Today is the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the hands of four of King Henry II’s knights. To mark the date we republish a piece that we originally published on this day in 2007.
‘Since Christmas a day:
and the day of St Stephen, First Martyr.
‘Since St Stephen a day:
and the day of St John the Apostle.
‘Since St John the Apostle a day:
and the day of the Holy Innocents.
‘Since the Holy Innocents a day:
the fourth day from Christmas.
‘To-day, what is to-day?’
So wrote T S Eliot at the start of the second act of his play Murder in the Cathedral, written for the 1935 Canterbury Festival, and first performed in the Chapter House at Canterbury, just a few yards from where, on this day in 1170, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was killed.
The murder, or assassination, of Thomas Becket within his cathedral church shocked the whole of western Christendom. Within three years he had been canonized, his name added to the roll of saints of the Church, and King Henry II forced to do penance for his role in Becket’s death. From Iceland to Italy there are churches dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, and relics, statues and images from just a few years after 1170.
The cause for which Becket died, however, is not one that today we necessarily regard as unambiguously right. As Eliot has the assassins remind his audience, the rule of law that we treasure as a great protection was begun by the reforms of Henry II that Becket stood against. ‘Remember,’ says the Second Knight in his speech to the audience, ‘remember that it is we who took the first step. We have been instrumental in bringing about the state of affairs that you approve.’ On the other hand, the rule of law that Henry II was introducing was harsh, whereas the rule of the Church, which Becket wanted to encompass as many people as possible, was more lenient.
And yet we cannot easily regard the murder of Becket as justified, even if we can agree with some of the sentiments Eliot has the knights express. The end does not justify the means. The powerful cannot go around murdering those they disagree with, whether they be political rivals or obstacles (as Becket had become to Henry II), or the weak and impoverished (as the boys of Bethlehem were to Herod, or indeed today). The prophets of the Old Testament remind us of this too: we see David brought to book by Nathan for arranging the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11, 12); and Elijah foretells disaster on the house of Ahab for his complicity in bearing false witness against Naboth and causing him to be executed (1 Kings 21); and there are plenty of other examples.
The very rule of law that Henry II wanted to introduce requires that arbitrary exercise of power is not allowed. The murder of Thomas Becket reminds us still that the rule of law (tempered by equity and mercy) is fundamental to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and that it applies as much if not more to the rich and powerful and to the rulers as it does to the dispossessed, the powerless and the ruled. Those in power must always be held to account for their treatment of those who are in their power.
‘To-day, what is to-day?’
‘Let our thanks ascend
To God, who has given us another Saint in Canterbury.’
‘Blessed Thomas, pray for us.’
Simon Kershaw is Lay Chair of the Ely diocesan synod and a lay canon of Ely Cathedral. He was also a founder member of the TS Eliot Society in 2006.8 Comments
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York in a joint letter to all clergy have responded to the pressure for Communion to be administered in both kinds, sharing further guidelines from the Recovery Group of the House of Bishops. These guidelines effectively suggest that Communion may be administered using a form of intinction, though the document does not use that word, instead using the phrase simultaneous administration. This document is not yet available on the Church of England website.
In their covering letter the two archbishops write
The Bishops are involved in working to find an appropriate way to ensure Communion in both kinds is possible. We attach with this letter guidance from a working group who have been commissioned by the House of Bishops. We commend this to you. We hope that what they outline will be helpful for many as we plan what our practice will be over the coming weeks. The House of Bishops is committed to working further on this matter. However, the outcome of their discussions will take some time. The guidance attached is therefore interim and further information will be sent once the work has been done in the new year.
The text of the letter and the guidelines is copied below the fold.
Updated 2 December: A revised version of the covering letter and document has also been circulated. A copy can be found here: Holy-Communion-letter-and-guidance-011220. The original covering letter was undated, and the revised version is dated 1 December. We have updated the copy below with the changes leaving the earlier text in place as well but crossed out
like this, and additions or alterations are highlighted like this.
