Thinking Anglicans

House of Bishops meeting: 29 November

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops meeting: 29 November

The House of Bishops met online on the morning of 29 November 2023.

The House considered the November Group of Sessions of General Synod, including next steps required following the vote on Prayers of Love and Faith.

It was agreed that a motion for the commendation of the “Prayers of Love and Faith: resource section” would take place at a further meeting before the end of the year. This aligns with the timescale indicated at Synod.

There was also consideration of the House of Bishops’ processes, with The House agreeing to begin a review with a focus on increasing transparency. The House voted in favour of immediate steps to publish summaries of meetings, and to set up a task-and-finish group to make recommendations to the House on potential improvements. A fuller summary of the meeting will be published in the coming days, in accordance with this.

The meeting ended in prayer.


Opinion – 29 November 2023

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Vile Bodies – Christian prejudice and abuse

Neil Elliot NumbersMatters Looking in the mirror?
“What happens to the statistics we carefully collect and collate. How are they used – if at all? In this edition we will look at myths, realities, and aspirations of using church stats”

Thomas Sharp ViaMedia.News Agree or Disagree: I’m Still in Communion with my Bishop


Former ISB members cut links to review

The Church Times reports that “TWO former Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) members [Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves] have announced that they have ceased to co-operate with the independent review of the ISB’s demise. They have concerns about the reviewer’s remit.”

Jas Sanghera has posted on X/Twitter that  “At no point have ⁦@churchofengland⁩ engaged with us on terms of reference for this review, despite our numerous request. This is in effect CofE marking it’s own homework & not consulting with the very ppl it concerns. Shocking”.

Steve Reeves has posted that “the Church, with a remit solely defined by the Church, and excluding events critical of the Church, won’t tell anything like the true story.”


November General Synod – electronic voting results

Updated 30 November New versions of all these files have been uploaded to the CofE website. All those there now are internally dated 29 November. I have updated the links below to point to these new files.

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available online and are linked below. The texts of items 7 and 500 can be found in the official record of Business Done.

Living in Love and Faith motion (as amended – text here)

Amendments to Living in Love and Faith motion (see Order Paper IV for the texts of the proposed amendments)

Motion to consider Abuse (Redress) Measure for revision in committee

Motion to amend standing orders (see Order Paper IV)


Reactions to General Synod LLF debate

Church Times

Press Release from the General Synod Gender & Sexuality Group and from Inclusive Groups

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England

Inclusive Evangelicals

Church of England Evangelical Council

Jayne Ozanne

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News The Dam Has Broken: Synod and Beyond


Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Where have we arrived after General Synod?


Opinion – 18 November 2023

Neil Elliot NumbersMatters A question of position: CofE stats 2022

Adrian Thatcher ViaMedia.News Vile Bodies?

Ray Gaston ViaMedia.News Reclaiming Orthodoxy

The Guardian view on the C of E and same-sex relationships: love finds a way
“A decision by the church’s governing body to trial standalone blessings for couples is a significant moment”

Simon Parke Five questions to ask the prospective bishop


9 July General Synod discussion on the ISB

David Lamming has written the following article about the synod discussion that occurred on 9 July concerning the Independent Safeguarding Board.
Question 204 from the November General Synod sessions refers (text included below).


General Synod members, and those watching the proceedings on the livestream, will recall the débâcle at York on the Sunday afternoon, 9 July, when, after several attempts to use the standing orders to enable Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves to respond to the ‘Presentation on developments relating to the Independent Safeguarding Board’ were thwarted, the formal sitting was adjourned so that they could address Synod members, with Robert Hammond (chair of the Business Committee) taking over as chair of the informal session.

One of the thwarted attempts to use Standing Orders to allow Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod concerned SO 120(1), which provides: “The Presidents may invite such persons as they think fit to address the Synod.”  The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said that he was “happy to do that”, though he thought that Meg Munn, who was also present, “ought to be invited to say something as well.”  That said, he added: “I think if people [i.e. Jasvinder and Steve] were able to make a short statement and then perhaps a final response from the panel, I will leave that in your hands, Chair.  I think then we should include this item.” (emphasis added).  He was thwarted, though, as the legal advice given to the Chair (who reported it to Synod with ‘a regret‘) was that it was “unlawful for one of the Presidents and not both to suspend the Standing Orders.”  Leaving aside that Debbie Buggs’s request was to “ask the Archbishop of York in his capacity as President to ask Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod, please,” not to suspend the SOs, it is to be noted that the reason the Archbishop of Canterbury was not present was that he had left Synod to be with his dying mother.



Safeguarding Newsletter for November General Synod

Surviving Church has published this report on the current status of numerous safeguarding matters, few of which are on the agenda for the November synod. The editor of SC writes:

This is a copy of a newsletter written by Martin Sewell which helps a reader to understand at depth the issues on safeguarding that are coming before General Synod this week. Previous newsletters have been shared with synod members. (Ed.)

