Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 31 December 2022

The Telegraph Most Rev Stephen Cottrell: ‘My time at a girls’ school may have saved my life’
“The Archbishop of York recalls his days of truancy and the revelations of school life in Essex before he found faith as a teenager.”

Helen King ViaMedia.News Another Year Gone: What’s Wrong with the Church of England?

House of Survivors Round up of 2022

Adrian Hilton The Spectator In praise of the Church of England

Ian Paul Psephizo How can we overcome class divisions in the church?


Opinion – 24 December 2022

Francis Young The Spectator Is Christmas really a pagan festival?

Fergus Butler-Gallie Church Times So here it is, Merry Christmas. . . but not everybody’s having fun
“Fergus Butler-Gallie speaks up for those who struggle with Christmas cheer”

John Barton Church Times And the Word was made words
“John Barton considers new translations of the familiar Christmas texts”

Church of England War, hunger, cold … and hope – bishops share their Christmas messages


Opinion – 21 December 2022

Eleanor Jackson British Library Medieval manuscripts blog Chi-rho pages for Christmas

Catriona Cannon and Irene-Marie Esser Law & Religion UK What has Religion got to do with “Corporate Purpose”?

LGBTQ Faith UK Rediscovering the purpose of church

Martine Oborne ViaMedia.News The Sexism Women Continue to Face in the Church of England


Dean of Chichester

The Dean of Chichester, the Very Reverend Stephen Waine, has announced that he is to become the vicar of the benefice of Piddle Valley, Hilton and Ansty, Cheselbourne and Melcombe Horsey, in the Diocese of Salisbury.


New Independent Reviewer announced for House of Bishops Declaration

Press release from the Church of England

New Independent Reviewer announced for House of Bishops Declaration

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York with the agreement of the Chairs of the Houses of Clergy and Laity have announced that Maggie Swinson has been appointed as the next Independent Reviewer.

The long-serving former General Synod member, who is now Vice Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, takes up the post left vacant following the death earlier this year of Sir William Fittall. She will work with a Deputy Independent Reviewer to be appointed early next year.

The ombudsman-style role rules on concerns and disputes over the operation of the House of Bishops declaration on the ministry of bishops and priests.

The declaration, drawn up in 2014 ahead of legislation paving the way for the consecration of women as bishops, sets out the arrangements for parishes that seek the priestly or episcopal ministry of men on grounds of theological conviction.

Mrs Swinson brings more than 30 years of experience as a General Synod member to the post of Independent Reviewer. She was closely involved in the arrangements and drafting of legislation for the ordination of women as priests and bishops in the Church of England.

Most recently she was part of the group led by Sir William that worked following 2012 on the facilitated conversations, declaration and legislation that was approved in 2014 for the ordination of women as bishops.

Mrs Swinson said: “I would like to pay tribute to the painstaking and brilliant work of Sir William in drawing up the legislation and arrangements for the ordination of women as bishops and his role after retirement as Secretary General as Independent Reviewer.

“The House of Bishops declaration commits the Church of England fully to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender. It also makes it clear that the Church of England remains committed to the flourishing of those who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.

“I am passionate about the principle of ensuring that there is respect for all and that the Church of England upholds the principles of the declaration.”

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said: “We are delighted that Maggie has agreed to take up this role. She is a faithful servant of the Church of England with a heartfelt commitment to the mutual flourishing of all in the Church. Her in-depth knowledge and experience as a General Synod member on this issue is unsurpassed.”

More information

  • Maggie Swinson is an accountant by training and currently works in corporate governance and regulation for a social enterprise in the health care sector. She is a lay leader at St Matthews and St James Church in Mossley Hill, Liverpool.
  • The post of Independent Reviewer is a part time and unpaid role. The regulations of the House of Bishops Declaration provide for the possibility of appointing one or more Deputy Reviewers.

London diocese fraud case: Martin Sargeant sentenced

Back in October, Martin Sargeant pleaded guilty to fraud. The Cburch Times reported this: Sargeant pleads guilty in £5-million fraud case. Today, he was sentenced by the court.


