Thinking Anglicans

ISB reports on how Church failed in responding to an abuse survivor

The Church Times reports on the first case review conducted by the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board.

Abuse survivor let down by the Church multiple times, says ISB safeguarding review

A CONTINUING lack of communication, no co-ordinated case management, and poor pastoral support, has left a “heavy toll” on a vulnerable survivor of abuse, the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) has concluded in its first case review.

The review, redacted for legal reasons and dated March 2023, has been submitted to the Church’s Director of Safeguarding. It was written by Steve Reeves, one of three ISB Board members, and has been approved by the survivor whose case it relates, known as Mr X. The abridged version has been seen by the Church Times this week.

The abridged text of the Spindler review into the case of Mr X can be found here.

The full text of the concluding recommendations is copied here, below the fold.



Opinion – 27 May 2023

Ian Paul Psephizo The Church of England’s financial imbalance

Sophie Grace Chappell ViaMedia.News Two-Edged Scripture: Taking the Bible Seriously


Church Commissioners annual report shows 5% return for 2022

Church of England press release

Church Commissioners fund posts 5% return in 2022 despite challenging markets

London, 25 May 2023: The Church Commissioners for England, which manages the Church of England’s endowment fund, delivered a 5% return in 2022, a robust performance in the face of challenging market conditions.

“Our aim is to support the mission and ministry of the Church of England through providing as much funding as we can on a sustainable basis, year in, year out, come rain or shine – and achieving these returns in a year of double-digit inflation, an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is truly a testament to the skill and dedication of our investment professionals,” said Alan Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner. “As a result of our consistent strong returns over the long-term, we were able in 2022 to announce an increase in our distributions to the Church to £1.2bn over the next three years, a 30% increase over the previous three-year period.”

“Our focus on the long-term and genuinely diversified approach allowed us to be resilient in the face of strong economic headwinds in 2022, said Tom Joy, Chief Investment Officer. “Considering that equity and fixed income markets were under considerable stress, this is a very creditable result – and marks the fourteenth consecutive year of positive returns.”

The Church Commissioners 2022 results are published in its Annual Report.

The Church Commissioners for England manages the endowment fund of the Church of England in a responsible and ethical way. The portfolio is truly diversified across a broad range of asset classes to mitigate risk, and assets are invested with a long-term outlook. This approach has enabled the Church Commissioners to deliver an average annual return of 10.2% over the last ten years.


CEEC issues advice to supporters about LLF

A document from the Church of England Evangelical Council, which has appeared on other forms of social media, gives an explanation of that group’s plans for further responses to the current LLF processes.

You can read it here.


ISB writes formal dispute resolution notice


The Church Times reports: Independent Safeguarding Board serves dispute resolution notice to Archbishops’ Council

THE Independent Safeguarding Board has served the Archbishops’ Council with a formal dispute resolution notice, saying that the Council is continuing to frustrate its work and threaten its independence, while failing to put survivors first.

The notice was served on Wednesday afternoon in a letter sent by two of the three ISB board members: the lead survivor-advocate, Jasvinder Sanghera, and Steve Reeves. Its contents have not yet been made public. In it, they complain that the Archbishops’ Council has repeatedly blocked their work, compromised their independence, and refused to listen to both them and to survivors…

Read the report for more detail.


We have received a copy of this ISB Statement.

We will update this article again when any responses to the letter are published, or if other information (e.g. the full text of the notice) becomes available.


Opinion – 24 May 2023

David Runcorn Beginning now – praying in uncertainty and perplexity

Steven Shakespeare Mary: Woman of the Apocalypse

Rachel Muers ViaMedia.News Conscientious Objection
Questions of Conscience (5)

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Survivor Engagement


Bishop of Ely to become Bishop of Lincoln

It has been announced from Downing Street this morning that Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, has been nominated to be the next Bishop of Lincoln. In a letter to the diocese of Ely, Bishop Stephen writes that he expects to be installed as Bishop of Lincoln in the autumn, and to remain there for the five years before he retires.

