House of Bishops meeting: 29 November
The House of Bishops met online on the morning of 29 November 2023.
The House considered the November Group of Sessions of General Synod, including next steps required following the vote on Prayers of Love and Faith.
It was agreed that a motion for the commendation of the “Prayers of Love and Faith: resource section” would take place at a further meeting before the end of the year. This aligns with the timescale indicated at Synod.
There was also consideration of the House of Bishops’ processes, with The House agreeing to begin a review with a focus on increasing transparency. The House voted in favour of immediate steps to publish summaries of meetings, and to set up a task-and-finish group to make recommendations to the House on potential improvements. A fuller summary of the meeting will be published in the coming days, in accordance with this.
The meeting ended in prayer.4 Comments
The Church Times reports that “TWO former Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) members [Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves] have announced that they have ceased to co-operate with the independent review of the ISB’s demise. They have concerns about the reviewer’s remit.”
Jas Sanghera has posted on X/Twitter that “At no point have @churchofengland engaged with us on terms of reference for this review, despite our numerous request. This is in effect CofE marking it’s own homework & not consulting with the very ppl it concerns. Shocking”.
Steve Reeves has posted that “the Church, with a remit solely defined by the Church, and excluding events critical of the Church, won’t tell anything like the true story.”15 Comments
The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available online and are linked below. The texts of items 7 and 500 can be found in the official record of Business Done.
Living in Love and Faith motion (as amended – text here)
Amendments to Living in Love and Faith motion (see Order Paper IV for the texts of the proposed amendments)
Motion to consider Abuse (Redress) Measure for revision in committee
Motion to amend standing orders (see Order Paper IV)91 Comments
Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News The Dam Has Broken: Synod and Beyond
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Where have we arrived after General Synod?54 Comments
David Lamming has written the following article about the synod discussion that occurred on 9 July concerning the Independent Safeguarding Board.
Question 204 from the November General Synod sessions refers (text included below).
RE-WRITING HISTORY: OMITTING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF FORMER ISB MEMBERS STEVE REEVES AND JASVINDER SANGHERA FROM THE FORMAL RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT THE YORK SYNOD IN JULY 2023
General Synod members, and those watching the proceedings on the livestream, will recall the débâcle at York on the Sunday afternoon, 9 July, when, after several attempts to use the standing orders to enable Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves to respond to the ‘Presentation on developments relating to the Independent Safeguarding Board’ were thwarted, the formal sitting was adjourned so that they could address Synod members, with Robert Hammond (chair of the Business Committee) taking over as chair of the informal session.
One of the thwarted attempts to use Standing Orders to allow Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod concerned SO 120(1), which provides: “The Presidents may invite such persons as they think fit to address the Synod.” The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said that he was “happy to do that”, though he thought that Meg Munn, who was also present, “ought to be invited to say something as well.” That said, he added: “I think if people [i.e. Jasvinder and Steve] were able to make a short statement and then perhaps a final response from the panel, I will leave that in your hands, Chair. I think then we should include this item.” (emphasis added). He was thwarted, though, as the legal advice given to the Chair (who reported it to Synod with ‘a regret‘) was that it was “unlawful for one of the Presidents and not both to suspend the Standing Orders.” Leaving aside that Debbie Buggs’s request was to “ask the Archbishop of York in his capacity as President to ask Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod, please,” not to suspend the SOs, it is to be noted that the reason the Archbishop of Canterbury was not present was that he had left Synod to be with his dying mother.11 Comments
Surviving Church has published this report on the current status of numerous safeguarding matters, few of which are on the agenda for the November synod. The editor of SC writes:
This is a copy of a newsletter written by Martin Sewell which helps a reader to understand at depth the issues on safeguarding that are coming before General Synod this week. Previous newsletters have been shared with synod members. (Ed.)
I recommend this report for the careful attention of all TA readers.21 Comments
This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.
Live video etc
All sessions are streamed live on YouTube and remain available to view afterwards. Links have been provided in advance.
There is an official Twitter account.
Official press releases
Press reports and comment
The Washington Times
The Living Church
Miranda Threlfall-Holmes72 Comments
Paul Roberts Inclusive Evangelicals On the use and abuse of the term ‘orthodox’
Mandy Ford ViaMedia.News Polluted Ground or Holy Ground? Going Forward to the November Synod
Church Times General Synod same-sex debate on knife edge25 Comments
The Questions (and answers) for next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod were issued today. They can be found online here: QUESTIONS Notice Paper November 2023 FINAL.