What is it about sheep and goats? Today’s gospel reading (Matthew 25.31–46) for the feast of Christ the King portrays the Son of Man, Jesus himself, coming in glory and seated on his throne, taking up his kingship, separating the people into two groups: the sheep who are to enjoy eternal life, and the goats consigned to eternal punishment.
I’ve come to see this story as part of a commentary on, or explanation of, the Summary of the Law. In the famous passage in another gospel, Luke 10.25–37, Jesus gives the Summary (essentially: love God, love neighbour) but is asked in response Who is my neighbour? He answers with the story of the Good Samaritan: our neighbour is whoever helps us, and by implication whomever we help. In today’s passage from Matthew, on the other hand, Jesus turns to the implied other question: What does it means to love God?
Jesus’s answer is that we love God when we love our neighbour. We take God’s name in vain when we say we love God, but don’t feed the hungry, don’t house the homeless, don’t nurse the sick, don’t visit the prisoner, and so on. That’s taking God’s name in vain because it is saying we love God, but not actually doing so, because loving God is doing those things. And those things are the things that happen in God’s kingdom, so when we do those things we live in the kingdom – the kingdom is truly at hand. When we do this then our allegiance is truly to God and God’s principles, rather than those of this world. When we don’t do them then we are not dwelling in the kingdom, and instead are far from God, condemning ourselves to live apart from God. That’s the scenario, in highly rhetorical and apocalyptic language, that Jesus presents us with in this passage.
And when does this judgement happen? In the apocalyptic language of the passage it happens when the Son of Man comes in glory – at the end of the age. A friend once pointed out to me, however, that the story does not have to be interpreted as about a final judgement. That is Jesus’s rhetoric of hyperbole, catching the attention of his hearers and getting them to think, to remember and to act. Instead we can see it as judgement here and now on each act that we do or do not undertake. At each moment, each act or non-act, when we do these things we are close to God, participating in the kingdom, and when we do not then we are far from God.
The same theme can be seen in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s name is hallowed when his will is done here on earth as it is in the heavens. And what does that mean? It means when the hungry each day have bread to eat (and by association, or the rhetoric of synecdoche, the other needs are met too – sheltering the homeless, protecting the oppressed, and the like) and when we live at peace with each other, forgiving and being forgiven. That is when we dwell in the kingdom, and we pray that we will not be tempted away from it by the glamour of worldly evil.
That is when Christ reigns. That is when Christ is king.
Image of sheep and goats from Bucheit Agri.16 Comments
The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, has announced today that he intends to retire at the end of July 2021. He was consecrated the Bishop of Lynn in 2004 (Norwich Diocese) and appointed Bishop of Rochester in 2010. In 2014 he entered the House of Lords as one of the 26 Lords Spiritual.
Simon Burton-Jones, Bishop of Tonbridge, will take on responsibility for the Diocese from then until the next bishop is in place.5 Comments
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following personal statement following the publication of the IICSA report:
To fail on safeguarding casts a profound stain across every good thing we do. I have said this before and I continue to stand by it. But I am acutely aware as we come towards the end of this year that while there is a genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, it is evident we still have not got it right.
The report published today is a stark and shocking reminder of how so many times we have failed – and continue to fail – survivors. Apologies are vital, but they are not enough. We have to listen. We have to learn. And we have to act.
In calling for the enquiry, through a letter to the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, I was aware that although it would be something that survivors had demanded it would also be a deeply painful process to tell their stories. I am very grateful to them for their courage. We cannot and will not make excuses and I must again offer my sincere apologies to those to have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues.
There is clearly much to respond to and an in-depth consideration of today’s report is vital. IICSA has shone a light on the past and present to help us better inform our future safeguarding work. They are owed our thanks which we give wholeheartedly. I pray this report and its recommendations will result in the changes needed to make our Church a safer place for all now and for future generations.
10 Downing Street has announced that the next Archbishop of York will be Stephen Cottrell, currently Bishop of Chelmsford.
