Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 31 July 2021

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of church, speaking of strategy; speaking of leadership

Martyn Percy Meander Feeding the Five Thousand


Dean of St Paul’s to retire next year

The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, has announced his intention to retire in September 2022. Dr David Ison will be 68, and will have served at the Cathedral for ten years.

The announcement can be read on the websites of the Diocese of London and of St Paul’s Cathedral.


Update on Smyth Review

Press release from the Church of England

Update on Smyth Review

An update on timing for the Smyth Review from the National Safeguarding Team:

For the survivors and victims of the appalling abuse by Smyth it is vital this review is done thoroughly but we have also taken very seriously their concerns on timing. Due to the ongoing high volume of information coming into the reviewers, following the recent publication of an executive summary and statements relating to Smyth, it has been agreed that the deadline for submission of evidence will now be September 30. The reviewers will then compile data and timelines and set up any further meetings before writing up their report. This will be followed by a representation process once the report has been completed, publication is expected in 2022.

We apologise for the length of time this has taken, while some meetings were delayed by COVID the reviewers have also been dealing with an exceptionally high volume of information which has needed looking into; this has included harrowing testimonies from survivors and victims and we thank them for their courage and willingness to participate.

After the deadline of September 30 arrangements will be made by the reviewers to listen to any further survivors and victims, or those who have other information, who wish to come forward to share their experiences in a supported and confidential manner.

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 continues to be offered; please contact Emily Denne at

or call the independent Safe Spaces helpline, on 0300 303 1056, or email

Anyone who would like to come forward and share information please do contact the independent reviewer Keith Makin


Opinion – 28 July 2021

Francis Spufford The Christian Century How I changed my mind about same-sex marriage
“It began when I realized the church has always had a process for changing its mind.”

Gilo Surviving Church Interim Support Scheme & Redress Scheme

Ian Paul Psephizo Can the C of E plant new churches and retain the parish system?
An interview with John McGinley

Paul Andrews The Yorkshire Post Why Church of England needs new PR team to win back worshippers

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The LLF definition of radical new Christian inclusion is not radical, nor new, nor Christian, nor inclusive

Meg Warner The Tablet Anglicanism and mission
[requires free registration to access]


Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner

Press release from the Church of England

Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner

Alan Smith, Senior Advisor – ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Risk and Inclusion, and former Global Head of Risk Strategy at HSBC, is to be the next First Church Estates Commissioner, Downing Street announced today. Alan has also been a Church Commissioner since 2018.

The First Church Estates Commissioner chairs the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee, a statutory committee responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2 billion investment portfolio.


House of Bishops meeting – 26 July 2021

press release

The House of Bishops met on Monday 26th of July 2021 via Zoom

The House of Bishops met on Monday 26th of July as the final meeting prior to the summer break.

Following a number of procedural items, the House reflected on the July Synod and looked forward towards the next quinquennium. The Clerk to the Synod addressed the House as to whether it might be necessary for the Synod to meet more frequently in 2022 or 2023, for reasons including the substantive work arising out of the Emerging Church work.

The House then turned its attention to potential implications for Anglican – Methodist LEPs and ecumenical relations following the decision of the July Methodist Conference to permit same-sex marriages to take place in Methodist churches. The Secretary General addressed the House, as did the Enabling Officer for the LLF project and Next Steps Group. The House agreed to seek advice on the matter from the Episcopal Reference Group of the Faith and Order Commission, with the House noting the need also to engage with the Archbishops’ Council.

The Bishop of Huddersfield, in his capacity as the lead bishop for safeguarding then updated the House on the Safeguarding National Casework Management System. The House agreed additional steps to help the project become more fully embedded in dioceses, with the National Safeguarding Team available for discussions regarding any particular concerns or issues for dioceses.

The Archbishops’ Adviser on Racial Justice then addressed the House on the next stage of the Commission of Racial Justice, commissioned by both Archbishops. The House was updated and invited to note the progress outlined so far towards implementing the recommendations from the Lament to Action report. In addition, the House also noted and commented upon the draft terms of reference for the Commission on Racial Justice.

