Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church Oxford: January roundup

Since our last reports here, and then here, in December, there has been extensive media coverage of the ongoing Christ Church saga. Unfortunately much of it has been behind paywalls. Nevertheless  here is a set of links, in date order, to all the items I have collected.

8 January The Times Oxford dons warned of jail over dispute with the Very Rev Martyn Percy

10 January Archbishop Cranmer Oxford Dons plan litigation against Archbishop Cranmer

14 January Cherwell Christ Church Board of Governors warned of jail time

14 January The Oxford Blue Christ Church disputes “misleading” Times article

20 January Times Higher Education Alan Rusbridger Christ Church’s internecine war is a huge failure of governance  (free registration required)

21 January Financial Times Dispute with priest threatens to mire Oxford college in scandal

21 January The Times Martyn Percy battle is disastrous, warns former Oxford college head

23 January Cherwell Dean of Christ Church indicates support for resignation deal as protests rage.

24 January The Times Oxford University: Christ Church plays down £1.5m deal to end Martyn Percy dispute

28 January Church Times Press: Pay-off won’t save Christ Church’s reputation


Opinion – 29 January 2022

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Annual Report 2021 National Safeguarding Panel

Andrew Goddard Psephizo Can the C of E ever bridge its differences on sexuality?

Pete Broadbent Mixed Ecology
“2030 Vision: People Strategy: Models of Church and Models of Ministry”

Janet Fife Surviving Church The Liberty: A meditation on Romans 8:19-21
‘One day the whole creation will know the glorious liberty of the children of God.’

James Walters Church Times Anglican Communion requires a rotating presidency
“Abandoning a colonial paradigm requires more than tinkering the CNC’s composition”


Assistant Bishop of Bangor announced

News from the Church in Wales

Assistant Bishop of Bangor announced

One of the first women to become a priest in the Church in Wales will be consecrated as a bishop next month.

Mary Stallard, who has served as Archdeacon of Bangor for the past four years, has been nominated as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Bangor. She will share the leadership of the diocese while the Bishop of Bangor, Andrew John, serves as Archbishop of Wales.

Mary will be consecrated as a bishop at Bangor Cathedral on February 26. The new Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Lomas, will also be consecrated at that service…


Opinion – 26 January 2022

Clare Hayns Consider the Lilies Naomi: bittersweet

Ric Thorpe Premier Christianity Reports of the Church of England’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Here’s where it is thriving

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Wymondham Abbey – Stalemate?

Tim Wyatt Religion Media Centre Factsheet: Sexuality timeline in the Church of England


General Synod – news and comment

Following last week’s release of the papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod there have been a number of press reports and online comments.

Church Times
General Synod to focus on race, trafficking, and persecution
Archbishops’ Council reckons up progress made/not made on racial equality
Angry response to parish reorganisation gives Commissioners pause
Faculty-system reform blows cold air on old-style boilers

Law & Religion UK Their latest round-up includes a summary of the proposed changes to the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules – scroll down to “Net zero” and the faculty jurisdiction.

Daily Mail Church of England will encourage priests to install more carpets and cushions to help buildings retain heat in bid to reach ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions
The Telegraph Church of England set to take ‘softly, softly’ approach by relaxing rules on cushions

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Is the Church of England about to ban prophets from Synod?

These items are not explicitly on the agenda, but may well come up in Questions.

Ian Paul Psephizo On the appointment of senior leaders in the Church
Church Times – letters from Rebecca Chapman and John Brydon (scroll down)


Episcopal arrangements for Winchester diocese

Press release from Diocese of Winchester

Archbishop confirms arrangements following Bishop of Winchester’s retirement

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the people of the Diocese of Winchester concerning arrangements for the episcopal vacancy in the Diocese. The full text of his letter can be found here. (also copied below)

In this letter he states that following the retirement of Bishop Tim Dakin as Bishop of Winchester on the 6th of February, he has asked Bishop Debbie Sellin to continue in her role as acting bishop during the vacancy. Bishop Debbie will work closely with Bishop David Williams, and with the senior staff team, to provide collegial oversight to the people of God in Winchester Diocese. Bishop Debbie’s role will involve leading the senior leadership team and ensuring good working relationships, working with +David in promoting clergy morale and wellbeing, ensuring that governance structures are fit for purpose and that the diocese is confident in financial sustainability, building on the Diocesan Vision for growth and preparing the way for a successful appointment of the new Bishop of Winchester.

Additionally, the letter states that Archbishop Justin has asked Bishop Richard Frith, who has been providing some support to diocesan leadership in recent months, to take up a more formalised role as the Archbishop’s Episcopal Commissary in the Diocese of Winchester. +Richard’s role will be to work closely with +Debbie as Acting Bishop, and with +David, to walk alongside the senior staff team and the church as a whole in helping the diocese to move forward from the sad events of the recent past, to enable a process of reconciliation and healing and to recover confidence and joy in the service of Christ. +Richard will provide on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Metropolitan, oversight of the process of Winchester moving towards the nomination of its next bishop, the formal process for which is anticipated to begin towards the end of 2022.

