider Church.”

Anthony Woollard Modern Church Does it Matter if the Church Dies?

Robert Hammond ViaMedia.News What to ‘Give Up’ When Everything’s Been Taken Away?

Philip North All Things Lawful And Honest The Primacy of the Parish


Christ Church to Commission Independent Review

Updated Saturday morning

Our last update on this subject was on 8 February: Christ Church Oxford: further developments.
Now comes this, from the website of Christ Church, Oxford:

Christ Church to Commission Independent Review

17 February 2021

Christ Church’s Governing Body has voted to carry out an independent review regarding the handling of a serious sexual harassment complaint, in order to confirm the disciplinary process it has put in place. The complaint was made last October by a junior member of staff against a senior member.

Last month, Governing Body addressed the complaint through its internal disciplinary procedures, but these have been questioned repeatedly by some in the media, while the motives of the complainant have been publicly challenged. While it is fully confident of the decisions it has made on this matter, Governing Body agreed that it wanted to respond to the queries that have been raised in a transparent manner. It felt that an external review would be the best way of ensuring that the complaint can be properly and swiftly dealt with for the sake of all those involved.

Governing Body’s decision follows a letter written by Christ Church student representatives to the Charity Commission, which stresses the importance of urgently addressing any allegation of sexual harassment. Christ Church’s internal HR processes are dictated by its statutes, and in this case require a tribunal to be set up to consider any appropriate disciplinary action.

A spokesperson for Christ Church commented:

“We entirely share our students’ concerns that a complaint of sexual harassment by this young member of staff must be treated with the utmost seriousness. That is exactly why last month we put our formal internal HR processes into action, and we are entirely confident these are the correct and necessary steps. However, we believe that an external, independent review will provide further reassurance about the decisions that were taken, and a way forward for all involved.”

Christ Church has begun the immediate process of identifying and appointing a Chair for the independent review and agreeing its terms of reference. It is expected that the Chair will be a senior figure from the judiciary.

Separately, Christ Church has reiterated its condemnation of attempts, through the press, social media and on a number of blogs, to gaslight and intimidate the complainant, their supporters, and the independent investigator who carried out a preliminary investigation into the allegation. Given the repeated leaking of confidential, personal information, Christ Church has reported a data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Update Saturday morning

Gabriella Swerling at the Telegraph has this: Dean of Christ Church can’t pray in his own cathedral without permission.

In addition to reporting the additional independent review, this article describes a number of restrictions placed by the College on the Dean, some of which are denied in a further statement by the College to the Telegraph.


Opinion – 17 February 2021 – Ash Wednesday

Sarah James Earth & Altar Memento Mori: Christian Forms of Death Contemplation for Lent

Augustine Tanner-Ihm ViaMedia.News When You are Not Invited to the Table

Charlotte Gauthier All Things Lawful And Honest Middle Management Malaise
“Charlotte Gauthier speaks from her experience of middle management in the secular world – how it works well, and where it works badly. The Church of England is replicating all the worst management patterns of a failing company heading for collapse. How can we stop this malaise and restore an efficient and energising vision of what the Church of England could be?”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Proportionate and Just? The Church of England and the Clerical Discipline Measure.


Opinion – 13 February 2021

Savitri Hensman ViaMedia.News What place for minorities? Church, Status and Power

Barry Orford All Things Lawful And Honest Back to Basics Bishops
“Fr Barry Orford asks important questions about how the Church of England goes about appointing bishops and what a bishop is. Has an obsession with managerialism prompted us to lose sight of the true episcopal vocation to serve and care for the flock of Christ?”

Dexter Bracey All Things Lawful And Honest Change and Clerical Decay
“Dexter Bracey asks if the current agenda for change in the Church of England might not be at odds with the spirit of the newly published Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. Could it be that the trend for reinvention is driving clergy to burn out?”

The Tory Socialist A Plea to Save the Church of England

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Waiting for the Thirtyone:eight Jonathan Fletcher Safeguarding Report


Archbishops respond to “rascally voices”

Following on from our earlier article, Financial threats to Church of England plans, there has been a response from the two archbishops, which you can read either here in the Spectator itself, A defence of the Churchof England  (includes a cartoon) or here: Archbishops: the Church in changing times (without the cartoon).

We linked earlier to one item by Emma Thompson in the Spectator which might be what has provoked the archbishops. There was another one from Marcus Walker The misguided priorities of church authorities.

Andrew Brown has commented on all this in several items:

And Angela Tilby has also written in this week’s Church TimesThe Church is not a business.


Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

The Rt Revd Tim Thornton is to retire as Bishop at Lambeth after four years in the role.

Bishop Tim has been Bishop at Lambeth since 2017. Previously he was Bishop of Truro, and Bishop of Sherborne before that.

As Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop Tim has supported the Archbishop of Canterbury’s work in the House of Bishops, General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council. He has chaired the Development and Appointments Group overseeing the leadership programmes and development work with senior clergy. He has also chaired the review of the Clergy Discipline Measure and provided advice on areas including safeguarding and church renewal.

Acting on the Archbishop’s behalf, Bishop Tim carried out episcopal duties within Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and had pastoral oversight of Anglican chaplains and the Anglican church within the Forces. He also served as Bishop for the Falkland Islands.

