Thinking Anglicans

Green report: after Synod now what?

Our previous roundup was: Following up on the Green Report.

Since then, there wasn’t any proper debate on it at the General Synod.

Andrew Lightbown has continued to offer comment:

Both of these articles deserve to be read in full, and taken seriously by the management of the Church of England. Here is an excerpt, but do read both of them in full.

…Let’s have a look at the ‘Christian leadership tradition’ drawing on the Rule of Benedict…

In chapter 3 of his rule Benedict acknowledges that some decisions can only be taken by the most senior member of the community. Accordingly he places two obligations on the abbot or abbess:

  • when any business of importance is to be considered in the monastery, the abbot or abbess should summon the whole community together and,
  • the community should be summoned for such consultation because it often happens that the Lord makes the best course clear to one of the younger members. Benedict endorses, and actively seeks out, the ‘wisdom of youth.’ Does the Church?

Benedict also tells his audience that it is only ‘when questions of lesser importance arise in the concerns of the monastery,that the abbot or abbess should consult with seniors alone.’

If we accept Benedict’s logic and apply it – reasoning by analogy – to the ‘discussions’ around the Green Report we can only presume that the House of Bishops regard the identification and development of the next generation of leaders as a matter of ‘lesser importance!’ Matters to be discussed by the bishops alone…

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Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Yes, there should have been proper consultation through Synods, and no, the people who are largely responsible for increasingly out of touch, centralised management should not be the ones who put in place structures to reform their own failure. But this is where we are and it’s no good wishing we were somewhere else. Assuming that recent reports are right and we only have 10 years to save the church, and knowing what a slow tortoise the decision making process through Synods is… are the bishops not right to say that when the building burns you lead people to the… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

Erika, to extend your analogy, in a burning building the janitor or cleaner might be the person with the most intimate knowledge of the building, and the best person to lead people to safety.

At the very least you need a leader who a. knows who the cleaners are, and b, has the willingness to consult with them before heading off blindly into the smoke.

Gareth P
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Gareth P

What now after Green indeed? Perhaps I could offer a rather depressing, but necessary, warning from Wales? We have an archbishop (interestingly, the Anglican Communion’s nominee for the CNC which appointed Justin Welby!) who has vigorously pursues his own agenda, while appearing to ignore the democratic process. The representation on our Governing Body (our equivalent of your General Synod) was slashed. It is now, effectively, little more than a rubber-stamping body for the bishops. The current bench of bishops is made very much in the image and likeness of the Archbishop. It is an openly discussed fact that he has… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

I think, though, Erika, it might be the case where the cleaner, caretaker or someone else low in the hierarchy knows better where the exit is than the alpha male in charge!

Charles Read
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Charles Read

… assuming it is an exit and not a locked door. Also assumes the bishops know the way to the exit and the others don’t.

I think GS showed that all of this is assumption and needs challenging.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

” … are the bishops not right to say that when the building burns you lead people to the exit, you don’t spend hours discussing where the exit might be?” Erika is right. The CofE is not in a good place, although predictions of its demise in 10 years are somewhat wide of the mark. It is after all His church. The challenge is to take active steps now to focus on numerical and spiritual growth. For that to happen its leaders need to be on the same page, something of a challenge when we don’t offer any leadership training… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Yes, everyone, the cleaner may know best. But there are thousands of cleaners and I have so far heard dozens of different proposals about what “must” happen now. So you’d need a process to identify which of the cleaners knows best and you would have to get a majority to rally behind that cleaner. What are people asking for? The Green report to be scrapped, a working group to be put together to write a report put together to detail the current problems of the CoE, maybe with possible solutions, this report to be sent to the Synods to be… Read more »

William Richards
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William Richards

As has already been asked (the sole comment in response to the Archbishop’s Presidential address to the Synod), is the Archbishop bringing Synod with him? The failure to allow a debate on the Green Report is, itself, a sign of ineffective leadership. It suggests a high-handed disregard towards those who share in local and regional leadership of the Church. It means that more energy is going to be spent recovering trust and reversing all the negative energy; whereas a debate would have allowed us to move forward – even if the process and content had been revised in the light… Read more »

Pam Smith
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But where does the analysis ‘We only have 10 years to save the church!’ come from? In itself, it is symptomatic of a certain style of macho leadership which assumes there is one solution and it must be powered through against all odds for the good of the very people who resist it. And – ironically – if the Green report is correct in saying the current leadership lack the skills for this kind of ‘Alpha male ( and female) leadership, is it a surprise they can’t push through their perceived solution? There Is No Alternative lives, and it is… Read more »

Jean Mayland (Revd)
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Jean Mayland (Revd)

The Bishops represent the kind of leadership they want. ie You do as you are told and we do not consult. Green advocated this too. It is not the kind of leadership we need- ie one which consults and detestable and caries people along with it with enthusiasm. WE have not seen that in our Bishops for may years – to find it go back to Michael Ramsey and Robert Runcie and David Jenkins! I remember 2 of us sitting in David’s throne at Auckland Castle when we went into groups to discuss ideas and take our views to him… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

Sorry Anthony but all the GS members I spoke to about Green are very unhappy with it and with the fact we could not discuss it. Some GS members (myself included) think Green contains things that are worth rescuing but in GS 1. no debate was timetabled on Green -we debated and voted on the other reports in this set 2. there was a discussion group on Green but I went to another one – a friend who went to Green said the mood music from the front was ‘this is not your business’ 3. several people sent in questions… Read more »

John
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John

Here’s my solution:

(1) We need bishops and archbishops who can make the case for Christianity in public debate. That rules out both the current archbishops and most of the bishops.

