The outline of business for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod that we linked to last month has been amended. The order of business on Saturday morning has been changed, some “not later than” times have been added, an item of contingency business (DSM Southwell & Notts – Church Buildings) has been dropped, and the deadline for submission of questions has been extended to Tuesday 13 February 2024.
This is the current outline of business and subject to change.
The final details of the items will be available on the Agenda which will be circulated in February.
Friday 23 February 2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Business Committee Report Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Vacancy in See Regulations Consolidation Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Vacancy in See Regulations Act of Synod Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Amending Canon No 43 – for enactment Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Parochial Fees: London
*Not later than 5.30 pm
Saturday 24 February 9.00 am – 12.45 pm
Opening worship Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Code of Conduct for PCCs: Chelmsford
*Not later than 11.15am
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Land and Nature
Synod Code of Conduct Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Future of work: Oxford
Sunday 25 February 2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Racial Justice Special Agenda III – Private Members’ Motions Bullying by Lay Officers
Standing Orders Committee Report
Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households
Monday 26 February 9.00 am – 12.30 pm
Church Commissioners’ Response to Links to Transatlantic Chattel Slavery
* Not later than 10.15 am Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Parochial Fees Order 2024 – for approval Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Chancel Repair (Church Commissioners’ Liability) Measure – first consideration Reappointment of two members of the Archbishops’ Council
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Living in Love and Faith
Estates Evangelism Special Agenda III – Private Members’ Motions Clergy Pensions
Tuesday 27 February 9.00am – 12.30 pm
Living in Love and Faith
* Not later than 11.30 am Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Church Funds Measure
2.00pm – 4.30 pm
War in Ukraine and the Challenge to International Order Special Agenda III – Private Members’ Motions Ordination after divorce
*Not later than 4.15pm
*Not later than 4.30pm
Clergy Discipline Rules
DSM Sheffield – Foodbanks and Inadequacies in Social Security
PMM Sam Wilson – LGBTQIA+ and Relationship Education
Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Tuesday 13 February 2024
Professor Alexis Jay CBE has informed the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York that she will next month (February) deliver to them and publish her report on how to make Church safeguarding fully independent.
In her report, Professor Jay will make a series of recommendations on how Church safeguarding can be made independent, accountable, fair and trusted, in order to learn from the past and better protect all those involved in Church life from harm.
The report has been informed by extensive engagement with those with recent experience of Church safeguarding, both in person and online, including victims and survivors, safeguarding practitioners, members of the clergy and volunteers.
This engagement exercise, which Professor Jay extended to ensure that all those who wished to share their views had the opportunity to do so, has now finished.
Professor Jay, supported by the Future of Church Safeguarding Programme, which is independent of the Church, is now preparing her report and recommendations.
In the interests of transparency, Professor Jay will publish her report online on the Future of Church Safeguarding Programme website.
Further details about publication will be provided in due course.
The AC has publicly committed to learning lessons for the future delivery of independent safeguarding oversight noting the vital importance of this for all who come into contact with the Church but particularly for victims and survivors who will play an integral part in this work.
The response group, chaired by the lead safeguarding bishop, will consider the important lessons to be learnt highlighted in the Wilkinson report and once published will look at the recommendations in the Jay report.
The group will be made up of a range of members including safeguarding professionals from within and outside the Church, along with survivor and victim representation to ensure that survivors have input into the discussion and that their lived experience is heard. Alongside this, it is envisaged that a survivor and victim focus group will also be set up. The response group will consult with it in order to ask questions on specific areas.
The response group will meet regularly and will consider what wider consultation and further reflection is needed around both Reviews before a final response is considered and made by the AC which will go to General Synod for debate. The terms of reference will be drawn up in due course.
A prominent campaigner alleges that senior leaders in the Church of England are protecting its Secretary General William Nye against allegations that he has put reputation management before the needs of abuse victims. The former Lead Bishop for Safeguarding admits that the survivor was misled.
Gilo is a survivor of non-recent sexual abuse in the Church of England, and a prominent campaigner on issues of church abuse.
Gilo’s abuse, and its subsequent handling by the church, were the subject of an inquiry by independent safeguarding expert Ian Elliott, which was published in March 2016. The inquiry report was highly critical of the Church’s treatment of Gilo, and particularly of the deliberate withdrawal of pastoral care from the victim, apparently on the instruction of the church’s insurer, Ecclesiastical. Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who was then Bishop of Crediton, was assigned to ensure that the recommendations of the review were fulfilled.
