Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 15 June 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Transparency, trust and bishops

Neil Elliot NumbersMatter From Creation to Revelation: why seven is the most special number

Philip North Church Times It is time for a new deal for underpaid clergy
“A culture of low remuneration and overwork can be addressed only by more funding at a national level”


Transparency of the work of the House of Bishops

One of the papers just released for next month’s meeting of the General Sunod of the Church of England is this one. As a GS Misc paper it is provided for information and not for debate.

  • Transparency of the work of the House of Bishops (GS Misc 1387)

This is an interim report from the House of Bishops Transparency Group. There are four recommendations, listed below, which the covering page states have been approved by the House.

Recommendation 1:
Minutes of all meetings of the House of Bishops should be published on the relevant section of the Church of England website once they have been approved at the subsequent meeting. These should be minutes rather than transcripts.

Recommendation 2:
The House of Bishops will adopt a “maximum transparency” approach so that the analysis and information that the House has had to make decisions will be made available. In particular formal legal advice from the Legal Office or written advice from the Faith and Order Commission and other such groups should be provided to the General Synod as an annex to the relevant GS paper. The agenda for each House of Bishops meeting will be published with the circulation of papers. Papers to the House of Bishops should continue not to be published.

Recommendation 3:
The House of Bishops should continue to meet without public attendance, and should amend its standing orders to be honest that it is doing so, removing the fiction of public participation in Standing Order 13.

Recommendation 4:
The House of Bishops will propose changes to Canon H 3 and potentially other legislation to provide for acting diocesan bishops to vote at meetings of the House and General Synod. In advance of that chairs might ask acting diocesan bishops informally to indicate how they would have voted were they eligible to vote.


July 2024 General Synod – Papers

The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in York from Friday 5 to Tuesday 9 July. A few of the papers, listed below the fold, are now available online. I will update the list when more papers are released next week.



House of Bishops Meeting – June 2024

The Church of England’s House of Bishops met today and issued the following brief press release.

House of Bishops Meeting – June 2024

The House of Bishops met in London on June 12.

The bishops heard updates on the developing proposals from the Living in Love and Faith Programme Board and working groups which represent a variety of theological convictions, traditions and views on sexuality and marriage.

Following a wide-ranging debate, the House of Bishops voted clearly in favour of the proposals being explored further and discussed by Synod which meets in York next month.

Earlier in the day the full College of Bishops met and heard directly from members of the LLF working groups who reflected a strong desire from across the range of views to remain together as one church despite differences.

The rather fuller Actions & Decisions from two earlier meetings of the House are now available online.


Opinion – 12 June 2024

Catherine Bennett The Observer Your sermons on integrity are a bit rich, archbishop, given your faith in Paula Vennells

Richard Peers Oikodomeo The Five Guiding Principles and LLF – why the Church of England is immoral

Giles Fraser Save the Parish Only chaos can redeem the Church

Christopher Cocksworth The Living Church Sent to Coventry, Called to Windsor


Opinion – 8 June 2024

David Monteith ViaMedia.News PRIDE: More than Sparkling Spandex

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church To Jay or not to Jay, that is the Question for C/E Safeguarding

Paul Middleton ViaMedia.News Church of Scotland Welcomes Trans Members and Ministers

Martyn Snow Church of England Newspaper LLF: unity matters – it really matters


Church Commissioners report for 2023

The Church Commissioners issued their report for 2023 yesterday alongwith a press release, which is copied below.

Church Commissioners for England endowment fund delivers 4.1% return in 2023

The Church Commissioners for England, which manages the Church of England’s endowment fund, delivered a 4.1% return in 2023, marking the fifteenth year of positive returns, with the fund valued at £10.4bn at the end of 2023.

“Managing the endowment fund in a way that generates sustainable funding to support the mission and ministry of the Church of England, now and for the long-term, is our core purpose – and 2023 was another successful year with that in mind,” said Alan Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner. “In 2023, in addition to paying pensions of £120.6m, we made £223m in charitable expenditure, up 19.4% from £186.8m in 2022, with more than two-thirds of that going towards supporting dioceses and, through them, local churches.”

The in-perpetuity endowment fund delivers long-term financial support for the Church’s ministry, contributing around 20% towards the total annual running costs of the Church of England.

The Church Commissioners has provided the Church with over £3.5bn in funding since 2009, with £1.2bn to be distributed during the current 2023-2025 triennium – a 30% increase on the previous triennium, thanks in large part to the excellent investment returns generated by the Commissioners’ Investment team. The fund has delivered positive returns while building a reputation as a global leader in responsible investment.

The annual report is available for download here.


Opinion – 1 June 2024

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The God I Never Believed In

Gavin Drake Church Abuse Who are Ecclesiastical? And why does it matter?

Fergus Butler-Gallie Church Times Preacher who triggered a riot
“On the tercentenary of the death of Henry Sacheverell, Fergus Butler-Gallie revisits the clergyman’s life and pulpit polemics”


Opinion – 25 May 2024

Ian Paul Psephizo Once more: whither the Church of England?

