We last reported on this topic on 7 October: Christ Church Oxford: a further update. Since then there have been a number of developments, but two items were published this morning:
Martin Sewell argues that the public can have no confidence in the current arrangements for a further disciplinary tribunal hearing, and that the Charity Commission is also deeply concerned.
The Church Times report gives further detail on the latter:
On 4 November, Helen Earner, director of regulatory services, wrote to the Revd Professor Sarah Foot, Censor Theologiae and chair of the Governing Body, requesting a long list of background information about the dispute. This includes Governing Body minutes from June 2018 covering the salaries-board dispute that sparked the original complaint against the Dean; the money that the college has spent on its action hitherto, including payments for legal advice and public-relations support; and details of the mediation process and why it was halted.
Also requested are copies of the emails from senior figures in the college made available to Sir Andrew Smith, who conducted the internal inquiry that exonerated the Dean (News, 21 August 2019). Sir Andrew included them in an appendix to his report, but they were redacted from the version circulated to members of the Governing Body. One email about the Dean read: “I’m always ready to think the worst of him. . . Does anyone know any good poisoners?”
Ms Earner also responds in her letter to two questions by Professor Foot. On the question whether the college could contribute to Dean Percy’s legal costs in the tribunal process, she writes: “Based on what we understand to be the current situation, we would see that it is likely to fall within the range of reasonable decisions that trustees could make.”
Professor Foot’s other question is whether the college could pay for legal advice for individual members of the Governing Body who want to take action for alleged defamation “and/or misuse of private information”. The Governing Body has been disturbed by leaks throughout this process, and Ms Earner’s letter acknowledges that “some members of the Governing Body have identified themselves as whistleblowers.”
Before ruling whether this is a permissible use of funds, Ms Earner asks whether the Governing Body has set a budget or cap on money to be advanced to individual members.
Her letter ends by reminding the Governing Body that it is a criminal offence knowingly or recklessly to provide false or misleading information.
The House of Bishops met on Wednesday 24 November remotely via Zoom.
The House was updated and approved the direction of travel of work currently relating to the review of ministerial formation. The House then received a series of updates on the Emerging Church workstreams. An update was given to the House on the Transforming Effectiveness workstream, followed by reflections on the reception given to the Governance Review Group and Vision and Strategy presentations at November Synod.
The meeting ended in prayer.25 Comments
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Bruce Bryant-Scott The Island Parson General Synod of the Church of England November 2021: A Comparison with the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada48 Comments
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mission and Ministry Enabler, in the Diocese of Leicester, to the Suffragan See of Willesden, in the Diocese of London, in succession to The Right Reverend Peter Broadbent who resigned on 30th September 2021.
Lusa was educated in Theology at the Faculté Universitaire de Théologie Protestante, Brussels and trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He served his title at All Saints, Staplehurst, in the Diocese of Canterbury and was ordained Priest in 2009.
In 2012, Lusa was appointed Vicar at St Aidan, Gravesend, in the Diocese of Rochester and in 2017, he took up his current role as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mission and Ministry Enabler in the Diocese of Leicester.
He is married to Mirjam who works as Discipleship Officer at Leicester Cathedral. They have three young children.13 Comments
Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News Ghana, Synod & the “Othering” of LGBTQI People
Giles Fraser UnHerd Don’t blame the Church for terrorism
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Is it sometimes good to change one’s mind? A question at General Synod.
Helen King sharedconversations General Synod: feeling the weight of the Church of England52 Comments
Updated to add links to press reports
The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this statement this morning.
Personal statement from Archbishop Justin Welby on Bishop George Bell
The last 30 years have shown the importance of taking allegations of abuse seriously, whether in the Church or any other institution. As a society we have awoken, albeit shamefully late, to the insidious nature of abusers and the profound damage caused by abuse of all types. We have learned of the way that such acts of profound evil and cruelty are committed in places of trust and vulnerability. Each time we have looked away, made excuses, or failed to act, we have sinned beyond measure – and the Church is on a journey of thoroughgoing repentance, not just through words, but in all the practical measures we have taken and are putting in place to protect the most vulnerable among us and bring abusers to justice.
This is why the posthumous allegations made against Bishop George Bell were taken seriously and investigated fully. I do not apologise for that, but as I have said before, we did not manage our response to the original allegation with the consistency, clarity or accountability that meets the high standards rightly demanded of us. I recognised the hurt that has been done as a consequence, and I have apologised unreservedly for the mistakes made in this process.
What I say today that is new and should have been said sooner is this: I do not consider there to be a ‘significant cloud’ over Bishop George Bell’s name.
Previously I refused to retract that statement and I was wrong to do so. I took that view because of the importance we rightly place on listening to those who come forward with allegations of abuse, and the duty of care we owe to them. But we also owe a duty of care to those who are accused. I apologise for the hurt that my refusal to retract that statement has caused to Bishop Bell’s surviving relatives, colleagues and longstanding supporters. They have all raised this issue, often powerfully, and I have recognised my error as a result of their advocacy.