The Bishop of London, in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group (now concluded) then updated the House on what is now permissible since 19th of July and confirmed that she and her colleagues will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation carefully as it continues to evolve.

The Archbishop of York then briefly updated the House on the Vision and Strategy workstream of the Emerging Church work. This was followed by the Bishop of Leeds who spoke to the Governance Reviews Group’s (GRG) work and report. The House noted the progress made to date, with the full report of the GRG to be presented and discussed at the September College of Bishops.

The meeting concluded with the Archbishop of York giving a blessing.


Myriad responds to criticism

Two statements have been issued about Myriad:

See also the interview with John McGinley linked in the previous article.

All of this is discussed in great detail by Madeleine Davies in the Church Times:
Priests and bishops a ‘given’ in Myriad’s vision for lay-led churches.


Opinion – 24 July 2021

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer The immoral, scandalous and disgraceful nature of CofE bullying

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Importance of Prophetic Ministry in the Church

Anderson Jeremiah Church Times Mixed-ecology church: why definitions matter
“Some who use the language of biology are, in fact, proposing a model driven by economics”

Church Times Leader comment: Fr Griffin: one death too many

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Taking Zoom to the next level

The Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication An interview with John McGinley


Opinion – 21 July 2021

Kevin ScullyLimiting factors? How did we get there?

Charlotte Gauthier All Things Lawful And Honest Set God’s People Free

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love ‘We’ve made our decision’: the Church of England and trans people


About commenters

Several times over the years we (Simon, Peter and Simon, the editors of TA) have posted reminders encouraging “good commenting”. One of the common themes is the number of pseudonymous and anonymous comments. As long ago as 2009 we wrote:

please consider seriously using your own name, rather than a pseudonym. While we do not, at this time, intend to make this a requirement, we do wish to strongly encourage the use of real names.

This request still stands but we have also decided that even where we allow pseudonymous comments the pseudonyms must be distinct. In particular we will not publish comments that come with the tag “Anon” or similar.

Long-term pseudonymous commenters may wish from time to time to sign comments with their real names, even while continuing the use of the familiar pseudonym.


Paul Overend: CofE never had CDM jurisdiction

Readers will recall the case of Canon Paul Overend, Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral which we reported on 14 June, Safeguarding process finally concluded for Lincoln Canon. As we noted then, he had been acquitted of any criminal charge by a Cardiff jury in December last year. But it now transpires that there was no legal basis for any subsequent action under the Clergy Discipline Measure which took over five months to conclude.

The situation is fully explained in this CDM Overend Note from the Deputy President of Tribunals, dated 6 July.


The Church Times has a full report here: Lincoln CDM was out of order, judge admits concluding as follows:

…Canon Overend was suspended for more than two years, and spoke in June about how he and his wife had contemplated suicide (News, 14 June). Bishop Lowson was suspended for 20 months, finally being allowed back to work in February after an apology (News, 1 February). Archbishop Welby said then: “We have both agreed that there are many lessons we and the Church need to learn from this very difficult season.” It is understood that a formal investigation of the whole Lincoln saga has been initiated.

Canon Overend said on Monday: “I am unable to comment at present, as an independent investigation has now begun into the handling of events at Lincoln, following the complaints submitted by my wife and others. This investigation is likely to take some months.”


Coroner criticises Church of England for negligence in suicide case

Updated yet again 5 August and again on 12 August

Mary Hassall, the Senior Coroner for North London has written a lengthy criticism of the Church of England (and specifically of the Diocese of London) following the inquest held into the death of Alan Howard Foster Griffin. She sent this to the Archbishop of Canterbury, along with various others (including two persons “formerly of the diocese [of London]” and the document is published on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website.

You can read the text of her Prevention of Future Deaths report here. I do recommend that everyone should read it in full.

She sent another report in parallel to the Chair of the Catholic Standards Safeguarding Agency which you can read here.

In both cases she is requiring the named recipient to reply to her by 3 September describing what actions have been taken to prevent future deaths.