Archbishop Justin will be coming to Winchester Cathedral for the 11am service on the 16th January, at the invitation of the Dean and Bishop Debbie, to commission the episcopal team.

Archbishop Justin says: “I am very grateful to +Debbie, +David and +Richard for the dedicated ministry they are already providing in the Diocese, and to the whole people of God for your faithfulness and heart for God’s mission“.

Bishop Debbie says: “After such a difficult 2021 for so many, we hope and pray that we may start to see signs of light in the fight against the pandemic. I pray that, as a diocese, we will continue to make progress on our journey of reconciliation together, and I am grateful for the arrangements the Archbishop has put in place. I am particularly thankful for the support and prayers of everyone across the Diocese. Your tireless work ministering to your parishes, your communities, and what you do to help one another, remains a great source of strength and inspiration to me.”

Bishop David says: “I believe that we can begin 2022 with optimism and confidence about our future together in the Diocese of Winchester, and thank the Archbishop for the trust and responsibility he has given us. Alongside Bishop Debbie and Bishop Richard, I am looking forward to supporting our vital ministry and mission across the region.”

Bishop Richard says: “I have greatly enjoyed working with +Debbie, +David and their colleagues in recent months, and I am delighted that my involvement will continue. I will do all I can to support +Debbie and +David as the Diocese moves towards the nomination of its next bishop.”

See also: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Winchester Cathedral



Winchester College report on John Smyth

Winchester College has published this statement:  Review Of Abuse In The 1970s And 1980s By John Smyth QC Of Pupils From Winchester College. It begins:

Winchester College is today publishing an independent review of the abuse committed by the late John Smyth QC against a number of former pupils who were at the College from the mid-1970s until 1982. They are some of the many victims of Smyth who were subject to his abuse over more than thirty years. The Warden and Fellows wish to thank all the victims and witnesses who came forward to assist with this review. We acknowledge the courage and determination of the victims in pursuing the truth about John Smyth: their testimony lies at the heart of this review. The College apologises unreservedly for its part in their terrible experiences…

The full text of the review is available here.

A statement from two of the survivors is published here.


Opinion – 22 January 2022

Trevor Cooper Law & Religion UK Contested heritage – A review of the Church of England guidance

Richard Burridge Church Times Is a Zoom rite a valid form of communion?
“The pandemic has led to eucharistic experiments online. But where is the Bishops’ guidance”

Jeremy Morris Ad fontes Whither Church reform? 1: Problems of the de-centralization agenda

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Winchester College Review about John Smyth
There is a link to the Review here.


General Synod Papers – 8-10 February 2022

Papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod are now available online. There is a list (with links and a note of the day scheduled for their debate) in numerical order below the fold.


GS 2240 Agenda February 2022



Initial media responses to Canterbury CNC proposal

Updated yet again Saturday morning (scroll down for details)

For details of the proposal see earlier article.

Charlie Bell has written a blog post: The proposals on Canterbury – and why they are wrong.

His arguments are detailed and clear, and I recommend you read them in full. He concludes:

Unfortunately this is another example of cart before horse – the proposal in general is a good example of why theology and ecclesiology need to be embedded at the heart of decision-making and policy change in the Church of England. This proposal should be – at the very least – paused and reflected on with some seriousness before it goes further. Whilst in paragraph 19 and 20 we are told that we need to be ‘realistic’ about what can be done, and that ‘to begin to address the questions facing the Communion is, in the end, about the conversion of more than structures, but of the hearts of all involved, and of their practice of relationships through the Church to which we all belong.’ This may well be true, but this proposal is putting practical changes before the deep thinking about the nature of the Anglican Communion that needs to be done. It is not fit for purpose and should be rejected until this work is complete – or even started.

Unfortunately, this proposal – with its apparently unrecognised ecclesiological implications – is not new in terms of major change being brought in for what appear to be pragmatic reasons, yet carrying these major repercussions. I have written previously about the changes to consecrations implemented during Covid – which appear to be permanent. The entire direction of travel is concerning, and needs rethinking. We have experts in theology and ecclesiology – it remains mystifying that they are not invited to the table in the name of pragmatism. The O’Donovan review into the CNC must surely be the start (incidentally a review that did not consider the communion implications in detail but did (5.19) refer to the Canterbury CNC) – not the end – of the work required.