Bishop Bell was and remains one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the past century, committed to the peace and hope of Jesus Christ in a time of conflict and war. The debt owed to him extends far beyond the Church that he served and is one that we share as a society. I am delighted that the statue to him that was planned will be erected on the west front of Canterbury Cathedral, where he served as Dean, as soon as the extensive repair and maintenance works are complete.
This does not detract from my commitment to and support for victims and survivors of abuse and especially the person abused in this case. All allegations must be taken seriously. We must remain a Church which strives for openness, transparency, care, and honesty in our dealings with sexual abuse. This includes, with paramount importance, instances where we have failed.
Press reports53 Comments
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Abuse of LGBTIQ+ people in Ghana and Living in Love and Faith
and Time to confront the crisis of a decadent Christianity
This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.
All sessions are streamed live on YouTube and remain available to view afterwards.
Official press releases
The Gospel ‘has brought hope’ amid pandemic: The Queen’s message to Synod
Archbishop of York’s Inauguration Speech of the 11th General Synod
Archbishop of Canterbury’s welcome speech to new General Synod
Synod: Archbishop Justin’s remarks on the Church of Ghana
Archbishops’ Presidential Address to Synod
General Synod backs moves to allow dioceses more freedom to share historic wealth with poorer dioceses
Young leaders from Church schools meet General Synod members ahead of first in-person meeting
Synod calls on politicians to reduce wealth gap between the rich and the poor
Vision and Strategy Address – General Synod November 2021
Farewell to the Bishop of Newcastle
Queen’s message to new Synod speaks of gospel hope amid recent hardships
Archbishops challenge new Synod to be humble and bold
Archbishop Welby greeted by silent protest in Synod over Ghanaian Bill
Reduce gap between rich and poor in UK, Synod urges all parties
Synod agrees to take issue of unequal diocesan wealth further
The BBC reports that following recent approval by the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, the civil partnership of a priest in Llangollen and his partner was today blessed in a service led by the Bishop of St Asaph. It is believed to be the first such service in the Church in Wales. The Scottish Episcopal Church became the first Anglican church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages in 2017.43 Comments
The Questions (and Answers) for next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod were published today. The Question session (on Tuesday afternoon) will be devoted to supplementary questions.9 Comments
Updated Saturday afternoon
On 22 October, we published Anglican bishops in Ghana support anti-gay legislation. This was updated on 26 October to add the first statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury: Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement on Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ Bill.
Yesterday, 12 November, the archbishop issued another statement: Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement following a meeting with the Archbishop, bishops and senior clergy of the Anglican Church of Ghana. This is copied in full immediately below.
The Church Times reported this way: Welby apologises for Ghana LGBTQ+ pronouncement.
Update: Today, the General Synod Questions and Answers file was published (ahead of the session next Tuesday afternoon). Two questions relate to Ghana. These are copied below the fold.
Read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement following a meeting with the Archbishop, bishops and senior clergy of the Anglican Church of Ghana last week:
On 3rd November, I met online with the Anglican Archbishop of Ghana, the Most Revd Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, and several bishops and senior clergy from the Anglican Church of Ghana. We discussed their response to the draft Bill that is before the Ghanaian parliament, aimed at strengthening family life but including within it provision for the criminalisation of many LGBTQI+ people.
I welcomed this conversation, which should have happened before my previous statement. That is not mere diplomacy: Christ commands us to speak directly and prayerfully with our brothers and sisters. I apologised for failing to do so.
We affirmed that the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 represents the last and most widely accepted statement by the Anglican Communion on the question of human sexuality.
We agreed that all human beings are made in God’s image and are worthy of love, respect and dignity, and that the Church of Jesus Christ is called to demonstrate the love of God by protecting all vulnerable people and communities.
This was a conversation between equals: I have no authority over the Church of Ghana, nor would I want any. I say that partly because of Britain’s colonial history in Ghana, but also because of the very nature of the Anglican Communion. We are a global family of churches who are autonomous but interdependent: a holy, catholic, apostolic Church bound together by history, sacraments, liturgy, and the love of Jesus Christ for each and every person.
One of the key conclusions of the meeting is that human dignity is always paramount, and that cultural, social and historical contexts must also be considered and understood.
I encourage continued good conversation with the Anglican Church of Ghana, with the same courteous but clear and robust conversation as I experienced, ahead of any future public statements.43 Comments
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Colin Coward Unadulterated Love CA England call for appointment of six members of LGBTIQ+ community to the House of Bishops1 Comment
It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, is to be Acting Bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln, following the retirement of Bishop Christopher Lowson in December 2021. Bishop Stephen will spend half of his time in Lincoln and half in Ely, and the arrangement is for an initial period of one year. In a letter to the diocese of Lincoln, the Archbishop writes:
You will be aware that we have started the process for the appointment of your next bishop and thank you to those of you who have shared your hopes and prayers for the Gospel and for the witness of the Church of England across Lincolnshire through the various listening exercises.
