Thinking Anglicans

Bishops of Maidstone, Ebbsfleet and Oswestry

Press release from the Church of England

Bishops of Maidstone, Ebbsfleet and Oswestry
30/06/2022

A series of changes have been announced to the names of bishops who offer extended episcopal care to parishes that cannot accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women.

Under these changes, now approved by the Dioceses Commission, the Bishop of Maidstone Rod Thomas’s successor will now be known as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

Meanwhile the role of the previous Bishop of Ebbsfleet – whose ministry was to traditional catholic parishes – will move to become that of the Bishop of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Bishop Rod, who will retire in October, has had a special national ministry since 2015 providing a voice in the College of Bishops and advocacy for those who cannot, on the grounds of complementarian evangelical theology, accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women.

The future Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who will take on this responsibility when Bishop Rod retires, will live either in London or the M4 corridor for ease of travel and will minister nationally to complementarian evangelical parishes.

The combined effect of these changes means that the See of Maidstone will become vacant and could potentially revert to local use within the Diocese of Canterbury in the future.

Up until now, Bishops of Ebbsfleet – one of the Church of England’s three ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitors’, who minister to traditional catholic parishes – have been responsible primarily for churches in the western half of the Church of England’s Province of Canterbury.

Consultations on a successor to Jonathan Goodall, the previous Bishop of Ebbsfleet, strongly suggested that it would be helpful for the new postholder be rooted in a diocese.

The Dioceses Commission has therefore agreed that Lichfield provides a good location for this ministry to this part of the Province and that Bishop Jonathan’s successor should therefore be designated as the Bishop of Oswestry.

  • The Provincial Episcopal Visitors – the Bishops Beverley, Richborough and Ebbsfleet – were created as part of the arrangements in 1992 which first enabled women to be ordained as priests.
  • The See of Maidstone was appointed in 2015 in accordance with the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests 2014 and associated guidance, to provide a voice within the College of Bishops for those within the Church of England who cannot, on the grounds of complementary theology, accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women and to act as an advocate for those who hold that position.
  • The See of Oswestry was one of a number of sees created in the 19th Century but never filled.
  • Further information about the ministry of the current Bishop of Maidstone
  • Further information about The Society (more fully, The Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda).
46 Comments

Christ Church Oxford: two reviews

Updated again 1 July

On 25 May, as previously reported, the Church of England reported that its Independent Safeguarding Board would conduct a review on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council and the Diocese of Oxford, see Christ Church safeguarding review for further details.

On 15 June (apologies for delay in reporting) Christ Church Oxford announced: Christ Church appoints the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC to lead its Independent Governance Review.

Christ Church, Oxford has today appointed the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC to lead an independent review into governance of the Foundation, after its Governing Body voted overwhelmingly to endorse the former Attorney General for England and Wales as chair of the review…

…The Independent Governance Review, which is expected to report in 2023, will make recommendations that the Governing Body will carefully consider, to ensure that Christ Church’s statutes, by-laws and governance arrangements meet the needs of this unique institution in the 21st century…

Criticisms of the Church of England review were expressed in a letter to the Archbishops’ Council from Martin Sewell and others, dated 13 June, published here on 20 June: Independent Safeguarding Board and the Percy review.

(I also provided a recap of ISB history and other related links in a separate article here.)

All these developments were reported in the Church Times on 24 June. Regarding the criticism of the ISB Percy review:

…A Church House spokesperson said this week: “The Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, was set up in 2021, following a decision by the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops to provide independent external scrutiny and oversight of the Church’s safeguarding activity. This includes overseeing the work of the National Safeguarding Team, NST, which along with Oxford diocese referred this issue to the ISB.

“Its remit is also to advise on how an independent presence on safeguarding should work in the long term. The ISB operates independently in that it decides its work programme, it sets its own terms of reference for its work, and it can scrutinise any aspect of the Church’s safeguarding activity that it chooses. General Synod received a full presentation and paper on the work of the ISB at its February Synod.”

