Thinking Anglicans

CEEC commissions Overseers

Updated Monday and again Tuesday

CEEC commissions first set of overseers

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has commissioned its first set of overseers, in a service today at All Souls Langham Place, in London.

The introduction of the Ephesian Fund and Alternative Spiritual Oversight (ASO), followed the General Synod decision in November 2023 to approve the bishops’ proposals to change the position and practice of the Church of England with regards to sexual ethics and marriage, by blessing same sex couples as part of normal services. At a subsequent Synod meeting earlier this week, standalone services of blessing for same sex couples received General Synod support and a timetable to work towards clergy same sex marriages was endorsed. As a result of these decisions, many clergy and PCCs have lost confidence in those bishops supporting change.

At the service, the first 20 overseers were commissioned (with more to be commissioned in due course). The overseers comprise a group of Honorary Assistant Bishops, alongside other clergy from across the evangelical constituency (spanning charismatics and conservatives, egalitarians and complementarians). They will provide informal oversight to clergy and PCCs who feel a loss of confidence in the spiritual leadership of their bishop(s). This informal and temporary oversight, facilitated by CEEC, does not in any way undermine or replace the legal and safeguarding responsibilities of clergy and PCCs to their bishops and/or diocese.

The Ephesian Fund and ASO are designed to help those who hold to the existing teaching and doctrine of marriage and sexual ethics to remain in the Church of England while a permanent structural reorganisation is pursued within the Church of England…

The order of service is here.
The list of names is below the fold.



Responses to General Synod debate on LLF

Updated Thursday

Together has issued this Statement following LLF debate at July 2024 General Synod.

The Church of England Evangelical Council has published this: CEEC expresses deep disappointment on ‘milestone day’ as Synod approves bishops’ Living in Love and Faith proposals.

Update 11 July

The Alliance has published this Statement from the Alliance after July 2024 General Synod

Other statements will be linked when they are published.


Together responds to LLF

together for the Church of England has published this letter to Martyn Snow.
The full text is copied here (the signatures list is below the fold).

Dear Bishop Martyn


We are writing to thank you for your work over recent months in guiding the LLF project forwards and for the publication of the latest proposals before General Synod. It is clear that you and the LLF staff team have taken great pains to ensure that different perspectives were able to contribute, and we see this reflected in the papers before Synod. We would also wish to extend our thanks to the College and House of Bishops for their continuing engagement with LLF, and hope that there will be support for the measures being proposed.

We welcome the proposal to remove restrictions on the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith in standalone services. Many of us have already seen the pastoral and missional potential of the PLF material within existing services, which will be enhanced by making them available for use in standalone services. That this opportunity occurs on a voluntary opt-in basis helps to respect conscience all round and is something that we support. While it is not the gold standard of equal marriage that many of us seek, we recognise that this is a proportionate compromise that can be offered while the Church continues to explore these areas.

We are pleased that serious discussion is progressing on the freedom of clergy to enter a same-sex civil marriage. While we would have preferred to see more on this at the July Synod we welcome the clear timetable stating a decision will be taken by the House of Bishops in January 2025. For many clergy in faithful, stable, permanent relationships this decision cannot come soon enough. It is also a decision that many lay people already in same-sex marriages and who wish to explore a vocation to ordained ministry have been patiently waiting for. We firmly believe in marriage and the benefits it offers in regularising and honouring the love between two people. All of our clergy should be able to structure their closest and most intimate relationship in this way and we look forward to the further work from FAOC and the decision of the House of Bishops.

We look forward to hearing more about the model of specific and defined delegation of episcopal ministry to maximise inclusion under episcopal pastoral care. We support the rejection of hard structural approaches to managing differences in the life of the Church and welcome an approach focussed on pastoral relationships. As a Church we must never neglect that personal relationships contribute most strongly in building up the Church as the body of Christ, and managing difference is best achieved through good interpersonal relationships ahead of recourse to legalistic frameworks.

We remain fully committed to the unity of the Church, creating a generous space where all can thrive regardless of either sexuality or sincerely held theological conviction. We appreciate your comments in the LLF papers that what is proposed may not be ideal, but will allow us a space to discern God’s will in the longer term. Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good, and seeking perfection only delivers paralysis. We therefore welcome these proposals, acknowledging that they cannot deliver everything that all seek from the LLF process, and look forward to engaging with them further.

