See our previous report of 15 February:Proposals on NST independent oversight published.
Today’s press release:
Chair and survivor advocate appointed to Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have welcomed two key appointments to the new Independent Safeguarding Board that will provide oversight of the Church of England’s national safeguarding work
Dr Maggie Atkinson, a former Children’s Commissioner for England, has been appointed as Chair of the Board. She will lead the formation of the ISB and ensure there is an effective approach to the independent oversight of safeguarding in the longer term.
The Chair will provide expert recommendations to enable the Church of England to embed a proactive, preventative, safer culture, and ensure the Church is held publicly accountable for any failure to respond to the ISB’s recommendations.
Jasvinder Sanghera has been appointed as the Board’s Survivor Advocate. She will ensure that the experiences and views of victims and survivors are heard and embedded within the safeguarding policy and practice development frameworks.
Maggie Atkinson has completed more than 40 years’ dedicated work with children, their families and communities. Born and brought up in Yorkshire, after graduating from Cambridge she taught in comprehensive schools then worked in service and practice improvement in local authorities, including as Director of Children’s Services for Gateshead. She was Children’s Commissioner for England 2010-2015, and now leads independent challenge and scrutiny in several localities’ safeguarding partnerships. She serves on a number of charity Boards, including at UNICEF UK.
Jasvinder is the founder of the charity Karma Nirvana, and has extensive experience of working with victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour abuse. She is Chair of the Leeds Children Safeguarding Partnership.
The two appointments were made by an independent panel which will now work with the Chair to appoint a third member to the ISB whose skills and roles will complement the members already appointed.
The purpose of introducing an independent structure for the Church’s safeguarding work is twofold: to ensure good safeguarding and to challenge the internal cultures of the Church of England which too often have resulted in preventing best practice.
Conscious of the need to improve the culture of safeguarding across the church, the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops had already agreed to support the development of an independent structure to deliver professional supervision and quality assurance across its safeguarding activities. The IICSA Report gave new momentum to this decision.
Chair, Dr Maggie Atkinson said: “I am honoured and pleased to have been appointed to establish and chair the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board. I look forward to starting our work, as a strong response to safeguarding concerns whether they are historical, or current. We will be a small but insightful group, from a range of backgrounds and experience. For all my adult life I have worked with and for children, young people, families and vulnerable adults. Such work holds ordinary people and their concerns at its centre.
“The Board will focus on how the Church either protects people who work for or come into it, or falls down in its duty to do so. All who engage with the Church must be confident they will be kept safe. It follows that safeguarding must be a primary concern in everything the Church does, every day. This work is not only about really learning lessons when things have gone badly wrong and people have been hurt as a result.
“It is about the culture, practice and steadfastness of safeguarding as an automatic, Church-wide state of mind. The Board’s role will be to question, reflect and report on how far this culture is manifested in what the Church does for the people it serves.”
The Survivor Advocate, Jasvinder Sanghera, said: “I feel immensely privileged to be appointed the Survivor Advocate for Church of England’s, Independent Safeguarding Board. It is vital that the Board, in overseeing and assuring the soundness of the work done by the National Safeguarding Team, has the voice of survivors and victims ever present in all it does and says.
“This role is significant to the journey of the church and I am delighted that I will be contributing to this vision, helping to make a difference to the lives of those affected by abuse, so that lessons are not only learned but embedded in practice.”
In a joint statement, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said: “These are vitally important appointments and we are pleased to welcome them.
“Numerous reports in recent years have made clear the Church of England’s safeguarding failures and provided clear and urgent recommendations for how these can be addressed – including greater transparency and accountability at every level.
“We are deeply grateful to Maggie and Jasvinder for offering their wisdom, skills and lived experience to move us forward and provide greater oversight of the Church’s safeguarding work.”2 Comments
Martyn Percy Modern Church “Nuts and Bolts” (III): Reflecting on the Governance Review Group Report
[We linked to parts I and II here.]
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written in response to the article by Alan Billings
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Madeleine Davies, in part two of her study, looks at the forces for its retention and abandonment
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We linked on 7 August to a critique of the April 2021 amendments to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 Code of Practice written by Gavin Drake.
More recently, Rosie Dawson wrote about this for The Living Church: Church of England Code Silences Victims, Critics Say (some additional links added).
…”These were significant amendments ,” retired barrister and Synod member David Lamming told TLC. “It’s unfortunate that they were overlooked at Synod because they seem to me to go beyond what the measure authorises, which is that the guidance applies only to those who exercise functions within the CDM process.”