The press release from Downing Street is here.

Coverage on the Ely website, including the bishop’s letter is here. And Lincoln here.

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely and Acting Bishop of Lincoln, for election as Bishop of Lincoln, in succession to The Right Reverend Christopher Lowson following his retirement.



Bishop of Warwick to retire

The Diocese of Coventry has announced that the Bishop of Warwick, the Rt Revd John Stroyan, will be retiring on 7 August 2023 after more than 18 years in the role. His farewell service will be at Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, on Wednesday 12 July at 7:30pm.

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Opinion – 20 May 2023

David Runcorn

Martine Oborne ViaMedia.News In Conscience?
Questions of Conscience (4)

Christopher Landau Church Times Can Gen Z save a C of E it barely knows?
“The lack of attention to liturgy in some of the larger urban churches is a cause for concern, argues Christopher Landau”


Bishops agree key areas for further work implementing Living in Love and Faith

Press release from the Church of England

Bishops agree key areas for further work implementing Living in Love and Faith

The House of Bishops has set out the key areas in which it is requesting further work from the implementation groups taking forward the decision of General Synod on offering prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and for God’s blessing for same-sex couples.

During its meeting in York earlier this week, the House spent time reviewing the work of the three implementation groups set up after the debate at Synod in February on proposals on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

The proposals debated at Synod, which were developed after a six-year period of listening, learning and discernment known as Living in Love and Faith, would mean that, for the first time, same-sex couples could have a service in church in which there would be prayers of dedication, thanksgiving or for God’s blessing following a civil marriage or civil partnership.

The proposals would not, however, change the Church’s doctrine of Holy Matrimony. The texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith will be voluntary, with freedom of choice about their use.

There will be protections both for those who, on grounds of conscience, will not be able to offer them and those who will.

Three implementation groups have been set up to refine the draft texts of Prayers of Love and Faith; work on new pastoral guidance for the Church of England; and examine what pastoral reassurance will be required to ensure freedom of conscience for clergy and laity.

At this week’s meeting, the House agreed that while the Bishops’ views differ on matters of sexuality and marriage, they wish to create a generous theological, ecclesial and pastoral space holding the Church together in one body.

After spending time meeting informally, reviewing the work so far, the Bishops have provided further steers for the implementation groups to shape their work.

They are requesting further work around key subjects which will shape the new pastoral guidance. They are also asking for specific proposals to be developed that will ensure that those who offer the Prayers of Love and Faith, and those who don’t, are respected, supported and protected, recognising they are made out of theological conviction.

A further update will be provided before the July meeting of General Synod.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, and Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, co-chairs of the group co-ordinating the work of the implementation groups, said: “The House of Bishops had a very constructive meeting in York this week and it has been pleasing to see how much progress has been made by the implementation groups even in a short time.

“We look forward to further proposals being developed.

“It is important to take the time we need to get this right however there is a strong sense of progress in implementing what Synod agreed.”


Opponents of same-sex blessings issue documents

Today’s Church Times reports: Church Society question legality of blessing prayers for same-sex couples

OPPONENTS of the commendation of blessings for same-sex couples circulated documents last week challenging the legality of the proposed prayers and expressing anxieties about their practical application.
Last week, the Church Society, a conservative Evangelical organisation in the Church of England, distributed a compilation of questions relating to the work of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) implementation groups (News, 3 May)…

…In addition, a small group of General Synod members who opposed the introduction of blessings for same-sex couples in February issued “further commentary” on the proposals.

The note was emailed to Synod members late on Sunday evening by Stephen Hofmeyr (Guildford), and signed by a further seven legal professionals who sit in the House of Laity, all of whom voted against the motion introducing the Prayers of Love and Faith (News, 9 February).

The two documents referenced can be read at the following links:


Bishop of St Davids to retire

The Bishop of St Davids in the Church in Wales, the Rt Revd Joanna Penberthy, will retire on 31 July 2023.


Meeting of House of Bishops 15-17 May 2023

Press release from the Church of England

Meeting of House of Bishops 15-17 May 2023

The House of Bishops met between May 15 and 17 in York.

On Monday May 15 Lord Boateng, Chair of the Archbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice, led a discussion. The House noted the second report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice and endorsed the work of the Racial Justice Unit (RJU).

The House then received an update on ongoing work to develop a National Redress Scheme for victims and survivors of abuse.

Bishops considered proposals in development by the National Church Governance Project Board and agreed that they should be presented to Synod.

The House received an update on the review of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011, which is due to be presented to the General Synod in July 2023.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the House reviewed the work so far of the Living in Love and Faith implementation groups and agreed that the work should be further developed ahead of an update to General Synod in July.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, co-chair of the Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households, updated the House on the findings set out in its recent report Love Matters.

The meeting ended in prayer.


Christ Church Oxford publishes independent Governance Review

Updated Thursday

Christ Church press release

Dominic Grieve KC has completed his independent review of the governance of Christ Church and a report setting out his recommendations to the Governing Body.

Christ Church commissioned the review to ensure that its governance meets the needs of an Oxford University college in the 21st century. It has made a series of important recommendations, which are set out below.

Now that the review is complete, the Governing Body will consider its conclusions and the changes necessary to ensure that Christ Church has an effective system of governance in place. Implementing these reforms will require consultation with the University, the Church of England, and the Charity Commission, and the approval of the Privy Council and Parliament.

The press release linked above contains a 43 paragraph summary of the recommendations.

The full text of the review (218 paragraphs) is linked here.


The Diocese of Oxford has published this: Dominic Grieve KC completes governance review of Christ Church, Oxford


Opinion – 17 May 2023

Philip North ViaMedia.News On Conscience
Questions of Conscience (3)

Martin Sewell Surviving Church Why the Bishop of Oxford should be suspended


Soul Survivor safeguarding complainants demand independent investigation

Updated Wednesday

We have failed to keep abreast of various recent developments in this safeguarding saga, see for example

The Diocese of St Albans issued this on 11 May: Soul Survivor Watford: a pastoral letter from the bishops

And today, the Telegraph reports: Internal church probe into Christian ‘cult’ leader not trusted by victims which quotes from a statement released on behalf of some of the survivors.

Full text of statement issued on behalf of Soul Survivor complainants:

In a statement released through solicitor Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon Lawyers, who is advising some of the complainants, a number of survivors of abuse in Soul Survivor said:

“The allegations against Mike Pilavachi are extremely serious. They clearly require comprehensive, independent and transparent investigation, covering both the allegations themselves and, crucially, the institutional response to those allegations, both within Soul Survivor and across the wider Church of England.

“Given the network of connections between Soul Survivor and the Church of England, we do not believe that any Church of England body, whether the Diocese of St Albans or the National Safeguarding Team, can plausibly conduct an independent, objective and transparent investigation at this time. There are simply too many connections between the Church of England and Soul Survivor, both at diocesan and national level, and too many potential conflicts of interest, for survivors to have confidence in the independence and transparency of any church-run investigation.

“By way of example, Justin Welby has been personally involved in Soul Survivor over many years. One trustee of Soul Survivor (until last month) is also a trustee of the Lambeth Trust, the Archbishop’s personal charity. A senior figure in Soul Survivor is the son of a senior Church of England Bishop.  These are just some examples of the intimate and longstanding network of connections between Soul Survivor and senior figures in the Church of England.