Please be assured of our prayers during the upcoming Synod and in the work that will follow.

Yours sincerely (more…)


Barnardo’s report on Network Church Sheffield

From the Diocese of Sheffield:

With the agreement of the survivor, the Yorkshire Baptist Association and the trustees of Network Church Sheffield, in 2022 the Diocese of Sheffield commissioned Barnardo’s to conduct an independent investigation following a complaint made about an experience of conversion therapy and exorcism in 2014-15. This investigation took place in two parts, with part one looking at the individual’s complaint and part two looking at the current practice of St Thomas Philadelphia, part of Network Church Sheffield and the church in which the abuse had taken place.



Bishop of Oxford responds to The Alliance

Updated Friday

The Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, has replied to the letter issued by “The Alliance” on 26 June, which was linked in this article: LLF: criticisms from bishops and others.

Here is the full text of his response.


The Alliance has issued a letter in reply.

Church Society has published Responding to The Bishop of Oxford.


LLF: further developments

Some further items to record:

Eleven members of the LLF Working Groups have written to criticise GS 2358: LLF: from Leicester to York

CEEC has issued this invitation to a “Commissioning of Overseers” service.

Neil Patterson writes in the Church Times: Called to live together, not apart


LLF: criticisms from bishops and others

Updated Wednesday evening and again Thursday morning; also on 3 July

The latest LLF proposals are in GS 2358. (31 pages long) , and are explained more briefly by Helen King in LLF: Moving Forward as One Church (also linked in today’s Opinion roundup).

There are several items expressing various concerns about these proposals.

They are:
Ruth Bushyager, Bishop of Horsham
Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster
Jonathan Gibbs, Bishop of Rochester
James Grier, Bishop of Plymouth
Richard Jackson, Bishop of Hereford
Rob Munro, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Mark Rylands, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Exeter
Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington
Paul Thomas, Bishop of Oswestry
Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford
Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham

The seven signatories are
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, Chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops
The Rt Revd Stephen Race, Bishop of Beverley
The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Blackburn
The Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
The Rt Revd Will Hazlewood, Bishop of Lewes
The Rt Revd Paul Thomas, Bishop of Oswestry
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield



Questions about the commissioning of the Jay report

The Jay Response Group has produced a report, published today, for the July General Synod to consider. This is scheduled for debate on Monday 8 July. This document is 137 pages long. This synod will not be asked to make any decisions concerning the specific way forward, all of which are considered to require substantial further work.

Readers will recall an earlier post: Wilkinson-Jay Response Group survey findings. This survey is incorporated into GS 2364. Among its reported comments, there were a number which dealt with the issue of whether the Jay report was answering the right questions. See for example, pages 45 to 47 of the survey findings. But also in its Executive Summary, on page 4, summarising

Reaction to the Wilkinson and Jay Reports (emphasis added):

Reactions to these reports highlight intense difference of opinion between stakeholder groups. Strong feelings, including frustration, were expressed by many participants.

  • Many participants welcome the insight that these reports offer on issues surrounding safeguarding in the Church of England.
  • There is a suggestion that the two reports are incongruent; one being seen as promoting patience and careful consideration, while the other encourages urgency.
  • There are voices that call for the immediate implementation of these recommendations.
  • Other voices highlight perceived flaws in the methodology used in the Jay Report.
  • The governance role of Archbishops Council is frequently questioned, particularly surrounding the terms of reference set for the Jay Report and its financial cost.
  • There is a recognition that the Jay Report has damaged the morale of safeguarding staff.

These questions have been taken up in a letter sent earlier this week to the Archbishop of York, and others, by a number of General Synod members. A  PDF copy of that letter can be found here. This letter asks a number of detailed questions about the way in which the Jay report was commissioned. Obviously this letter was sent before today’s voluminous report was published.


Wilkinson-Jay Response Group survey findings

The Church Times reports on a survey commissioned by the Jay Response Group but as yet not published by them.

Survey uncovers reservations about outsourcing church safeguarding work

MOST bishops and safeguarding professionals in the C of E oppose the outsourcing of church safeguarding work to an independent body, according to the results of a survey commissioned this spring.

The Church Times has obtained the unpublished results of a survey on the future of church safeguarding, which was commissioned in March (News, 25 March). The findings from the survey are due to form part of a paper which will be debated at General Synod in July.

