Updated again Saturday (scroll down)
Professor Maggie Atkinson has resigned as chair of the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB; in a statement she said she wished all concerned the greatest success in their crucial work on safeguarding.
The Archbishops’ Council has agreed the appointment of Meg Munn as the acting chair until the end of 2023. She will work closely with the two other Board members, survivor advocate Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves who have started developing plans for what independent scrutiny of the Church’s national safeguarding work will look like in the long term.
The ISB work will continue to sit alongside the Church’s National Safeguarding Panel of which Meg is also the independent chair and there will be updates on this in due course.
Speaking this week, Dr Atkinson said: “Changing family circumstances and ISB matters have meant that my presence even from a distance has become a distraction and therefore I decided to tender my immediate resignation to the Archbishops’ Council.
I wish all concerned the greatest success in their crucial work on safeguarding across the Church and will keep their endeavour in my prayers.”
Dr Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, and member of Archbishops’ Council said: “I would like to personally thank all three board members for their work so far, particularly their important focus on responding well to survivors. I wish Maggie well as she leaves the Board and welcome Meg as she works with Jasvinder and Steve and builds on the existing work of the ISB. The Archbishops’ Council remains committed to this important principle of independent oversight as the ISB moves to its next phase.”
Meg Munn is a former MP and Government minister and a qualified social worker with extensive experience in senior safeguarding roles in local authorities. She has been the Independent Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel since 2018.
Meg said: “I am pleased to be asked to take up the role of Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Board. As I know from my work leading the National Safeguarding Panel, independent scrutiny and oversight is a vital part of the Church’s national safeguarding work. I look forward to building on that and the work of the Board to date.
I want to thank Maggie Atkinson for her work as Chair. She demonstrated a strong commitment to engaging widely to develop phase 2 of the Board’s work, an approach that I will follow.”
Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves said: ” We would like to thank Maggie Atkinson for her work and acknowledge this has not been an easy decision for her. While working with limited resources, we have met the various challenges of the past seven months. The work of the Board in raising the voices of victims and survivors has continued. We welcome Meg Munn to the role of acting Chair and look forward to our collectively work towards implementing the vision of the ISB.”
Independent Safeguarding Board Independent Safeguarding Board https://independent-safeguarding.org
National Safeguarding Panel https://www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/safeguarding-governance/national-safeguarding-panel
Church of England safeguarding governance https://www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/safeguarding-governance
(press release ends here)
This contains a lot of information that is omitted from the press release.
Surviving Church Martin Sewell Independent Safeguarding Board: Even more Confusion?
This is a detailed review of the many missteps in the short life of the ISB, which needs to be read in full. Here’s two extracts:
…This latest act in the tragi-comedy which is the ISB, came at the end of a lengthy period of the Chair being “stood back” – in truth suspended by the Church – but even from that time, the Archbishops’ Council was still maintaining the fiction that it was not controlling the very body whose role was in part to hold its parent body to account. The announcement of both the “standing back”, and the resignation were published on the CofE website; this is not insignificant; a truly independent body would have been reporting its own comings and goings.
If you read the terms of the announcement – and we must now be clear that the news management is largely in the hands of the CofE Communications Department – it was all very respectful and amicable; evidently the Chair was leaving partly to spend more time with her family. If you believe this is the top and tail of the story, I have a lovely bridge in New York to sell you – ‘real cheap.”
…The appointment of Ms Atkinson’s temporary replacement brings additional important issues to light .The former MP Meg Munn who is taking over, currently numbers amongst her career portfolio of offices, that of member of the National Safeguarding Steering Group and Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel. Whether she and /or either of those bodies played any part in the original conceptualisation of the ISB or the current shenanigans is unclear. So much is and will remain unclear; General Synod has not been allowed to debate these problems and may not be in July.
One might have assumed that the interim role would have fallen to the Survivor Advocate who has been the de facto voice of the body, since Ms Atkinson has been “stepped back”. However, Jasvinder Sanghera appears to have been nudged aside, with Ms Munn imposed upon her and her colleague Steve Reeves without any notice, still less consultation, neither were survivors consulted.
One might be critical of the slow pace of change, and even perhaps of the naivety of the ISB members; sometimes they appeared to be talking a better game than they delivered within the complex and tangled institution that is the CofE.
