Thinking Anglicans

Dean of Norwich to retire

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, has announced that she will retire in May 2022.


Opinion – 16 October 2021

Giles Fraser UnHerd God save us from trendy vicars
“Young people don’t want Jesus to be their best mate”

Church Times Compulsory worship in schools should end
“It is time to change a law that threatens to bring the C of E into serious disrepute, argues Richard Harries

Helen King ViaMedia.News The Changing Face of General Synod


LLF Next Steps Group Meeting on 29th September 2021

Press release from the Church of England

LLF Next Steps Group Meeting on 29th September 2021

The Next Steps Group began the meeting by considering how to ensure widest possible engagement with the LLF resources across the range of demographics, especially including young people.

The group reviewed a set of resources for leading groups with young people which have now been published on the LLF Learning Hub.

The importance of encouraging all participants to share their experience and learning through the LLF online questionnaire and by means of creative responses was stressed. LLF Advocates were encouraged to continue to share good practice across dioceses.

The group noted the need to get three key messages across:
the LLF resources are for and about everyone; it is a genuinely open-ended opportunity for the whole church to contribute to the Church’s discernment about questions relating to identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage; the resources are flexible and should be adapted to different contexts at a time and in a way that is appropriate for them. The gathering of feedback will close on 30th April 2022.

It was agreed to reschedule publication of the resource, ‘The Gift of the Church’ to September 2022, when it will sit alongside the findings of the listening process as the process of discernment begins. The Next Steps Group will work together with the Faith and Order Commission on this task, and involve others as discussed at previous meetings.

The Group agreed that it would be important to introduce new members of General Synod to the LLF journey as part of their induction in November 2021.

The meeting ended in prayer.


Opinion – 13 October 2021

Church Times The accused have their rights, too
“Remedying past failures should not mean repenting at others’ expense, says Peter Selby

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Church of England and failures in the administration of justice

Church Times Campaign for equality in C of E is not yet over
“Being ordained deacon prompts Christina Rees to reflect on how women clergy are still perceived differently from men”

Martyn Percy Modern Church Churches and Cultural Climate-Change Denial (Part Three): Forecasting and Futurescape

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News General Synod: The Importance of Compromise & Conscience


Safeguarding LGBT+ Christians Survey

Press release


An online survey is launched today on “World Mental Health Day”, to understand just how safe UK LGBT+ Christians feel in their churches, and what can be done to make them feel safer.

Open to all LGBT+ Christians in the UK who are aged over 18, the survey has been commissioned by a consortium of nine Christian LGBT+ organisations to measure how safe LGBT+ Christians feel, what steps have been taken by their local churches and what more can be done to help them feel safe.

The research is being launched on World Mental Health Day, which also coincides with the Church of England’s first “Safeguarding Sunday”.

Jayne Ozanne, who instigated the project, explained the reason for the survey:

“Many LGBT+ Christians feel increasingly vulnerable in their local churches given the increasingly toxic rhetoric around sexuality and gender identity. We thought it essential to measure in a safe and anonymous way just how safe people feel able to be about who they are, and what steps should be taken to make them feel safer”.

The questionnaire is being overseen by an independent consultant, Dr Sarah Carr, an LGBT+ mental health expert, who said:

“It is critical that LGBT+ people’s well being is prioritised in spaces which we know have and still can cause significant harm and trauma. By asking them directly about how they feel we can build a picture of what is happening in the UK today, and identify steps that they tell us will help improve things.”

The online research survey will run for two weeks and is open to all LGBT+ adults in the UK who associate themselves with the Christian faith, whether they go to church or not.

Luke Dowding, Executive Director of OneBodyOneFaith, explained why his organisation had chosen to get involved with the project:

“We know that many LGBT+ people have a deep faith, but some feel unable to attend church because they fear that they will not be welcomed or understood in their local places of worship. We would therefore like to understand if there are LGBT+ Christians who do not currently go to church for fear of their safety, with a desire to learn what if anything local churches might do to help address these concerns”.