Media reports:

BBC Church of England criticised over suicide of falsely accused priest

The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, said in a statement: “Alan Griffin’s death was a tragedy and my heart goes out to his family for all they have endured. I am deeply sorry for their loss.

“Following the inquest, we have commissioned a ‘Lessons Learned’ review so that we can fully reflect upon the diocese’s actions, and the coroner’s comments, in the period leading up to Alan Griffin’s death.” (see longer quote below)

Premier Church of England criticised over priest’s suicide following false child abuse allegations

A Lambeth Palace spokesperson told the Premier: “This is a highly distressing case and our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family and friends of Fr Alan Griffin. The archbishop has received a copy of the coroner’s report and the matter will be taken extremely seriously. Appropriate discussion and investigation will now take place. Lambeth Palace will be in contact with the relevant other bodies, especially the Diocese of London.”

Evening Standard Priest killed himself after being wrongly accused of child abuse

The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, said in a statement: “Alan Griffin’s death was a tragedy and my heart goes out to his family for all they have endured. I am deeply sorry for their loss.

“Following the inquest, we have commissioned a ‘Lessons Learned’ review so that we can fully reflect upon the diocese’s actions, and the coroner’s comments, in the period leading up to Alan Griffin’s death.”

she added: “It remains an absolute priority that, where allegations are made, they are taken seriously, and referrals made where appropriate to statutory agencies and other relevant parties. Our review will examine the decisions that were made in this case, in order to shape any necessary changes to our reporting processes in the future.”

Daily Mail Churches blamed for priest’s suicide over false sex abuse claims

Church Times Church’s safeguarding blunders could cause more deaths, coroner warn

Martin Sewell is quoted:
“Worse, the coroner remarks that nobody took responsibility for steering the case from start to finish. We see this time and again. The Church has evolved a successful strategy of learned helplessness. . . Worse still, some unknown senior church person tried to dissuade the coroner from making this plain in her report. She puts that attempt into the public domain. There need to be resignations.”

He concluded: “Alan Griffin’s case was plainly never a safeguarding concern, but its mishandling foreseeably led to his death. Safeguarding needs to be preserved for the clear, serious cases.”

Archbishop Cranmer Church of England safeguarding drove Fr Alan Griffin to suicide

Ad Clerum from the Bishop of London: Fr Alan Griffin

A letter to all Diocese of London clergy from Bishop Sarah. Full text is copied below the fold.


There is a letter to the editor in the Church Times for 23 July (scroll down) by David Lamming that draws parallels between the cases of Paul Overend and Alan Griffin.

Private Eye in the 4 August edition names the archdeacon in this story as Luke Miller, and the now retired Director of Operations as Martin Sergeant.

There is a further Statement from the London College of Bishops dated 10 August.



Opinion – 17 July 2021

Andrew Gimson The Conservative Woman Profile: The Church of England, afflicted by a central bureaucracy which is mounting a takeover bid

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love What the campaign for radical new LGBTIQ+ Christian inclusion requires of us and the Church

Jane Shaw Church Times Cathedrals: a forgotten model for church growth
“Why are church-plants seen as the only game in town when it comes to reversing decline”


Bishop of Winchester confirms his retirement

Diocese of Winchester website

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Dr Tim Dakin, has today announced his retirement, having formally notified HM The Queen of his intention to step down. He will retire as Bishop in February 2022.

Bishop Tim’s decision follows the conclusion of a series of facilitated conversations that have taken place over the summer to consider matters raised concerning leadership and governance. In a video message to the Diocese, available here, Bishop Tim said:

I have now received confirmation that Her Majesty the Queen has accepted my retirement as Bishop of Winchester. I wanted you all to hear my decision as directly as possible – and doing it this way rather speaks to our times. Some formalities and details need to be finalized but I’ll be leaving the Diocese in early February and handing over my responsibilities to others in the meantime. Please pray for all involved in this transition process.