The 2003 responses show that — while there is strong support for the creation of a body that would provide independent scrutiny of safeguarding — Professor Alexis Jay’s chief recommendation, outlined in her report (News, 21 February), that day-to-day safeguarding work should be completely handed over to another independent body, has not found widespread support….

The full text of the survey report is available here: Wilkinson-Jay Initial Survey Research Paper.

The following graphs summarise the most important findings, namely that support for the creation of “Charity A” is lower among both bishops and those currently employed in church safeguarding work than it is among either those who are survivors of abuse and their advocates,  or those who are ordinary church members.


LLF: proposals made for same-sex prayers and marriage

Francis Martin at the Church Times has a report on what happeed last weekend in the LLF group discussions:
Same-sex prayers and marriage: latest Love and Faith proposals considered by the Bishops.

See previous article for the official report on what happened at the House of Bishops meeting on Thursday.

The Church of England Evangelical Council has published two items:

John Dunnett says:

There’s a lot of water going under the Living in Love and Faith Bridge right now, including today, the 16th of May, a discussion at the House of Bishops. Whilst we do not know what they will conclude and what therefore will be brought to General Synod in July, it is clear that two things are going to happen. One, that the so-called ‘standalone services’ for blessings of same-sex relationships will be made possible.

And secondly, that, probably by the removal of ‘so-called’ discipline, that clergy in some dioceses are going to be able to marry their same-sex partners. Maybe as soon as this autumn. These are big changes, and I think it’s fairly clear that they are indeed indicative of a change of doctrine…


The Jay Files

Updated 17 May – episode 2 added; and again 24 May – episode 3 added

Regular readers will recall the publication last February of The Wilkinson Files.

Martin Sewell and Clive Billenness have now produced a further video series: The Jay Files which explain very clearly what is in Alexis Jay’s report on The Future of Church Safeguarding.

The first of three videos was published this morning, and two further episodes will be published on successive Fridays. I will link all three of them in this article as they become available. These are strongly recommended viewing, particularly for General Synod members.

The Jay Files episode 1 The Background

The Jay Files episode 2 Fully or Semi-Detached

The Jay Files episode 3 Safeguarding the Jay Way

A press release says

…The Jay Files are a series of 3 short documentary-style films which highlight the key findings of Professor Jay’s Report and are a sequel to The Wilkinson Files which examined the report by barrister Dr Sarah Wilkinson into the investigation of the closure of the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board. Each film will be no longer than 15 minutes in duration. The Wilkinson Files have been viewed thousands of times by people both inside and outside of the Church.

These films are presented by Martin Sewell and Clive Billenness, both Members of the House of Laity of the General Synod and both very active in matters relating to Safeguarding. Martin is a retired solicitor specialising in Child Protection. Clive is a Certified Auditor who is still in practice and is also an elected member of the Audit Committee of the Archbishops’ Council.

Clive said “Like the Wilkinson Report, Professor Jay’s Report is packed with detail, including the results of a substantial survey that included abuse survivors as well as members of Safeguarding Schemes. She spoke with over 180 people in multiple dioceses, and it is clear that her recommendations were based on the evidence from her work and were not confined to any one parcular group of interviewees.”

“Members of the General Synod are given very little time to discuss in depth the details of these complex reports which lie at the heart of creating a Church which is safe for all before being asked to make critical decisions on how we will move forward. We are all in agreement that there must be proper measures to prevent a repetition of the abuse scandals of the past, as well as the means to care for existing survivors of past abuse. Martin and I hope that these films will help Members to better understand the issues before making decisions.”


Asylum seeker “conveyor belt” baptism claims refuted

The Archdeacon of Auckland, Rick Simpson, gave written evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which provides the detailed facts concerning baptisms of refugees or asylum seekers in Darlington.

Read his evidence in full here (dated 5 April).

The Church Times reports on this: Archdeacon of Auckland rejects claims of ‘conveyor-belt’ conversions 

…In Febuary, the Home Affairs Committee heard evidence from a former Church of England priest, the Revd Matthew Firth, who repeated claims that he had made in the media about witnessing a “conveyor belt” of cases, in which asylum-seekers were being baptised so that they could say that they risked persecution if deported (News, 16 February).

Mr Firth was Priest-in-Charge of St Cuthbert’s, Darlington, between 2018 and 2020, before leaving the C of E to become a minister in the Free Church of England.

