Thinking Anglicans

Jarel Robinson-Brown and the Diocese of London

Updated yet again Tuesday

There have been numerous news reports and comment articles in both mainstream and social media concerning a tweet posted last Wednesday.

On Thursday the Church Times reported this story under the headline Cleric apologises for ‘White Nationalism’ remark.

A LONDON clergyman, the Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown, has apologised for posting on social media that the clap for Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died this week, was linked with “White British Nationalism”.

His post on Twitter — “The cult of Captain Tom is a cult of White British Nationalism. I will offer prayers for the repose of his kind and generous soul, but I will not be joining the ‘National Clap'” — was interpreted as a criticism of the man himself. It was quickly taken down, and Mr Robinson-Brown posted an apology in its place: “I offer an unreserved apology for the insensitive timing and content of my tweet regarding the clap for Captain Tom.”

A statement by the diocese of London said that the matter was being reviewed by the Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller. “As a Church, we expect clergy to ensure that all online activity is in line with the Church of England’s social media guidelines and built on truth, kindness and sensitivity to others.”.

The Diocese of London statement can be found here: A statement from the Diocese of London regarding Jarel Robinson-Brown and reads in full as follows:

Jarel Robinson-Brown’s comments regarding Captain Sir Tom Moore were unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged. The fact that he immediately removed his tweet and subsequently apologised does not undo the hurt he has caused, not least to Captain Tom’s family. Nor do Jarel’s actions justify the racist abuse he is now receiving.

A review is now underway, led by the Archdeacon of London. As a Church, we expect clergy to ensure that all online activity is in line with the Church of England’s social media guidelines and built on truth, kindness and sensitivity to others. It is incumbent upon all of us to make social media and the web more widely positive places for conversations to happen.

A subsequent report appeared on Saturday in the Church Times: Support grows for Jarel Robinson-Brown.

A GROWING number of churchpeople have voiced their support for the Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown, the Black ordinand and former Methodist minister, whose Twitter post last week was widely interpreted as an attack on Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died on Tuesday…

..Mr Robinson-Brown’s post was quickly taken down, and an apology from him was posted in its place: “I offer an unreserved apology for the insensitive timing and content of my tweet regarding the clap for Captain Tom.”

A petition was none the less started for his removal from office (he has not yet been licensed, but has secured a title post at All Hallows by the Tower, London). By the weekend it had gained more than 20,000 signatures. Many of the signatories referred to Mr Robinson-Brown’s race, with comments such as “Racism is a one way street according to some. When a white person is accused of racist tendencies they are rightly called out and vilified. When a BAME person does the same it seems to be their right to do so based on the wrongdoings from generations ago.”

Racist trolling has been one trigger for expressions of support for Mr Robinson-Brown. Another has been the statement put out by the diocese of London, which read: “Jarel Robinson-Brown’s comments regarding Captain Sir Tom Moore were unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged. The fact that he immediately removed his tweet and subsequently apologised does not undo the hurt he has caused, not least to Captain Tom’s family.”

Many social-media posts have viewed this as undermining Mr Robinson-Brown’s apology — “throwing him under a bus” has been a common expression — as was the announcement that the Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller, was to conduct an investigation into the matter…

On Sunday afternoon, a second statement was issued from the Diocese of LondonStatement from the Bishop of London regarding Jarel Robinson-Brown

“After Jarel Robinson-Brown posted his now-deleted tweet last Wednesday, my primary concern has been to ensure that he received immediate pastoral support in the face of the most appalling racist and homophobic abuse, aimed at him and at others. I am particularly thankful for the ongoing care that was quickly put in place, through so many different routes.

“I believe it is right that the original matter is reviewed properly and swiftly by the Archdeacon of London, to enable us all to reflect and learn, and that work is taking place. I also believe, and have made clear to Jarel, that there is no excuse for anyone to be sent the shocking messages he has been receiving. Jarel did of course quickly acknowledge that his tweet was ill-timed and pastorally-insensitive.

“I am deeply concerned to hear reports within the Church that United Kingdom Minority Ethnic clergy and ordinands have been affected by recent events, and by the Diocese’s response. I want to ensure that in London, and right across the Church of England, our clergy and those training for ministry feel safe. I look forward to the report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Task Force launched last year, and the work of the Archbishops’ Commission that will follow, which I know will help to achieve this shared end.