Take the survey today:

The nine LGBT+ Christian organisations involved in the research are:
Affirm (Baptist LGBT+ Network)
Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England
Dignity & Worth (Methodist LGBT+ Network)
Global Network of Rainbow Catholics
Oasis Open House
Open Table Network
Ozanne Foundation
Quest (Catholic LGBT+ Network)

  • The research results will be made public in mid-November.
  • The research uses the theme “Safe to be Me”, which is the announced theme of the UK government’s planned international LGBT+ conference in summer next year.
  • The research coincides with the roll out of the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith project, which encourages churches to discuss matters about sexuality and gender identity and has raised safeguarding concerns amongst LGBT+ Anglicans.
  • Local Methodist Churches around Great Britain are currently discussing whether to hold same-sex marriages in their buildings. and these conversations can raise similar issues.

Opinion – 9 October 2021

Jon Kuhrt Psephizo The culture change we need in the light of abuse scandals

Helen King sharedconversations Counter-cultural Cranmer?

Martyn Percy Modern Church Churches and Cultural Climate-Change Denial (Part One): Learning from Canute
Churches and Cultural Climate-Change Denial (Part Two): Money, Sex and Power

Anne Foreman ViaMedia.News General Synod: Why I Can’t Support “Save the Parish” Campaign

Edmund Weiner Surviving Church Iwerne Camps and Conservative Evangelicalism. Memories and Reassessment

Angela Tilby Church Times Ministry that is lay-led is not Anglican


Bishop of Portsmouth

Press release from Number 10. There is more on the Portsmouth diocesan wesbite.

Appointment of Bishop of Portsmouth: 8 October 2021

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost for election as Bishop of Portsmouth.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 8 October 2021

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York, for election as Bishop of Portsmouth, in succession to The Right Reverend Christopher Foster, following his retirement on 31st May 2021.

He will lead the Church of England’s Diocese of Portsmouth, which covers 133 parishes across south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Jonathan was educated at the universities of Aberdeen and Nottingham; he prepared for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge and served his curacy at St Giles’ West Bridgford, Nottingham. Jonathan was ordained priest in 1994 and, alongside parish duties, served as a Police Chaplain.

From 1997 to 2002, Jonathan was Rector of Ash in the Diocese of Guildford. In 2002 he took up a new joint post as Anglican Chaplain to the University of Surrey and Residentiary Canon at Guildford Cathedral. For 11 years, Jonathan taught Christian Doctrine on the Local Diocesan Ministry Course. He served as Bishop’s Advisor for Inter-Faith Relations and on General Synod. He was awarded a doctorate honoris causa by the University of Surrey in 2012.

Jonathan served as Suffragan Bishop of Southampton from November 2010 to January 2019. In these years Jonathan chaired the Portsmouth and Winchester Joint Diocesan Board of Education and became Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Portsmouth.

He was installed as Dean of York at the Feast of the Presentation in February 2019. Among his priorities are prayer and Benedictine spirituality, evangelism, discipleship and working with others to tackle what he describes as ‘the scandal of poverty’.

He said: “I am learning to walk more gently on the earth and to partner with others in seeking climate justice. Inspiration to work for the integrity of creation, in my experience at least, has most often come through encounter with visionary young people.” He is a trustee of USPG, an Anglican mission agency.


Christ Church Oxford: a further update

The October issue of The Critic has this article by Jonathan Aitken describing the events at Christ Church Oxford: Low panic at high table

Four years after a handful of disaffected dons began their abortive plotting to oust Dean Martyn Percy, the college’s charitable foundation has so far spent at least £3 million of its funds on legal, PR and other dispute-related costs. It has also thrown away another estimated £3 million of lost donations because a number of wealthy past and present philanthropists, including Christ Church’s greatest benefactor Michael Moritz, are withholding any future gifts until the toxic Tom Quad antics have ended.

No such end is in sight. The latest bulletin to alumni has coyly skated over the news that the Employment Tribunal, one of the half dozen courts, tribunals, or regulatory bodies currently engaged with investigating or judging aspects of the college’s legal quicksand, will not even begin hearing its Christ Church cause célèbre until 2023.