After the publication of the Elliott Review, a secretive meeting was held in Church House in August 2016 in which the church’s National Safeguarding Team, in-house lawyers, and communications team met with four executives from Ecclesiastical to discuss “a joined-up approach to stories and the media”, to preserve the reputation of both parties in the case. Neither Ian Elliott nor Gilo was aware of the meeting, or consulted about it.
Following the meeting, Ecclesiastical publicly questioned parts of Elliott’s review. They continued this approach when giving evidence at IICSA, describing the review as ‘flawed’ and ‘inaccurate’. In particular they explicitly rejected the suggestion that the insurer had suggested that the church should withdraw pastoral support from the survivor. The representatives of EIO were subsequently recalled to the Inquiry to revisit their evidence, and were forced to retract part of it.
Following the IICSA Inquiry, Gilo obtained evidence that the reputation management meeting between Ecclesiastical and the church had indeed taken place. When Gilo attempted to get an explanation from the National Safeguarding Team and the Bishop of London, they shut him down.
In 2020 Gilo made a complaint against William Nye, the Secretary-General of the Church of England, who has overall responsibility for safeguarding in the church. The thrust of the complaint was that Nye was responsible for the reputation management meeting that the National Safeguarding Team and others had held in August 2016. The complaint was internally investigated by Canon John Spence, the member of the Archbishop’s Council who had the role of line managing Mr Nye. Mr Spence, who described himself as a “friend” of William Nye, reported that there were no further records of the meeting or of what was discussed. Nor could any of the parties recollect it. In any case, he said, William Nye could not have been present because “he always takes his holiday at that time of year.” Consequently Gilo’s complaint against William Nye was dismissed.
In mid-2022 Gilo wrote to a number of senior staff in the Church of England, including the two Archbishops and safeguarding leads, asking for an explanation. Once again, he was blanked.
In March 2023 the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs, replied to Gilo admitting that church records showed the meeting about Gilo’s case had taken place, that William Nye had attended it, and that reputation management in relation to the church and its insurer had been discussed. He also admitted that Gilo’s “interests and well-being as a survivor were not as central as they should have been.”
Since July 2023 the Archbishops have repeatedly been asked by Gilo’s lawyer Richard Scorer for an explanation as to why the complaint against Nye had been dismissed on false grounds. The question has also been raised at General Synod. Repeated approaches have been left unanswered. In November 2023, the Archbishop of York, in a written response to a question at General Synod, said that an external firm of auditors had been engaged to conduct a “targeted” review. Neither Gilo, his lawyer or his advocate has been informed of the process of this review or invited to contribute to it.
Further information is available from Andrew Graystone
College and House of Bishops meetings – January 2024
The College of Bishops has spent the last two days together, meeting for Bible study, prayer and discussion at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire.
On Thursday Bishops began the meeting with a Bible study from Romans 12, led by the Rev Dr Isabelle Hamley, reflecting on the theme of generosity and grace. Dr Hamley discussed blessing and what it means to be a body where we all depend on one another and live interconnected lives – as individuals and part of a church, both local and global.
That led into discussions about the operation of the “Five Guiding Principles” which were agreed as part of the package of legislation, 10 years ago this year, which paved the way for the consecration of women as bishops.
Bishops then heard from members of the Standing Commission on the Five Guiding Principles, set up in 2022, and the Independent Reviewer, Maggie Swinson, who handles concerns and disputes over the operation of the arrangements put in place in 2014.
They also heard first hand examples of the experiences of female clergy, including examples of misogyny and online abuse. There were then discussions in small groups and in plenary about lessons which could be learned from the 2014 arrangements.
In the evening the bishops took part in an informal question-and-answer discussion with three special guests – the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet; the historian Tom Holland and the musician Guvna B – chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Questions ranged widely over subjects from current global events and conflicts to the origins and meaning of English identity; challenges facing young people; knife crime and the need for greater public knowledge of the Bible.
This morning bishops spent time considering issues in public life and proposals for a period of prayer for the nation to coincide with the expected General Election campaign.
Turning to recent developments on introducing public prayers for God’s blessing for same-sex couples, the bishops discussed how we move forward as a whole Church, pay attention to the needs of those who hold profoundly different views, and consider making commitments on what a more unified approach to these next stages of implementation might look like.