Press releases:

The Evening Standard includes this information:

…Sargeant, who grew up in Bournemouth, was handed a community order in 1992 for theft by employee and was jailed for 21 months on 1995 for offences including 19 counts of theft.

The court heard the convictions related to his previous employers, including a shoe shop and a bar, which he claimed to have disclosed to the CoE before he was employed – an assertion the church has neither confirmed nor denied…

Further references to these earlier events are included in this article: Life and Learning – Addiction and Recovery.


General Synod – February 2023

Updated 25 December

The original timetable, linked below, omitted a second Questions session on the Tuesday. An updated version has been issued, and I have corrected my version below.

The General Synod of the Church of England will be meet in London on 6-9 February 2023. The outline timetable is now available online and is copied below.

Full details of each item will be on the agenda

Monday 6 February
Meeting of Convocation of York 12pm
1.45 pm – 7.00 pm
Revival of the Standing Orders made under Section 1 of the General Synod (Remote Meetings) (Temporary Standing Orders) Measure 2020
Opening worship
Presidential Address
Business Committee Report
Legislative Business Amending Canon No 42 – revision stage
Legislative Business Diocesan Stipend Fund (Amendment) Measure – revision stage
Legislative Business Church of England Pensions (Application of Capital Funds) Measure – revision stage
#Living in Love and Faith
*5.25 pm Questions
6.45 pm Evening worship

Tuesday 7 February
10.15 am – 12.30 pm
9.00 am Eucharist
Legislative Business Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 2021 (consequential amendment to regulations under Canon B12) – for approval
Legislative Business Miscellaneous Provisions Measure and Amending Canon 43 – revision stage
Loyal Address
*11.50 am Questions

2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Resourcing Ministerial Formation
#Living in Love and Faith

Wednesday 8 February
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
Opening worship
Cost of living debate
Legislative Business Parochial Fees Order – for approval
Legislative Business Miscellaneous Provisions Measure and Amending Canon No 43 – revision stage – continued

2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
#Living in Love and Faith

Thursday 9 February
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
Opening worship
Legislative Business Diocesan Stipend Fund (Amendment) Measure – final drafting and final approval
Legislative Business Amending Canon No 42 – final drafting and final approval
Governance Review Group next steps
Legislative Business Church of England Pensions (Application of Capital Funds) Measure – final drafting and final approval

1.45 pm – 5.00 pm
Legislative Business Electronic Service Registers – for approval
Standing Orders Committee report
*4.05 pm Lincoln DSM – Insurance Premium Tax – deferred from July 22
*5.00 pm Prorogation

* not later than: Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk
# Living in Love and Faith: Please note that content related to Living in Love and Faith will be published on the Agenda.

Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Tuesday 24 January


Opinion – 17 December 2022

Naomi Nixon ViaMedia.News An Argument for an Honest Church

Steven Shakespeare Annunciation or Explanation? The Marian heart of liturgy

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love LLF, safeguarding, abuse and Radical New Christian Inclusion – where did that go?


Bishop of Kingston

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. There is more information on the diocesan websites of Southwark and Bristol.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Kingston: 16 December 2022

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Dr Jonathan Martin Gainsborough, to the Suffragan See of Kingston, in the Diocese of Southwark.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 16 December 2022

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Dr Jonathan Martin Gainsborough, Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol, in the Diocese of Bristol, to the Suffragan See of Kingston, in the Diocese of Southwark, in succession to The Right Reverend Dr Richard Cheetham following his retirement.

Martin was educated at the University of Bristol and The School of Oriental and African Studies and trained for ministry on the Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme. He served his title at St Luke’s, Barton Hill, in the Diocese of Bristol and was ordained Priest in 2011.

In 2013, Martin was appointed Priest-in-Charge at St Luke’s and in 2016 he became Canon Theologian at Bristol Cathedral. During this time, Martin was also Professor of Development Politics at the University of Bristol.

Martin took up his current role as Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol in 2019.


Charity Commission asked to investigate Church of England safeguarding

The Church Times reports (under the news story about further delay in the review of the John Smyth case):

Charity Commission appeal. A letter has been sent to the Charity Commission asking it to investigate the Church of England’s safeguarding practices. The 51 signatories include lay and ordained church members, survivors, and some elected members of General Synod.