(2) We need more ordinands. The last thing struggling churches need is different celebrants every week.

(3) We need clergy at all levels who can talk and relate to people in a normal, friendly way. That rules out a frighteningly high proportion of current clergy.

Stevie Gamble
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Stevie Gamble

It seems to me that it is worthwhile comparing and contrasting the behaviour of the Church in response to the ongoing criminal investigations and those in the financial world. I see from the Telegraph that: ‘Lord Green is stepping down as chairman of TheCityUK’s Advisory Council with immediate effect.’ For those unfamiliar with it the Telegraph helpfully explains that: ‘TheCityUK is the UK’s national body for the financial and related professional services industry.’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/11413038/Lord-Green-quits-amid-HSBC-row.html?WT.mc_id=e_DM1414&WT.tsrc=email&etype=frontpage&utm_source=email&utm_medium=Edi_FPM_New_2015_02_14&utm_campaign=DM1414 The Church, by contrast, is doubling down and standing by its man, and its plan. It may also be helpful to clarify that the techniques whereby… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

I agree that the CofE is not in a good place and that ‘something must be done’. I also think that the four questions that Anthony Archer poses are the right ones. However, I don’t agree that the Green report is the thing that must be done or that it adequately addresses Anthony’s questions. Erica Baker asks rhetorically if we want the Green report scrapped and that we start again and work our way through Synod committees, expecting the answer ‘No’. I was resistant to Mrs Thatcher’s ‘There is No Alternative’ and I am equally resistant to the Bishop’s version… Read more »

Rebecca Lloyd
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Rebecca Lloyd

Some of the comments on this report remind me of the famous Yes, Minister quote: something must be done, this is something, therefore it must be done.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

‘The authors and supporters of this report have forgotten that there are people in the pews like me who have to be led and that means being persuaded and not bullied.’ This is where the Archbishop’s and Lord Green’s business backgrounds do not help. In a bank or an oil company, managers have subordinates who can be fired if they do not toe the managerial line. In a church, or for that matter in almost any non-profit, people need to be persuaded and inspired. Someone needs to set forth a vision and explain to people why they should give and… Read more »

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

A senior naval officer, speaking at a clergy conference, said that the troops stationed in Helmand needed to be personally persuaded to go out on patrol each day. Asked why they didn’t simply take recourse to a Court Martial process, he responded by saying that (a) it was complicated; (b) time consuming; and (c) that you don’t inspire people to give of their best when they perceive they under threat from those leading them. He also made the point that it was important to enable the troops to feel that they had some responsibility in the decisions being taken –… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
Guest
Stevie Gamble

Simon R

During the Peninsular campaign, over a century ago, the British soldiers had a simple classification for their officers. They were divided into two categories: the ‘Johnny go ons’ and the ‘Johnny come ons’.

Unsurprisingly the soldiers held the first lot in contempt, and followed the second; the same principle was at work in Helmand…

Alastair Newman
Guest

“It’s growth all the way down” as somebody might never have said. But that does seem to be it doesn’t it: growth, growth, growth. And people have rightly focussed on numerical growth (quantifiable) and spiritual growth (completely unquantifiable) in the CofE. Why are we so timid though? What the church really needs to survive, what it as an institution wants is *economic* growth. That is the subtext to everything that’s going on. The economic projections are bleak, the coffers will run dry at some point in the not too distant future, and the way to address that is growth, numerical… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David Lammont,
I like your proposal very much, thank you.

Stevie Gamble
Guest
Stevie Gamble

I agree with Erica; I like Daniel Lamont’s proposal too. I would go further and suggest that Adrian Newman, area Bishop of Stepney, be appointed as Chair. Before anyone complains that he doesn’t understand businesses I should note that Adrian was an economist before he became a priest; I had the pleasure, and, indeed, privilege of meeting him several times when he was Dean of Rochester. He has an extraordinary ability to reach out to people from all walks of life and draw them into the warmth and security of God’s love, without ever making anyone feel that they are… Read more »

Malcolm
Guest
Malcolm

Any GS member who wants “Green” and the Faith and Order paper on Leadership discussed in the open needs to sign Simon Kilwick’s private members motion on a Senior Leadership so it has enough signatures to demand a debate at York in July.