“Any form of online abuse, including racism, homophobia and threatening behaviour, cannot be tolerated. I sincerely hope that those perpetuating it will desist and consider the hurt they are causing. We must all work to ensure the digital world becomes a more loving and generous place.”

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally
Bishop of London


The Church Times has reported further: Racist attacks on Jarel Robinson-Brown ‘appalling’, says Bishop of London.

The Archbishops’ Anti-racism Taskforce issued this: Statement from the Anti-Racism Taskforce.

The Diocese of London issued this Response to the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce.

The Church Times has again reported this development: London diocese will look at its own actions in Jarel Robinson-Brown review.


Opinion – 6 February 2021

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Constitution of Marriage: Consensus-Copula

Ed Henderson Church Times CDM reform must reduce harm to clergy mental health
“Some who are subject to complaints become suicidal… A new disciplinary process should prioritise their well-being”

Simon Dawson has written two articles about the Living in Love and Faith process
Learning from the Underside of History (long essay)
The Silent Centre Ground (short essay)

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Archbishops and Bishops

Giles Fraser UnHerd We’ll have to shut some empty churches
“To save its poorer parishes the C of E needs to slash its middle management”

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News LLF – Has There Been a Murder?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Lincoln Affair – some comments


Informal Meeting of General Synod members – 27 February 2021

As we published earlier the February meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod has been postponed to April, but there will be an informal meeting on Saturday 27 February. The timetable for this has been published today, and is copied below.

There will be no question time in February, but the Business Committee has agreed that members can submit questions for written answers only not later than 12 noon on Tuesday 16 February. Supplementary questions will not be taken at this informal meeting. The questions booklet will be circulated on Thursday 25 February.


10.30am Opening Worship
10.40am Introduction by the Chair of the Business Committee
10.50am Reflections from the Presidents

11.35am BREAK

12.00pm Worship
12.10pm Vision and Strategy
12.50pm Story of hope and salvation
1.00pm Voting Test

1.10pm LUNCH

2.00pm Story of hope and salvation
2.10pm Safeguarding update, including screen break
3.15pm Story of hope and salvation
3.25pm Archbishops’ Commission on Housing

4.10pm BREAK

4.30pm Story of hope and salvation
4.50pm Worship
5.00pm Close of meeting


Finance Statistics 2019

The Church of England has recently published its Finance Statistics 2019. These provide the latest financial information, including:

  • Income
  • Expenditure
  • Giving

Tables showing parish finances aggregated to diocese level are available as an excel file. Finance statistics for previous years, and other publications of the Research and Statistics Unit can be found on the resources, publications, and data page.


Financial threats to Church of England plans

Updated again Thursday evening

The Sunday Times published a news story with the headline:  Church to cut paid clergy as a fifth of flock wanders off which is based on a report circulating among diocesan secretaries etc.

The damage inflicted on the Church of England by the pandemic is revealed in a leaked internal document which warns up to 20 per cent of its regular worshippers may never return.

It calls into question “the sustainability of many local churches” and the continued financial subsidy given to 5,000 loss-making parishes out of a total of 12,000…

The next  day, the Church Times published a news story which includes the full text of that document. You can read that here: Financial crisis threatens Church’s strategic plans.

(Note the Church Times  paywall arrangement: if you are not a subscriber to the newspaper, but you register with the site you get two additional free articles each month, i.e. a total of four items.)

DECLINING income, accelerated by the pandemic, means that dioceses are facing “indiscriminate cuts” to clergy posts, undermining the Church of England’s attempts at strategic reform.

New assistant curates, recruited in the recent push for vocations, could struggle to find incumbencies, an internal document suggests.

Details of the scale of the challenge are contained in a discussion paper circulated to all bishops and diocesan secretaries in the middle of last month. It confirms that the C of E’s income fell 8.1 per cent in the year to November 2020. It projects a further fall of ten per cent for 2021, calculated before the latest lockdown was announced. Expected savings on expenditure for 2021 are currently three to four per cent. These overall figures disguise a large variation between dioceses.