Bishop Tim has also been closely involved in preparations for the Lambeth Conference, which has been postponed until 2022 because of the pandemic. He will continue to be involved as a Trustee of the Lambeth Conference Company. At Archbishop Justin’s request, he will work on other matters relating to the process leading up to the Conference and in the years after it.

Bishop Tim said: “It has been a tremendous privilege working with Archbishop Justin and the marvellous colleagues in Lambeth and the other aspects of my work and life over the last four years. It has not been dull and I have been challenged and excited by all that I have done. During this year I will have been ordained for 41 years and a Bishop for 20 years. Sian and I have both chosen to retire and we look forward to taking on some new opportunities together in a variety of areas.

“I am very pleased to be able to continue to be involved with the process around the Lambeth Conference. I am especially grateful to those who have worked closely with me for all their hard work and all that we have managed to achieve. There is much more work to do as the Church of England faces up to the realities of the current situation. I will keep all concerned in my prayers and look forward to hearing more about all the plans and following from slightly further away the moves towards ensuring under Justin’s wise leadership the growing and flourishing of the Church of England.”

Archbishop Justin said: “From the chaplaincies of the Armed Forces, to congregations of the Falkland Islands, to the chamber of the General Synod, Bishop Tim has been a blessing to so many during his time as Bishop at Lambeth. I give thanks for his wisdom, insight, compassion, generosity and humour. I will miss him enormously, and I will be praying for him and Sian as they prepare for the next stage of their journeys as faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Tim will leave Lambeth at the end of September.


Opinion – 10 February 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The necessity for radical LGBTIQ+ activism in the Church of England

Jarel Robinson-Brown Church Times Can rage be holy?
“From Old Testament prophets to the present day, it can be”

Dexter Bracey All Things Lawful And Honest Change and Clerical Decay
“Dexter Bracey asks if the current agenda for change in the Church of England might not be at odds with the spirit of the newly published Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. Could it be that the trend for reinvention is driving clergy to burn out?”

John Bauerschmidt The Living Church A Scriptural Liturgy

Ian Paul Psephizo Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

Diocese of Oxford New Digital Congregations
“Growing New Congregations – Online”

Nicholas Adams Ekklesia Ecclesial white supremacism

Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News A Rock Climbers Guide to Church, History and the Future


House of Bishops Meeting 9 February 2021

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops Meeting, 9th February 2021

The February meeting of the House of Bishops was held on Tuesday 9 February via Zoom.

The meeting was an opportunity for the House to engage with key aspects of the Emerging Church workstreams, specifically the work of the subgroups focussed on themes of Younger & More Diverse and Mixed Ecology.

Amongst the first items was the Bishop of London in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group, who updated the House on the latest information available on the lockdown, Covid-19 and the ongoing work of the Recovery group.

This was followed by the Bishop of Manchester as Chair of the Coordinating Group of the Emerging Church of England workstreams. His address outlined feedback received from regional discussion held last month as well as an update on the future operation of the Coordinating Group.

The Archbishop of York then addressed the House in his capacity as head of the Vision and Strategy workstream. In his address, the Archbishop drew on feedback from Regional Bishops’ groups on Vision & Strategy and spoke about the integration of the Vision & Strategy work with the Five Marks of Mission and Missionary Disciples; the House took note of the work so far.

The Bishop of Durham and the Diocesan Secretary of Sheffield then addressed the House as Co-Chairs for the working group – Younger and more Diverse, setting out the issues, barriers and opportunities to creating a younger and more diverse church. In discussion groups, bishops discussed the proposed approach, aiming to direct feedback into further work of the Vision and Strategy Group.

A similar process was followed with the Bishop of Dunwich speaking to the House as co-chair of the Mixed Ecology the Norm, a subgroup of the Vison and Strategy workstream.

The interim Director of Safeguarding then addressed the House, with the House noting progress towards phase 1 of establishing an independent oversight structure for national safeguarding.

The Lay Ministry Advisory Group (a sub-group of Ministry Council) then addressed the House on its future work as it seeks to support diocesan strategies and implement a vision for the ministry of the whole people of God. Presented by the Bishop of Leicester, the House was asked a range of questions on how the Lay Ministry Advisory Group and Ministry Council can best support diocesan strategies for ministry. The House noted the points raised.


Christ Church Oxford: further developments

Following the Charity Commission intervention made public on 28 January, there have been further developments:

Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church made comments on that letter and the Christ Church response: The Charity Commissioners intervene in the Christ Church bullying of the Dean.

Gabriella Swerling at the Telegraph disclosed on 29 January further details about the Christ Church response: Christ Church trustees express anger after watchdog questions efforts to oust embattled Dean. This contains numerous details from an email sent to the trustees commenting on the Charity Commission’s action and suggesting ways that individual trustees might respond to enquiries.

A week later on 5 February, the Church Times published a letter to the editor from the complainant, which can be read in full here (scroll down to Complaint against Dean of Christ Church, Oxford) and carried a lengthy news story about this letter and the background to it, see Complainant in Percy case says she acted alone.

This morning, 8 February, Archbishop Cranmer has published an article by Martin Sewell, titled Christ Church Oxford Trustees could be personally liable for £85K each. This article (which includes a link to a Daily Mail report of 22 November) contains a large number of criticisms of the Trustees.