Thinking Anglicans

Appointment of Bishop of Birmingham

Press release from 10 Downing Street. Further coverage at Birmingham diocese and at Ridley. The new bishop will be consecrated on 30 November 2023.

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Michael Volland for election as Bishop of Birmingham.

Appointment of Bishop of Birmingham: 31 August 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Michael Volland, Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, for election as Bishop of Birmingham, in succession to The Right Reverend David Urquhart, following his retirement.

Michael was educated at Northumbria University, King’s College London and Durham University and trained for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at Gloucester Cathedral and was ordained Priest in 2007.

In 2009, Michael was appointed Director of Mission at Cranmer Hall, Durham, and additionally served as Chaplain to Durham Army Cadet Force from 2012 and as Team Leader and Mission Priest for the East Durham Mission Project and also Area Dean of Easington from 2014. In 2015, Michael was appointed Director of Context-Based Training and Pastoral Tutor at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and in 2017 he took up his current role as Principal of Ridley Hall. Since then he has also served as President of the Cambridge Theological Federation and Chair of the Theological Education Institutions Principal’s Steering Group.


The Times surveys Church of England clergy opinions

Updated Thursday and Saturday

The Times today has a front page story, headlined Britain is no longer a Christian country, say frontline clergy. It begins like this:

Times survey shows priests’ desire for dramatic shifts in doctrine
on issues such as sex, sexuality, marriage and the role of women

Key moments

Britain can no longer be described as a Christian country, three quarters of Church of England priests believe, according to a landmark survey conducted by The Times.

The most wide-ranging poll carried out among frontline Anglican clergy, and the first survey of Church of England clerics conducted in almost a decade, has found a strong desire among rank-and-file priests for significant changes in church doctrine on issues such as sex, sexuality, marriage and the role of women to bring it into greater line with public opinion…

The full story is behind a paywall, but…

The Church Times now also has a report on this, Times clergy poll finds almost 50-per-cent support for same-sex weddings.

ALMOST half (49.2 per cent) of the C of E clergy respondents to a new poll would officiate at same-sex weddings if they were permitted to do so, and 59 per cent would bless gay relationships. Almost two-thirds said that the Church should no longer teach that sex belonged only in marriage…

Update Thursday

A second tranche of results has been published: Most Church of England priests support gay conversion therapy ban

Key points
  • Greater support for assisted dying, but majority still in opposition
  • Anglican bishops should share their Lords seats with other faith leaders
  • A lack of faith in reaching net zero

More than two thirds of Church of England priests back the government’s plan to introduce a ban on conversion or so-called “gay-cure” therapy, with less than a fifth against it, a Times survey has found…

Meanwhile, there is a critique of the survey here: What do Anglican clergy think about ‘Christian’ Britain, sexuality, and clergy morale?

Update Saturday

A third tranche of results: Only 13% of Church of England priests back the Tories

Also questions about support for the Archbishop of Canterbury

And there is a note on methodology

How we polled the priests

The Times worked closely with academics and polling experts to devise the survey, which was sent to a random sample of 5,000 priests with English addresses from Crockford’s Clerical Directory of Anglican clergy. It received 1,486 responses and results were analysed from the 1,185 in active ministry.

The Times followed the same methodology used by YouGov and the University of Lancaster for the last survey of Church of England priests in 2014 and received a similar number of responses. The age and sex of our respondents tallied extremely closely with the overall breakdown for the church’s entire body of active priests.


Opinion – 26 August 2023

Paul Roberts Inclusive Evangelicals Can you be Evangelical and not agree with the CEEC?

Mark Michael The Living Church When Rights Conflict: Sex Abuse Reporting & the Confessional


What do Bishops have in common with NHS managers?