Archbishop of York: Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell
The Queen has nominated the Right Reverend Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, MA, the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, to the See and Archbishopric of York, in succession to the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, MA, Lord Archbishop of York, who retires on 7th June 2020.
Stephen was educated at the Polytechnic of Central London and trained for ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served his title at Christ Church and St Paul’s, Forest Hill in the Diocese of Southwark and was ordained Priest in 1985. He studied for an MA with St Mellitus College which was awarded through Middlesex University.
In 1988, Stephen was appointed Priest-in-charge, St Wilfrid’s in the Diocese of Chichester with the additional role of Assistant Director of Pastoral Studies and Tutor in Apologetics at Chichester Theological College. In 1993, Stephen was appointed Diocesan Missioner and Bishop’s Chaplain for Evangelism in the Diocese of Wakefield and in 1998 he took up the role of Springboard Missioner and Consultant in Evangelism. In 2001, Stephen was appointed Vice Dean and Canon Pastor of Peterborough Cathedral. Stephen was appointed Bishop of Reading in 2004 and took up his current role as Bishop of Chelmsford in 2010.
Stephen is married to Rebecca who is a potter. They have three sons.
Further coverage includes:
10 Downing Street has announced that Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown in the Diocese of Portsmouth, is to be the next Bishop of Stepney in the diocese of London
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown, in the Diocese of Portsmouth to the Suffragan See of Stepney, in the Diocese of London in succession to the Right Reverend Adrian Newman, BSc, MPhil who resigned on 31st December 2018.
The Venerable Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, where she was also Lecturer in English. She trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. She served her title at Kirkby Team Ministry in the diocese of Liverpool, and was ordained Priest in 2001. In 2003, Joanne was appointed Priest-in-Charge of Manor Parish in the diocese of Sheffield with responsibility for Ripon College Cuddesdon’s urban theology placement programme. In 2006, Joanne became Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Residentiary Canon, and in 2008 she took on the additional role of Dean of Women’s Ministry. Joanne became Archdeacon of Portsdown in 2013.
The diocese of London website carries this story here.
10 Downing Street has announced that Canon Dagmar Winter is to be the next Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese of Ely.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Dagmar Winter, DrTheol, Rector and Lecturer of St Andrew, Hexham, in the Diocese of Newcastle to the Suffragan See of Huntingdon, in the Diocese of Ely, in succession to the Right Reverend David Thomson who resigned on 31st October 2018.
Dagmar was educated at the universities of Aberdeen and Heidelberg and she trained for ministry at Herborn Theological Seminary. She served her title at St Mark, Bromley in the Diocese of Rochester and was ordained Priest in 1997. In 1999, Dagmar was appointed Associate Vicar of St Andrew, Hexham, and Deanery Training Officer, and in 2006 she became Priest-in-Charge of St Bartholomew, Kirkwhelpington with Kirkharle, Kirkheaton, and Cambo, and also held the role of Diocesan Officer for Rural Affairs during this time. She was made an Honorary Canon of Newcastle Cathedral in 2011. Additionally, she has been a member of General Synod since 2005, served as Area Dean of Morpeth between 2011-2013, and has been the Bishop’s Advisor for Women in Ministry since 2012. In 2015, Dagmar took up her current post of Rector and Lecturer of St Andrew, Hexham (Hexham Abbey).
The diocese of Ely website carries this story here.
The death has been announced of John Habgood, who served as Archbishop of York between 1983 and 1995, and before that as Bishop of Durham for 10 years. He was 91, and died on Wednesday, 6 March.
There is a statement from Archbishop John Sentamu here:
The sad news of the death yesterday of former Archbishop of York, John Stapylton Habgood, comes as northern bishops gather for a Diocesan mission in Liverpool. As a hugely distinguished scientist, theologian and philosopher, Archbishop Habgood’s faith in Christ gave him a particular perspective and a persuasive witness both to church and nation for his time. His many books simplified big and complex questions, revealing an incredibly perceptive intellect. I’m very glad to have confirmed his grandchildren and dedicated a room in his honour at Bishopthorpe Palace.