“The days when churches could plausibly investigate themselves and mark their own homework are long gone.   Accordingly, we call upon the Church of England  and specifically the CofE National Safeguarding Team (1) to accept that a trusted independent agency should be appointed to conduct this investigation (2) to engage with survivors in the selection of such an agency and the drafting of any terms of reference, so that any investigation can be truly independent and have the confidence of survivors from the outset”


The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this: Archbishop of Canterbury statement on Soul Survivor

…The investigation, which is being led by safeguarding professionals from the National Safeguarding Team and the Diocese of St Albans, is independent from Soul Survivor and has my full support…


LLF: Andrew Goddard discusses Episcopal Differentiation

Throughout the course of the LFF project, Andrew Goddard has provided a series of analyses of various aspects of it. His latest article on the Psephizo website is the last of a three-part set, but first for context here are links to the preceding two items:

There has been some discussion, both on TA and elsewhere, of what form(s) of “differentiation” might be attractive to those dissenting from the proposals for action that have now emerged from the LFF process. Andrew now discusses these possibilities in considerable detail in this article:

Living in Love and Faith: Good Episcopal Differentiation?


Opinion – 13 May 2023

Rosie Harper Surviving Church The Thing under the Thing………

Women and the Church Inquiry by Independent Reviewer into the appointment of the Rt Revd Philip North as Bishop of Blackburn

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News Killing Fear and Freeing Conscience: Charting the Way Forward for our Life Together
Questions of Conscience (2)

Alice Goodman Prospect Clerical life: Last days of the curates
“I hear more and more about gifted young clergy leaving the church–and it fills me with dread”

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of ologies and economic theory


Devamanikkam: Bishop of Newcastle responds to Sentamu

Updated Monday

Independent Learning Lessons Review – Late Trevor Devamanikkam

First published on: 13th May 2023

Following the publication of the independent lessons learnt review into the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and the response of those criticised, the Bishop of Newcastle, Helen-Ann Hartley, having taken appropriate advice, yesterday required Lord Sentamu, Honorary Assistant Bishop in Newcastle Diocese, to step back from active ministry until both the findings and his response can be explored further.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, is fully supportive of this decision. The Diocese of Newcastle remains committed to the highest standards of safeguarding which seeks always to place victims and survivors at the heart of this vital work.

For more about this review, click here.

If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the publication of this report and want to talk to someone independently, please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or visit

The full text of the statement issued yesterday by Lord Sentamu is available here.

Update: Statement from national safeguarding director


Statement from Alexander Kubeyinje, Church of England’s national safeguarding director following publication of lessons learnt review into the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam

What happened in this case makes for incredibly harrowing reading and I apologise for the hurt and harm caused to the survivor. The review was to highlight failures and how the Church can and must learn from its past mistakes.

If we are to be true to our words that we want change then there is a responsibility that senior leaders would want and need assurances that lessons are learnt.

I support the Bishop of Newcastle’s decision completely as responding well to victims and survivors is a core part of the Church’s safeguarding and this review is part of this, we have a duty to and must do better.


Trevor Devamanikkam review published

Updated again Friday

The Church of England has published a lessons learned review into the case of Trevor Devamanikkam.

The official press release is here. The text is copied in full below the fold.

The full report (58 pages) is available here.

There is also an Update on timings for review of Trevor Devamanikkam case dated 1 February 2022.

The Church Times has a detailed report Several bishops ‘failed to act’ after Devamanikkam abuse was disclosed, review finds

According to the Press Association: Lord Sentamu rejects review findings that he did not act on abuse allegation.

Lord Sentamu said he had told the review what he told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) when it considered the matter – “namely that the action following a disclosure to the bishop of Sheffield was his and his alone in line with established safeguarding procedures and guidelines”.

He added: “I acted within the agreed procedures, rules and practice guidance on safeguarding, set by the House of Bishops and the Clergy Discipline Measure. Safeguarding is very important but it does not trump Church Law (which is part of the Common Law of England).

“And the law is not susceptible to be used as an excuse for exercising the role given to an archbishop. Church Law sets the boundaries for diocesan bishops and archbishops.”

The Bishop of Oxford has written to his clergy. The text of that letter is available here.

The full text of Lord Sentamu’s statement is now available, as a PDF.