The signatories express concern about safeguarding policies and practice in the Church of England, referring to “a highly dysfunctional church culture” that is “uniformly poor in responses to allegations of abuse”.

The Church lacks any “functional leadership” in safeguarding, the letter says; “current safeguarding processes, bodies, panels, and their personnel are incompetent, ineffective and unfit for purpose.”

A Church of England spokesperson said: “The Church is committed to the highest standards of safeguarding and this is carried out by professionals both nationally and in its 42 dioceses who support parish safeguarding officers who work in every church across the country. The Church is always open to scrutiny of its processes and will listen and respond to concerns when raised.”

See here for the full text of the  Open Letter to the Charity Commission.


Bishop of Kensington

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. The London diocesan website has more information here.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Kensington: 15 December 2022

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Emma Gwynneth Ineson to the Suffragan See of Kensington.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 15 December 2022

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Emma Gwynneth Ineson, BA MPhil, Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to the Suffragan See of Kensington, in the Diocese of London, in succession to The Right Reverend Dr Graham Tomlin following his resignation.

Emma was educated at the University of Birmingham and trained for ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. She served her title at Christ Church, Dore in the Diocese of Sheffield and was ordained priest in 2001. Emma took up the role as Chaplain at Lee Abbey, Devon in 2003 before being appointed as Tutor of Practical and Pastoral Theology at Trinity College, Bristol in 2006, and Director of Pastoral Studies in 2010. She was appointed Principal in 2014. During this time she also served as Associate Minister of St Matthew’s, Kingsdown, and of St Mary Magdalene, Stoke Bishop, in the Diocese of Bristol.

In 2019, Emma was appointed Bishop of Penrith in the Diocese of Carlisle, and in 2021 she took up her current role as Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Emma was a member of the 2022 Lambeth Conference Design Group, chairs the Church of England Minority Ethnic Vocations Advisory Group, is a member of the Commission for Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, is a member of Tearfund Theology Committee, and is Central Chaplain to the Worldwide Mother’s Union.


LLF: College of Bishops meeting concludes

press release 14 December: Living in Love and Faith (LLF) at the College of Bishops- December 2022
The full text of this is copied below the fold.

Church Times news report: Bishops tight-lipped on Church’s next steps for same-sex relationships

THE College and House of Bishops met for three days this week to draft the outcomes of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) discernment process, which are to be presented to the General Synod in 2023.

These outcomes, or recommendations, regarding same-sex relationships have not yet been made public, however. Once they are formally agreed in a final LLF meeting of the bishops in January, they will be put to the vote when the Synod next meets in London in February.

A press release issued at the conclusion of the meeting on Wednesday said: “Bishops spent time praying, reflecting, and discussing a spectrum of possible ways forward for the Church regarding same-sex relationship and marriage, and the theological basis for each. They will continue those discussions at a third meeting in mid-January at which it is anticipated that they will agree an ‘offering’ to the Church, giving a clear sense of direction.”

The Synod would then be invited to “indicate its views” on these. This might include a vote on whether the Church should change canon law to permit same-sex blessings or marriages…



Smyth Review – further delay

Press release from the Church of England

Smyth Review: update from independent reviewer

December 2022

The independent reviewer, Keith Makin, has confirmed that the Learning Lessons Review is now reaching its final stages. This message has been relayed to the victims and survivors with whom the reviewers are in contact. The review team has analysed previously unpublished documents, including contemporaneous correspondence and notes from the relevant period. The material gathered, including testimonies, written statements and witness statements has been extensive, and far greater than originally envisaged.  The next stage will be consultation with victims, as part of the review team’s commitment to put victims at the heart.  This is intended to begin in the week commencing 9 January 2023. Once this is completed, it will be followed by a representations process involving individuals and organisations who will be named and criticised in the published report.  If you wish to be part of the consultation with victims, and are not already in contact with the review team, please contact Keith Makin at

The review team and NST regret this necessary further delay, which they recognise will understandably be disappointing for victims and survivors.