His towering presence, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, was a gift to all who knew him. My prayers are with his family at this time. May he Rest in Peace, and rise in glory.
The appointment has been announced of Canon Philip Mounstephen as the 16th Bishop of Truro.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Philip Ian Mounstephen, MA, Executive Leader of the Church Mission Society, for election as Bishop of Truro in succession to the Right Reverend Timothy Martin Thornton, MA, following his resignation on 31 August 2017.
There is more information on the Truro diocesan website:
Philip is currently the executive leader of Church Mission Society, a role he has occupied since 2012. Prior to that, Philip was chaplain of St Michael’s Church, Paris. He has also previously worked for the Church Pastoral Aid Society in a number of roles, serving as deputy general director from 2004 to 2007.
Philip, 59, was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England in 1988 and priested the following year, serving his curacy in Gerrards Cross and Fulmer in the Diocese of Oxford. From 1992 to 1998 he was the Vicar of St James’ Church, West Streatham, in the Diocese of Southwark.
Philip has significant family roots in Cornwall with several generations of his ancestors living in Tregony from the mid-18th century, before moving to Truro.
It also quotes the bishop-designate:
Philip said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been called to lead the Diocese of Truro in mission and ministry. With my family roots in Cornwall I am very well aware of what a rich Christian heritage we have. I rejoice in Cornwall’s strong sense of identity and I look forward under God into leading us in what I hope and pray will be a fruitful and exciting future.”
Thinking Anglicans has now moved to its new home.
We hope that you’ll find all functionality and content here. If there are any transitional glitches, we’ll try and sort them out as quickly as we can. Issues can be reported by adding a comment to this article. If commenting itself is the problem then you can email email@example.com.
You can take advantage of one immediate improvement, and we encourage you to do so. The site is now available over secure, encrypted, https, as well as over the old unencrypted http. Just access the site at https://thinkinganglicans.org.uk and update your bookmarks. Note the ‘s’ after ‘http’; and you should see the https padlock appear in the URL bar.
We hope to introduce other improvements in the coming weeks and months.
We continue to be hosted by our friends and colleagues at Justus.24 Comments
Later this week this Thinking Anglicans site will be moving to a new home. We hope to make the move as transparent and as painless as possible, but as it involves a little bit of internet magic (updating the DNS of thinkinganglicans.org.uk) there may be a short period when you can’t reach the new site. We hope this period will be no more than a few minutes, and most readers may not notice it at all.
All posts and comments will be moved across to the new system and no data will be lost. We’ll post a further note here before moving out, and after that point no further comments on the old site will be approved, only on the new site.
This represents the biggest change we have made in the 15 years we have been publishing Thinking Anglicans. From the start we have been hosted by our friends and colleagues at Justus. The new site continues at Justus, and we are grateful for their support.10 Comments
On Friday, the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England published “safeguarding resources, for use in churches across the country, including Bible readings, prayers and suggested hymns, chosen in consultation with survivors” under the title Towards a Safer Church: Liturgical Resources.
The Chair of the Liturgical Commission, Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, in an introduction to the resources has written:
The Church needs to be at the vanguard of fostering a change of culture across society. Safeguarding is at the forefront of public consciousness and the Church needs to embody best practice in safeguarding in our network of parishes, schools and chaplaincies as part of our commitment to excellence in pastoral care.
Many of these resources are already being used widely across our churches, but we thought it would be helpful to gather them into one place for ease of access. Collectively they are neither the first word nor the last word on this subject, but they are offered in the hope that by God’s grace the Church may become a safer place where everyone is valued.
Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport, has also written about the resources here
The resources have been compiled by the Liturgical Commission and staff, in consultation with survivors, who have themselves suggested some of the resources, with the aim providing prayers and other resources for various occasions. This includes use with survivors and others directly affected, as well as events such as the commissioning of safeguarding officers in parishes and dioceses. Most of the material had been previously published (including commended and authorized liturgical texts), but it has been brought together in one place so that it is easier to find and to use.1 Comment
Southwark Cathedral has announced the death of the former Dean of Norwich and earlier Provost of Southwark, the Very Revd David Edwards.