Richard Scorer and Martin Sewell have written at Surviving Church: Why Prof Jay must impose an external Safeguarding Regulator on the CofE

This week, the Lucy Letby case has brutally exposed the lack of regulation and accountability of NHS managers (link to Lucy Letby: NHS managers must be held to account, doctor says – BBC News). Whereas clinicians are subject to professional scrutiny and accountability by independent regulators, NHS managers are not, even when (as in the Letby case) they may have prioritised the reputation of a hospital over patient safety.  This is a feature they share with those in leadership and managerial roles in religious organisations. Both NHS managers and Bishops are amongst the dwindling band of professionals still not subject to independent regulation. This urgently needs to change, and as far as religious bodies are concerned, Professor Jay’s taskforce on independent regulation of safeguarding in the Church of England has an opportunity to set this change in motion…

Do read the whole article.


Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Swindon

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. There is more on the Bristol diocesan website. He will be consecrated on 30 November 2023.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Swindon: 24 August 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Venerable Neil Warwick for appointment to the Suffragan See of Swindon, in the Diocese of Bristol.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 24 August 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Venerable Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol, for appointment to the Suffragan See of Swindon, in the Diocese of Bristol, in succession to The Right Reverend Dr Lee Rayfield, following his retirement.

Neil was educated at Nottingham University and trained for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at St Lawrence, Towcester, in the Diocese of Peterborough, and was ordained Priest in 2006. Neil was appointed Vicar of Earley St Nicolas, in the Diocese of Oxford, in 2009.

In 2019, Neil took up his current role as Archdeacon of Bristol, in the Diocese of Bristol.


Opinion – 19 August 2023

Helen King sharedconversations The autumn of Living in Love and Faith

Karen O’Donnell ViaMedia.News Bodies at Prayer

David Newman Inclusive Evangelicals Evangelical unity and diversity

David Runcorn Inclusive Evangelicals How contraception has changed marriage


Dean of Worcester to retire

I did not notice any earlier announcement, but Worcester Cathedral has the news today that their Dean, the Very Reverend Peter Atkinson, will officially retire on Friday 25 August.


Appointment of Dean of Truro

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. There is more on the Truro Cathedral website.

Appointment of Dean of Truro: 17 August 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Simon Robinson, Residentiary Canon and Interim Dean at Truro Cathedral, for appointment as Dean of Truro.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 17 August 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Simon Robinson, Residentiary Canon and Interim Dean at Truro Cathedral, for appointment as Dean of Truro, in succession to The Very Reverend Roger Bush, following his retirement.

Simon was educated at Warwick University and trained for ministry on the Southern Theological Education Training Scheme. He served his title in the Parish of Freshford, Limpley Stoke and Hinton Charterhouse in the Diocese of Bath and Wells and was ordained priest in 2013. Simon was appointed Vicar of the Parish of Minehead in 2015. In October 2022, Simon took up his current role as Interim Dean and Canon Missioner at Truro Cathedral.


Future of Church Safeguarding

Updated Wednesday

This website is now live: Future of Church Safeguarding

The Future of Church Safeguarding Programme (the Programme) has been set up to recommend a model for fully independent safeguarding within the Church of England.

As part of the Programme we will gather a range of views to better understand what needs to be improved or what is already working well in Church safeguarding processes – processes in place to protect people from harm.

We also want to hear opinions about how to achieve a safeguarding body that is independent, fair and impartial.

The Programme operates entirely independently from the Church, and is led by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, who previously chaired the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Professor Jay expects to complete her report for The Archbishops of Canterbury and of York by the end of December 2023 and will publish the report herself to ensure full transparency.

The website contains much additional information about how this programme will operate.



Safeguarding: more unfinished business (Smyth)

Updated Sunday

Not all unfinished safeguarding business in the Church of England relates to the fiasco surrounding the ISB.

Another major item yet to be reported on is the abuse perpetrated by John Smyth, which has been known about since the 1980s. The formal investigation only got underway in 2019. The Church Times has just published a very detailed and thorough history of the delays in completing this review, which still appears to be many months away from publication. The management of this review lies in the hands of the National Safeguarding Team.