Mahatma Gandhi said that “unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” I have always been clear that, as your Bishop, I should be there to build and foster togetherness across our Diocese, focused upon our life together in Christ, and upon our joint mission to serve Christ in our communities and to sustain Christian witness in daily life. Sadly, it seems it is no longer possible for me to fulfil this role.

The last eighteen months have brought enormous pressures to bear on us all, individually, as a country, within our families and communities, and as a Diocese. The painfully difficult financial decisions made over the last year have caused real anguish. In trying to secure a sustainable future for the growth of the Diocese, it is clear that I’ve not done enough to acknowledge what we have lost in this process. To those I’ve hurt or let down, I am sorry.

I realise that the steps taken to stabilize the finances continue to cause upset. Bishop’s Council has received full reports in recent weeks from the Diocesan auditors and legal advisers, explaining and corroborating the decisions made by the Diocesan Board of Finance. None of this makes those decisions any easier to take. Nevertheless, I hope there is some comfort in the clarity now provided, and that faith can be restored in the relevant Diocesan staff and functions as the pastoral reorganisations proceed. Please continue to pray for all those involved. Pray too for all serving in the parishes and various projects: that the church and its witness may grow in the Diocese.

I could not have come to my decision, or indeed found a way through this recent period, without the love and support of Sally, my children and close friends. While I have not seen much of what has been said about me, my family and friends have seen more, and I have seen the effect it has had on them. They are the people who know me best, of course – and I’ve drawn upon their love and their view of me during these difficult times.

It has been a privilege to serve a Diocese that has Companion links across the world. I’ve been reminded of previous ministry experience: of the need to live on other people’s terms to see the world they see and to know the Christ they follow. I hope these links will continue to grow in strength and in significance. It’s also been a great joy to be part of a Diocese where education is taken seriously at all levels, not least, Further & Higher Education. All of us are called to pray and witness in such a way that the coming generations will find fullness of life in Christ.

I will remain proud of what has been achieved across the Diocese over the past 10 years. For there to have been a record number of ordinands at the Cathedral recently is a wonderful achievement for those involved in the School of Mission and in the parishes. I believe each and every one of our new clergy – and the many lay people who’ve received the Bishop’s Commission for Mission – will have a valuable role to play in the next stage of the Diocese as it witnesses to Christ’s mission in this region, in the life of the nation and across the Anglican Communion. The new national strategy for the Church of England offers an inspirational trajectory for such future developments.

As for me and Sally, we are planning a move to Plymouth, and we’re looking forward to making new friends, as well as to visits from old friends and from our growing family. Thank you for all we have shared. We will miss you. God bless you.

The Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, will continue to fulfil Bishop Tim’s duties, following the recent announcement that he would step back until the end of August. The nomination and appointment of a Diocesan Bishop is made through the Crown Nominations Commission. Further information on the process for selecting the next Bishop of Winchester will be available following Bishop Tim’s departure.


Opinion – 14 July 2021

Gavin Drake The Jill Saward Organisation Briefing on the Proposed Clergy Conduct Measure

Lorraine Cavanagh Modern Church A Response to the ‘Myriad Plan’

Anthony Woollard Modern Church A Great Leap… To Where?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Some Day I’ll Find You

Christopher Johnson All Things Lawful And Honest Power Grab or Pastoral Measure?

George Sumner The Living Church Mission is not a zero-sum game

Lee Proudlove Anglican Ink Do the Church of England’s bishops want 10,000 new churches or not?


Opinion – 10 July 2021

Nick Spencer Engelsberg Ideas Humanism matters in the age of AI

Giles Fraser UnHerd The Church is abandoning its flock

Edward Dowler All Things Lawful And Honest Ordained by God

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of planning permission: 10,000 reasons to decline

Dave Male, the Church of England’s director of evangelism and discipleship Clergy and parishes at the heart of the Church of England – now and in the future

Church Times Leader comment: ‘Key limiting factors’

Ian Black Church Times ‘Passengers’ have more to offer than we think
“The laity have long contributed to church growth, even if some shirk from the language of ‘discipleship'”

Philip Murray All Things Lawful And Honest Limiting Factors? Or Limited Ecclesiology?