Giving evidence to the committee, he said that he had been approached every two to three weeks by groups of six or seven asylum-seekers who wanted to be baptised, but had turned them down, after which they did not attend church again…

On Thursday 25 April, Mr Firth issued this statement on Twitter in rebuttal.

The original Daily Telegraph reports, dated 8 February, in which Mr Firth first made his claims are here (£):  

The transcript of the committee hearing on 12 March can be found here.


National Redress Scheme: financial award proposals published

The National Redress Scheme is for survivors and victims of Church-related abuse. See here for links to earlier press releases about this.

Details of the proposed financial award framework for the Church of England’s national Redress Scheme have now been published. If approved, the framework would be used to calculate offers of financial redress to survivors and victims of Church-related abuse. Details of the proposed approach to funding the Redress Scheme have also been announced.

The Redress Project Board has agreed the recommended financial award framework for the national Redress Scheme. If approved through the Church of England’s legislative processes, the framework would result in individual awards of between £5000 and £660,000 in rare and exceptional circumstances. For more details read the latest press release: National Redress Scheme: Proposed financial award framework and approach to funding.

Church Times report: Survivors could be paid £660,000 in C of E’s four-stage redress scheme


Co-chair named for Wilkinson Jay response group

Church of England press release
Independent co-chair for safeguarding Response Group appointed

Lesley-Anne Ryder, an experienced CEO and chair who has worked in national and local government and the health and charity sectors, has been appointed the independent co-chair of the Response Group looking at two important reports on independence and safeguarding in the Church of England. These are from barrister Sarah Wilkinson and former IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) chair Alexis Jay.

Lesley-Anne brings a proven track record in leading complex change management and restructure programmes involving safeguarding professionals and volunteers in diverse organisations and is an experienced leader, coach and mentor of senior teams. She has more than 20 years’ experience of work supporting vulnerable adults and children and has played an active role in shaping Health and Social Care policy at a senior level in the NHS, worked on a Government department merger and continues with a range of charity work which has included being a supervisor for Cruse Bereavement Care and chair of a local charity.

An independent recruitment firm was responsible for the selection of candidates and Lesley-Anne was interviewed by members of the Response Group including meeting with survivor representatives. One of the key criteria for selection was a professional, external voice who had not previously worked with the national Church. She will start work this week.

Speaking on her appointment Lesley-Anne said: “I am delighted to bring both my experience of leadership and managing complex change in a variety of settings, along with my personal experience and qualifications in engaging and supporting those whose trauma and circumstances have in some way stopped them having a voice. I believe that I inspire confidence, commitment and focus for those that I am called to lead and support, and that this role provides a unique opportunity for me to use my skills to the full. I have chaired several multidisciplinary boards, and I look forward to working closely with Bishop Joanne and the whole of the Response Group. I am an active member of my local church and work to support vulnerable people in my local community”.

The Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop and co-chair of Response Group, Joanne Grenfell, said: “I welcome this appointment and the wide-ranging professional experience Lesley-Anne will bring to this role. It is vital that we have an independent voice that can offer challenge and scrutiny while the work of the Response Group moves forward on these two important safeguarding reports.”

The ToR for the group have been updated to include this: Wilkinson and Jay Reports Response Group Terms of Reference

Some additional information is available at LinkedIn and at Anume.

The Church Times reported it this way (scroll down):

New independent co-chair for Response Group

THE independent co-chair of the group responding to recent reports on safeguarding in the Church of England (News, 15 March) has been appointed. It is Lesley-Anne Ryder, a former charity chief executive with experience of work supporting vulnerable adults and children. She has worked on social-care policy in the NHS, is a supervisor for Cruse Bereavement Care, and chairs a local charity. The other co-chair of the Response Group is the Bishop of Stepney, Dr Joanne Grenfell, who is the lead safeguarding bishop. It is understood that the Response Group will conduct a consultation on responding to the recommendations in the reports by Professor Alexis Jay (News, 23 February) and Dr Sarah Wilkinson (News, 15 December 2023). The announcement on the C of E website, on Tuesday, says that an independent recruitment firm was responsible for the selection of candidates, and that Ms Ryder was interviewed by members of the Response Group and survivor representatives.


LLF Programme Board members announced

The Church of England has published this: LLF Programme Board update.

Details of LLF Programme Board membership confirmed

Following an update last month on the new Programme Board to steer the next steps of Living in Love and Faith (LLF), progress has been made in forming this Board, together with the three working groups.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has agreed to Chair the Programme Board, supporting the Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, in his ongoing work as the lead bishop of LLF.