Madeleine Davies writes: Smyth survivors still waiting, five years after being promised church review

IT IS five years this week since the “lessons-learned” review of the abuse perpetrated by John Smyth was promised, and ten years since the Archbishop of Canterbury was formally told about the abuse…

As she reports, Andrew Graystone says:

“The Church decided that the task of reviewing a case lasting over 40 years with more than a hundred victims could be handled by one part-time reviewer contracted for just two days a week, with a part-time assistant. The Church either didn’t recognise the scale of the review it was launching, or simply didn’t care.”

The lack of an independent accountability body to monitor the progress and scope of the review, and to ask Mr Makin “awkward questions”, was also a problem, he said. Conducting reviews was a “lucrative process”, he said, pointing to a leak by the NST in 2019 which revealed that Mr Makin’s rate was £650 per day.

Update on Mr X

Another item where action by the NST remains outstanding is reported today in the Sunday Times by Katie Gatens: I was abused as a choirboy. Decades later the Church of England betrayed me again. (behind a paywall, but see this comment on Twitter)

This is the same “Mr X” case on which the now defunct ISB produced a report, back in May: ISB reports on how Church failed in responding to an abuse survivor.


Opinion – 9 August 2023

Anon ViaMedia.News WWBD? What Would Barbie Do?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Debate and Non-Communication within the Church of England

Jason Loch A Venerable Puzzle When Is Advice Not Advice?

1 Comment

Lambeth Conference 2022 final report


For earlier reports of last year’s Lambeth conference, go here.

The Living Church reports on the publication of its final report: Final Tweaks to Controversial Lambeth Calls Released.

The text of the calls is here, in multiple languages.

The electronic text of the complete report is here,  in several languages, but apparently not in English. The latter is available on paper only, it seems.


Although no English language PDF is offered, most of the information can be found by following links from this website page.


Opinion – 5 August 2023

Helen King ViaMedia.News Missing, Between Synods

Theo Hobson ViaMedia.News Holy Discomfort: Time to Restore the Unity of the Church?


Christ Church Oxford: Peter Moger appointed Sub Dean

Christ Church press release: Revd Canon Peter Moger appointed new Sub Dean

Today it was announced that His Majesty The King has approved the appointment of the Revd Canon Peter Moger as the new Sub Dean of Christ Church.

Canon Moger joins us from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, where he was based in Stornoway and served as Episcopalian priest to the Isle from 2019. Before this he was Canon Residentiary and Precentor of York Minster from 2010, where he oversaw the Music Department and shared in the governance of the Minster. Canon Moger read Music at Merton College, Oxford, and has written several books on Church Music, as well as acting as Secretary to the Liturgical Commission…

10 Downing Street announcement: Appointment of Residentiary Canonry of the Cathedral Church of Christ Oxford: 4 August 2023

…The King has approved The Reverend Canon Peter Moger, Priest in Charge of St Peter, Stornoway and St Moluag, Eoropaidh, in the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles, be appointed to a Residentiary Canonry of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Oxford, in succession to the Very Reverend Richard Peers, following his appointment as Dean of Llandaff Cathedral…


“Shock at the total breakdown of trust in the CofE”

Ruth Peacock writes about Roger Bolton’s video interview of Sir David Lidington which is available on YouTube under the headline Lidington: I was used to acrimony in politics, but I hadn’t expected to find it in the church.

Sir David Lidington, a former de facto deputy prime minister, and long-standing member of the Church of England, has spoken of his shock at discovering a total breakdown of trust within the church.

In an interview with Roger Bolton for the Religion Media Centre, he said the flaws in the governance of the church were not by themselves the sole cause of the culture of distrust within the church, but he was convinced they had aggravated the mistrust…

The interview itself is here: RMC Big Interview: Sir David Lidington shocked at total breakdown of trust in the CofE

Strongly recommended.


