Thinking Anglicans

Stephen Knott to be new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed Stephen Knott as the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments, who plays a key role in the nomination of bishops and cathedral deans. He will take up the role at the end of January 2022.

The Lambeth Palace press release is copied below, and there is further information at the Church Times.



Titus Trust Culture Review

The report of a culture review of The Titus Trust has been published today. The review was commissioned by the Trust and undertaken by Thirtyone:eight.

The full report can be read on the Titus Trust website here, together with an executive summary, and a statement from the Trust.

Thirtyone:eight have also published a webpage and a separate  statement on their website.

A couple of extracts from the Executive Summary, together with the recommendations are copied below.



Archbishop of Wales elected

The electoral college of the Church in Wales met today in Llandrindod Wells and elected Andy John, Bishop of Bangor, as the 14th Archbishop of Wales by a two-thirds majority.

Andy John has been Bishop of Bangor for 13 years and is currently the longest-serving bishop on the Welsh bench.

More details on the Church in Wales website, and a recording of the announcement of the election is here.


Bishop of Willesden

The name of the next Area Bishop of Willesden has been announced from 10 Downing Street. There is more information at the Diocese of London website.

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mission and Ministry Enabler, in the Diocese of Leicester, to the Suffragan See of Willesden, in the Diocese of London, in succession to The Right Reverend Peter Broadbent who resigned on 30th September 2021.


Lusa was educated in Theology at the Faculté Universitaire de Théologie Protestante, Brussels and trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He served his title at All Saints, Staplehurst, in the Diocese of Canterbury and was ordained Priest in 2009.

In 2012, Lusa was appointed Vicar at St Aidan, Gravesend, in the Diocese of Rochester and in 2017, he took up his current role as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mission and Ministry Enabler in the Diocese of Leicester.

He is married to Mirjam who works as Discipleship Officer at Leicester Cathedral. They have three young children.


First Same-Sex Blessing in Church in Wales

The BBC reports that following recent approval by the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, the civil partnership of a priest in Llangollen and his partner was today blessed in a service led by the Bishop of St Asaph. It is believed to be the first such service in the Church in Wales. The Scottish Episcopal Church became the first Anglican church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages in 2017.


Acting Bishop of Lincoln

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, is to be Acting Bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln, following the retirement of Bishop Christopher Lowson in December 2021. Bishop Stephen will spend half of his time in Lincoln and half in Ely, and the arrangement is for an initial period of one year. In a letter to the diocese of Lincoln, the Archbishop writes:

You will be aware that we have started the process for the appointment of your next bishop and thank you to those of you who have shared your hopes and prayers for the Gospel and for the witness of the Church of England across Lincolnshire through the various listening exercises.
Following a meeting with Bishop Christopher Lowson and a subsequent meeting with the Bishop’s Staff team, I have asked Bishop Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, to be the Acting Bishop of Lincoln from the 1st January 2022. Stephen will be spending half of his time in Lincoln and the arrangement will be reviewed at the end of the year. This will mean a longer vacancy period than we had originally planned but we hope that a pause in the appointment process will provide some space and time to reflect on the longer term needs of the diocese.

The full text of the announcement is on the Lincoln diocesan website and copied below the fold. The announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury is here, and a letter from Bishop Stephen Conway to the diocese of Ely is here.



Resignation of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, one of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, is to step down and will be received into communion with the See of Rome. In the statement, Bishop Jonathan writes:

I have arrived at the decision to step down as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, in order to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, only after a long period of prayer, which has been among the most testing periods of my life. … I trust you all to believe that I have made my decision as a way of saying yes to God’s present call and invitation, and not of saying no to what I have known and experienced in the Church of England, to which I owe such a deep debt.


About commenters

Several times over the years we (Simon, Peter and Simon, the editors of TA) have posted reminders encouraging “good commenting”. One of the common themes is the number of pseudonymous and anonymous comments. As long ago as 2009 we wrote:

please consider seriously using your own name, rather than a pseudonym. While we do not, at this time, intend to make this a requirement, we do wish to strongly encourage the use of real names.

This request still stands but we have also decided that even where we allow pseudonymous comments the pseudonyms must be distinct. In particular we will not publish comments that come with the tag “Anon” or similar.

Long-term pseudonymous commenters may wish from time to time to sign comments with their real names, even while continuing the use of the familiar pseudonym.


Bishop of Liverpool announces his retirement

The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, has announced that he is to retire in March 2022.

In a letter to clergy, churchwardens and other ministers, the bishop writes:

I’m deeply grateful to God for the years spent ministering alongside my outstanding colleagues and friends here in Liverpool Diocese. I look forward to the next few months as we work to sustain our parishes, schools, fresh expressions and chaplaincies as communities of worship and mission through the pandemic and into God’s new future.

Across the whole Church of England we are on the way together into that same future. I shall continue as best I can to contribute to a faithful, open, joyous, light, inclusive and just Church — a community that is true to the poor carpenter who made it; one that honours those on the edge of things; one that conveys the amazing reality of our loving and living God to England as it actually is.

But for me the time has come to prepare for a new chapter in life and ministry, and to contribute in a different way. Accordingly I have informed the Queen and the Archbishop of York that I intend to resign the See of Liverpooand to retire at the beginning of March next year. God willing, my farewell service in the Cathedral will be on Saturday February 12, 2022.

From next March I hope to spend more time in prayer and reflection and stillness, in resting and writing and reading and thinking. Please pray for Kate and me as we prepare for this change, and for the Diocese as it sustains its ‘long obedience in the same direction’, a community of people living in Christ and seeking the good of the world.



Server disruption

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Disruption to service

Thinking Anglicans is being moved to a new server. Unfortunately this has proved more complicated than expected and the changes have been temporarily backed out. I think that the state of comments has been restored, but I apologise if a comment has been lost in the process.

Updated Thursday evening: The move has now been completed, and if you are seeing this message then you are seeing us on our new server.


Becket 850

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.


Further advice from the Archbishops on Holy Communion and its distribution

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.



A sheep or a goat?

sheep and goats
Image of sheep and goats from Bucheit Agri.

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.


Bishop of Rochester to retire

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.


Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Statement

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.


Next Archbishop of York

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:


Joanne Grenfell to be next Bishop of Stepney

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.


Dagmar Winter to be next Bishop of Huntingdon

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.


Death of John Habgood, former Archbishop of York

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.

Further coverage at the Church Times and the BBC.