Thinking Anglicans

Wycliffe Hall admits unfair dismissal

Updated again Thursday morning

There are reports in both the Daily Telegraph and The Times about this.

Jonathan Petre writing in the Daily Telegraph under the headline Leading theologian sues bishop over ‘bullying’ reports:

One of the Church of England’s best-known theologians is suing the Bishop of Liverpool following a row at an Oxford theological college.

Dr Elaine Storkey, a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day slot, told an employment tribunal in Reading yesterday she had been bullied while a senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall.

She accepted around £20,000 from the trustees of the college after they acknowledged that she had been unfairly dismissed from the post. But the 64-year-old is still seeking a ruling of religious discrimination against the president of the 130-year-old college, Bishop James Jones, over the row…

And Fran Yeoman in The Times adds some further information:

…Bruce Carr, representing the trustees of Wycliffe Hall, acknowledged this version of events, adding: “The respondent accepts that the dismissal of the claimant was unfair.”

Charles Crow, representing Dr Storkey, then turned to the issue of alleged religious discrimination. “Within Christian evangelism there are two strands; conservative evangelism and an open and more liberal evangelism,” he said. “As an open and clear proponent of one of those strands, [Dr Storkey] has been discriminated against.”

Mr Carr rejected that, saying Dr Storkey could not allege discrimination against people of the same faith as her. “She is not saying, ‘I’m being discriminated against because of my Christianity’,” he said. “She is saying, ‘I have a particular type of Christian evangelism.’ To paraphrase, she is the wrong type of evangelical.”

The tribunal has scheduled a further hearing for 10 June, but:

urged both parties to reach an agreement before the full hearing, pointing out the difficulties in attempting to resolve a theological dispute in an employment tribunal.

Update
The Liverpool Echo has picked up this story but has a misleading headline, Bishop of Liverpool sued by BBC (the headline has now changed to: Bishop of Liverpool James Jones caught up in bullying row)

…The case has now been adjourned until June, at which point the three members of an employment tribunal will have to decide whether the Doctor’s evangelical stance constitutes a religion as compared with other evangelists.

Their decision could have far-reaching implications within religious circles.

Dr Storkey has named Bishop James as chairman of Wycliffe Hall’s trustees in her legal action along with and Andrew Dalton, the Hall’s treasurer…

…Today Charles Crow, representing Dr Storkey, said of the outstanding claim. He said: “Within Christian evangelism there are two determinate strands; conservative evangelism and an open and more liberal evangelism.

“Those are open and definable strands and as an open and clear proponent of one of those strands, Dr Storkey has been discriminated against.”

Yesterday (Mon) Bruce Carr, representing the trustees, accepted her dismissal was unfair but claimed Dr Storkey could not allege discrimination against people of the same faith as her…

And Education Guardian has Unfairly sacked Oxford college theologian sues bishop.

Tuesday evening

Ruth Gledhill has blogged about this, see Elaine Storkey: ‘Don’t shoot the heretics.’ Ruth has talked to Elaine, part of what she says is this:

…She told me this afternoon: ‘For me, this never started out as a battle between conservatives and open evangelicals. For me, this was trying to draw attention to the fact that we were unhappy with the style of management at Wycliffe Hall. But as time evolved, it started to feel more theological.

‘I am alarmed at the way big walls between people and groups have started to emerge in the way they did not before. People had nuances and differences, but we all worked well together. From the Fulcrum point of view [Elaine is chairman of Fulcrum], it is not what we are wanting. We want to work with everybody rather than create a new camp.

‘I am alarmed at the belligerence of the conservative camp, where they are seemingly going out of their way to make life as difficult as possible for the Archbishop of Canterbury. I cannot imagine what the reasons are. They are being destructive rather than constructive, finding something to argue about rather than working together to find a fruitful outcome…

Wednesday morning

Oxford Mail Ex-don settles dismissal claim

Independent Fire and brimstone! College principal says we’re all going to hell

Guardian College denies theological vendetta

Thursday morning

Ekklesia has a report, Tearfund president accused of double standards over religious discrimination.

Cambridge Evening News has Presenter in a battle of faith.

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Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

So it’s official.

It is no longer sufficient to profess faith in Jesus as described in the bible. One has to submit to the official theological interpretations, no matter how many passages of either OT or NT are ignored or selectively applied.

Stephen Roberts
Stephen Roberts
13 years ago

The second time in six months where CofE has been embarrassed publicly as “biblical” conduct has been shown not to be morally correct conduct. Will +Liverpool now put Wycliffe’s house in order and save CofE the further embarrassment that Dr. Storkey was the victim of religious discrimination? Somehow I doubt it.

If secular society has to show the Church what is and isn’t moral, then it is little surprise that the population at large find the Church irrelevant and that Richard Dawkins et al have plenty of material for their atheistic polemics.

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

Conservative Evangelical management behaves unethically by bullying and unfairly dismissing staff. Quelle surprise! Appropriate moral behaviour in modern society seems to be increasingly unattainable for Conservative Evangelicals. And the rest of us are supposed to regard them as the future of the Church? I think not, somehow.

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Fr Mark,

The dismissal of staff is an ugly story. But pronouncing judgment before we know the whole story and tarring all evangelicals with the same brush is outrageous.

You mean that what is done elsewhere by someone in the church should be used to define you? Most do not even think in this way,that is stooping very low, incidents of this kind to defame others might be flung around every day if that is what we are reduced to.

Ben W

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

Hi Cheryl- ‘as described in the Bible’ – this is precisely the point. It is rare that any group or individual ever holds any other group or individual to be heretical or heterodox unless they are satisfied that they are going either beyond or against what is ‘described in the Bible’. You speak as though what is ‘described in the Bible’ is in all cases straightforward. In fact, most would agree that there is a sliding scale from very straightforward to not at all straightforward. For the nth time – when will journalists learn to distinguish between evangelism (the activity)… Read more »

Pluralist
13 years ago

It is difficult to pursue religious discrimination, but she should be able to use Richard Turnbull’s own “strategic” words. Presumably she has to make these stick as being the reason she was dismissed; I doubt that “none of the other reasons above” is enough – there has to be a positive association between this religious discrimination and being sacked.

As for the unethical behaviour of Conservative Evangelicalism, I took that as read. We know this with GAFCON, and indeed we know about GAFCON in part thanks to Wycliffe Hall.

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
13 years ago

At least there is justice for Elaine at last in respect of the unfair dismissal claim. Thank you to all those who have supported and prayed for her.

BobinSwPA
BobinSwPA
13 years ago

Why hasn’t the Bishop of Liverpool been called to account by the higher up’s. I’m not clear about how much the ABC or ABY can do. This seems to be a festering situation that should and could be set right.

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

An ethical question that still worries and vexes many of the rest of us – admittedly mainly non realignment con evo believers categorically? – stems from realignment leaders and pundits repeatedly blowing a tire on the common sense ethical highways of modern pluralistic society. Con evo folks characteristically claim the higher moral grounds, every time. Yet they continue to blow out, particularly when it comes to ethically treating the rest of us, not to mention being careful to tell the truth accurately about who the rest of us are and what we discern, feel, believe, and do in service to… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

“How is it that in so many of these instances, special con evo realignment pleading with its special closed presuppositions about what is and what is not biblical ends up enacting poor – even clearly doubtful ethical behaviors – which so often boil down to some version of the realignment ends justifying the dubious realignment means?” Because that’s the only way the fiction of being morally right all the time and having clearly defined “enemies” can be retained. If you need to be right all the time you cannot afford to engage deeply with the others, you cannot afford to… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

This is endemic of conservative evangelicalism in its bid for ‘purity’ of belief….

Brian Woolnough
Brian Woolnough
13 years ago

When will the media get the terminology correct? ‘Evangelical’ does not equal ‘evangelism’. Evangelicals may evangelize, they may also squabble and get things wrong. ‘See how these Christians love one another’ – oh dear! If Christians can not acknowledge and respect each others’ beliefs, and trust God enough to have honest, open discussion about Him, we are in a sad state.
Brian Woolnough, Abingdon

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

Ben: As a gay person, I’m quite used to Conservative Evangelicals using every opportunity to scream judgement against us as a group for our supposed faults. Why should you be so jumpy if I return the compliment by expressing the view that some key Con Evo leaders (Turnbull is one of the chief stirrers-up of unChristian hatred of gay people in the C of E) themselves appear to me (and an employment tribunal, in this case) to behave in an unethical way? My view is that people who are rabidly homophobic generally behave pretty unpleasantly in other ways too.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“But pronouncing judgment before we know the whole story and tarring all evangelicals with the same brush is outrageous.”

I hope you don’t consider yourself an Evangelical, then, Ben.

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

“For the nth time – when will journalists learn to distinguish between evangelism (the activity) and evangelicalism (the belief-system)?” And therein lies the problem. For some there is a distinguishment between their activities and their belief-system. For some, if their belief-system is divinely endorsed, then any activity to promote and protect that belief-system is acceptable. We had the debate a few months ago, and we will have it again today. Endorsement or repugnance about aggressive conduct is theologically based. There are evangelicals who purport that their conduct is not held to account. Wrong e.g. Jeremiah 8:10 to 9:14 “…From the… Read more »

rick allen
rick allen
13 years ago

I’m a little intrigued by the idea that a church can by called on the carpet by committing an offense called “religious discrimination.”

Robert Ian Williams
Robert Ian Williams
13 years ago

No wonder they never translated Jones to York.
However this illustrates that there is a serious split within evangelical Anglicanism.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

Brian
“If Christians can not acknowledge and respect each others’ beliefs, and trust God enough to have honest, open discussion about Him, we are in a sad state.”

You may have noticed that the whole Anglican Communion is falling apart because one group of people is unable to accord the other any respect at all, to the point of denying that they’re Christians at all.

Yes, it is a sad state. Very.

Prior Aelred
13 years ago

What Bruce Carr is saying doesn’t even make any sense to me — would anyone be persuaded by it (I guess we’ll find out, but I suspect that the result will be the widespread impression that the C of E is stupid & discriminatory).

The ethos of puritanism requires that there be some group that it is impure & must be rooted out. It is a frightening & self-destructive mind-set!

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Fr Mark,

I think you help make the point. Earlier it was “evangelicals” now it is “I return the compliment by expressing the view that some key Con Evo leaders . . . themselves appear to me . . . to behave in an unethical way?”

It is the generalizing I question, taken far enough it is simply false.

Ben W

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
13 years ago

This tribunal follows that of Reaney v. Hereford where it was wrongly claimed by the diocese that Reaney was the wrong type of gay, ie. not stable celibate. In Storkey v. Wycliffe Hall, could it be claimed that open and conservative evangelicalism are two different religions, or branches? The Hall has a history of accommodating both. It seems unlikely that Wycliffe could claim an exemption on the basis that “being of a particular religion or belief”, ie conservative evangelicalism, “is a genuine and determining occupational requirement”. It remains to be seen whether this amounts to religious discrimination, or unfair dismissal… Read more »

Stephen Roberts
Stephen Roberts
13 years ago

Ben W – “incidents of this kind to defame others might be flung around every day if that is what we are reduced to” They already are, and we already have seen a reduction to that level. For example, the recent polemic against Davis MacIyalla on Virtue Online… http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=7404 Christopher Shell – “when will journalists learn to distinguish between evangelism (the activity) and evangelicalism (the belief-system)?” The fact you care about the differentce between a verb and an adjective more than indisputable unfair dismissal of Dr. Storkey by Wycliffe amazes me. Ben W, Christopher – come on admit it (as… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“It seems unlikely that Wycliffe could claim an exemption on the basis that “being of a particular religion or belief”, ie conservative evangelicalism, “is a genuine and determining occupational requirement”.”

But this is not in any way “conservative”. Conservative is a political term, this is about new – that is novel – distinctly 20th century heresies.

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

The ingredients come from different parts; the “Leadership” issues from Australian Pentecostalism, so called “Apostolic” leadership.

It is currently causing great conflicts in Swedish Pentecostalism.

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

It really is about time that Oxford University closed down this faintly ridiculous fundamentalist degree mill, which is clearly entirely unconnected to academic credibility and is bringing the university into disrepute.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

Hi Stephen- Of the two issues, I care about both, but I care more about her unfair dismissal. More than with the other departures from Wycliffe, hers seems to have been the result of personality clashes (and to sack someone on the basis – whether or not this basis is admitted to – of personality clashes is a form of ‘might is right’) and/or plain speaking (which should be actually rewarded, not punished, since it conforms with truth and truthfulness). She confirms my suspicion that the sacking was not a theological matter – or (as she qualifies it) not in… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

Make that Ephesians 4. (1) Apostles; (2) Prophets; (3) Evangelists; (4) Pastors; (5) Teachers. Or, alternatively: (4) Pastors-and-Teachers.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“The only reason this has come to be so widely misunderstood by journalists, lawyers and others (who regularly call evangelicals ‘evangelists’ even in their obituaries, e.g. Jim Douglas) is that some have started claiming one can be a non-evangelising Christian, so turning normal Christians (who evangelise) into ‘the other’, from their point of view.” No, this has become an issue because Evangelical Christians have co-opted the word ‘Christian’ to mean ‘Evangelical Christian’. Thus, what Evangelicals do is “evangelism”. The prevailing belief about Christianity among non-believers in the West, as far as I can see, is that Christians all practice glossolalia… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Christopher Do you ever feel like you’ve been in a fight where it was not clear who was leading. Have you ever looked up to notice that your pirouette put you exactly in alignment with that you thought you were fighting against? You wrote “Evangelism is not a party activity but a Christian activity/mode/lifestyle/attitude. The only reason this has come to be so widely misunderstood by journalists, lawyers and others (who regularly call evangelicals ‘evangelists’ even in their obituaries, e.g. Jim Douglas) is that some have started claiming one can be a non-evangelising Christian, so turning normal Christians (who evangelise)… Read more »

Pluralist
13 years ago

Very interesting about Tearfund, and the ways and means of perceived exclusion there via statements of belief having to be signed.

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
13 years ago

I think there is a tendency now for the Hall to represent this matter as just a failure of procedure, in an attempt to limit the damage. The assumption seems to be that if they own up to the unfair dismissal claim on the grounds that they had no proper processes in place, they can ignore the wider question of why they were seeking to rid themselves of these members of staff in the first place, and whether there was bullying/discrimination/prejudice against staff. That way, they get to clean up their governance (which I know they intend to do anyway),… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“Tearfund”…

Tear- or tear-?

;=)

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“That might save them from further reputational damage.”

This is called “in statu confessioni” in Lutheran. Which means there is an ABSOLUTE obligation to witness to Truth, that is to REJECT any such false games.

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

But then, the people involved are not Lutheran…

Robert Klein
Robert Klein
13 years ago

“It really is about time that Oxford University closed down this faintly ridiculous fundamentalist degree mill, which is clearly entirely unconnected to academic credibility and is bringing the university into disrepute.”

That’s funny, Ruth Gledhill http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/01/elaine-storkey.html describes it as “Oxford’s top theological college”.

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Pluralist,

Is it really surprising that an agency that has served quietly and accomplished great good for the sake of Christ should take care to maintain its own clear identity? (Often the very people you think evangelicals are simply down on in largely overlooked places of the world).

One can be clear, I think evern you would recognize, about one’s own identity and as part of this itself respect others. I think it is your language that actually borders on “reverse discrimination.”

Ben W

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

Pete: I agree with what you say above. I think this case, along with the recent Hereford one, does indicate a problem that we have in many areas of the Church’s management culture, which is simply that practices and management attitudes no other bosses can get away with elsewhere are tolerated at a high level in the Church. Again and again one sees people put in responsible management roles in the Church who are just not up to task, and who haven’t been through the same kind of mentality development that everyone else in the workplace has, particularly with regard… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

Ah yes, Robert, that ‘top theological college’ where any staff member with a shred of reputation has left and which was clearly being referred to in recent concerns about such colleges made by the University.

An admittance of unfair dismissal is going to do them a power of good, too….

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
13 years ago

Well said Mark. The New Statesman has an excellent article by Simon Edge, marking Richard Kirker’s retirement from LGCM. It deals with the issue of discrimination – and Wycliffe crops up: http://www.newstatesman.com/200801100026 “One mark of the ascendancy of the anti-gay wing of the Church is the present wave of resignations and dismissals at Wycliffe Hall, the theological college affiliated to Oxford University. This follows the arrival of a conservative evangelical principal who hit the headlines with his professed belief that 95 per cent of the population will go to hell unless they follow the gospel. He also opposes the ordination… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
13 years ago

