Although the Archbishops’ Council reported that the ISB proposal was included in their agenda, first here (para 3), and then here (para 7) nothing else was announced until February 2022. We then reported: Recent Church of England Safeguarding reports. This links to GS 2244 which includes as an Annex (starts on page 11 of the PDF) the first report from the Chair of the newly constituted Independent Safeguarding Board. This is worth reading carefully.
The same article also links to Gavin Drake’s follow-on motion which you can read in full here.
The Church Times reported on what happened in debate:
A letter on this topic has been sent to all members of the Archbishops’ Council signed by Martin Sewell, a General Synod member from Rochester diocese, and also by a number of other General Synod members.
The letter itself is contained in a PDF file which can be read here. It is well worth reading this in full.
For more of the background to the formation of the ISB, look here.
There is an online public petition related to this, over here.
What follows is the text of the covering email from Martin Sewell, which summarises the content of the letter.
Dear Archbishops and members of Archbishops’ Council,
I enclose a letter signed by members of General Synod which expresses our concern that Archbishops’ Council has prematurely engaged the newly evolving Independent Safeguarding Board in detailed case work which it is not yet properly authorised or suitably equipped to handle with the independence, resource and competence the role requires. We specifically raise a number of specific questions which we believe need to be urgently addressed by Archbishops’ Council.
After a lengthy and discreditable history of response to complaints in Safeguarding and its associated Clergy Discipline issues, nobody objects to the idea of the Church placing itself under effective outside scrutiny. Some of us have campaigned vigorously for the creation of just such a Board in previous General Synods, and you will recall that the recent February Synod considered a following motion that sought to begin a process to debate and vest the ISB with the very independence responsibility and associated powers that will make the Board the kind of constitutional creature that IICSA had in mind to save us from a repetition of the failures and scandals of the past.
That debate was cut short by a procedural motion, approved by a newly elected Synod comprising 60% new members and the matter was not brought to a conclusion. What exactly the ISB is, and what it can and cannot do, constitutionally and practically, given its low resource and part time nature, remains very much “unfinished Synod business”. In our view General Synod has an important continuing role to ensure the success of the ISB project.
We note with respect and gratitude that both Archbishops opposed the truncation of the debate by the use of a procedural device: it did us no favours and is part of the reason we are in this currently unsatisfactory position today.
When the Chair of the ISB addressed us (and her address to Synod is worth a second hearing by Archbishops’ Council) she was plainly seeking to lower expectation and to emphasise the incremental character of their approach to the role. She told us that its members were assessing and growing their understanding of the role within our complex institution, in what was described as “Phase One” of the project. That limited scope of current activity disappointed some of us, but the opportunity to fully articulate those concerns was denied.
What nobody knew or anticipated from that debate, was that only a few weeks later, the members of the ISB would be offered, and would embrace, responsibility for the devising, timetabling, structuring, implementation and personal execution of the most complex and serious Case Review in the history of the Church, and moreover that they would attempt to do so at speed. The members of the ISB have many qualities and much experience; devising and conducting complex case reviews does not appear to feature within their past skill set. In no other national Institution would such a task be delegated to novices. At the Diocesan Synod at Oxford this weekend it was confirmed that the Dr Martyn Percy Case Review is the first such piece of work the Board and its members will have ever have attempted. This is not the case on which to “cut your teeth”.
Put simply, this is a disaster waiting to happen for the reasons contained in our detailed letter. It is especially troubling if, as we understand, the Percy case is not the only matter pressed upon the ISB at short notice.
The ISB needs to be established with the confidence of all parties, and that is unlikely to be the case given the way these reviews are being hurriedly constructed. There is no shame in having second thoughts which we urge you to undertake without delay, asking the ISB to pause its work in this field whilst our objections are evaluated by all concerned. It is essential that the ISB is established with confidence in its independence, constitution, integrity and competence. That confidence must be built on sure foundations if it is to fulfil the role intended for it. Our questions are designed to help Archbishops’ Council review the problem areas to give the ISB its best opportunity to become what we all want it to be.
We hope Archbishops’ Council will discuss the questions we raise with the same care with which we have formulated them, and that the answers will be made available in good time so that they may be scrutinised at the upcoming General Synod in July.
Bishops’ letter to The Times on the Rwanda asylum policy
All of the current Lords Spiritual have signed a letter to The Times voicing alarm about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as early as today.
Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.
Many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors. Many are Iranians, Eritreans and Sudanese citizens, who have an asylum grant rate of at least 88 per cent. These are people Jesus had in mind as he said when we offer hospitality to a stranger, we do it for him. They are the vulnerable that the Old Testament calls us to value. We cannot offer asylum to everyone, but we must not outsource our ethical responsibilities, or discard international law — which protects the right to claim asylum.
We must end the evil trafficking; many churches are involved in fighting this evil. This needs global co-operation across every level of society. To reduce dangerous journeys to the UK we need safe routes: the church will continue to advocate for them. But deportations — and the potential forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries — are not the way. This immoral policy shames Britain.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York; the Right Rev Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London; the Right Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham; the Right Rev David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham; the Right Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester; the Right Rev Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry; the Right Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford; the Right Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle; the Right Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans; the Right Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough; the Right Rev Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely; the Right Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark; the Right Rev Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds; the Right Rev Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester; the Right Rev Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester; the Right Rev Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol; the Right Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby; the Right Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; the Right Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester; the Right Rev Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford; the Right Rev Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter; the Right Rev Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford; the Right Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich; the Right Rev Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
The full text of this latest decision can be found here.
In paragraph 3, the Deputy Chancellor writes
…In this further judgment I will refrain from reproducing the more tendentious of the written representations I have received. I have borne them firmly in mind; but in a consistory court judgment which may attract more general interest than such judgments usually excite, I have no wish to inflame firmly, and genuinely held, feelings any more than is strictly necessary…
Readers who take the time to read all 27 pages may wonder what might be more tendentious than some of the remarks quoted therein.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda to tell them that his invitation to bishops from their provinces to attend the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops remains open. In a joint letter with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop Justin said: “God calls us to unity and not to conflict so that the world may know he came from the Father. That is the very purpose of the church globally.”
In the past three years, Christ Church has held back from offering commentary on a series of damaging reports regarding its relationship with the former Dean, Dr Martyn Percy. Those reports related to a number of disputes between the institution and its Head of House, the earliest of which dates back to 2017 while the most recent concerned an allegation of sexual harassment made against Dr Percy by Alannah Jeune. During this time, despite attacks on it and its members by supporters of the former Dean, Christ Church has consistently tried to avoid making pronouncements in the hope of avoiding a destructive cycle of claim and counter-claim. The trustees (Christ Church’s Governing Body) have been mindful that they all have both a duty of confidentiality and a general duty to place the charity’s interests above their own and have sought to calm rather than inflame damaging media attention…
Church of England press release
The Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, has today published its Terms of Reference (see below) to review the handling of safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.
The review follows a referral by the Archbishops’ Council and Oxford Diocese to the ISB. As previously stated, the review will not be considering the wider issues between the College and the former Dean.
Statement from Maggie Atkinson, Chair of the ISB:
“Given substantial previous work has been undertaken but solid conclusions now need to be reached, under the scrutiny remit of the ISB we will undertake a review considering all that has previously been done on this case.
“Our aim will be to advise both those directly affected, and the whole of the C of E, where what has previously been done was appropriate and of good quality, and where there have been errors or shortcomings.
“It is particularly important that those who have been caused pain by what has happened, including the former Dean, have their concerns heard and reviewed by an independent body. The ISB was formed to do such work, and to tell both those affected by complex cases such as this, and the wider church, where change is needed.”
“It is well worth a listen to understand misgivings about the way the ISB is approaching this case which in many ways is more complex than the Makin review. That has not been well managed and is already 2 years overdue. Do listen here from 33 minutes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0007b3r PS if you only want to listen to Kate Blackwell QC on what an independent inquiry comprises it starts at 37:45.”
Martyn Percy has written three articles which Modern Church has published.
“In three short articles, Martyn Percy looks at three words currently being given the full 1984 treatment: independent, ethical and trustworthy. Is the Church of England using these words as defined by most dictionaries in 2022? Or, are we now enmeshed in an Orwellian church in which little that is said corresponds to our normal frames of reference?”
Rosie Dawson attended Martyn Percy’s farewell service in Oxford on Saturday. In an interview conducted shortly beforehand he told her why he’s calling on congregations to withhold their giving from the Church of England, and why he’s not leaving quietly….
…Christ Church College, Oxford, where Martyn Percy had been the dean for eight years, refused to host any sort of farewell. The University Church of St Mary was proposed as an alternative venue but became unavailable once it became clear that the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, and the dean, who is also professor of theological education at King’s College London, could not agree on the content of the service.
In the end it took place in the 19th-century chapel of Exeter College just off Broad Street. The chapel is outside the jurisdiction of the bishop, and he did not attend…
…Following the settlement with Christ Church, the Bishop and Martyn Percy entered into discussions about what form a leaving service should take. In correspondence seen by the Religion Media Centre, Bishop Croft wrote that he was unable to allow him to preach. Dean Percy protested: “Your letter treats me with cruel indifference. It seems to me that you do not really want this service. You clearly think I am leaving in disgrace … I am not.”
The Diocese of Oxford said in a statement: “Mindful of Dr Percy’s stated intention to the bishop to leave the Church of England and also some concerns about Dr Percy’s behaviour behind the scenes, it was not possible to permit Dr Percy to preach at a leaving service organised by the diocese”.
…A statement by the diocese of Oxford, issued on Saturday, criticises Professor Percy and praises Ms Jeune: “We are deeply saddened by the inaccurate and unevidenced claims Dr Percy makes in his media interviews.
“We’ve long said that the actions of some of Dr Percy’s supporters have left people damaged and hurt. None more so than Alannah Jeune. It’s a courageous decision to tell her story given all that she has experienced, but hers is a powerful account that counters the vitriol sent her way. Her story deserves to be widely read.”
(I have checked with the diocese and that is the full text.)
The Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised for the “terrible crime” of the Anglican Church’s involvement in Canada’s residential schools – and for the Church of England’s “grievous sins” against the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
The Archbishop spent last weekend visiting Indigenous Canadian reserves, meeting with Indigenous leaders and Anglicans, and listening to residential school survivors, as part of a five-day visit to Canada.
This year’s lectures are given by Professor Alec Ryrie FBA, who is Professor of the History of Christianity in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Durham.
The age of Hitler is not the 1930s and 1940s: it is our own lifetimes. It is the period in which Western culture has come to define its values not by Christianity, but by the narrative of the Second World War. It is the period in which our most potent moral figure has been Adolf Hitler, and in which our only truly fixed moral reference point has been our shared rejection of Nazism.
Which is good: but it’s not enough. And even if defining our values this way was wise, it’s clear that this postwar, anti-Nazi moral consensus is unravelling, and our whole system of values coming under pressure. What is going to come next? These lectures will give an account of how the ‘secular’ values of the postwar world came about, and what will happen now that the age of Hitler seems to be passing. They will show that for a new shared system of values to emerge from our current turmoil, we will need to draw creatively both on the newer, secular, anti-Nazi value system and on the older Christian value systems which remain powerfully present in European and Western culture. And they will show that such a creative synthesis is not only desirable, but also possible – perhaps even likely.
Details can be found here. The dates are 10 May and 17 May. The lectures will be live-streamed and recorded.
The Bampton Lectures
The Bampton Lectures, founded by the will of the Revd John Bampton (1690-1751), first took place at the University Church in 1780. Over the centuries, these prestigious lectures – sometimes courting controversy, always intellectually stimulating – have covered a range of theological subjects. It is a condition of the Bampton Bequest that the lectures are published by the Lecturer. These lectures are delivered in the Trinity Term every year.
…Botswanan activist and lawyer, Alice Mogwe spoke with Vatican News on this latest deal between the UK and Rwanda, reflecting on its implications from the perspective of human rights. She is the President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)…
Contains link to audio interview (9 minutes)
Note this paragraph:
In lieu of the controversial agreement, the FIDH president invites governments to stop focusing on the consequences of migration but rather coordinate efforts to stem the causes of migration.
“Nobody wakes up one day and decides to leave their country if there is good governance, if there is a rule of law, if human rights are in fact being protected and respected,” she says.