Update 30 June

The Church Times has a further report on 30 June: Nye backs Independent Safeguarding Board for Oxford review

…In a letter to Mr Sewell, sent on Wednesday of last week, Mr Nye clarifies the limited nature of the ISB review. Having been asked by the Archbishops’ Council and the diocese of Oxford to look into the church safeguarding aspects of the Christ Church dispute, “the ISB agreed that it would undertake a review of these safeguarding matters, as part of its oversight remit, in order to learn any lessons. This would include looking at whether these issues should have been dealt with as safeguarding matters at all. This is entirely consistent with the ISB’s remit…”

…In the letter, Mr Nye also accuses Dr Percy of launching “a series of personal attacks on the professional standing and competence of the chair of the ISB, extending to contacting other clients of her work, with a view to discouraging them from employing her”.

Approached for a response, Dr Percy called the accusation “baseless”, but declined to comment on an allegation made to a third party and not directly to him.

Mr Sewell said on Tuesday: “William’s letter really doesn’t answer many of our questions, and we are pressing him again. I am happy, however, to explain why nobody should be surprised that a measure of frustration and anger has crept in, at the end of lengthy correspondence between Dr Percy and the ISB.

“It has completely ignored his most significant complaints and failed to answer reasonable process enquiries. This comes on top of four years of intensive bullying by College and Church alike. The Church and its agents are alleged to have actively promoted a false narrative of serious risk which was abandoned on the day after settlement….”

Updates 1 July

  • The full text of the 22 June letter from William Nye to Martin Sewell, discussed above, can now be read here.
  • Martin Sewell has made a further reply, dated 30 June, and the full text of that is now also available.
5 Comments

Suffragan Bishop of Hull

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. There are more details on the York diocesan website.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Hull: 29 June 2022

The Queen has approved the following appointment.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 29 June 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Eleanor Sanderson, Assistant Bishop, in the Diocese of Wellington, to the Suffragan See of Hull, in the Diocese of York, in succession to The Right Reverend Alison White following her retirement.

Background

Eleanor was educated at Bristol University; the University of Wellington, New Zealand; and Otago University, New Zealand. She trained for ordained ministry in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and was ordained Priest in 2006.

Eleanor’s ordained ministry to date has been in New Zealand. She served her title in the parish of Northland Wilton, and became Canon in Residence at Wellington Cathedral in 2007. She was appointed Vicar of the Parish of Eastbourne in 2013, whilst additionally serving as Chaplain to the Anglican Wellesley College. In 2014, she was appointed Fellow for Public Theology at the Centre for Anglican Communion Studies, Virginia Theological Seminary.

In 2017, Eleanor was appointed to her current role as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Wellington.

14 Comments

General Synod agenda – news and comment

Updated 29 June

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
Porn, but not Pride, on General Synod’s York agenda
New report on Clergy Discipline Measure to go to General Synod
Wedding fees should be slashed, Blackburn diocese argues

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK July Synod: plans for “net zero carbon” by 2030

Telegraph
Scrap ‘unjust’ wedding fees to make marriage more affordable, urge vicars
Wealthy church parishes could give to poorer neighbours under C of E plans
Porn site age verification would stop ‘distorted’ sexualisation of children, say clergy

16 Comments

Opinion – 25 June 2022

Andrew Nunn Church Times Living in Love and Faith is important — but the Church has to move forward

Paul Middleton ViaMedia.News Living in Love and Faith? Insights from the Church of Scotland

5 Comments

General Synod meets at York next month with debates from Ukraine war to online safety

There is a Press release from the Church of England today about the agenda for next month’s meeting of General Synod; it is copied below. There is a second press release about one particular item on the agenda: Synod to consider plans for net zero carbon Church by 2030.

General Synod meets at York next month with debates from Ukraine war to online safety
23/06/2022

The war in Ukraine, climate change, online safety and the Church of England’s plans to increase its spending on mission and ministry are among a series of issues to be debated by the General Synod next month.
The stage at General Synod in York.

Members of the General Synod will meet at York University in July to debate a range of topics from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, to protection of children and young people from online pornography.

Other subjects on the agenda include plans by the Church Commissioners to distribute £3.6 billion to the frontline work of the Church of England between 2023 and 2031, announced earlier this year by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Further debates will include the route map for churches, dioceses and Cathedrals to achieving net zero carbon by 2030 (see separate press release) and a call for the Church of England to commit to working towards the removal of all remaining barriers to full participation for people with disabilities in the life and ministry of the church.