The NST has arranged continued support for victims through Nina Tanner, a specialist Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA). The formerly named Splitz organisation have changed their name to Home – Fear Less ( but still provide the same service to victim and survivors. Nina remains the independent lead for support for the victims of John Smyth and fulfils the same role as before. If you need support, she can be contacted on or on 07825 741751. If you have been affected by this latest update and need support, please do contact Nina.

The NST continues to look into every clergy person of whom they have been informed, within the scope of the Terms of Reference, who may have failed to disclose Smyth’s abuse.


LLF: College of Bishops meets again

Updated again Wednesday

See report of previous meeting here.

There is a further meeting this week, from Monday to Wednesday, of the Church of England College of Bishops, to discuss what actions to take in relation to Living in Love and Faith. See here for the programme of meetings, leading up to the General Synod meeting in February.

“Bishops will gather for two days to draft the outcomes of the discernment process.”

Several articles have appeared in the past few days. (The first two items are behind a paywall.)

Steven Croft was interviewed in the Telegraph on Saturday: The Bishop of Oxford: ‘The Church is seen as unjust because of its treatment of LGBTQ+ people’

Justin Welby was interviewed in The Times on Monday: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby chooses silence on gay marriage

Marcus Green wrote this on his blog: Patiently

Jayne Ozanne wrote this on Via Media.News: An Open Letter to Bishops – Your Pastoral Charge

Equal has published Vigils for Equal Marriage while the bishops meet

Christian Today Welby staying quiet on LGBT views

Religion News Service Catherine Pepinster Church of England bishops head for showdown on marriage for same-sex couples

ViaMedia.News Charlie Bell Unity and the Myth of Neutrality

Premier Christianity Christopher Landau Welby won’t give his opinion on gay marriage. Perhaps Dietrich Bonhoeffer can help

I will update this article if other items appear.


Bishops discuss UK Asylum and Refugee Policy

The House of Lords debated UK Asylum and Refugee Policy on 9 December. The Archbishop of Canterbury moved

That this House takes note of the principles behind contemporary United Kingdom asylum and refugee policy, and of the response to the challenges of forced migration.

Several other bishops also took part in the debate. The full Hansard record can be found here, or more conveniently perhaps as a PDF file over here.

The Church of England in Parliament website provides links to the speeches of each bishop:

The House of Lords Library had prepared a briefing note for this debate which is worth reading.

The Church Times has published a report of this debate here: UK’s treatment of asylum-seekers is wasteful and cruel, says Welby.

The Archbishop of Canterbury referred in his response to the debate to a document which had been mentioned, from Policy Exchange. Here is a link to that document. (Three essays on the morality of asylum by Nigel Biggar, John Finnis and Richard Ekins. Foreword by Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.)


Opinion – 10 December 2022

Bosco Peters Liturgy Christian Decline?

Penelope Doe ViaMedia.News The ‘Trans’ Body of Jesus and Transgressive Theologies

Kelvin Holdsworth What’s in Kelvin’s Head Reparations, the Churches and LGBT communities

Paul W Thomas Church Times All parishes need focal ministers — urgently
“Stipendiary priests overseeing multiple parishes require a secondary support system, argues Paul W Thomas”


Suffragan Bishop of Ebbsfleet

Updated 14 December

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. The Bishop of Ebbsfleet replaces the former Bishop of Maidstone and will minister to complementarian evangelical parishes throughout the Church of England. There is more detail in this Church of England press release.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Ebbsfleet: 9 December 2022

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Robert Munro to the Suffragan See of Ebbsfleet, in the Diocese of Canterbury.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Published 9 December 2022

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Robert Munro, Rector of the Benefice of St Mary’s Cheadle with St Cuthbert’s, in the Diocese of Chester, and Rural Dean of Cheadle, to the Suffragan See of Ebbsfleet, in the Diocese of Canterbury. This is in succession to The Right Reverend Rod Thomas following his retirement in a national role previously conducted by the Suffragan See of Maidstone.