Questions will be taken in two groups; on Monday from 2.50pm to 4.30pm, any questions relating to Living in Love and Faith matters will be taken first, followed by other questions rotating through the boards and councils as is customary. Questions will resume at 11.45am on Tuesday 14 November until 12.45pm.
Q56 and Q64 have been provided with the wrong answers in the Questions Notice Paper. The correct answers are in Notice Paper 8.12 Comments
Church attendance rises for second year running
Statistics for Mission show increase in regular worshippers and average weekly attendance
Nearly a million people were regular worshippers last year as the Church of England continued its post pandemic bounce back, statistics from the Church of England show today.
The worshipping community of the Church of England – made up of regular worshippers – grew by nearly 20,000 people to 984,000 in 2022 compared to 966,000 in 2021. Average weekly attendance for all ages grew nearly 50,000 over the same period from 605,000 to 654,000.
Child average weekly attendance rose 17% from its 2021 level to 87,000 and there was an 85% rise in all age school service attendance from its 2021 level to 164,000.
But despite the rises over two years, the figures were lower than before the pandemic in 2019 when the worshipping community stood at 1.1 million and all age average weekly attendance was 854,000.
Child average weekly attendance stood at 120,000 and school service attendance was 182,000 in 2019. (more…)55 Comments
Colin Coward has published this report of a meeting on Friday 3 November at Lambeth Palace Library: The Archbishop of Canterbury meets thirty four representatives of progressive organisations
On Friday afternoon, forty one people gathered forming a huge rectangle in the room on the top floor of the Lambeth Palace library. Thirty four were representatives of progressive organisations and networks seeking the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the Church of England.
I think the meeting represents a turning point in the decades-long movement in the Church of England towards achieving the full and equal inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in our church – but although progress may now be made, the future is still very uncertain….
Helen King has published another report of the same meeting: Going to the top: meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury
…When Friday’s meeting was announced, at short notice, I heard from several stakeholders that they weren’t inclined to drag themselves into London yet again for what could well be a pointless meeting. We have bitter experience of being asked at these meetings to react to various scenarios, only for an entirely different scenario to be the one that is decided upon. Eventually they concluded that they may as well go; we’re nothing if not resilient. So, there we were. Again. Only, this time, all in the same room, rather than meeting the LLF team in sub-groups (Evangelical inclusives, Catholic inclusives, etc)…
A letter signed by over 600 evangelicals* in the Church of England has been published today. In advance of the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod (which meets later this month) the letter — published by the recently formed Inclusive Evangelicals — backs the course of action which was approved by the Synod in February 2023. It throws its support behind the full authorisation of Prayers of Love and Faith (including the standalone services) ‘for immediate use’. It also urges the House of Bishops to issue the Pastoral Guidance (which will replace the outdated Issues in Human Sexuality) ‘as a matter of urgency’ in order to enable Church of England ordained ministers to marry, irrespective of the sex of their intended spouse. It rejects calls for structural differentiation to accommodate those who are unwilling to accept the changes proposed in GS2289, including alternative episcopal structures. However, it does affirm and support the need for legal protection for the consciences of individual ministers, whether they choose to use Prayers of Love and Faith, or whether, on grounds of conscience, they choose not to.
Today’s letter marks a significant change in the political landscape for the debate over Living in Love and Faith. The evangelical voice on LLF has been divided since the conservative evangelical Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) amended its basis of faith to stipulate a traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality. This in turn led to a split in the evangelical constituency on General Synod as the Evangelical Group on General Synod (EGGS) made a similar change to its basis of faith, leading to the formation of the Evangelical Forum on General Synod as a place where affirming and non-affirming evangelicals could continue to meet together.
Inclusive Evangelicals was formed in the summer to provide a unifying point for evangelicals who wished to welcome the place of LGBTQIA+ Christians within the full life of the Church. Since that time, the membership of its Facebook Group has grown to almost 1300 members. Its website (https://inclusiveevangelicals.com) provides resources, stories and a blog to help evangelicals who wish to explore the issue of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in a positive way, from a biblical standpoint.
* If you have difficulty opening the letter PDF, try this link to a local copy: Inclusive Evangelicals LLF Open Letter60 Comments
A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy. Details are in a press release, which is copied below.
Christ Church Review Group announced
A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.
The Review will look at the handling of these safeguarding issues, and relevant reports and investigations including those commissioned by National Safeguarding Team and the Diocese of Oxford as well as material from Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) proceedings. It will not be concerned with the wider issues between the former Dean and the College.