Dioceses Commission recommends collaboration

press release 3 August

Recommendations for collaboration between dioceses shared following consultation

Recommendations outlined following ‘bishops and their ministries’ diocesan stakeholder consultations

The Church of England’s Dioceses Commission has shared outcome themes from a consultation looking at bishops and their ministries, as part of a series of listening exercises exploring how the Church of England can best serve the nation in the 2020s and beyond and make best use of resources.

Recommendations will include suggestions for new collaborations between dioceses in areas such as Net Zero, Racial Justice, Ministry Training and Education, either on a regional level or between a number of dioceses.

The consultation asked diocesan stakeholders for views and suggestions on how dioceses might cooperate to use resources better and on how The Church can best enable the important ministry of suffragan and area bishops, including whether any structural changes should be considered.

In the letter, Dame Caroline Spelman and Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich say that there will not be any centrally-led structural changes to dioceses, or combinations of dioceses as a result of the consultation.

Stakeholders are now invited to join an autumn workshop to look at practical steps for those who are either already leading inter-diocesan collaboration projects, or who are interested in exploring further.

Read the letter here

The Church Times reports this with the headline: No ‘big bang’ restructuring of Church of England dioceses, says Commission.


Safeguarding: unfinished business

The Archbishops’ Council has today, 2 August, announced this: Next round of independent safeguarding audits

INEQE Safeguarding Group has been appointed by the Archbishops’ Council to carry out the next round of independent external audits of Church of England dioceses and cathedrals, starting in January 2024. They were appointed after a full and open tender process, which included survivor representation…

This is the only official Safeguarding statement from the Church of England since the announcement of Alexis Jay’s appointment on 20 July, before which there was the 12 July announcement relating to Meg Munn’s departure.

We have heard nothing further of any independent investigation into what when wrong in relation to the disbanding of the ISB.

Update 25 July Written Questions to Church Commissioners:

Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab, Exeter): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the announcement by the Archbishop of York of an independent inquiry into the decision to close down the Independent Safeguarding Board, if he will publish a copy of the inquiry’s finings once available.
Andrew Selous: The Archbishop of York has committed that the findings of this review will be made public.

But even more urgent, we have heard nothing about arrangements for the care of those survivors who were already engaged with the former ISB board members.

Jasvinder Sanghera wrote, on 31 July: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Five weeks have passed since the body established to provide much needed independence to safeguarding across the Church of England (CofE), was disbanded by the Archbishops’ Council.

They could have used this whole experience to raise the bar higher for victims and survivors, instead, they lowered it, leaving those harmed by the Church in greater distress and limbo. The consequences have been devastating.

We have recently been informed that the Church of England is considering its options, however, this is without regard for what this lack of urgency and care means for these victims and survivors. I wish to enlighten you, as it continues to be irresponsible and unsafe not to speak out about these lives…

Do read the whole article. It concludes with this:



Bristol diocese to review Uganda link

The Church Times reports (2 August): Diocese of Bristol reviews Ugandan link after Anti-Homosexuality Act

…In a statement on Tuesday, Bishop Faull said that her diocese had been blessed by “enduring friendships” within the Church of Uganda for 50 years, but that, “For the time being, the Diocesan Link Committee will cease to meet and the diocese will be reviewing all institutional links — current and prospective — at the next Bishop’s Council in December.”

She explained that, while she welcomed Dr Kaziimba’s opposition to the death penalty, “as the Bishop of Bristol, I am compelled to reiterate that the basic dignity and safety of LGBTQ+ human beings in Uganda must not be conflated with theological debates about same-sex marriage in church or matters of abusive behaviour. However, there is a legitimate space for those conversations amongst well-meaning people who can disagree without threat of imprisonment or danger…”

An earlier (26 July) statement on the diocesan website: Bishop Viv provides clarity on the future of diocesan links to Church of Uganda.