General Synod Safeguarding Newsletter

I recommend this report for the careful attention of all TA readers.


General Synod – 13-15 November 2023

This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.

The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting this week. The timetable is here, the agenda is here and the papers are here.

Live video etc

All sessions are streamed live on YouTube and remain available to view afterwards. Links have been provided in advance.

There is an official Twitter account.

Order papers

  • LLF motion as amended
  • This motion was carried in a vote by houses:
    Bishops 23 in favour, 10 against;
    Clergy 100 in favour, 93 against;
    Laity 104 in favour, 100 against.
    There were 4 recorded abstentions by bishops, 1 by clergy and none by laity.

Business done

Official press releases

Press reports and comment

Church Times

The Guardian

BBC News

The Washington Times

The Independent

The Living Church

Members’ blogs

Helen King

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes


Pre-Synod news and opinion

Paul Roberts Inclusive Evangelicals On the use and abuse of the term ‘orthodox’

Mandy Ford ViaMedia.News Polluted Ground or Holy Ground? Going Forward to the November Synod

Church Times General Synod same-sex debate on knife edge


General Synod Questions

The Questions (and answers) for next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod were issued today. They can be found online here: QUESTIONS Notice Paper November 2023 FINAL.

Questions will be taken in two groups; on Monday from 2.50pm to 4.30pm, any questions relating to Living in Love and Faith matters will be taken first, followed by other questions rotating through the boards and councils as is customary. Questions will resume at 11.45am on Tuesday 14 November until 12.45pm.


Q56 and Q64 have been provided with the wrong answers in the Questions Notice Paper. The correct answers are in Notice Paper 8.


Statistics for Mission 2022

The Church of England has released its Statistics for Mission 2022. There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

Church attendance rises for second year running

Statistics for Mission show increase in regular worshippers and average weekly attendance

Nearly a million people were regular worshippers last year as the Church of England continued its post pandemic bounce back, statistics from the Church of England show today.

The worshipping community of the Church of England – made up of regular worshippers – grew by nearly 20,000 people to 984,000 in 2022 compared to 966,000 in 2021. Average weekly attendance for all ages grew nearly 50,000 over the same period from 605,000 to 654,000.

Child average weekly attendance rose 17% from its 2021 level to 87,000 and there was an 85% rise in all age school service attendance from its 2021 level to 164,000.

But despite the rises over two years, the figures were lower than before the pandemic in 2019 when the worshipping community stood at 1.1 million and all age average weekly attendance was 854,000.

Child average weekly attendance stood at 120,000 and school service attendance was 182,000 in 2019. (more…)


LLF: report of a meeting at Lambeth Palace


Colin Coward has published this report of a meeting on Friday 3 November at Lambeth Palace Library: The Archbishop of Canterbury meets thirty four representatives of progressive organisations

On Friday afternoon, forty one people gathered forming a huge rectangle in the room on the top floor of the Lambeth Palace library. Thirty four were representatives of progressive organisations and networks seeking the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the Church of England.

I think the meeting represents a turning point in the decades-long movement in the Church of England towards achieving the full and equal inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in our church – but although progress may now be made, the future is still very uncertain….

Helen King has published another report of the same meeting: Going to the top: meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury

…When Friday’s meeting was announced, at short notice, I heard from several stakeholders that they weren’t inclined to drag themselves into London yet again for what could well be a pointless meeting. We have bitter experience of being asked at these meetings to react to various scenarios, only for an entirely different scenario to be the one that is decided upon. Eventually they concluded that they may as well go; we’re nothing if not resilient. So, there we were. Again. Only, this time, all in the same room, rather than meeting the LLF team in sub-groups (Evangelical inclusives, Catholic inclusives, etc)…


Opinion – 4 November 2023

Ruth Harley ViaMedia.News Collateral Damage: How Unjust Treatment of LGBTQIA+ People Harms the Church

Susan Hunt Surviving Church Searching for Truth. How ‘Kenneth’ has been failed by the Justice System of the Church of England

Neil Elliot NumbersMatters SMART or Organic?


Open letter from Inclusive Evangelicals

from Inclusive Evangelicals

A letter signed by over 600 evangelicals* in the Church of England has been published today. In advance of the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod (which meets later this month) the letter — published by the recently formed Inclusive Evangelicals — backs the course of action which was approved by the Synod in February 2023. It throws its support behind the full authorisation of Prayers of Love and Faith (including the standalone services) ‘for immediate use’. It also urges the House of Bishops to issue the Pastoral Guidance (which will replace the outdated Issues in Human Sexuality) ‘as a matter of urgency’ in order to enable Church of England ordained ministers to marry, irrespective of the sex of their intended spouse. It rejects calls for structural differentiation to accommodate those who are unwilling to accept the changes proposed in GS2289, including alternative episcopal structures. However, it does affirm and support the need for legal protection for the consciences of individual ministers, whether they choose to use Prayers of Love and Faith, or whether, on grounds of conscience, they choose not to.