What cannot be denied however is that Ms Sanghera and Mr Reeves have brought bona fides to their task and devoted a lot of time to talking to Survivors, gaining their confidence. The effects of the imposition of the Archbishops’ Council ‘s choice of Chair into this difficult situation without any consultation with the very group that has been abused and ignored by the Church for far too long, is yet another example of the arrogance of power that taints so much that the Church does in this area…
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Church of England Cathedrals showed recovery in 2021 amid Covid-19 measures
Latest worshipping and visitor data collected from England’s 42 cathedrals and Westminster Abbey during 2021 shows show attendance began to recover despite ongoing Covid-19 measures.
Increased in-person attendance, which had been severely impacted in 2020, reflected the vaccine rollout, and the easing of Covid-19 restrictions throughout the year, though it also showed that many people chose to stay away from public indoor spaces especially during those periods when restrictions remained in place, and during the late autumn that saw the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the data showed a weekly total of 15,800 people were reported at cathedral services in 2021. This is a 22 per cent more than the equivalent figure from 2020, although still 58 per cent below the 2019 figure.
Meanwhile, the number of cathedrals offering online worship in addition to, or augmenting in-person services remained high, with 94 per cent of cathedrals continuing to offer this.
Weddings showed the closest return to pre-pandemic numbers with 230 marriages conducted in cathedrals during 2021, 93 per cent of the figure from 2019, and an increase of 250 per cent from the 2020 total.
During 2021, there were a total of 320 baptisms conducted in all Church of England cathedrals. This was 43 per cent of the equivalent figure in 2019, but a 242 per cent increase on the total number of baptisms that took place in cathedrals in 2020.
The total number of visitors to the cathedrals was just under half of the equivalent figure from the 2019 figure, reflecting the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Volunteering has been one of the few areas of cathedral life that has not shown signs of recovery in 2021. The number of people volunteering in cathedrals has decreased by a further 21 per cent from the 2020 figure.
The Dean of Canterbury, David Monteith, who Chairs the College of Deans, said: “It is encouraging to see the beginning of recovery in our cathedrals in 2021 even amid the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.
“Church of England cathedrals have been an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage for over a thousand years, and they continue to serve as places of worship, community gathering, and tourism.
“The data from 2021 demonstrates the resilience of the cathedrals and their importance to local communities in the face of adversity.
“We have adapted to the changing circumstances throughout the pandemic, and some of what we have learnt is here to stay. This includes the gift of online worship, with many cathedrals reaching new congregations, together with those who would prefer to join services from home.
“As we look to the future, and continued recovery, we remain committed to supporting our whole communities, particularly those in need, providing a place of worship, prayer and sanctuary for all.”
More information14 Comments
Meeting of College of Bishops March 23, 2023
The College of Bishops met on Thursday to continue considering next steps for the Church of England following the recent debate at General Synod on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
Last month’s Synod considered proposals from the bishops which would enable same-sex couples who have marked a significant stage of their relationship such as a civil marriage or civil partnership to come to church to give thanks, offer prayers of dedication to God and to receive God’s blessing. Synod members also met in small groups to consider and comment on a set of draft texts for these prayers known as Prayers of Love and Faith, and to offer their views on proposed pastoral guidance.
At Thursday’s meeting, in London, bishops began reviewing those comments and considered how to approach the task of refining the Prayers of Love and Faith and preparing the new pastoral guidance.
They agreed to setting up three working groups and a steering group to oversee and coordinate their work, each to be made up of bishops assisted by a group of advisers drawn from across the Church, both lay and ordained.
The working groups will focus on:
It is anticipated that the steering group will be chaired by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, and will include the chairs of the three working groups.
The final membership of the working groups will be confirmed and published in due course.25 Comments
Ben Bradshaw’s bill to “enable clergy of the Church of England to conduct same sex marriages on Church of England premises in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes” was given a first reading in the House of Commons yesterday under the Ten Minute Rule. The bill was opposed by the Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous), although he did not force a division of the House. As with most ten minute rule bills this one has no chance of becoming law.36 Comments
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Andrew Goddard has gathered the detailed voting data from February’s General Synod debate on Living in Love and Faith into a convenient Airtable database format and has written a Narrative Account & Analysis* of these votes. The latter includes at the end advice on how to use the database for your own analysis.