The timing of the amendments has led several commentators to conclude that they were drafted in direct response to concerns about the publicity surrounding a CDM complaint brought against the dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Rev. Martyn Percy, in November last year. In May 2021 the President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin, effectively dismissed the case, ruling that it would be disproportionate to refer the matter to a tribunal.
The complaint against the dean came within the context of a long-running, very public and very acrimonious dispute between him and the college and cathedral chapter. Supporters on both sides have engaged in briefing a voracious media. A dedicated website keeps Dean Percy’s supporters abreast of every twist and turn in the saga.
“It is rarely a good idea to legislate from the circumstances of a single case as, appears to have been done here,” says Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection lawyer and General Synod Candidate. While he believes the motivation behind the changes to the code of practice may have been well-intentioned, he says the effects run contrary to free speech and natural justice. “Much speculative gossip about the circumstances ensued about the nature of the case against Dean Percy. I don’t think it was wrong to have refuted such gossip in careful terms.”
The Church of England would not be drawn on the Percy affair in relation to the changes to the Code of Practice, but said that there had been number of recent cases in which details of complaints under the Clergy Discipline Measure had been made public, causing significant distress and upset for those concerned.
One priest who has fallen afoul of the new rules is the Rev. Robert Thompson, vicar of St. Mary and St James in West Hampstead, London, who announced on Twitter in April that he was subject to a CDM for online bullying. In the adjudication he later received, he was reprimanded for “weaponizing” social media and forbidden from disclosing any further details of the case, including the outcome.
“Robert got the result of his CDM and was told there was no case to answer,” says his friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain, “but he was also told that he couldn’t share that news with anyone. And the instruction was couched in terms of a threat. It should really be up to Robert what he wants to share. He didn’t tweet anything that identified the complainant. The whole thing just smacks of an attempt to silence people within a system which everyone admits is broken.”
In a statement the Church of England said the update to the code was “simply to underline the expectation of confidentiality in clergy discipline cases, while they are ongoing. It said the Clergy Discipline Commission would respond to Drake’s concerns in due course…
The speeches concerning the Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure from the Bishop of Blackburn, Lord Cormack, and Lord Lexden are all worth reading. However, I draw you attention to this exchange between Lord Lexden and the Bishop:
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cormack referred at the start of his powerful remarks to the passion and anger that he felt because of some recent events. I feel very deep passion and anger, as I shall explain.
I have had the honour of serving on the Ecclesiastical Committee for a few years, but I am afraid I cannot continue my membership of it. I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations. Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell, to whom my noble friend referred, was damaged–and damaged so unfairly. But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.
Long ago I was briefly close, perhaps for no longer than a single summer, to a witty and clever Cambridge contemporary. He was a classicist who became a lecturer at Exeter University and later took holy orders. His name was Alan Griffin. In November last year, the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin committed suicide. After the end of the inquest into his death in early July this year, the coroner wrote a detailed report on the way that the Church had investigated his suspected sexual misconduct. She revealed that when he died, the Church’s investigation had been going on for over a year. The coroner stated that
“he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which he had never been told”–
I repeat, the detail and source for which he had never been told.
Worse, when the coroner probed the evidence against him, she found it was non-existent. There was, she said,
“no complainant, no witness and no accuser”.
The Church had acted on the basis of mere gossip and innuendo. Could there be a clearer example of the denial of natural justice?
And how did the Church carry out its investigation during the year in which Alan Griffin was kept in ignorance of the so-called accusations against him? The coroner states:
“nobody took responsibility for steering the direction of the process from start to finish and for making coherent, reasoned, evidence based decisions”.
And so the scene was set for a terrible tragedy.
The last element of the Church’s behaviour in this case which I want the House to note is very serious indeed. The coroner records that submissions
“on behalf of the Church of England … urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations.”
This is not from some shady organisation or business with suspect moral standards, but from our country’s established Church. These are the circumstances that led to the death of a friend of mine from long ago, and that is why my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been broken.
Could the right reverend Prelate comment on the quotation from the coroner’s report that I read out at the end? The Church of England seeking to interfere with the content of a coroner’s report in order to diminish the extent of the criticism it would sustain: is that not utterly reprehensible?
It is reprehensible and unacceptable. One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. That is a very clear example and should never, ever be repeated. I will report that back to the national safeguarding team and others. We are in the business not of covering up but of being transparent and open, so that these things can be brought to light and people can learn from them. It is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.
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Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Radical New Christian Inclusion – Changing Attitude England writes to the Bishop of London23 Comments
The report of the Governance Review working group (49 pages) has been published here. There is a press release about this, copied below the fold.
The Church Times has extensive coverage:
The Telegraph had this report by Gabriella Swerling on Tuesday evening (which has still not appeared in the CofE daily media digest): Church of England reveals huge overhaul of governance, as parishioners warn of ‘coup’38 Comments
The nomination period for this year’s elections to General Synod has closed. Dioceses are now required to post candidates’ election addresses on their websites before sending out voting papers. Some of these have already appeared, and the remainder should be available by the end of the week. I am compiling a list of links to all the addresses, which you can find here. I will update this during the coming week. So far as I am aware there is no similar requirement for the special constituencies.
I am also compiling a list of the members of the new synod here.
Additions and corrections to either list can be emailed to me here.8 Comments
Updated Sunday and again Friday 17 September
The Scottish Episcopal Church has today, 11 September, published the Review of the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney by Professor Iain Torrance. The College of Bishops has also published a lengthy explanation of the complications which arose following its receipt on 31 July, which is copied in full below the fold.
Earlier, on 8 September, the College had published this: College instigates mediation process and commits to publish Aberdeen & Orkney review.
The Church Times has a very detailed news report: Review recommends Bishop step back in ‘dysfunctional’ diocese
Another Church Times report: What about those who bullied me, asks Dyer, alleging one-sidedness and a letter to the editor: Heed Torrance on the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney.41 Comments
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News from the Diocese of Southwark:
The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announced today that he will be leaving the Diocese of Southwark on March 21, 2022 – exactly 10 years to the day of his consecration as Bishop…12 Comments
The Rt Revd Alison White is to retire as Bishop of Hull in February 2022. There are more details on the York diocesan website.46 Comments
Church Times Welsh agree to same-sex blessings in church
The Telegraph The Church in Wales to bless gay marriages
The Guardian Church in Wales votes to bless same-sex marriages
Charlie Bell Equal A fly on the wall15 Comments
Update – news and comment on this are being link in a separate article.
Church approves blessing service for same-sex partnerships
Provincial news Posted: 6 September 2021
Same-sex couples will be able to have their civil partnership or marriage blessed in Church in Wales churches for the first time after new legislation was passed today (September 6).
A Bill to authorise a service of blessing was approved by members of the Church’s Governing Body at its meeting. It was passed by the necessary two-thirds majority in each order of the three orders – Bishops, clergy and laity.
The service will be used experimentally for five years and it will be up to individual clergy to decide whether or not they wish to lead it.
The service is for a blessing only as same-sex couples are unable to marry in church.
The Bill was introduced by the Bishops, following an indication from Governing Body members that it was “pastorally unsustainable” for the Church to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships.
Responding to the vote, the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, who introduced the Bill, said, “I come out of this debate with no sense of triumph but believing that the Church in Wales has done the right thing under God for the LGBTQIA+ community. The Church has spoken decisively today in favour of blessings.
There is a journey still to be taken but I hope that we can do it together with all the wings of the Church.”
The Bishops passed the Bill unanimously, the clergy by 28 to 12 with two abstentions and the laity by 49 to 10 with one abstention.
The discussion and vote was held on the first day of the Governing Body meeting at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport. The second day of the meeting will take place online only, via Zoom, on Wednesday, September 8 and will also be live-streamed.
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Appointment of Dean of St Albans: 6 September
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Joanne Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral, for election as Dean of St Albans.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 6 September 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Joanne Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral, for election as Dean of St Albans, in succession to The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John following his resignation on 31st March 2021.
Joanne was educated at Victoria University of Wellington and the Law Society of New Zealand. After a career in the law in Wellington and London she completed a theology degree at the Bible College of New Zealand, followed by graduate studies for ministry at St John’s Theological College in Auckland. Joanne served her title at St Aidan’s, Remuera in the Diocese of Auckland, and was ordained Priest in 2001. Becoming Vicar of St Aidan’s in 2004, Joanne took up the additional role of Chaplain for Corran School for Girls and in 2005 was appointed Acting Archdeacon of Auckland for the duration of 18 months. Joanne became Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland in 2010. In 2017, Joanne took up her current roles as Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral.8 Comments
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It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, one of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, is to step down and will be received into communion with the See of Rome. In the statement, Bishop Jonathan writes:
I have arrived at the decision to step down as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, in order to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, only after a long period of prayer, which has been among the most testing periods of my life. … I trust you all to believe that I have made my decision as a way of saying yes to God’s present call and invitation, and not of saying no to what I have known and experienced in the Church of England, to which I owe such a deep debt.