The Review Group, details below, will consider that evidence with a view to appointing and instructing an independent reviewer with relevant expertise and experience.
The Review, commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council and diocese of Oxford was originally referred to the former Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, with Terms of Reference announced in May 2022. Later that year the ISB announced it was pausing work on the review due to finite resources and workload.
This is the first Safeguarding Practice Review, formerly known as a learning lesson review, set up under the new Safeguarding Code of Practice approved at General Synod in July. Its aim is to improve safeguarding practice.
Review Group membership:32 Comments
The House of Bishops of the Church of England met for three days this week, and afterwards issued this press release.
House of Bishops Oct 30 – Nov 1, 2023
The House of Bishops has held its annual autumn residential meeting, spending time in prayer and discussing matters including the war in Gaza, safeguarding, finance, youth evangelism, and Prayers of Love and Faith. The meeting was held at Cookham, Berkshire.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, updated Bishops on his recent visit to Jerusalem and led a discussion on the war in Israel and Gaza. The Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, the Church of England’s representative on the Holy land Coordination Group, led a time of prayer.
The House then discussed proposals for a National Redress Scheme for victims and survivors of abuse, ahead of draft legislation coming to Synod this month.
Bishops also heard updates on the Safeguarding Programme arising out of the recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) Inquiry Report on the Anglican Church.
This included Recommendations One and Eight, covering diocesan safeguarding officers and national safeguarding standards and audits as well as information sharing and the national casework management system.
Bishops also spent time reflecting on their recent decisions about the process of introducing Prayers of Love and Faith and discussed the upcoming meeting of Synod.
On Tuesday bishops heard updates on Diocesan finances and clergy retirement housing support. They also discussed the operation of the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015, which ensures that vacancies on the Bishops’ Bench in the House of Lords would be filled first by female diocesan bishops for 10 years or until parity is achieved.
The House reviewed guidance for good practice in praying for others, including a briefing document on conversion therapy.
Bishops also engaged with ongoing work to meet the challenge of ensuring that a church with a flourishing children, youth, and families’ ministry is within reach of every child or young person in England.
On Wednesday bishops considered questions around interventions in public life.
During the three days bishops attended the local parish church, Holy Trinity, Cookham, for services of morning prayer and Holy Communion.21 Comments
The Church Times reports: Don’t delay guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages, say 44 bishops
A GROUP of 44 bishops made a public statement on Wednesday afternoon expressing their hope that pastoral guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages would be issued “without delay”.
The statement in favour of reform follows three weeks after 12 bishops publicly dissented from a majority decision by the House of Bishops to commend prayers for same-sex couples (News, 20 October).
The new group, 14 diocesan bishops and 30 suffragans, write that they “recognise the complexities of the Pastoral Guidance in relation to ministry, and also the need for a swift end to the current uncertainty for LGBTQIA+ clergy and ordinands…
Do read the whole article. The full text of the statement is copied here below the fold.47 Comments
The Church Times reports: Second Commissioner responds to MPs’ questions on Prayers of Love and Faith
The full texts of both questions and answers can be found at They Work For You, starting here. For convenience, the substantive content has been copied below the fold.
Update This Church Times article also includes information on voting in the House and College, some of which is additional to that in the previous report:
…In September, the College of Bishops voted 72-26 to “recommend to the House that we continue the work on pastoral provision, to extend this to clergy who enter into same-sex marriages”.
They also agreed, by a margin of 81-17, that there should be “no questions around sexual intimacy” put to “clergy in same-sex civil partnerships”.
The House of Bishops also voted in favour of a motion stipulating that the pastoral guidance should remove all barriers to clergy entering same-sex civil marriages, albeit by a narrower margin: 18 votes to 15.
The House agreed, however, by a vote of 23-13, to delay the publication of such pastoral guidance until “further work” had been done — a decision that was announced last Friday, when an update on LLF was published in advance of the next month’s General Synod meeting…
Francis Martin reports in the Church Times:
Read the whole article if you possibly can, but it starts out:
A LARGE majority of C of E bishops support a move towards allowing priests to enter into same-sex marriage, and the immediate adoption of stand-alone services of blessing for same-sex couples, the Church Times can report.