A Guildford Diocesan Synod motion will urge the Government to pass legislation requiring pornographic websites to have age verification systems preventing access by people under the age of 18.

Members will also debate a Private Member’s Motion opposing assisted suicide and calling for more funding for palliative care.

Other debates include a report outlining a proposed overhaul of legislation governing clergy discipline. There will also be a presentation on safeguarding, and discussion on its future oversight followed by a separate debate.

The General Synod will meet at York University from Friday July 8 to Tuesday July 12. This is the first time the Synod has met in York in person since the pandemic.

1 Comment

General Synod Papers – 8-12 July 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.

Outline of Business

GS 2256 Agenda July 2022 (more…)

35 Comments

Opinion – 22 June 2022

Jonathan Chaplin Fulcrum ‘Staying in the room where it happens’? A response to Lucy Winkett’s defence of establishment
This is in response to this article from a few weeks ago.
Lucy Winkett Church Times Platinum Jubilee: The privilege of establishment must be seized

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church How three Revolutionary Events changed the CofE for ever

Capel Lofft The Critic The closing of the Episcopal mind
“The Church of England’s leaders don’t reflect its political diversity”

Alex Frost ViaMedia.News Clearing the Slate: The Realities of a Declining Church

Helen King sharedconversations Clouds without rain: trying to explore fear

128 Comments

Independent Safeguarding Board: a recap

Updated again Thursday 23 June

This article summarises the various steps taken in the course of creating this new Church of England body.

On 15 December 2020, the Archbishops’ Council issued a press release, as we reported here: Independent oversight of safeguarding proposed.

On 25 February 2021, the Archbishops’ Council issued another press release, reported here as Proposals on NST independent oversight published which links to a lengthy paper authored by Malcolm Brown and brought to the February 2021 General Synod.

The Church Times reported: Synod members hear significant changes planned for church safeguarding.

Appointments to the ISB were announced:

Although the Archbishops’ Council reported that the ISB proposal was included in their agenda, first here (para 3), and then here (para 7) nothing else was announced until February 2022. We then reported: Recent Church of England Safeguarding reports. This links to GS 2244 which includes as an Annex (starts on page 11 of the PDF)  the first report from the Chair of the newly constituted Independent Safeguarding Board. This is worth reading carefully.

The same article also links to Gavin Drake’s follow-on motion which you can read in full here.

The Church Times reported on what happened in debate:

And then on 26 May, this press release came from the Church of England which we reported as Christ Church safeguarding review. It links to the full text of the Terms of Reference for that review.

Updates

For an understanding of how the Diocese of Oxford views this review, see this extract from June 2022 Oxford Diocesan Synod Questions.

For information about the objections that have been raised to this review, see:

10 Comments

Independent Safeguarding Board and the Percy review

A letter on this topic has been sent to all members of the Archbishops’ Council signed by Martin Sewell, a General Synod member from Rochester diocese, and also by a number of other General Synod members.

The letter itself is contained in a PDF file which can be read here. It is well worth reading this in full.

For more of the background to the formation of the ISB, look here.

There is an online public petition related to this, over here.

What follows is the text of the covering email from Martin Sewell, which summarises the content of the letter.

Dear Archbishops and members of Archbishops’ Council,

I enclose a letter signed by members of General Synod which expresses our concern that Archbishops’ Council has prematurely engaged the newly evolving Independent Safeguarding Board in detailed case work which it is not yet properly authorised or suitably equipped to handle with the independence, resource and competence the role requires. We specifically raise a number of specific questions which we believe need to be urgently addressed by Archbishops’ Council.

After a lengthy and discreditable history of response to complaints in Safeguarding and its associated Clergy Discipline issues, nobody objects to the idea of the Church placing itself under effective outside scrutiny. Some of us have campaigned vigorously for the creation of just such a Board in previous General Synods, and you will recall that the recent February Synod considered a following motion that sought to begin a process to debate and vest the ISB with the very independence responsibility and associated powers that will make the Board the kind of constitutional creature that IICSA had in mind to save us from a repetition of the failures and scandals of the past.