The document, Perspectives on Money, People and Buildings, seen by the Church Times on Monday, has not been made public, despite confusion from parish priests and others about media reports on its contents, and a declaration at the start: “Honest sharing of information on how those resources of money, people and buildings are being stewarded for greatest impact is vital.”


The Archbishop of York has published an article on his own website which comments on the above, The Church of England still needs clergy. This article is also available in the Church Times with the strapline There are no central plans to cut the number of priests, says Stephen Cottrell. Do read the full text of what he says.

The Church Times also has this news report: Clergy won’t be pushed out in cost cuts, says Archbishop of York

CLERGY are still needed to serve the Church of England, and “are not being pushed out” of their posts to make up for the continued decline in income, the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, says.

None the less, the Church will have to make “tough” and “challenging” changes to spread both its wealth and stipendiary clergy fairly across the 42 dioceses, he warns. This is likely to result in some cuts to stipendiary posts in all dioceses, many of which — especially in the north — are being left vacant after clerics retire…

The Spectator has published an article by Emma Thompson with the title Holy relic: what will be left of the Church of England after the pandemic? (registration may be needed).

William Nye has published a furious response on the Church of England website. Copied below.



Opinion – 3 February 2021

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Who Are The Prophets in Charismatic Churches?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Forty LGBTIQ+ people and allies write a second letter to thirty five bishops

David Brown Surviving Church The Problem is not CDM, but a significant Relational Deficit


Bishop of Salisbury to retire in July 2021

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, will retire on 3 July 2021, a month short of his 67th birthday. He will have been Bishop of Salisbury for 10 years. There are more details in the diocesan press release.


Bishop of Lincoln to resume ministry

The Church of England has issued this: Statement on resolution of disciplinary process regarding Bishop of Lincoln

…The Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, has accepted a penalty for misconduct in relation to the management of one safeguarding issue.  At their meeting the Archbishop apologised to the Bishop for the long process that he has endured.  The Archbishop expressed his full support for the Bishop as he now begins the process of returning to ministry as the Bishop of Lincoln.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “I am very sorry that Bishop Christopher and his wife Susan have had to endure such an ordeal over the last 20 months.  I have expressed my regret to Christopher and am very grateful to him for the gracious way he has responded.  I want to make it clear that I am fully supportive of Christopher returning to ministry as the Bishop of Lincoln.  We have both agreed that there are many lessons we and the Church need to learn from this very difficult season, as we also continue to learn lessons from the scrutiny of IICSA which highlighted our poor response to survivors…

And the Diocese of Lincoln has issued this: Letter to the people of the Diocese of Lincoln

We write as episcopal colleagues to the people of the Diocese to share news of the Bishop of Lincoln’s return to ministry and our shared sense of encouragement for the future.

1. What has happened?

On 12th January 2021 the Bishop of Lincoln had a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury. They met together to pray and discuss next steps following the conclusion of the clergy disciplinary process instigated after the Bishop’s suspension in May 2019, and subsequent investigation. That process resulted in a judgment by the President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin, following which the Bishop agreed to accept a rebuke in relation to his handling of an allegation made against a priest in the diocese. Bishop Christopher has offered an unreserved apology for the way in which he handled this matter.

Archbishop Justin expressed his full support for Bishop Christopher as he now begins the process of returning to ministry as Bishop of Lincoln…

The Church Times carries this report: Bishop of Lincoln can return to duty after 20-month safeguarding investigation. That account reminds us how it began:

…The Church’s safeguarding procedures were triggered in May 2019, after police informed the church authorities about an allegation (News, 17 May 2019). Bishop Lowson was immediately suspended because, as Archbishop Justin Welby said at the time: “If these matters are found to be proven I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people.”

Bishop Lowson agreed to co-operate fully, while expressing his bewilderment at the charge, and hoped that the investigation would be completed “as quickly as possible”.

Part of the delay was down to the police, who did not conclude their investigation until January 2020, deciding that, on the evidence before them, there was no case to answer. The Church’s investigation, carried out for the National Safeguarding Team, began at that point, and it was later confirmed that Bishop Lowson was being investigated under the Clergy Discipline Measure…