The Very Revd David Edwards OBE 1929-2018
Thursday, April 26, 2018
It was with sadness that we heard of the death of the Very Revd Dr David Edwards, OBE in Winchester on Wednesday 25 April 2018. David, as well as being Sub Dean at Westminster, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and Dean of Norwich, had been Provost of Southwark from 1983 until 1994. He was a man of huge distinction, a great academic, chronicling, amongst other things, the history of the church. Those who worked with him speak of his kindness and generosity, a man who lived out the principles of inclusion before they were ever fashionable in the Church of England. He was partly responsible for the first development of buildings on the north side of the Cathedral, work begun by his predecessor, Harold Frankham, but brought to fruition by David. Like a former Bishop of Winchester, Lancelot Andrewes, David would be at his studies and his writing before noon, a real scholar.
As Dean of Southwark, I am in awe of my predecessors who were men of stature within the life of the Church of England. They each helped to create Southwark Cathedral as a vibrant, engaged, welcoming and inclusive community in which theology, orthodox and radical, taught and lived, was central and vital. David was premier amongst these in terms of his scholarship.
We extend our love and prayers to his children and pray that he may now receive the reward that awaits him from the God he loved and knew and served.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
Press release from the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
Joe Hawes, currently Vicar of All Saints’ Fulham, is to be the next Dean of St Edmundsbury, in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
A priest who substantially increased the number of families and young people worshipping at the major London parish he leads has been chosen as the new Dean of St Edmundsbury.
The Revd Canon Joe Hawes, Vicar of All Saints’ Fulham, who enjoys scuba-diving in his leisure time, will start his new senior role during the summer.
Bishop Martin, said there had been a strong field of applicants with more candidates than usual for a Dean’s post.
“I am delighted that it was a unanimous decision to appoint Joe. He is an outstanding and Godly priest. He is warm, engaging, caring and fun. He brings energy and wisdom, and a huge amount of experience in parish ministry.
“He has been Vicar of All Saints’ in Fulham for 15 years, and increased the regular congregation by 25% to more than 500 each Sunday, with a particular ministry with families and young people.
“In Fulham he has developed worship to be engaging and accessible for people of different backgrounds and ages, and a church looking outwards, engaged in loving service with those in need.
“He has strong leadership and organisational skills, sees the cathedral as serving the whole county, not just Bury St Edmunds, and I look forward to working with him across the county for the greater good.”
Roger Wright, Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Music, who was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the process of finding a new Dean, said: “It was a pleasure and privilege to chair the panel for this appointment.
“His considerable experience, and his warm and engaging personality will help the cathedral be a beacon of hope for Suffolk as it broadens its appeal to all.
“Joe will be strong and thoughtful leader in this new period of the life of the cathedral and we very much look forward to his presence in the diocese.”
Canon Joe’s parish of All Saints’ Fulham has been developing its broadcasting profile, the Christmas Day the service was live on BBC1, and Palm Sunday Morning worship will be broadcast on Radio 4 on 25 March.
Canon Joe, who will become one of the most senior Church of England figures in Suffolk, said: “I am really looking forward to getting to know the people of Suffolk and to taking my place among the Bishop’s Staff.
“I am keen to see even more people discover the beauty of the cathedral. We need to build our financial reserves so that we can further develop our excellence within music, worship, learning and care to the highest possible standards.
“We need to provide a place which is both sanctuary in an uncertain world, and also a forum for debate and reflection on the major questions which are challenging us as a society at the moment.”
Canon Joe, 52, is in a civil partnership with the Revd Chris Eyden, the vicar of All Saints’ Putney, who will remain serving in Putney for the time being.
Bishop Martin said he is looking forward to welcoming Joe, and Chris when he is able to be in the county.
Canon Joe will be installed as the Dean of St Edmundsbury in the Cathedral on Saturday 14 July.