More so, she calls for a revision of the Asylum agreement, stressing that states need to comply with international human rights standards.
“What will happen to those who are vulnerable?” she asks. “What’s going to happen if children are separated? What’s going to happen if people fail to be recognized as refugees in Rwanda once they reach there?”
…And this season is also why there are such serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas. The details are for politics. The principle must stand the judgement of God and it cannot. It cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death. It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong. And it cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures…
…Or rather, Christ finds us. He comes to us, as he came to Mary Magdalene, and he asks why we’re crying and who we’re looking for.
He has returned to take us with him. Like Mary and like Elizabeth who will be baptised in just a moment, He know us by name. He shows us what really matters. He shows us what we should strive for, which is why, among so many other things that trouble our world at the moment, it is so depressing and so distressing this week to find that asylum seekers fleeing war, famine and oppression from deeply troubled parts of the world will not be treated with the dignity and compassion that is the right of every human being, and instead of being dealt with quickly and efficiently here on our soil, will be shipped to Rwanda.
We can do better than this. We can do better than this because of what we see in the Risen Christ a vision for our humanity, which breaks barriers down – not new obstacles put in the path. After all, there is, in law, no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker. It is the people who exploit them that we need to crack down on, not our sisters and brothers in their need…
Jesus College is calling on the Church of England to change how it deals with matters of racial injustice and contested heritage – while announcing it will not appeal the Consistory Court judgment which prevents a celebratory memorial to Tobias Rustat being moved from its Chapel.
The College says the current process urgently needs reform as it stands in the way of a constructive and inclusive discussion on sensitive and important issues.
Sonita Alleyne OBE, Master of Jesus College, said: “Many students and members of the College community put their trust in the Church process, and understandably feel let down by the judgment and its misrepresentation of their views.
“The Consistory Court’s decision shows a lack of understanding of the lived experience of people of colour in modern Britain.”…
I have questioned previously why it is so difficult to move the Rustat memorial in Jesus College chapel – which causes such pain and distress to people whose ancestors were sold into slavery – to a place where it can be understood in context. I stand by those comments.
…Jesus College could face a £150,000 bill for losing the Tobias Rustat memorial case, despite declining to appeal because of the “significant” costs involved (James Beal writes).
Sources told The Times that although the college had not finalised its figures since the court case, staG had initially estimated fees of about £120,000.
The Rustat Memorial Group, made up of 70 alumni who clubbed together to fight the monument’s removal, spent £30,000 and have now requested that the college pay their costs. The Church of England court will rule on costs at a later date…
Readers may recall that the previous National Director, Melissa Caslake, resigned in January 2021. Since then Zena Marshall has been interim director. The substantive post has now been advertised, both on the CofE pathways website and in the Church Times:
…The Governing Body of Christ Church has resolved to commission a review of its governance. The purpose of the Review is to ensure that Christ Church’s statutes, by-laws, and governance arrangements meet the needs of the institution in the 21st century. The last comprehensive review of the foundation’s statutes was conducted in 2011. The Review will encompass the governance arrangements of all aspects of Christ Church, including the Cathedral, College, and School.
We now seek to appoint an independent Chair, who will, having consulted Governing Body, Chapter, and other parties, prepare a report setting out recommendations for the Governing Body to consider. The Chair will demonstrate appropriate knowledge of charity governance, an understanding of collegiate educational foundations, and ideally familiarity with the Church of England. They must have no current or recent connection with Christ Church.
At the conclusion of the Review, the Chair will be asked to prepare a report setting out recommendations for the Governing Body to consider. Christ Church has committed to publish the Review in full in 2023.
The deadline for expressions of interest is 29 April 2022…
A meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion was held at Lambeth Palace from 28 to 31 March.
Afterwards a communique was issued: Communique of the March 2022 Primates Meeting. The full text of this is copied here below the fold.
on Thursday, 24 March 2022 at 3.21 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Church of England
On 23 March 2022, David Hodge QC, acting as the Deputy Chancellor of Ely diocese handed down his judgment in the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Ely, on Re The Rustat Memorial, Jesus College Cambridge, in which he refused to grant a faculty to the College for the removal of the memorial. This has been reported in just about every British newspaper.