Following the meeting of the College, members of the House of Bishops held a short meeting to discuss Living in Love and Faith in more detail and looked forward to the lead bishops, Bishop of Newcastle Helen-Ann Hartley and Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, further developing a paper for General Synod next month.
on Friday, 19 January 2024 at 3.42 pm by Peter Owen
categorised as Church in Wales
The Church in Wales has announced that the Revd Canon David Morris is to become the Assistant Bishop of Bangor. He will be consecrated as a bishop on 11 May 2024 and will adopt the title of Bishop of Bardsey, as well as Assistant Bishop of Bangor.
…On Wednesday, a letter was sent to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, signed by 20 members of the General Synod. The letter called for “the immediate suspension and subsequent investigation” of the secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye.
The letter, written by Synod member and safeguarding lawyer, Martin Sewell, accuses Mr Nye of failing to heed a request from Steve Reeves, one of the sacked members of the ISB, to delay the announcement of its termination so that survivors could be informed privately rather than learning via the media.
Ms Wilkinson’s report quotes an email from Mr Reeves to Mr Nye, in which Mr Reeves writes: “I am urging caution as powerfully as I can. The harm could be significant and the announcement is not urgent.”
The letter alleges that Mr Nye “rejected that advice and chose to take the risk; it had foreseeable and foreseen consequences . . . avoidable significant harm towards the vulnerable people to whom he owed a duty of care.”
The Church of England issued a press release today, giving an update on the Smyth review. It is copied below.
Update on Smyth review
Statement from National Director of Safeguarding
The following statement has been issued by the independent reviewer into the Church’s handling of allegations against the late John Smyth. We would like to say as commissioners of the review, the NST recognises the process has gone on longer than is acceptable for those waiting for an outcome and for the Church to act and learn on the outcomes of the report. Along with the reviewer we apologise for this delay. We continue to offer additional resources and financial support to ensure the report is received by the end of April with a view to publication as soon as practically possible after that date.
Statement from Keith Makin, Independent Reviewer
I would like to take this opportunity to thank victims for their courage, time, and detailed input to the review and more recently in meetings with me. I recognise the impact that the duration of the review has had on victims, their families and others involved in this case.
Concerns have been expressed that I may have been put under pressure to delay publication of this report, I can confirm this is not the case. Several factors have contributed to the time taken reaching this current stage, including varying the terms of my contract. This will enable me to carry out representations, where those criticised in the review will be given advance notice of this and provided with an opportunity to respond.
I can confirm that my report is now being prepared for this process and I anticipate this will commence in March 2024.
Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. While support has previously been offered the NST has now secured the service of a specialist advocacy service. FearFree Support provides specialist support to victims and survivors of abuse, offering trauma informed and victim led bespoke support. Its director of services has identified an experienced independent advocate for victims and survivors – Nina Tanner – to deliver this service and this information has been relayed to the survivors and victims.
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Toby Wright for appointment as Dean of Wells.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 15 January 2024
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Toby Wright, Team Rector of Witney and Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, to be appointed as Dean of Wells, in succession to The Very Reverend Dr John Davies following his resignation.
Toby was educated at New College, Oxford, and trained for ministry at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. He served his title at St Peter with St Mary, Petersfield, in the Diocese of Portsmouth and in 2002 he was ordained priest.
From 2004, Toby served as Priest in Charge at St John Chrysostom with St Andrew, Peckham, in the Diocese of Southwark, and in 2006 he was appointed Vicar, also serving as Area Dean of Camberwell.
In 2009, Toby took up his current role as Team Rector of the Benefice of Witney, in the Diocese of Oxford, serving as Area Dean of Witney from 2013 to 2019. From 2020-2023 Toby was on secondment to the Dorchester Episcopal Area Team and during part of this time served as Acting Associate Archdeacon. In addition, Toby is Warden of the Sisters of the Community of Saint Mary the Virgin, Wantage.
The Church of England’s House of Bishops has started to publish a Summary of Actions and Decisions for each of its meetings. These are much fuller that the usual bland press releases. Two such summaries, for November and December 2023, are available. They are in docx format; for convenience I have converted them to the pdf files below.
Inclusive Parishes with CPAS as their patrons may not be aware of this change in their position on sexuality. Parishes may want to ask CPAS why this change was made without them being consulted or informed and how this will affect future appointments
The document in full:
CPAS trustees have endorsed the Evangelical Alliance’s affirmations on human sexuality.
We are conscious that different evangelicals might apply some of these points in different ways, but we believe that, taken together, they reflect an authentic, mainstream evangelical response to human sexuality in general and sexually active same-sex partnerships in particular: