Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 6 March 2021

Helen King ViaMedia.News Independence & Safeguarding: Marking Our Own Homework?

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News The Idolatry of Being “Sound”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Christ Church and Dysfunctional Group Dynamics


Dean of Bradford to retire

The Dean of Bradford, the Very Rev Jerry Lepine, has announced that he will retire from the role this summer.

Diocese of Leeds Dean Jerry retires from role at Bradford Cathedral after 8 years service
Telegraph & Argus Dean of Bradford Cathedral, Very Rev Jerry Lepine, to retire


General Synod Reports

Updated Monday evening

Church Times
Archbishops’ message: Don’t be unkind to the Church or each other
Church’s vision is for more front-line ministry, not less, Archbishop of York tells Synod members
Synod members hear significant changes planned for church safeguarding
This is the right moment to act, housing commissioners tell Synod

Press release from the Church of England
Report on housing crisis ‘challenge to the soul’ of the Church of England – Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of York General Synod Address on progress of Vision and Strategy – February 2021


Stephen Lynas bathwellschap I can’t see nobody…

There is a recording of the whole day’s session on YouTube here.


Opinion – 27 February 2021

Nikki Groarke ViaMedia.News Change is Coming…Even if We Feel the Record is Stuck

Anonymous Surviving Church Nuremberg at 75: Trials and Tribulations


General Synod questions

Updated Saturday morning

The February 2021 General Synod Questions (and answers) have been published. These are written answers only as there will be no opportunity for supplementary questions at the informal meeting of Synod on Saturday.

The papers for the meeting are online here; they include these.

Why the Church should care about housing
Independence in Safeguarding – with a Cover Note for Synod members, February 2021

We have published articles about the second and third of these here and here.


Church Times Synod Q&A: safeguarding, CDM, and the Church’s future

Stephen Lynas previews today’s meeting on his bathwellschap blog: We don’t talk any more.

You can watch General Synod live here.


John Smyth review delayed – again

The following text has been added to the John Smyth Review page of the Church of England website.

Further update on timing of publication

To ensure the review is as comprehensive as possible and that the large volume of information submitted can be fully studied, it is now likely that the completion of the report will be mid-summer 2021 at the earliest. Following that, there will be a need to ensure that the report is legally sound and that people who may be directly referenced will have had the opportunity to comment on those references.


Opinion – 24 February 2021

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News It’s Time to Talk About…Sex!

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Some Reflections on Vocation and the Ravi Zacharias story

Georges Staelens Blogue de Georges Tiny dioceses and bishopped subdeans / Diocèses minuscules et évêques-doyens.


Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today released Coming Home: Tackling the housing crisis together, a report from the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community. There is a lengthy press release, which is copied below. The Church Commissioners have also issued a press release welcoming the report.

The report and an executive summary can be downloaded from here.

Press reports include

Church Times This is how to solve the housing crisis, says Archbishops’ Commission
The Guardian Church of England land should be used to help tackle housing crisis, says report

There will be a presentation by the Archbishops’ Commission on the key actions and recommendations from the report at the informal meeting of General Synod on 27 February. Synod members have been sent this briefing paper, which includes  a copy of the Grove booklet Why the Church Should Care About Housing written by two members of the Commission.

Archbishops’ Press release

Church must play key role in national effort to solve housing crisis, says Archbishops’ Commission

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have released a landmark new report, ‘Coming Home’, which sets out a bold new vision for housing and community

The Church of England should lead by example, including delivering more truly affordable homes on its own land, to help solve the housing crisis, says a landmark report published today by the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community.

A collective effort at all levels of society including Government, local authorities, landowners and property developers as well as the Church is needed to help tackle an acute shortage of truly affordable homes, the report Coming Home, says.

Published after two years of research, the 10-strong Commission warns that the housing crisis has left an estimated eight million people living in overcrowded, unaffordable and sub-standard accommodation with increasing numbers of families unable to put down roots in their communities.



Opinion – 20 February 2021

The Guardian Ash Wednesday under Covid restrictions – in pictures

Ben Phillips All Things Lawful And Honest Super Bishops & Simpler Structures
“Ben Phillips reflects on the increasingly top-heavy structures of the Church of England and commends a radical rethinking of diocesan boundaries which would enable bishops to be both real pastors on the ground and effective symbolic leaders of the wider Church.”

Anthony Woollard Modern Church Does it Matter if the Church Dies?

Robert Hammond ViaMedia.News What to ‘Give Up’ When Everything’s Been Taken Away?

Philip North All Things Lawful And Honest The Primacy of the Parish


Opinion – 17 February 2021 – Ash Wednesday

Sarah James Earth & Altar Memento Mori: Christian Forms of Death Contemplation for Lent

Augustine Tanner-Ihm ViaMedia.News When You are Not Invited to the Table

Charlotte Gauthier All Things Lawful And Honest Middle Management Malaise
“Charlotte Gauthier speaks from her experience of middle management in the secular world – how it works well, and where it works badly. The Church of England is replicating all the worst management patterns of a failing company heading for collapse. How can we stop this malaise and restore an efficient and energising vision of what the Church of England could be?”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Proportionate and Just? The Church of England and the Clerical Discipline Measure.


Opinion – 13 February 2021

Savitri Hensman ViaMedia.News What place for minorities? Church, Status and Power

Barry Orford All Things Lawful And Honest Back to Basics Bishops
“Fr Barry Orford asks important questions about how the Church of England goes about appointing bishops and what a bishop is. Has an obsession with managerialism prompted us to lose sight of the true episcopal vocation to serve and care for the flock of Christ?”

Dexter Bracey All Things Lawful And Honest Change and Clerical Decay
“Dexter Bracey asks if the current agenda for change in the Church of England might not be at odds with the spirit of the newly published Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. Could it be that the trend for reinvention is driving clergy to burn out?”

The Tory Socialist A Plea to Save the Church of England

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Waiting for the Thirtyone:eight Jonathan Fletcher Safeguarding Report


Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

The Rt Revd Tim Thornton is to retire as Bishop at Lambeth after four years in the role.

Bishop Tim has been Bishop at Lambeth since 2017. Previously he was Bishop of Truro, and Bishop of Sherborne before that.

As Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop Tim has supported the Archbishop of Canterbury’s work in the House of Bishops, General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council. He has chaired the Development and Appointments Group overseeing the leadership programmes and development work with senior clergy. He has also chaired the review of the Clergy Discipline Measure and provided advice on areas including safeguarding and church renewal.

Acting on the Archbishop’s behalf, Bishop Tim carried out episcopal duties within Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and had pastoral oversight of Anglican chaplains and the Anglican church within the Forces. He also served as Bishop for the Falkland Islands.

Bishop Tim has also been closely involved in preparations for the Lambeth Conference, which has been postponed until 2022 because of the pandemic. He will continue to be involved as a Trustee of the Lambeth Conference Company. At Archbishop Justin’s request, he will work on other matters relating to the process leading up to the Conference and in the years after it.

Bishop Tim said: “It has been a tremendous privilege working with Archbishop Justin and the marvellous colleagues in Lambeth and the other aspects of my work and life over the last four years. It has not been dull and I have been challenged and excited by all that I have done. During this year I will have been ordained for 41 years and a Bishop for 20 years. Sian and I have both chosen to retire and we look forward to taking on some new opportunities together in a variety of areas.

“I am very pleased to be able to continue to be involved with the process around the Lambeth Conference. I am especially grateful to those who have worked closely with me for all their hard work and all that we have managed to achieve. There is much more work to do as the Church of England faces up to the realities of the current situation. I will keep all concerned in my prayers and look forward to hearing more about all the plans and following from slightly further away the moves towards ensuring under Justin’s wise leadership the growing and flourishing of the Church of England.”

Archbishop Justin said: “From the chaplaincies of the Armed Forces, to congregations of the Falkland Islands, to the chamber of the General Synod, Bishop Tim has been a blessing to so many during his time as Bishop at Lambeth. I give thanks for his wisdom, insight, compassion, generosity and humour. I will miss him enormously, and I will be praying for him and Sian as they prepare for the next stage of their journeys as faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Tim will leave Lambeth at the end of September.


Opinion – 10 February 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The necessity for radical LGBTIQ+ activism in the Church of England

Jarel Robinson-Brown Church Times Can rage be holy?
“From Old Testament prophets to the present day, it can be”

Dexter Bracey All Things Lawful And Honest Change and Clerical Decay
“Dexter Bracey asks if the current agenda for change in the Church of England might not be at odds with the spirit of the newly published Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. Could it be that the trend for reinvention is driving clergy to burn out?”

John Bauerschmidt The Living Church A Scriptural Liturgy

Ian Paul Psephizo Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

Diocese of Oxford New Digital Congregations
“Growing New Congregations – Online”

Nicholas Adams Ekklesia Ecclesial white supremacism

Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News A Rock Climbers Guide to Church, History and the Future


House of Bishops Meeting 9 February 2021

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops Meeting, 9th February 2021

The February meeting of the House of Bishops was held on Tuesday 9 February via Zoom.

The meeting was an opportunity for the House to engage with key aspects of the Emerging Church workstreams, specifically the work of the subgroups focussed on themes of Younger & More Diverse and Mixed Ecology.

Amongst the first items was the Bishop of London in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group, who updated the House on the latest information available on the lockdown, Covid-19 and the ongoing work of the Recovery group.

This was followed by the Bishop of Manchester as Chair of the Coordinating Group of the Emerging Church of England workstreams. His address outlined feedback received from regional discussion held last month as well as an update on the future operation of the Coordinating Group.

The Archbishop of York then addressed the House in his capacity as head of the Vision and Strategy workstream. In his address, the Archbishop drew on feedback from Regional Bishops’ groups on Vision & Strategy and spoke about the integration of the Vision & Strategy work with the Five Marks of Mission and Missionary Disciples; the House took note of the work so far.

The Bishop of Durham and the Diocesan Secretary of Sheffield then addressed the House as Co-Chairs for the working group – Younger and more Diverse, setting out the issues, barriers and opportunities to creating a younger and more diverse church. In discussion groups, bishops discussed the proposed approach, aiming to direct feedback into further work of the Vision and Strategy Group.

A similar process was followed with the Bishop of Dunwich speaking to the House as co-chair of the Mixed Ecology the Norm, a subgroup of the Vison and Strategy workstream.

The interim Director of Safeguarding then addressed the House, with the House noting progress towards phase 1 of establishing an independent oversight structure for national safeguarding.

The Lay Ministry Advisory Group (a sub-group of Ministry Council) then addressed the House on its future work as it seeks to support diocesan strategies and implement a vision for the ministry of the whole people of God. Presented by the Bishop of Leicester, the House was asked a range of questions on how the Lay Ministry Advisory Group and Ministry Council can best support diocesan strategies for ministry. The House noted the points raised.


Opinion – 6 February 2021

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Constitution of Marriage: Consensus-Copula

Ed Henderson Church Times CDM reform must reduce harm to clergy mental health
“Some who are subject to complaints become suicidal… A new disciplinary process should prioritise their well-being”

Simon Dawson has written two articles about the Living in Love and Faith process
Learning from the Underside of History (long essay)
The Silent Centre Ground (short essay)

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Archbishops and Bishops

Giles Fraser UnHerd We’ll have to shut some empty churches
“To save its poorer parishes the C of E needs to slash its middle management”

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News LLF – Has There Been a Murder?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Lincoln Affair – some comments


Informal Meeting of General Synod members – 27 February 2021

As we published earlier the February meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod has been postponed to April, but there will be an informal meeting on Saturday 27 February. The timetable for this has been published today, and is copied below.

There will be no question time in February, but the Business Committee has agreed that members can submit questions for written answers only not later than 12 noon on Tuesday 16 February. Supplementary questions will not be taken at this informal meeting. The questions booklet will be circulated on Thursday 25 February.


10.30am Opening Worship
10.40am Introduction by the Chair of the Business Committee
10.50am Reflections from the Presidents

11.35am BREAK

12.00pm Worship
12.10pm Vision and Strategy
12.50pm Story of hope and salvation
1.00pm Voting Test

1.10pm LUNCH

2.00pm Story of hope and salvation
2.10pm Safeguarding update, including screen break
3.15pm Story of hope and salvation
3.25pm Archbishops’ Commission on Housing

4.10pm BREAK

4.30pm Story of hope and salvation
4.50pm Worship
5.00pm Close of meeting


Finance Statistics 2019

The Church of England has recently published its Finance Statistics 2019. These provide the latest financial information, including:

  • Income
  • Expenditure
  • Giving

Tables showing parish finances aggregated to diocese level are available as an excel file. Finance statistics for previous years, and other publications of the Research and Statistics Unit can be found on the resources, publications, and data page.


Opinion – 3 February 2021

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Who Are The Prophets in Charismatic Churches?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Forty LGBTIQ+ people and allies write a second letter to thirty five bishops

David Brown Surviving Church The Problem is not CDM, but a significant Relational Deficit


Bishop of Salisbury to retire in July 2021

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, will retire on 3 July 2021, a month short of his 67th birthday. He will have been Bishop of Salisbury for 10 years. There are more details in the diocesan press release.


Opinion – 30 January 2021

Laudable Practice “Maintenance of Thy True Religion”: is use of 1662 reactionary?

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News “It’s a Sin…Not to Care and Listen”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love LLF and Systemic Homophobia in the Church of England

George Carey The Telegraph The Church’s unjust treatment of clergy has created a climate of fear
“I am far from alone in having fallen foul of a slow and secretive approach to disciplinary matters”