Rob was educated at Bristol University and trained for ordained ministry at Oakhill Theological College. He was ordained Priest in 1994, served his title at St John the Baptist, Hartford, in the Diocese of Chester, and in 1997, was appointed Rector of St Wilfrid, Davenham.

In 2003, Rob was appointed to his current post as Rector of St Mary’s Cheadle with St Cuthbert’s, and completed his D.Min from Reformed Theological Seminary, USA. He has served three terms as Chair of the House of Clergy, and on the General Synod and the Dioceses’ Commission.


The Chester diocesan website has this article which includes a link to a video of the Bishop of Chester interviewing the new bishop.


Statistics for Mission 2021 published

The Church of England has released its Statistics for Mission 2021 and the following press release. The annual Statistics for Mission return collects attendance and participation information from across the Church of England. Also available is an excel file of detailed diocesan figures. Statistics for earlier years are available here.

Statistics for Mission 2021 published

Attendance at Church of England parishes rose sharply last year compared to 2020, but continued to be affected by Covid measures, new statistics from the Church of England show.

Average weekly attendance, which includes Sundays and midweek attendance, grew to 605,000 in 2021 compared to 345,000 in 2020. But it was lower than in 2019 when average weekly attendance stood at 854,000 people.

The number of baptisms and weddings grew in 2021 compared to 2020, with 26,500 marriages and services of prayer and dedication after civil marriage and 55,200 baptisms or thanksgiving services for a child.

Many churches continued to provide ‘church at home’ services in 2021, offered online, by phone, post, email, and other means amid a range of Covid restrictions.

It comes as separate figures show the number of people praying online has continued to grow sharply over the past year with downloads of the Church of England’s Daily Prayer audio at 3.2 million so far in 2022 – 62% higher than 2021 when it was launched. Total downloads now stand at 5.2 million.

Daily Prayer audio – across the Daily Prayer podcast and app – has now reached more than 1.1 million unique listeners.

Meanwhile, figures from the Church of England’s digital channels show that social media content – prayers, Bible verses, reflection content, good news stories and encouragement – have been seen more than 65 million times this year so far.

This amounts to approximately 1.3 million impressions per week with content seen roughly 190,000 times a day.

And the Church of England’s national online service averages around 150,000 views a week with an average of 300 written comments a week from regular online worshipping communities.

Dr Ken Eames, author of the Statistics for Mission 2021 report, from the Church of England’s Data Analysis team, said: “2021 was another year of Covid-related disruption for churches, as the figures in this report show.

“The figures from 2020 and 2021 describe the extraordinary times that churches and their communities have been through and need to be understood in that context.

“My expectation is that we will see a further return of worshippers to churches in 2022.”

In his summary to the report, he remarks that clergy, lay leaders and congregations had shown an “impressive and encouraging” adaptability throughout an uncertain year that was still affected by Covid restrictions.

The summary adds: “The pandemic continued to have an impact on the life of the Church of England, with some churches being closed for worship for parts of 2021 and some members of congregations continuing not to attend in-person services. It would be very surprising, therefore, if Church of England attendance and participation in 2021 returned to their pre-pandemic levels.

“This report should be treated as a summary of another anomalous year, indicating the extent to which things have ‘bounced back’ but noting that further bouncing back is expected.”

Read the full report: Statistics for Mission 2021 | The Church of England


General Synod Questions – November 2022

From time to time members of the Church of England’s General Synod are given the opportunity to ask questions for written answer between sessions. The most recent such questions and answers were released last week and are now available online.

Questions Notice Paper November 2022


Opinion – 3 December 2022

April Alexander ViaMedia.News Mutual Flourishing or Repeating Our Mistakes? A Response to Together in Love and Faith

Kelvin Holdsworth What’s in Kelvin’s Head The English Heresy

The first results for the religion question in the official census of population of England and Wales in 2021 were released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 29 November 2022: Religion, England and Wales: Census 2021. Here are a few articles in response.
Archbishop of York ‘We are here for you’ – Archbishop responds to Census findings
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Faith in England – the 2021 census
Church Times Leader comment: Census reality
Andrew Brown Church Times Press: What the census tells us about faith