Fr Mark wrote: “Pete: I agree with what you say above. I think this case, along with the recent Hereford one, does indicate a problem that we have in many areas of the Church’s management culture, which is simply that practices and management attitudes no other bosses can get away with elsewhere are tolerated at a high level in the Church.” You and +Pete B are right on the button. I recall the recent clergy discipline measure being debated in London diocesan synod, of which I was then a member. (6/7/05 – a date I remember because of the horrifying… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

Hi Cheryl- I don’t get the relevance of what you are saying, since I have never been anything but rabidly pro-women. Hi Ford- If nonChristians in the west are so misinformed, then they can only be wilfully misinformed, ie imagining an alternative reality that fits in with their stereotypes. In short, if they really are as you characterise them (as the young among them may indeed be: I am less sure about the others), then they are not making an effort to understand, so why should we perceive them as hard-done-by? Such nonChristians are in a different category from honest… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“If nonChristians in the west are so misinformed, then they can only be wilfully misinformed, ie imagining an alternative reality that fits in with their stereotypes.” Christopher, they see it 24 hours a day on TV. In North America there are entire television stations devoted to fundamentalist Christian broadcasting, and it is appalling what they present as “Christianity”. What do you expect when the loudest voices in the public forum claim “Christians believe…..” by way of introduction to the often bizarre beliefs of their particular sect? When Christians mount court challenges to keep Evolution out of schools, or dismiss it… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Christopher Good. Those who are anti-women, especially as priests/bishops/primates or teachers, might find it relevent. Those of us who debate them find it relevant Ben wrote “Is it really surprising that an agency that has served quietly and accomplished great good for the sake of Christ should take care to maintain its own clear identity?” Is is surprising that Zion might take care to maintain her own clear identity? God does not go to war on a lie, nor does God forsake everlasting covenants e.g. the one made to Zion for peace (see Isaiah 54 & 49) If you want… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

OK – though surely even evolution’s proponents would not dispute that it is a ‘theory’. After all, there is such a thing as a correct theory – its correctness or otherwise does not stop it being a theory. Evolution is actually a classic example, since there remain data that do not fit it, or the classic models of it; rather than abandoning the theory in the face of the evidence, the evidence is made to fit the theory. The theory is actually accepted prior to its being understood how it accommodates all the data (if it does). To deny that… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
13 years ago

Evolution is a fact; no reputable biologist says otherwise.

The “theory” is how it occurs…a theory, in this case, being a description that best satisfies all the evidence. If new evidence is found, the theory is revised. Darwin’s basic theory has been revised–mostly in small parts–for nearly a century, thanks to discoveries not only of fossils, but of genetics.

BTW, our current understanding of gravity and electromagnetics are largely “theory” as well. Going to dismiss those as well?

John
John
13 years ago

All a very sad matter and one that certainly didn’t need to be in the press. Sadly, it seems as though Dr Storkey wanted to make it all very public and so obviously contacted the newspapers. How dignified of both Bishop James Jones and Wycliffe hall to not fuel her desire for a slanging match in the press. It sounds as though it was a matter of improper procedure rather than bullying.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

Hi Pat- To read my comment is to see that I was not ‘dismissing’ evolution in the first place. The fact that the term ‘correct theory’ is correct English shows that it is no shame to be classified as a ‘theory’. But it is also the case that closed-mindedness hinders open enquiry. If one already knows the answer (orrange of answers) one is automatically closed to other possibilities, with the result that ‘conclusions’ can predetermine themselves. I am completely unequipped to comment on evolutionary biology, but in gospel studies there are instances of the received view surviving because of the… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“The theory is actually accepted prior to its being understood how it accommodates all the data (if it does).” Christopher, yet again you show your unfamiliarity with science. No theory is intended to provide all the answers. We have constructs that explain the evidence as it is known at the time. As further evidence is gained, the theory must be adjusted, or even discarded, to fit the evidence. One does not start with all the evidence then come up with an explanation that fits all of it. That would be impossible, since we can never have all the evidence. Any… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

Christopher, what does any of this have to do with the fact that most Westerners, including a great number of Christians, consider Christianity to be fundamentalist Christianity, despite the fact that the mosjrity of Christians are NOT fundamentalist and do not adhere to fundamentalist doctrine? The reason is simple: Fundamentalists co-opted the word “Christian” a long time to mean them and them alone. They have been quite open in declaring anyone else “not Christian”, or to put it another way “unsaved”. It is not a matter of laziness on the aprt of the unchurched. It is a result of the… Read more »

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