Additionally, the Bishop of Stockport, Sam Corley, the Acting Bishop of Coventry, Ruth Worlsey and the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich will also serve on the Programme Board, with a further member to be appointed.

Ex Officio members will be Jamie Harrison, Chair of the House of Laity, Alison Coulter, Vice-chair of the House of Laity, Luke Miller, Prolocutor of the House of Clergy and Kate Wharton, Prolocutor of the House of Clergy. They will be supported by staff from the National Church Institutions (NCIs).

Full details of the membership of the three working groups – Pastoral Guidance, Pastoral Provision and Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) – will be shared once all members have been appointed.

Together for the Church of England has published this Public Statement on LLF from Together (April 2024)   (This organisation is an amalgamation of GSGSG (General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group and MOSAIC (The Movement of Supporting Anglicans for an Inclusive Church).


New Dean of Llandaff appointed

On Easter Day, the Dean of Llandaff announced his retirement:

On Easter 2, one week later, the Bishop of Llandaff announced his replacement:


Oxford disciplinary tribunal decision

Updated 7 April and again 9 April

Law & Religion UK reports: Dean Richard Peers CDM decision

On 21 March 2024, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Oxford handed down its Decision The Revd Canon Richard Peers – March 2024 and reasons in relation to facts and conduct.


Comments on this article remain closed.


Safeguarding: Advert for Wilkinson/Jay Response Group Co-Chair


This advertisement has appeared on Guardian Jobs, originated by Charisma Recruitment.

The full text is copied below the fold.


Church of England
Unremunerated with reasonable expenses paid*
Closing date
8 Apr 2024*
The asterisked items above show the advert as originally published.
The Salary line has been changed, and now reads: Supplier fee paid.
The closing date has also been changed to read 17 March.



Reparatory Justice: Oversight Group recommendations

Updated Tuesday

The Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice describes itself this way:

A seed for growth and change

In 2023, the Church Commissioners for England published a report into its historic links to African chattel enslavement. In penitence and hope, the Church Commissioners proposed a fund to address a legacy of racialised inequality that scars the lives of billions to this day.

The Church Commissioners appointed an independent Oversight Group to make their recommendations on how the fund should be used. This group is acutely aware that the crimes against humanity rooted in enslavement have caused damage so vast it will require patient effort spanning generations to address. They believe this fund represents a start to breaking the chains of discrimination.

The Oversight Group has a bold vision for the £100m Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice which they would like to see grow to £1bn and act as a catalyst for real change.

Other recent documents about this:

Church Times: Church Commissioners look for partners to boost reparatory-justice fund to £1 billion


Guardian Harriet Sherwood ‘It’s not a lot when you consider the harm’: Why bishop is calling for £1bn in C of E reparations for slavery (Interview with the Bishop of Croydon)

Archbishop of York We need a conversation about justice (Article in the Sunday Times)


LLF: re-formation of working groups

press release

New programme board to help steer LLF next steps

Lead Bishop gives update to Synod members

Following discussion at the February meeting of General Synod, further details of plans for a new Programme Board to oversee the ongoing work of Living in Love and Faith (LLF) have been shared with General Synod members.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, the lead bishop for LLF, has written to Synod members to outline plans for a new oversight board and the re-formation of three working groups: the Pastoral Guidance Working Group, the Pastoral Reassurance Working Group and the Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) Working Group.

Synod members have been invited to express their interest in joining the groups which will be formed of bishops, other clergy and laity.

In addition to these working groups, meetings with stakeholders will be organised to help enable progress ahead of a meeting of The House of Bishops’ meeting May.

Two formal groups will also be formed, as agreed following the commendation of the PLF:

  • A Pastoral Consultative Group – to aid bishops, diocesan staff and others with answers to the broad questions that arise from the implementation of PLF and other LLF work. This group will comprise a small number of bishops, supported by consultants.
  • An Independent Review Panel – to consider concerns about the implementation of the PLF and application of the Pastoral Guidance, and make recommendations for addressing justifiable concerns.

A timeline is being finalised to allow these groups to make progress ahead of the House of Bishops’ meeting later in May, which will feed into the General Synod sessions in July.

Read the full letter to Synod members from the Bishop of Leicester.

Church Times report on this: Synod members invited to apply to join LLF working groups