During these shenanigans the college’s academic results have nosedived. Christ Church, which used to be one of the regular leaders of the all-important Norrington Table, has this year come almost bottom in 34th place out of 37.

Far from any self-examination for the teaching and lecturing disappointments that must be partly responsible for this debacle, the self-congratulatory dons on the governing body have just proposed a handsome increase in their salaries and allowances. Only one member, a non-academic, dared to oppose this largesse and walked out of the meeting after strenuous opposition…

Do read the entire article.


Opinion – 6 October 2021

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Leicester Challenge to the Parish System?

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News General Synod: the Abomination of Desolation

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The inability to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy Christianity


Fr Alan Griffin: unrest in London continues

Updated 3 October, and again 11 October

The Church Times had this report yesterday: Bishop Mullally seeks to tackle ‘deficit of trust’ in Two Cities Area. Here’s an extract:

Unrest in London still keen after death of Fr Alan Griffin

…Minutes of a meeting of the Two Cities Greater Chapter earlier this month, seen by the Church Times, record that the response of the diocesan leadership to the death of Fr Griffin is considered “wanting in several significant respects”, with a feeling that Bishop Mullally had “demonstrated insufficient pastoral care for her clergy”, especially among those named in the brain-dump report, some of whom felt “a sense of rage, indignation, bewilderment, frustration and sorrow”.

In a letter to clergy in the Two Cities sent earlier this month, Bishop Mullally wrote: “I am resolved to continue the process of cultural change in the Two Cities Area which was already a pressing priority . . . There is currently a deficit of trust. This must be addressed by a continual striving for transparency, approachability, collegiality, sensitivity, respect and kindness as characteristics of our relationships with everyone.”

On Wednesday, she spoke first of her concern for the friends and family of Fr Griffin. Asked about culture change, she said that this process had been ongoing since her arrival in the diocese in 2018. Among her findings on arrival was that clergy spoke of “a sense of isolation. There is a competitiveness; people were anxious about needing to prove themselves. . . There are potential tribes here. . . And also I have to say the fact of being the first woman bishop also brought some of its own complexities within that.

There was a need to create a “more collaborative” environment. Other work had included increased support for mental well-being, including support for those going through the Clergy Discipline Measure process.

“Culture change isn’t just me: it’s about us,” she said. “Some of the reason why people feel isolated and anxious is about us and how we treat each other . . . The unfortunate death of Fr Alan made people articulate that we are still on a journey.”

Asked about the clergy named in the brain-dump report, she said: “We have to recognise that the coroner put that in the public domain, and I am sorry for the hurt that that has caused. . . There is no doubt in my mind that there are things that we will learn through it, not least that we are already beginning to bring in a triage system around those things that come forward to safeguarding…”

I recommend reading the news report in full.

There is also a report in this week’s issue of Private Eye which includes:

“…Private Eye learns that a majority of clergy in the Two Cities area of London Diocese… held a closed meeting on 14 September at which feelings ran high. Many were friends and former colleagues of Fr Griffin. Some spoke of “rage, indignation, bewilderment, frustration and sorrow” at the failure of the senior diocesan staff to care for them in the face of allegations made against them. One, driven to despair, said they had not received a kind communication from diocesan leaders in three years.

Some are quietly planning legal action against their own diocese. Others, encouraged by the threatened vote of no confidence that led to the defenestration of the Bishop of Wiinchester… are now proposing a similar vote against the Bishop of London.”

From the earlier diocesan report as mentioned in our article of 24 August:

“The full Terms of Reference (subject to consultation) will be published on the Diocese of London website when consultations are complete (anticipated early September 2021).”

As of 2 October, these have not yet appeared.
CORRECTION: These were published on 13 September, and are dated 3 September. Link to the ToR document below:

Terms of reference published 13 September 2021.

Chris Robson has been appointed as the independent reviewer. Chris worked for the Metropolitan Police Service for 30 years in a wide range of roles. Since 2017 he has been the independent chair of a number of safeguarding boards and he has undertaken various safeguarding reviews.