The Church Times has published a detailed article: Communion is asked: Do you want to help choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury?
This is also detailed, and worth reading carefully. It includes the following observations:

…The consultation document is not a neutral document but instead a piece of advocacy for the new proposal. It argues that many of the issues that the Archbishop of Canterbury addresses are global concerns that call for a Communion-wide response. It states: “The Communion-wide brief of the Archbishop can help facilitate learning from churches whose life is vibrant and growing.

“This dynamic enhances the role of the worldwide Communion and its significance for the Church of England. These considerations alone suggest that the balance of representatives on the CNC does not reflect the current nature of the role.”

It points out that the structure of the Anglican Communion, and the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is “rooted in England’s colonial history”. It argues, therefore: “The Church of England and the Communion cannot escape asking why a British cleric should always be primus inter pares” [“first among equals”]…

And it notes the following anomaly:

…The document suggests that the five international CNC members would come from each of the five regions in the Communion: the Americas, the Middle East and Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Europe.

The proposal, however, specifically excludes “the four provinces of the British Isles” i.e. the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland, as well as the Church of England. Since the diocese in Europe is part of the C of E, this would leave this region to be represented by one of the Extra-Provincial Churches (Spain, Portugal, Bermuda, or Falkland Islands)…

The Times has a report by Kaya Burgess: Alarm over Anglican plan to give overseas churches more say in choosing future Archbishops of Canterbury. This is behind a paywall, so many people will not be able to access in full,  but it starts out this way:

…English priests and worshippers have expressed surprise and anger at proposals for a five-fold increase in the power that Anglican churches overseas will be given in nominating the Church of England’s most senior bishop.

Concerns have been raised about whether the proposals could set back hopes to see a woman or a backer of same-sex marriage appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, as many Anglican churches globally still do not allow women to become bishops while most steadfastly oppose the idea of conducting gay marriages in church…

And among comments from some clergy, it also includes this quotation from me:

“There’s no way any other province of the Anglican Communion would tolerate having someone from the Church of England added to their selection process for bishops. I don’t think there’s any valid argument for it.”

My wider point was that, even if none of the concerns existed about gender, sexuality, etc, this would still be a very bad proposal on ecclesiological grounds.

Update Thursday

The Archbishop of York has responded to the Times article with a letter to the editor (scroll down all the way). Copy over here.

Update Friday

The Church Times has this: Leader comment: Wider still and wider . . . Representing the Communion on the CNC for the see of Canterbury.

The Times has a second letter (scroll down) from a diocesan bishop (Worcester) supporting this proposal and a second news article reporting on the two letters from bishops.

Update Saturday

Today the Times has no less than four letters, all opposing the proposal, from Christina Baron, Nigel Seed, Desmond Tillyer, and Anthony Archer.


Opinion – 19 January 2022

Helen King sharedconversations Bake a cake for Living in Love and Faith: how to make your response count

Paul Devonshire Surviving Church “The Patronising Predisposition of Unaccountable Power”. The Cost of Questioning Church Authority

1 Comment

Bishop of Plymouth to retire

The Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel, is to retire in August 2022. Plymouth is a suffragan see in the Diocese of Exeter.


Opinion – 15 January 2022

The Guardian view on same-sex weddings in church: the zeitgeist is moving
“The Church of England should follow the example of Anglicans in Wales and Scotland, and give its blessing to gay and lesbian relationships”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Changing Attitude England’s campaign for equality

Martyn Percy Modern Church A Progressive Union for a Precarious Church

David Power Church Times Time’s up for stipendiary ministry
“The C of E should follow St Paul’s example, not secular trends”

Surviving Church Gangsterism and the Church of England
Gilo takes a hard critical look at the Safeguarding Culture and the Administration of the Church of England”

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Past Cases Review 2 project


Consultation launched on membership of the Crown Nominations Commission for future Archbishops of Canterbury

Press release from the Church of England

Consultation launched on membership of the Crown Nominations Commission for future Archbishops of Canterbury

The Archbishops’ Council has launched a consultation on a proposal to change the make-up of the body which nominates future Archbishops of Canterbury.

The proposal would give the worldwide Anglican Communion a greater voice on the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury.

At present the entire Communion outside of England is represented by just one of the current 16 voting members, compared to six from the Diocese of Canterbury alone.

The proposal would increase the Anglican Communion representatives to five while reducing the number of members from the Diocese to three. As at present, there would also be nine other members from the Church of England, including six elected by General Synod.

The idea originated from the Diocese of Canterbury itself where the Diocesan Synod agreed a motion asking the Archbishops’ Council to consider decrease the representation of the Diocese of Canterbury on future CNCs for the See of Canterbury.

The consultation, which will include key partners from across the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, will run until March 31.

Responses will be collated in the spring with an expectation of a final proposal being put to the General Synod for a vote in July. If approved it would change the Synod’s standing orders, which govern CNCs.