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News LGBT Stories: Bring on the Ban!


General Synod – 9 to 12 July 2021

This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.

The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting from today (9 July) to next Monday.

The timetable is here, the papers are here, and there is a live stream of the proceedings here from 1230 today (Friday).

Order papers

I – Friday
II – Saturday morning
III – Saturday afternoon
IV – Sunday
V – Monday morning
VI – Monday afternoon

Official press releases

A shortage of clergy would really limit us – we need more vocations, that’s my prayer’ – Archbishop of York’s address to Synod
National Investing Bodies report climate change progress to General Synod
Lord Boateng named as new Chair of Archbishops’ Racial Justice Commission
Racial Justice Officers: Statement by Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, Bishop David Walker and Canon John Spence
Archbishop of York’s address to Synod on Vision and Strategy
Synod Officers condemn “disgraceful” racism following Euro 2020 final

Official record of business done

Business Done Friday 9 July
Business Done Saturday 10 July (AM)
Business Done Saturday 10 July (PM)
Business Done Sunday 11 July (PM)
Business Done Monday 12 July (AM)
Business Done Monday 12 July (PM)

Members’ blogs

Stephen Lynas
preview of the business: This could be the last time…
Friday’s business: I just stay home the whole day long, and think of you…
Saturday’s business: Money don’t get everything, it’s true
Sunday’s business: Oh, won’t you stay just a little bit longer?
Monday’s business: Still crazy after all these years

Andrew Nunn
Time’s up!

Tim Hind reports for the Open Synod Group.

Other blogs

Helen King Handing on the baton?

Church Times

Sheffield trauma will not be revisited, Synod hears
Clarification: not 10,000 but 20,000; not a strategy but a vision
‘Shock’ on C of E taskforce at refusal of funding for diocesan racial-justice officers
Clergy are a limiting factor, says York … the lack of them
Church is entering a season of action on safeguarding, says Gibbs
Investors are doing their bit to fight climate change, says Minghella
‘Will we need a sick note?’ Synod struggles over voter-not-present proposals
Parliament to fix communion clause just in time for Synod elections
Synod hears about the pain of pastoral reorganisation
Parish clergy are at the heart of any new strategy, Archbishop of York insists
Church must address abuse of women priests on social media, says Bishop of London

Other press reports

The Guardian C of E rejects call to appoint racial justice officers in every diocese
Church of England accused of stifling debate on race and gender

Other things

Synod will be debating replacing the Clergy Discipline Measure on Sunday afternoon. The Sheldon Hub has published this: General Synod July 2021 – out of the frying pan into the fire?
[Users of the General Synod app should note that this debate and some other items have been omitted from the timetable.]


Ministry Statistics 2020

The Church of England has released its Ministry Statistics 2020. Detailed Diocesan tables can be found in a separate excel file. Statistics for earlier years can be found here.

There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

Recommendations for stipendiary ordained ministry training highest for a generation

Nearly 600 people were recommended for training for ordained ministry in the Church of England last year, including the highest number for a generation of candidates expected to take up paid clergy posts.


Christ Church Oxford: latest commentary

Archbishop Cranmer published an article yesterday written by Martin Sewell: Institutional bullying in the Church of England: it’s time to face the liturgical music.

There are some related items in the Questions asked at the General Synod session that starts tomorrow. See below the fold for details.

Surviving Church has published The Christ Church Percy Affair. Is it possible to be neutral?



Dean of Sheffield

It was announced last week that the next Dean of Sheffield will be the Revd Canon Abigail Thompson.

It has today been announced that the new Dean of Sheffield in the Anglican Diocese of Sheffield will be the Revd Canon Abigail Thompson.

The Dean is the chief resident cleric of Sheffield Cathedral, also undertaking diocesan and civic duties in the city and across the wider area.

Abigail, or Abi as she is known, has been in the Diocese of St Albans since February 2018 where she is currently the Acting Dean and Sub-Dean of St Albans Cathedral…