With regard to the review, the LDF’s privacy notice can be found here

Update 11 October:

The latest issue of the Church Times contains two letters to the editor which are both well worth reading: they can be found here.

  • Bishop of London is failing justice for Fr Alan Griffin
    From the Revd Roderick Leece
    From the Revd Nick Pigott

There is also an update to their news reporting on the topic: Review of Fr Griffin case will not apportion blame.


Opinion – 2 October 2021

April Alexander ViaMedia.News General Synod: The Challenge of Voting in Women Bishops

Christopher Landau Church Times Is the BBC committed to religious news?
“The corporation’s slowness to appoint a new Religion Editor does not inspire confidence”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Is the Iwerne Movement a Cult?


Bishop of Kirkstall to retire

The Rt Revd Paul Slater, Bishop of Kirkstall, an area bishop in the diocese of Leeds, announced his retirement today. He will leave on 31 January 2022. The diocesan announcement is here.


General Synod elections 2021 – candidates’ election addresses

Elections to General Synod are currently taking place. I have posted links to the election addresses of candidates here. This includes all the dioceses and special constituencies except for some where candidates were unopposed. The only exception is the Armed Forces Synod whose members are to be “elected or chosen … in such manner as may be determined by the Armed Forces Synod”. I have been unable to find anything online about how this being done.

In addition to election addresses some dioceses have produced videos of the candidates and/or held hustings or question and answer sessions which are available online.

If anybody wants to download any of this material for future reference they are advised to do so in the next few days. If 2015 is any guide some dioceses will remove election addresses from their websites immediately after voting closes on 8 October.

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.


Scottish bishops set up Mediation Steering Group

The Scottish Episcopal Church has announced Mediation Steering Group established for Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney.

The Episcopal Synod, comprising all seven diocesan bishops, met online as planned this morning to consider the setting up of an independent mediation process to help the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney move forward from its current difficulties.

The Synod voted to meet in private and then unanimously agreed to set up such a process and appointed a Mediation Steering Group to oversee the process. The remit for the Steering Group is set out below.

The Group will be chaired by David Strang CBE, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland and former Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and Lothian and Borders Police. The other members of the Group will be the Rev Liz Crumlish and Morag Hendry. Further information about each member is set out below.

The bishops are grateful that all three have accepted an invitation to serve and for their willingness to offer their skills and experience to the Church in this way.

The Group will now commence work, initially, on appointing an external mediation organisation to scope, and subsequently undertake, a confidential mediation process. In setting up such a process, it is expected that a range of individuals within the diocese will be consulted.

The Group is aware of the need to move forward swiftly, and further information will be issued on behalf of the Group as soon as it is in a position to provide more details.

The bishops acknowledge that this is a difficult period for the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, and recognises the level of hurt and upset experienced by a number of people. It has also been a challenge for the bishops themselves, and they have listened to a wide variety of differing opinions in recent weeks. They are in the process of considering what additional pastoral support can be made available.

Meanwhile, the bishops invite all members of the Scottish Episcopal Church to join with them in holding the Diocese, and the future mediation process, in their prayers and they encourage members of the Diocese to engage positively with that process, which they hope will help to bring healing.

The press release then lists out the Steering Group Remit and provides further details of the members of that group.

See here for our previous report on this.


Statistics on ‘Church at Home’

The Church of England has released statistics on remote worship during the March to July 2020 lockdown: Church at Home. There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

Thousands of churches offered remote worship during lockdown, new report finds

Thousands of churches adapted ‘at a moment’s notice’ to providing worship at home from the start of the first lockdown, according to a new report published today.

More than 9,000 churches (78%) offered ‘Church at Home’ online, via email, post and telephone during the March to July 2020 lockdown when collective worship was suspended because of the coronavirus restrictions.

More than 8,000, or 69%, offered livestreamed or pre-recorded services, while more than 5,000, or 44%, offered services downloadable from a website or emailed. More than 4,000, or 33%, offered printed and posted services and more than 2,000, or 21%, provided telephone or dial-in services.

The majority were continuing to offer these services in October last year even though most were also open for in-person collective worship.