The General Synod, as part of the consultation, will also debate the proposal within the consultation document at its next meeting next month.

Responding to the consultation

  • Download the consultation document. Translations of the document in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese will be available in due course. To request a translation, please use the email address below.
  • If you would like to respond, please complete the consultation response document and return it to the email address below. This consultation will close on 31st March 2022.
  • If you have any queries on this consultation, please contact Elise Sandham, Private Secretary to the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, by email on the address below.

Bishop of Maidstone to retire

The Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas, has announced his intention to retire on 2 October 2022 – see here (scroll down).


Appointment of Bishop of Salisbury

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office – there is more on the Diocese of Salisbury’s website.

Appointment of Bishop of Salisbury: 13 January 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Salisbury.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 13 January 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Salisbury, in succession to The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam following his retirement.


Stephen trained for ministry at Chichester Theological College. He served his title at Sherborne Abbey with Castleton and Lillington in the Diocese of Salisbury and was ordained Priest in 1989.

He became Vicar of Branksome St Aldhelm from 1992 and was additionally appointed Rural Dean of Poole in 2000. In 2001, Stephen was appointed Sub Dean of St Albans, and took up his current role as Dean of Gloucester in 2011.

Stephen is a Church Commissioner and Lead Dean for Safeguarding. He is married to Carol and they have three adult children.


Opinion – 12 January 2022

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Tutufication of the Church: A Path for the Future?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Sorting out the disagreements about homosexuality
Harry Williams – Life Abundant or Life Resisting?

Peter Collier Ecclesiastical Law Society 50 Years of Safeguarding – 950 Years of Clergy Discipline: Where do we go from here?
There are links to a YouTube video of a lecture given in December 2021 and to an extended version of the text of the lecture.
There is a summary of the lecture in the Church Times.


Third Church Estates Commissioner

News from the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced the appointment of the Rev’d Canon Dr Flora Winfield as Third Church Estates Commissioner

Canon Winfield was ordained deacon in 1989 and priest in 1994. She has worked in parish and cathedral ministry, university and military chaplaincy, ecumenical and Anglican Communion relations, and humanitarian diplomacy, representing the Anglican Communion at the United Nations. Canon Winfield is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisor on Reconciliation.

As Third Church Estates Commissioner, Canon Winfield will join the Church Commissioners for England’s Board of Governors and will chair the Mission, Pastoral and Church Property Committee and the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee.

Welcoming the appointment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Flora has an exceptional record of service to the Church and will be a valuable addition to the Church Commissioners’ leadership.

“I am very pleased that Flora is joining the Church Commissioners, bringing to this role her breadth of ministerial experience, her extensive leadership and theological expertise and her service as a senior member of staff at Lambeth Palace.”

Commenting on her appointment, Canon Winfield said:” I welcome the opportunity to make this contribution to the life and work of the Church of England in a time of change, development and possibility, as we respond to Christ’s call to grow as disciples, building on our historic inheritance and looking forward together with confidence and hope.”

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, deputy chair of the Church Commissioners, said: “Flora’s deep faith, experience with the Church at a local and international level and passion for furthering the Kingdom of God makes her an ideal Third Church Estates Commissioner. I am very much looking forward to working with her in this role.”

Canon Winfield has taught ecclesiology and church history and has published books and articles in the field of ecumenical theology. In 2010, she was awarded a DD by Virginia Theological Seminary for her 20 years of service to the Communion as a theologian.

Canon Winfield has been a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London since 2010, is a Director of the Anglican Alliance, is a member of Chapter at Bradford Cathedral, and a Trustee of the Community of St Andrew. She assumes the role of Third Estates Commissioner on 1 February.

Further information:

Particular priorities for the new Third Commissioner will be:

  • A review of the church legislation which establishes the Commissioners’ role for oversight of change at parish, deanery and diocesan level (Mission and Pastoral Measure review – read it here).
  • The establishment of the co-regulation of cathedrals by the Commissioners in an important new partnership with the Charity Commission.
  • Reaching the Church of England’s carbon net zero targets for 2030.

Opinion – 8 January 2022

Theo Hobson The Spectator Divided we stand: Anglicans need to agree to disagree

Stewart Clem The Living Church Building for Humans: a primer on Christian Architecture

Mark Hill Law & Religion UK The Great Strasbourg Bake Off

Paul Hackwood Church Times Church faces a stark choice for the future
“The drive towards centralisation is not working. Power must be shifted downwards to parish clergy”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church CDM – A Case Study
Safeguarding. A follow-up account of Church discipline in operation


Stephen Knott to be new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed Stephen Knott as the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments, who plays a key role in the nomination of bishops and cathedral deans. He will take up the role at the end of January 2022.

The Lambeth Palace press release is copied below, and there is further information at the Church Times.