He has also published this series of three articles on Fulcrum taking stock of where we are now in the LLF process.
LLF: Recent Past, Present & Future – Part One – Looking back – The Bishops’ Response to LLF and Synod’s Response to the Bishops
LLF: Recent Past, Present & Future – Part Two – Looking at the issues
LLF: Recent Past, Present & Future – Part Three – Looking ahead – where do we go from here?
* Note: the tables in the The House of Laity section on pages 13 and 14 of the Account & Analysis incorrectly refer to clergy instead of laity.26 Comments
Fr Ron Smith, who contributed more than 5000 comments to Thinking Anglicans, died on 10 March 2023, aged 93. He was a priest in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Bosco Peters, a fellow New Zealander, has written this appreciation: Fr Ron Smith RIP.
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The Church of England Evangelical Council has today published a lengthy statement which includes this declaration:
If the Church of England’s General Synod or House of Bishops:
- authorises or commends liturgical provision for the celebration, dedication, blessing or solemnisation of any sexual relationship other than marriage between one man and one woman, or liturgical provision for the blessing of those in such relationships; or
- removes the bar on clergy being in such relationships; or
- produces pastoral guidance that is indicative of a departure from the Church of England’s doctrine that marriage between one man and one woman is the proper context for sexual intimacy; or
- amends Canon B30 so the Church of England no longer affirms that “according to our Lord’s teaching marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side”;
we will declare that this action represents a departure from the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness.
Our desire is to keep faith with this inheritance as members of the Church of England and to remain in full communion with those Provinces of the Anglican Communion who also maintain the biblical and historic teaching of the church catholic.
We will therefore resist all attempts to introduce any of these changes or to marginalise those who, in their own teaching and practice, uphold the received doctrine of the Church of England and the teaching of Jesus on marriage.
We are compelled to resist.
More from the same statement page is copied below the fold.
More documentation from CEEC is here:37 Comments
Press release from Christ Church Appointment of first female Dean of Christ Church the Rev Canon Professor Sarah Foot
Press release from the Diocese of Oxford Appointment of first female Dean of Christ Church
Appointment of the Dean of Christ Church: 16 March 2023
The King has approved that The Reverend Canon Sarah Foot be appointed Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, from 1st July 2023.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 16 March 2023
The King has approved that The Reverend Canon Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Oxford, be appointed Dean of Christ Church, Oxford from 1st July 2023 in succession to the Very Reverend Martyn Percy.
Canon Professor Foot has been the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford since 2007. She was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge (BA; MA; PhD), served as a Lay Canon at Christ Church from 2007-2017, and as a Residentiary Canon since her ordination in 2017.
Previously, Professor Foot was a Research Fellow then Fellow and Tutor at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge 1989-93, then successively Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Professor of Early Medieval History at the University of Sheffield 1993-2007, where she was Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts 2005-7.
She served as Chair of the Board of Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University 2011-14. She writes on women in religion, medieval monasticism, and the early history of the Church in England, and is currently working on a study of the life and work of the Venerable Bede.45 Comments
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LLF Next Steps Group meeting on 3 March 2023
The meeting appraised and reviewed the outcomes of the Living in Love and Faith debate and motion passed at General Synod in February and considered the scope of work required between now and the next General Synod in July 2023.
The Next Steps Group then considered and refined the agenda of the forthcoming College of Bishops meeting at the end of March. They noted that it will be important for the bishops to listen to the feedback from General Synod, the response of the wider church to the decisions made, as well as to each other’s reflections before moving on to the consider how the work of drafting the Pastoral Guidance, providing pastoral reassurance, refining the Prayers of Love and Faith and establishing the Pastoral Consultative Group will be taken forward.
With the remit of the Next Steps group now having reached its conclusion, the bishops went on to discuss the necessary phases of work after the March College of Bishops and the composition of the working groups that will take forward the work that will need to be done for the July Synod.
The meeting ended in prayer.1 Comment
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Matthew Porter to the Suffragan See of Bolton, in the Diocese of Manchester.