The House of Bishops, however, voted to slow progress on both issues in a meeting earlier this month, in the face of conservative hostility. The outcome has prompted MPs to question the process of episcopal governance…
The report includes the following specific voting figures:
The leader in the Church Times reports that the College of Bishops voting on the pastoral guidance was “72 to 26 to work on giving permission for clergy to enter same-sex marriages”. This leader is also recommended reading.70 Comments
There are two new documents on the website of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches:
The full list of those attending is copied here below the fold. It includes three active clergy of the Church of England, John Dunnett (Chelmsford diocese), Richard Moy (London diocese), and Nicky Gumbel (London diocese).96 Comments
Updated again Wednesday 25 October
These proposals are contained in GS 2328, published last Friday. It is titled:
Living in Love and Faith
SETTING OUT THE PROGRESS MADE AND WORK STILL TO DO.
The Church Times published this news story the same day: Same-sex provision needs more work, General Synod will be told
Charlie Bell has published A Sum Total of Nothing: The Prayers of Love and Faith Return to Synod
Helen King has written Going to the stake: Living in Love and Faith as Synod approaches
MOSAIC has issued this Statement on the House of Bishops LLF press release and General Synod Motion
Letter to the Second Church Estates Commissioner
This letter from Ben Bradshaw MP and Peter Gibson MP asks seven detailed questions about GS 2328 and the involvement of the House of Bishops in its approval.
Richard Moy Chapter Eight: Here Come the Generals
see also other post about his attendance at the GFSA Cairo meeting. He writes in detail about that meeting, and about Nicky Gumbel’s participation in it.
Helen King Suspicion and fear
Jeremy Pemberton Living in Love and Faith: a whole lot of hot air?
Martin Davie WHY GS 2328 IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY FORWARD.
Andrew Goddard (via Psephizo) “Another Fine Mess”? A Guide to Where We Are With LLF Pre-General Synod
And there is a longer (18 pages) version here.
Also he draws attention to this item: GS Misc 1359 The Recent Evolution of the Church of England’s Liturgical Procedures and Canons (B1 to B5A)
The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in London next month, and the usual pre-Synod press release, copied below, was issued today.
Synod meeting to focus on implementation of Prayers of Love and Faith
General Synod papers published for November 2023 Group of Sessions
The General Synod of the Church of England will meet next month in London to discuss the steps being taken to implement texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith, which ask for God’s blessing for same-sex couples.
In February of this year, Synod agreed a motion welcoming the texts and calling on The House of Bishops to further refine and commend them for use in the Church of England, together with new pastoral guidance and proposals for pastoral reassurance.
Earlier this month, The House of Bishops agreed in principle that the Prayers of Love and Faith should be commended for use, also concluding that special services for same-sex couples, based on the Prayers, should go forward for consideration to be formally authorised under canon law. Synod also voted for no change to the doctrine of the Church of England around marriage and sexual intimacy.
In November, Synod members will be presented with the work that the House of Bishops has carried out on the Prayers of Love and Faith since February. They will also have the opportunity to discuss the draft pastoral guidance, specifically supporting the Prayers, which has been shared for the first time.
The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, who has co-chaired the Living in Love and Faith steering group, said: “This twin-track approach means that prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples will be available for use in church very soon, as Synod has asked. A means of offering special, standalone services for same-sex couples will go forward to be considered for formal authorisation at a later stage.
“While we do not all agree about questions of marriage and sexual intimacy, a long period of discernment has shown that a majority of people would like to see a change in the Church of England’s approach to same-sex relationships. Based on what the Church has told us, no change is not an option.
“There are those who would like to see us go much further, and those who believe we are going too far. Yet we have expressed our heartfelt wish to remain together as one Church. The pastoral provision must protect and value both those who struggle so much with this that they need reassurance, and those who wish to place same-sex relationships before God in prayer.
“In other words, it will be ‘both and’, not ‘either or’. We are implementing what Synod asked us to, prayerfully and with the hope of God’s Grace.”
Papers for the November 2023 Group of Sessions were published and sent to members today.
Synod will consider and vote on the first consideration of the draft Redress Measure which makes legal provision for the creation of a national redress scheme for victims and survivors of Church-related abuse. This delivers on the commitment made by the Church in its response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
The draft Measure lays the groundwork to deliver a Scheme which offers redress in a range of forms including apology, acknowledgement, therapeutic, and financial support to survivors of abuse perpetrated by a person acting under the authority of the Church of England. It makes provision for a single ‘redress body’ to deliver the Scheme and also makes provision for the financing and includes further details of the Scheme’s operation.
The Bishop of Winchester, Philip Mounstephen, chair of the Redress Project Board, will introduce the draft Measure and take questions from members.
The Measure is expected to return to the Synod for the Revision Stage in July 2024 followed by the Final Drafting and Final Approval stages.
More information44 Comments