Gavin Drake Church Abuse

Penelope Doe ViaMedia.News Queering the Church: The Theological and Ecclesial Potential of Failure


Diocese of Argyll & The Isles elects new Bishop

The Rev David Railton was yesterday elected to be the next Bishop of Argyll and the Isles in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Details are in a press release, copied below.

Diocese of Argyll & The Isles elects new Bishop
May 21, 2024

A new Bishop has been chosen in the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles, with the Rev David Railton elected to the position that has been vacant since the death of Bishop Keith Riglin in September 2023.

Mr Railton accepted the post following a vote of the Electoral Synod, held today in Oban. He becomes Bishop-Elect, and a Consecration is expected be arranged during the next three months.

The current Rector of the linked charges of Holy Trinity in Dunoon and St Paul’s in Rothesay becomes the second consecutive Rector from those charges to become a Bishop, following the election of Bishop Andrew Swift in Brechin in 2018.



Weekly attendance at Church of England services in 2023

Press release from the Church of England

Weekly Church attendance up five per cent in third year of consecutive growth

Average weekly attendance at Church of England services rose by almost five per cent in 2023 – the third year of consecutive growth, preliminary figures show.

Meanwhile weekly attendance by children was up by almost six per cent last year, according to an early snapshot of the annual Statistics for Mission findings.

While total attendance is still below 2019 levels, the last year before the Covid-19 lockdowns, the analysis suggests in-person attendance is drawing closer to the pre-pandemic trend.

In 2021 all-age Sunday attendance was 22.3 per cent below the projected pre-pandemic trend, but the new figures reveal that the gap had narrowed to 6.7 per cent last year.

All-age weekly attendance rose to within 8.3 per cent of the trend last year, compared with 24.1 per cent in 2021.



House of Bishops meets in York

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops meets in York

The House of Bishops met in York from 15th-17th May for their annual May meeting.

The meeting began with a discussion of figures presented by Vision and Strategy that indicate a growth in weekly church attendance in 2023 for both adults and young people year on year, and the further work being undertaken to build on this progress. A number of Bishops shared experiences of growth in their own dioceses.

The House discussed recent work on Living in Love and Faith (LLF) and how the Church might move forward together towards a unifying position around the further use of the Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF), accompanied by Pastoral Guidance, and proportionate Pastoral Reassurance measures, while recognising the challenges.

Bishop Martyn Snow expressed his thanks for the constructive, gracious, and generous atmosphere of the recent residential weekend undertaken by the LLF working groups who came together in Leicester. The Bishops encouraged the Programme Team and LLF working groups to continue their work before outlining a more detailed proposal to the College and House of Bishops in June.

The House heard an update on the work of the Racial Justice Unit and of the Church Commissioners on Project Spire and the Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice. The Bishops recognised the importance of the work being undertaken and a number reflected with sadness and disappointment on the harmful tone of some of the expressions of opposition to the work. The Bishops indicated their continued support for both the Unit and Project.

The House had a first discussion of the material produced by the working group on the Seal of the Confessional. They noted the importance of further reflection before this work comes back to the House of Bishops later in July.

The Bishops received an update from the co-chairs of the Wilkinson/Jay Response Group ahead of General Synod which will discuss independence and safeguarding in July.

The House agreed the proposals from the Governance Review Group to be presented to General Synod in July.

During the three days Bishops attended St Edward’s Church in Dringhouses together for services of morning prayer and Holy Communion.


Opinion – 18 May 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Hidden in plain sight: Soul Survivor again

Philip North ViaMedia.News On Conscience

Paul Bickley and George Lapshynov Church Times Does religion influence votes?
“Yes, but not in a straightforward way”


Update – John Smyth review

Press release from the Church of England

Update – John Smyth review

Update from independent reviewer Keith Makin

I am aware of the ongoing impact that the delays in the publication of my report is having on all those affected by this review, particularly the victims and survivors. I would like to underline my apology and outline next steps which I hope will provide some reassurance. The review has now reached the stage where those individuals and organisations named and criticised in the report are to be sent the relevant extracts to permit them an opportunity to respond to the criticism.

This stage is starting later than planned and later than we outlined in our statement at the start of the year. This was because there was a substantial change to a contribution to the review, at the final stages of completion. The consequence of this was the need to review and edit those parts of the review which drew upon this contribution.

Once this next stage is complete the final report will be handed to the Archbishops’ Council for publication. This will be done as soon as practically possible, but we cannot give definitive dates until this stage of the process is completed.


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.
Contact: 07825 741751

There is an additional offer of therapeutic support for victims and survivors @ Homepage – Yellow Door

Yellow Door is an organisation that can offer evidence-based therapy to support victims and survivors of abuse and those that have experienced trauma.

Contact Yellow Door confidentially at


Appointment of Dean of Chichester

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
There is more on the diocesan website.