Today’s letter marks a significant change in the political landscape for the debate over Living in Love and Faith. The evangelical voice on LLF has been divided since the conservative evangelical Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) amended its basis of faith to stipulate a traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality. This in turn led to a split in the evangelical constituency on General Synod as the Evangelical Group on General Synod (EGGS) made a similar change to its basis of faith, leading to the formation of the Evangelical Forum on General Synod as a place where affirming and non-affirming evangelicals could continue to meet together.

Inclusive Evangelicals was formed in the summer to provide a unifying point for evangelicals who wished to welcome the place of LGBTQIA+ Christians within the full life of the Church. Since that time, the membership of its Facebook Group has grown to almost 1300 members. Its website ( provides resources, stories and a blog to help evangelicals who wish to explore the issue of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in a positive way, from a biblical standpoint.

* If you have difficulty opening the letter PDF, try this link to a local copy: Inclusive Evangelicals LLF Open Letter


Christ Church Review Group announced

A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy. Details are in a press release, which is copied below.

Christ Church Review Group announced

A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.

The Review will look at the handling of these safeguarding issues, and relevant reports and investigations including those commissioned by National Safeguarding Team and the Diocese of Oxford as well as material from Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) proceedings. It will not be concerned with the wider issues between the former Dean and the College.

The Review Group, details below, will consider that evidence with a view to appointing and instructing an independent reviewer with relevant expertise and experience.

The Review, commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council and diocese of Oxford was originally referred to the former Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, with Terms of Reference announced in May 2022. Later that year the ISB announced it was pausing work on the review due to finite resources and workload.

This is the first Safeguarding Practice Review, formerly known as a learning lesson review, set up under the new Safeguarding Code of Practice approved at General Synod in July. Its aim is to improve safeguarding practice.

Review Group membership:



House of Bishops 30 Oct – 1 Nov 2023

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met for three days this week, and afterwards issued this press release.

House of Bishops Oct 30 – Nov 1, 2023

The House of Bishops has held its annual autumn residential meeting, spending time in prayer and discussing matters including the war in Gaza, safeguarding, finance, youth evangelism, and Prayers of Love and Faith. The meeting was held at Cookham, Berkshire.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, updated Bishops on his recent visit to Jerusalem and led a discussion on the war in Israel and Gaza. The Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, the Church of England’s representative on the Holy land Coordination Group, led a time of prayer.

The House then discussed proposals for a National Redress Scheme for victims and survivors of abuse, ahead of draft legislation coming to Synod this month.

Bishops also heard updates on the Safeguarding Programme arising out of the recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) Inquiry Report on the Anglican Church.

This included Recommendations One and Eight, covering diocesan safeguarding officers and national safeguarding standards and audits as well as information sharing and the national casework management system.

Bishops also spent time reflecting on their recent decisions about the process of introducing Prayers of Love and Faith and discussed the upcoming meeting of Synod.

On Tuesday bishops heard updates on Diocesan finances and clergy retirement housing support. They also discussed the operation of the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015, which ensures that vacancies on the Bishops’ Bench in the House of Lords would be filled first by female diocesan bishops for 10 years or until parity is achieved.

The House reviewed guidance for good practice in praying for others, including a briefing document on conversion therapy.

Bishops also engaged with ongoing work to meet the challenge of ensuring that a church with a flourishing children, youth, and families’ ministry is within reach of every child or young person in England.

On Wednesday bishops considered questions around interventions in public life.

During the three days bishops attended the local parish church, Holy Trinity, Cookham, for services of morning prayer and Holy Communion.


44 bishops call for clergy to be allowed same-sex civil marriages

The Church Times reports: Don’t delay guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages, say 44 bishops

A GROUP of 44 bishops made a public statement on Wednesday afternoon expressing their hope that pastoral guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages would be issued “without delay”.

The statement in favour of reform follows three weeks after 12 bishops publicly dissented from a majority decision by the House of Bishops to commend prayers for same-sex couples (News, 20 October).

The new group, 14 diocesan bishops and 30 suffragans, write that they “recognise the complexities of the Pastoral Guidance in relation to ministry, and also the need for a swift end to the current uncertainty for LGBTQIA+ clergy and ordinands…

Do read the whole article. The full text of the statement is copied here below the fold.



Opinion – 1 November 2023

Andrew Atherstone Law & Religion UK The House of Bishops of the Church of England and public transparency

Marcus Walker The Critic The road to Wigan’s tears

Evan McWilliams ViaMedia.News Same-sex Marriage and the Book of Common Prayer

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Are we heading for decisive Anglican indecision?

Jon Blanchard View from the Pew Why I am not a liberal