Following a meeting with Bishop Christopher Lowson and a subsequent meeting with the Bishop’s Staff team, I have asked Bishop Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, to be the Acting Bishop of Lincoln from the 1st January 2022. Stephen will be spending half of his time in Lincoln and the arrangement will be reviewed at the end of the year. This will mean a longer vacancy period than we had originally planned but we hope that a pause in the appointment process will provide some space and time to reflect on the longer term needs of the diocese.
The full text of the announcement is on the Lincoln diocesan website and copied below the fold. The announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury is here, and a letter from Bishop Stephen Conway to the diocese of Ely is here.66 Comments
Suffragan Bishop of Loughborough: 12 November 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Malayil Lukose Varghese Muthalaly to the Suffragan See of Loughborough.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 12 November 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Malayil Lukose Varghese Muthalaly (known as Saju), Vicar of St Mark’s Gillingham, in the Diocese of Rochester, to the Suffragan See of Loughborough, in the Diocese of Leicester, in succession to The Right Reverend Dr Gulnar Francis-Dehqani following her translation to the See of Chelmsford.
Saju grew up in the Syrian Orthodox Church in South India. He was educated at the Southern Asia Bible College in Bangalore and trained for ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at St Thomas’, Lancaster in the Diocese of Blackburn and was ordained Priest in 2009.
Saju was appointed Associate Vicar at St Thomas’, Kendal and St Catherine’s, Crook in the Diocese of Carlisle in 2011. He has served at St Mark’s, Gillingham and St Mary’s Island in the Diocese of Rochester since 2015 initially as Priest-in-Charge, before being appointed Vicar in 2019.3 Comments
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Former Navy aircraft engineer appointed Bishop
An aircraft engineer, who served in the Royal Navy during the Falklands War, will be the next Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.
The Archdeacon of Wrexham, John Lomas, has been chosen as the 10th Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, a diocese which stretches south to the coast of the Gower and north into much of mid-Wales…9 Comments
Archbishops pay tribute to Caroline Boddington for 17 years of service to Church of England
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have paid tribute to the service of Caroline Boddington, who has announced today she will be leaving the National Church Institutions (NCIs) at the end of 2021 after 17 years as the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments and Development.
Caroline has been a senior adviser to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York since she joined the NCIs in 2004. During this time she has transformed the process by which senior appointments are made in the Church of England – with a particular focus on ensuring greater diversity among candidates for senior roles.
As well as supporting those exploring senior leadership roles and those involved in discerning candidates for the better part of twenty years, Caroline has led the transformation of the leadership and ministerial development for bishops and deans, and for those who are thinking about wider leadership roles in the future through the Strategic Leadership Development Programme.
Caroline has led the modernisation of the processes that ensure the recruitment for appointments to senior ecclesiastical office is fair and transparent – as well as grounded in prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. She has also overseen the induction of bishops and deans into their new roles.
As part of changes being made to simplify the structures of the NCIs and bring functions together to support the Church’s Vision and strategic priorities for the 2020s, a new expanded remit for the Ministry team will include clergy HR and aspects of senior leadership development, bringing the entire clergy and lay ministry life cycle into one team. Caroline’s decision comes in the light of those changes. The Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary role will continue to lead on senior clergy appointments.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Most Revd Justin Welby and the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “It’s hard to overstate the impact that Caroline has had on the Church of England over the past 17 years – or our gratitude for her service. Inspired by her deep faith and devoted discipleship, Caroline’s leadership has been marked by a tireless willingness to ask the difficult questions and challenge our thinking and processes. As a result, senior appointments increasingly reflect the diversity of the people of God and the Church of Jesus Christ.
“Meanwhile Caroline has been committed to providing bishops and deans with continual support and development, while nurturing the next generation of leaders. These have been gifts to the Church that will bear fruit for many years to come. Caroline leaves the NCIs with our prayers, gratitude and very best wishes for the future.”
Caroline Boddington said: “It has truly been a privilege to serve the Church of England over the last seventeen years. To have been alongside individuals, dioceses and cathedrals as they have sought to discern their vocation has been a precious gift. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had and for the creative and stimulating colleagues with whom I have worked in all sorts of teams and project groups. I will miss them greatly as I now step into my own journey of exploration as to what might be next.”
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[This refers to GS Misc 1306 which can be downloaded here.]
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Press release from the Church of England
LLF Next Steps Group Meeting on 12th October 2021
The Next Steps Group agreed that the next interim findings from the LLF Questionnaire should be circulated for the December House of Bishops meeting, particularly with a view to assessing the extent and diversity of participation.
Members heard about and agreed to the production of a short film that will encourage churches to engage with LLF. A small group of people who have taken part in the LLF Course will be filmed in conversation about their experience.
The Group noted the importance of offering new members of General Synod an induction to LLF and took action to ensure this would happen at the November 2021 group of sessions.
In early 2022 Diocesan Synods will be invited to participate in the LLF journey of learning, listening and discerning together. The group agreed to produce materials to enable Synods to do this as appropriate for their context. A key question would be: what kind of church do we want to be and what is the role of Diocesan Synods within that?
The Next Steps bishops concluded by reflecting together what it would look like for the group to have carried out their responsibilities as effectively and successfully as possible.5 Comments