Appointment of Dean of Chichester: 14 May 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Venerable Dr Edward Dowler, Archdeacon of Hastings and Priest-in-Charge of St John the Evangelist, Crowborough, both in the Diocese of Chichester, to be appointed as Dean of Chichester.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 14 May 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Venerable Dr Edward Dowler, Archdeacon of Hastings and Priest-in-Charge of St John the Evangelist, Crowborough, both in the Diocese of Chichester, to be appointed as Dean of Chichester, in succession to The Very Reverend Stephen Waine, following his resignation.

Edward was educated at Christ Church Oxford and trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge, subsequently completing a doctorate at Durham University. He was ordained deacon in 1994, and served his title at Christ Church, Southgate, in the Diocese of London.

From 1997, he served as Assistant Curate of St Mary’s, Somers Town, London and in 2001 he was appointed Tutor and Director of Pastoral Theology, at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, where he served as Vice Principal from 2003 to 2009.

In 2010, he was appointed Vicar of St John and St Luke, Clay Hill, London, and from 2013, he additionally served as the Continuing Ministerial Education Officer for the Edmonton Episcopal Area and Chair of Governors at Bishop Stopford’s School, Enfield.

In 2016, he took up his current role as Archdeacon of Hastings in the Diocese of Chichester and, since 2020, has also been serving as Priest-in-Charge of St John the Evangelist, Crowborough. He is currently Chaplain to the High Sheriff of East Sussex.

Edward is married to Anna, a journalist for The Guardian, and they have two children at university.


General Synod outline of business for July 2024

The outline of business for the July 2024 meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod was issued today. It is copied below.


Full details of each item will be on the agenda

Friday 5 July
House of Laity to meet 12.15 pm -1.30 pm
2.30 pm – 7.00 pm
Opening worship
Presidential Address
Address from Archbishop of Finland and presentation by Finnish confirmands
Business Committee Report
Report from the Wisdom of Trust Working Group
*5.45 pm Questions

Saturday 6 July
8.45 am – 12.45 pm
Opening worship
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Church Funds Investment – Revision Stage
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Chancel Repair Liability – Revision Stage
Standing Orders Committee report
Archbishops’ Council Budget 2025 and Apportionment
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm

Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Clergy Conduct Measure – Revision Stage
Sports and Wellbeing Ministry
Living in Love and Faith: presentation with questions

Sunday 7 July
2.30 pm – 6.00 pm
Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Human Dignity of Disabled Children: Liverpool
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business National Church Governance Measure – First consideration
Special Agenda III: Private Members’ Motions Inquiry into allegations of abuse within the Soul Survivor Network
8.15 pm – 9.45 pm
Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Monday 8 July
8.45 am – 12.45 pm
Opening Worship
Update on Safeguarding Independence
Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Foodbanks and Inadequacies in Social Security: Sheffield
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Living in Love and Faith
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Reserved for deemed items and contingency business

Tuesday 9 July
8.45 am – 1.45 pm
Opening Worship
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Abuse (Redress) Measure – Revision Stage
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Chancel Repair Liability Final Approval
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Church Funds Investment Final Approval
Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Day of Prayer and Action for the Persecuted Church: London
*12.35pm Hearing and Responding to the Voices of Young People
*1.35pm Farewells
*1.45pm Prorogation

Deemed business
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2024
Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2024
Learning & Development Framework (Safeguarding)
AC Audit Annual Report

* not later than

Contingency Business
Rest Periods for Office Holders (Winchester)

Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk

Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Tuesday 25 June 2024


Membership of LLF groups announced

The Church of England issued the press release below yesterday. The Church Times has a report with further information: New LLF-group members to gather in hotel for talks.

Membership of LLF groups announced

Three working groups will include bishops and members of General Synod

Following an update last month on the membership of the Living in Love and Faith Project Board, membership of the three working groups has now been confirmed.

The three working groups are looking at specific questions connected to implementation of the Prayers of Love and Faith, and the pastoral guidance and pastoral reassurance accompanying this.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, the Lead Bishop for the LLF process, said: “I am hugely grateful on to all the members of the working groups for offering their time, energy and broad experience to supporting this process.

“I know that this comes at some cost for many people but I am confident that these groups will be fruitful both in terms of good relationships, and that they will enable us to make real progress in the LLF work.”

The groups will feed into the Programme Board, helping to shape recommendations to be presented for consideration at the House and College of Bishops ahead of bringing an outline proposal to the July meeting of the General Synod.

The group membership, which includes bishops and members of the General Synod, is as follows: (more…)


Opinion – 8 May 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Opening the jar, carrying the load

Hatty Calbus Surviving Church


Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich to retire

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, will retire on 28 February 2025. He will be 70 on 29 May 2024, but has given an extension by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The CNC meetings to choose a successor will be held on 4 March 2025 and 28-29 April 2025.

So far as I am aware this has not been publshed anywhere online, although I understand that diocesan clergy were advised of the date in an ad clerum some time ago.


Opinion – 4 May 2024

Hatty Calbus Surviving Church HTB: Extraordinary Influence

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News Time to be Civil about Marriage

Stephen Andrews The Living Church Thoughts on Church Scandal

Yin-An Chen ViaMedia.News The Majority or the Minority? A Rhetorical Question