That debate was cut short by a procedural motion, approved by a newly elected Synod comprising 60% new members and the matter was not brought to a conclusion. What exactly the ISB is, and what it can and cannot do, constitutionally and practically, given its low resource and part time nature, remains very much “unfinished Synod business”. In our view General Synod has an important continuing role to ensure the success of the ISB project.

We note with respect and gratitude that both Archbishops opposed the truncation of the debate by the use of a procedural device: it did us no favours and is part of the reason we are in this currently unsatisfactory position today.

When the Chair of the ISB addressed us (and her address to Synod is worth a second hearing by Archbishops’ Council) she was plainly seeking to lower expectation and to emphasise the incremental character of their approach to the role. She told us that its members were assessing and growing their understanding of the role within our complex institution, in what was described as “Phase One” of the project. That limited scope of current activity disappointed some of us, but the opportunity to fully articulate those concerns was denied.

What nobody knew or anticipated from that debate, was that only a few weeks later, the members of the ISB would be offered, and would embrace, responsibility for the devising, timetabling, structuring, implementation and personal execution of the most complex and serious Case Review in the history of the Church, and moreover that they would attempt to do so at speed. The members of the ISB have many qualities and much experience; devising and conducting complex case reviews does not appear to feature within their past skill set. In no other national Institution would such a task be delegated to novices. At the Diocesan Synod at Oxford this weekend it was confirmed that the Dr Martyn Percy Case Review is the first such piece of work the Board and its members will have ever have attempted. This is not the case on which to “cut your teeth”.

Put simply, this is a disaster waiting to happen for the reasons contained in our detailed letter. It is especially troubling if, as we understand, the Percy case is not the only matter pressed upon the ISB at short notice.

The ISB needs to be established with the confidence of all parties, and that is unlikely to be the case given the way these reviews are being hurriedly constructed. There is no shame in having second thoughts which we urge you to undertake without delay, asking the ISB to pause its work in this field whilst our objections are evaluated by all concerned. It is essential that the ISB is established with confidence in its independence, constitution, integrity and competence. That confidence must be built on sure foundations if it is to fulfil the role intended for it. Our questions are designed to help Archbishops’ Council review the problem areas to give the ISB its best opportunity to become what we all want it to be.

We hope Archbishops’ Council will discuss the questions we raise with the same care with which we have formulated them, and that the answers will be made available in good time so that they may be scrutinised at the upcoming General Synod in July.

29 Comments

Opinion – 18 June 2022

Giles Fraser UnHerd Will bishops stop the Rwanda plan?

Sharon Jagger ViaMedia.News Time for the Church to Take Transparency Seriously

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News Bishops Speaking Out: So Very Right and So Very Wrong

89 Comments

Opinion – 15 June 2022

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Allegations of Bullying and Financial Mismanagement in Scotland

Fergus Butler-Gallie The Spectator In defence of meddlesome priests

Ephraim Radner The Living Church Is there a Rationale for the Anclican Communion?

13 Comments

Bishop Anthony Poggo to be the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion Office has announced today that the Right Revd Anthony Poggo is to be the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

Former child refugee named as next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion

A South Sudanese bishop who was forced with his family into exile before he was one year old, the Right Revd Anthony Poggo, has been named as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Anthony Poggo, the former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs.

Bishop Anthony was selected for his new role by a sub-committee of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee following a competitive recruitment process led by external consultants.

He will take up his new role in September, succeeding the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who steps down after next month’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which is being held in Canterbury, Kent, from 26 July to 8 August…

13 Comments

Lords Spiritual oppose Rwanda asylum policy

Church of England press release

Bishops’ letter to The Times on the Rwanda asylum policy

14/06/2022
All of the current Lords Spiritual have signed a letter to The Times voicing alarm about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as early as today.

They wrote:

Sir,

Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.

Many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors. Many are Iranians, Eritreans and Sudanese citizens, who have an asylum grant rate of at least 88 per cent. These are people Jesus had in mind as he said when we offer hospitality to a stranger, we do it for him. They are the vulnerable that the Old Testament calls us to value. We cannot offer asylum to everyone, but we must not outsource our ethical responsibilities, or discard international law — which protects the right to claim asylum.