The Rt Revd Graeme Knowles, acting Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: “The Cathedral Chapter are delighted at Joe’s appointment. He will bring many gifts, experience and skills from his present ministry in Fulham.
“Joe will be joining the cathedral at a time when our vision and strategy is taking shape, therefore he will be able to contribute greatly to our future plans for the cathedral, town of Bury St Edmunds and county of Suffolk.”
The Church of England website at www.churchofengland.org has been relaunched today with a new design and structure.
Adrian Harris, Head of Digital Communications at Church House, Westminster, explains the rationale here
[T]he old website received lots of traffic and interest, the confusing user experience and the 75,000+ documents and pages on the site were identified as key issues. These were resolved by content and plain English workshops for staff.
The five major changes visitors will see from today are:
One of the consequences of the redesign is that many old links no longer work. This will apply to previous links from this site. Users are recommended to use the search functionality on the new site to find documents from old links.21 Comments
Christian Today reports that Gavin Ashenden, who left the Church of England earlier this year, has been “consecrated as a missionary bishop to the UK in the Christian Episcopal Church”.
In her report, Ruth Gledhill writes that “he will work closely with Bishop Andy Lines, also recently consecrated a missionary bishop to work with conservative evangelical churches” and that Ashenden was consecrated in Vancouver “during the course of an Episcopal Synod”.
Ashenden is quoted as saying that the Church of England had “not been very generous” in providing conservative or traditionalist bishops. And further: “I will oversee anybody who asks. I have a trail of people coming to my door asking for support, spiritual direction and advice. Obviously my oversight will be informal, it will have no legal basis at all.” He said he was approached by the Christian Episcopal Church, which regards it as a “duty” to help traditionalist Anglicans across the globe.
There is a press release here which is dated “29 September”.37 Comments
The General Synod Human Sexuality Group have published the text of a letter sent from them to all the Primates of the Anglican Communion ahead of their meeting next week.
In the letter the Group (which represents 240 synod members and wants the Church of England to be fully inclusive of LGBTI people) reminds the Primates that “the direction of travel” for the church is now “clearer than ever”.
In a press release, Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of the Group said:
Synod has shown both in its non-acceptance of the House of Bishops’ Report on Same-Sex Relationships and in its desire to condemn conversion therapy and welcome transgender Christians, that it wants to be a fully inclusive church. The status quo is no longer an option — people are deeply concerned about the impact on our mission to the nation of the Church’s current stance towards LGBTI people.
Group member Jayne Ozanne said:
The medical profession, including the World Health Organisation, is clear that conversion therapy causes stigma and prejudice towards the LGBTI community. It is critically important that the Church recognises this and takes a lead to condemn it.
The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.14 Comments
The Church Urban Fund has issued a report, introduced by its Executive Director, Canon Paul Hackwood …
… that sheds light on the extent of food poverty in the UK. It shows that 1 in 50 British adults used a food bank in 2016. It also shows that 5% of British adults missed meals last year because they could not afford to eat.
These figures offer a deeply troubling reflection of food poverty in Britain. At Church Urban Fund we are calling for a response to this from all sections of society. Government, businesses, and individuals all have a responsibility to make a difference. The responsibility for tackling this issue cannot be left with churches and charities, important though this work is.
I encourage you to take a look at the report and our recommendations for action. We are working hard to bring an end to hunger in the UK and so any contributions you can make to this work will be greatly appreciated.
The Diocese of Gloucester has this morning announced that Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester between 2004 and 2014, died on the evening of Monday 17 April.
In the announcement, Bishop Michael’s successor as Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop Rachel Treweek writes:
It is with great sadness that I am writing to inform you that Bishop Michael died peacefully at home on Monday evening, April 17, following a special Easter weekend with all the family.
I last saw Bishop Michael on Tuesday 11 April during Holy Week. Not only was it good to share together in the Eucharist on that occasion but also to preside at the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday knowing that the Dean would then be taking Bishop Michael bread and wine from our service in Gloucester Cathedral with the love and prayers of the Diocese.