Suffragan Bishop of Bolton: 15 March 2023
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr. Matthew Porter to the Suffragan See of Bolton, in the Diocese of Manchester.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 15 March 2023
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr. Matthew Porter, Vicar of St Michael le Belfrey, in the Diocese of York to the Suffragan See of Bolton, in the Diocese of Manchester, in succession to The Right Reverend Mark Ashcroft following his retirement.
Matthew holds degrees from the universities of Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield and Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, USA and trained for ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at Christ Church, Dore, in the Diocese of Sheffield, and was ordained priest in 1997. Matthew was appointed Vicar at St Chad’s, Woodseats in 2000 and additionally served as Director of Curate Training for the Diocese of Sheffield from 2005.
In 2009 Matthew was appointed Associate Minister at St Michael le Belfrey, in the Diocese of York, and has served as Vicar there since 2010. Additionally, Matthew has served on the boards of Cranmer Hall, Durham and St Hild College, Leeds, is an author, and was appointed as Honorary Chaplain to the Queen and then King in 2022.10 Comments
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Since the SCIE report on Lambeth Palace Safeguarding was published on 28 February, there has been a series of news and comment articles about it. Our reporting of it has been a bit disjointed so for clarification here is a complete record.
Our original 28 February report is here: Lambeth Palace safeguarding audit published. We then published links to six other items in the Comments rather than by amending the original post. We also mentioned two of these in our Opinion roundup on 4 March. Here are all the links:
28 February Anglican Futures: Unbelievable!
28 February Premier Christian News: Welby’s attempts to create safe CofE culture ‘undermined’ through lack of consistency says audit
28 February Church Times: Abuse survivors unhappy with their treatment by Lambeth Palace, audit finds
2 March Jasvinda Sangera Independent Safeguarding Board: Response to SCIE Report on safeguarding practices into Lambeth Palace
3 March Stephen Parsons Surviving Church: Trying to be heard. How Lambeth Palace has let down the Abused in their search for Justice.
4 March The Times (£): Archbishops’ aide criticised for handling of Church of England sex abuse allegations
Now the Church Times has published two further articles (read the earlier one first, to make sense of them):
9 March Church Times: Abuse survivors criticise Bishop Urquhart’s appointment as Bishop to the Archbishops
10 March Church Times: Safeguarding not a responsibility of the Bishop to the Archbishops, Lambeth said
Here is the Lambeth Palace statement: Clarification from Lambeth Palace of current safeguarding arrangements following publication of SCIE report.6 Comments
The Right Reverend Peter Eagles, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, has announced that he is to retire from the role on 28 October 2023.45 Comments
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Madhu Smitha Prasadam, Chaplain of St Alban’s, Copenhagen, in the Diocese of Europe to the Suffragan See of Huddersfield, in the Diocese of Leeds.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 8 March 2023
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Madhu Smitha Prasadam, Chaplain of St Alban’s, Copenhagen, in the Diocese of Europe to the Suffragan See of Huddersfield, in the Diocese of Leeds, in succession to The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Gibbs following his appointment as Bishop of Rochester.
Smitha was educated at Leeds University (College of Ripon and York St John) and trained for ministry at Queen’s College Birmingham. She served her title at St Paul, Blackheath in the Diocese of Birmingham, and was ordained Priest in 2004. She was the Vicar of St Paul, Hamstead in the Diocese of Birmingham from 2007 to 2018.
Smitha was appointed to her current role as Chaplain of St Alban’s, Copenhagen in the Diocese of Europe in 2018. She has additionally served as Canon on the Cathedral Chapter since 2021.7 Comments
From the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England
The following letter from eighteen evangelicals was published in yesterday’s issue of the Church Times (3 March 2023 – https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2023/3-march/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor).
The Equal Campaign approves. For far too long conservative evangelical organizations such as CEEC and the Church Society have claimed that only those who subscribe to their package of fundamentalist beliefs are entitled to call themselves evangelical. As the writers of the letter show, this is simply not the case.
The full text of the letter to the Church Times is copied below the fold.27 Comments
A former presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, has died.
The Episcopal Church:
Diocese of Chicago:
The Living Church Frank T. Griswold, 25th Presiding Bishop, 1937-20234 Comments