We must end the evil trafficking; many churches are involved in fighting this evil. This needs global co-operation across every level of society. To reduce dangerous journeys to the UK we need safe routes: the church will continue to advocate for them. But deportations — and the potential forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries — are not the way. This immoral policy shames Britain. 

The Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York; the Right Rev Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London; the Right Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham; the Right Rev David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham; the Right Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester; the Right Rev Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry; the Right Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford; the Right Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle; the Right Rev Alan Smith,  Bishop of St Albans; the Right Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough; the Right Rev Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely; the Right Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark;  the Right Rev Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds; the Right Rev Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester; the Right Rev Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester; the Right Rev Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol; the Right Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby; the Right Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; the Right Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester; the Right Rev Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford; the Right Rev Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter; the Right Rev Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford; the Right Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich; the Right Rev Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham

34 Comments

Opinion – 11 June 2022

Annika Mathews ViaMedia.News Young Adults – The Missing Generation?

Pete White Church Times Youth ministry needs long-term investment
“The C of E’s plans to ‘grow younger’ will falter without funding to train specialists”

66 Comments

Rustat Memorial: no award of costs

We reported on 24 March the judgment in this now famous case: Jesus College Cambridge – the Rustat Memorial and then on 13 April that Rustat Memorial: no appeal planned.

Now, the Deputy Chancellor of Ely has ruled on the matter of costs.

Law Gazette College escapes costs over ‘slave trade’ memorial case

Church Times Application for costs over Rustat memorial fails

The full text of this latest decision can be found here.

In paragraph 3, the Deputy Chancellor writes

…In this further judgment I will refrain from reproducing the more tendentious of the written representations I have received. I have borne them firmly in mind; but in a consistory court judgment which may attract more general interest than such judgments usually excite, I have no wish to inflame firmly, and genuinely held, feelings any more than is strictly necessary…

Readers who take the time to read all 27 pages may wonder what might be more tendentious than some of the remarks quoted therein.

9 Comments

Opinion – 8 June 2022

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Three Questions for Christ Church and the Diocese of Oxford

Sophie Grace Chappell ViaMedia.News Arguing with a Madman? Cranks, Trolls, Consistency, and ‘Come off it’

Jonathan Chaplin Law & Religion UK Should the Church of England be disestablished?

Nineveh Safeguarding in Nineveh
A Critique of the proposals of the Independent Safeguarding Board

14 Comments

Lambeth Conference: invitations still open to Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda

Updated 14 June

 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda to tell them that his invitation to bishops from their provinces to attend the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops remains open. In a joint letter with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop Justin said: “God calls us to unity and not to conflict so that the world may know he came from the Father. That is the very purpose of the church globally.”

Read the whole press release, dated 27 May, and read the full text of the letter here.

Read the text of the letter from the three primates dated 6 May, to which it is a response.

Read the 31 March Communiqué of the Primates’ Meeting to which they were responding.

Update

Read the further response from the three primates, dated 10 June, or download a pdf copy here.

19 Comments

House of Bishops’ Meeting – 6th June 2022

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops’ Meeting – 6th June 2022
06/06/2022

The House of Bishops met on 6 June by Zoom.

Bishop Jill Duff was congratulated on her election as an elected suffragan to the House and Arun Arora was also congratulated on his appointment as Bishop of Kirkstall.

The Bishop of Fulham introduced a paper outlining the importance of Ecumenical texts and the proposal for a new and formalised process for their reception by the Church of England, with a particular emphasis on the role of Bishops as Guardians of the Faith. This follows recommendations by the Anglican Communion ecumenical body, IASCUFO, and the Anglican Consultative Council. The House agreed the approach set out in the paper.

The House then discussed the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) resource tentatively named The Gift of the Church and how the House will be offered opportunities to shape it once a draft version of the resource is shared in the coming weeks. The Gift of the Church is envisaged as an accessible, publicly available learning resource that supplements the LLF Book, and will be an additional resource for the bishops’ discernment process in autumn 2022.

The meeting concluded in prayer.

11 Comments

Opinion – 4 June 2022

Giles Fraser UnHerd The injustice of the Jubilee

Janet Fife Surviving Church Preaching Hell and Damnation

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Pageants, Progress & People – The End of an Era?

The Archbishop of York Sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

102 Comments