Thinking Anglicans

Meeting of the House of Bishops

The Church of England’s House of Bishops met this week and issued the following brief press release.

Meeting of the House of Bishops
11/12/2019

The House of Bishops met from Monday 9th December to Wednesday 11th December at Lambeth Palace.

The House considered progress to date in the Living in Love and Faith project through discussion, prayer and reflection. The House discussed safeguarding with a presentation from the National Director of Safeguarding.

On the eve of the general election, the House reviewed the national situation politically and prayed for the good of the country.

Other items on the agenda included Renewal and Reform and the Implementation and Dialogue Group Report.

5 Comments

Clergy Flourishing

The Church of England has published the latest report from its Living Ministry project: Ministerial Effectiveness and Wellbeing: Exploring the flourishing of clergy and ordinands.

There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

New research findings published on clergy flourishing
05/12/2019

A new set of findings from a 10-year study into the well-being and flourishing of ordained ministers in the Church of England has been published today.

The Living Ministry programme tracks the progress of groups of clergy ordained in 2006, 2011 and 2015 and women and men who entered training for ordination in 2016, seeking to understand what helps clergy to flourish in ministry.

The latest research from the project includes responses from 579 ordained clergy and 113 people training for ordained ministry in the Church of England.

The quantitative study includes research into physical and mental, relational, financial and material and spiritual and vocational well-being as well as responses to questions about ministerial effectiveness.

The Rt Revd Dr Chris Goldsmith, Director of the Ministry Division of the Church of England said: “This 10-year programme is providing valuable long-term insights into the experiences of our ordained clergy from initial training and curacy and throughout ministry.

“The findings will help inform the dioceses and theological education colleges and courses in their vital work in the selection, formation and long-term support of ordained clergy.”

Dr Liz Graveling, who is overseeing the research programme for the Ministry Division, said: “I’m pleased to release this next stage of the Living Ministry research, which has allowed us to look in more depth at specific areas of clergy flourishing and start to build up a picture over time. As we follow our participants into the next chapter of their ministry, we are continuing to explore some of these themes in the ongoing qualitative work, which is due to report next year.”

Further information:

Living Ministry was set up in 2016 by the Church of England with the aim of helping support the dioceses, theological education institutions and national church in the selection, training and long-term support of clergy.

Living Ministry is a mixed-methods, longitudinal study. This report presents the findings of Wave 2 of the panel survey, which took place in early 2019. The survey built on the exploration of clergy wellbeing in Wave 1 (2017) by both monitoring this and including questions on ministerial effectiveness.

10 Comments

Sophie Jelley to be next Bishop of Doncaster

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Doncaster: 2 December 2019

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Sophie Rebecca Jelley, Mphil, BA to the Suffragan See of Doncaster, in the Diocese of Sheffield.

Published 2 December 2019

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Sophie Rebecca Jelley, Mphil, BA, Residentiary Canon at Durham Cathedral, in the Diocese of Durham, to the Suffragan See of Doncaster, in the Diocese of Sheffield, in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Burrows following his resignation on 30th September 2019.

Sophie was educated at the University of Leeds and trained for ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. She served her title at St Peter’s Shipley in the Diocese of Bradford and was ordained priest in 1998. Sophie took up the role of Mission Partner with the Church Mission Society in Uganda in 2000 and returned to the UK in 2003 to take up the role of Resident Minister of St John the Evangelist, Church in the Diocese of Guildford. In 2010 Sophie was appointed Vicar, St Andrew’s Burgess Hill in the Diocese of Chichester and in 2013 she took up the additional role of Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands.

In 2015, Sophie was appointed to her current role as Canon Missioner and Diocesan Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Durham.

Sophie is married to Chris, a technology consultant, and they have three teenage children. Sophie is a keen runner and musician.

There are more details on the Sheffield diocesan website.

19 Comments

CofE publishes Charter for Relationships, Sex & Health Education

From a Church of England press release:

The Church of England has published a Charter and resources to support schools in delivering Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE).

The Charter features eight commitments which all schools, Church of England and others, can sign-up to prior to the new guidelines becoming law in autumn 2020.

The Church of England’s lead Bishop for Education, Stephen Conway said in April that RSHE would require a shared duty of care between parents and schools, with the contents of the curriculum discussed and clearly communicated in advance.

To enable this, a skeleton agenda for parents’ meetings has also been published, together with a framework for school staff discussion, a policy template and activities and prayers.

The eight commitments include delivering the curriculum as a professional and identifiable part of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), building resilience of pupils, promoting healthy relationships, using honest and medically accurate information, meeting individual requirements including special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and seeking pupils’ views to make teaching relevant to their lives….

From the CofE website:

Relationships, Sex and Health Education
Faith sensitive and inclusive Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education (RSHE)

From September 2020, all primary schools will be required to teach Relationships Education. They will also be required to teach Health Education. Secondary schools will be required to teach Relationships Education and Sex Education.

The legislation makes it clear that all schools should approach RSHE in a faith sensitive and inclusive way, seeking to explain fairly the tenets and varying interpretations of religious communities on matters of sex and relationships and teach these viewpoints with respect. The Church of England Education Office supports the approach taken by the government, including recommending an age-appropriate provision of sex education at primary level, and is issuing a Charter which we hope schools of all foundations, faiths or otherwise will sign up to as they affirm the broad principles about how RSHE is taught.

The Charter is accompanied by guidance, given to help dioceses and schools as they develop policy in this area. Based in the principles established by the Church of England’s Pastoral Advisory Group which has set out some principles for living well together with difference and diversity and in Valuing All God’s Children, we have developed the following documents:

It is our intention to add to these resources during the year.

5 Comments

Cathedral Statistics 2018

The Church of England has published its Cathedral Statistics 2018 today along with the following press release.

Record numbers of visitors and worshippers flock to England’s cathedrals
26/11/2019

England’s cathedrals have witnessed their highest Easter congregation numbers in recent years, while visitor numbers increased by a million on the previous year, statistics published today show.

In the report, published today, Cathedrals reported nearly ten million visitors in 2018, an increase of over 10 per cent on the previous year. There were additionally over a million visitors to Westminster Abbey.

The major Christian festivals remain at the heart of congregational growth, with 58,000 people attending a cathedral at Easter and 95,000 during Holy Week – the highest numbers recorded for a decade, with Easter attendance up nearly 10,000 since 2008.

(more…)

17 Comments

Church Representation Rules 2020

Completely revised Church Representation Rules will come into effect on 1 January 2020. Hard copies are available from Church House Publishing and elsewhere.

The new rules form schedule 1 of the Church Representation and Ministers Measure 2019. They are not as yet available on the Church of England website, which at the time of writing only has the current 2017 rules.

12 Comments

General Synod questions

Last month General Synod members were invited to submit questions for written answer. The 56 questions and their answers are now available for download.

15 Comments

Original safeguarding complaint against Dean of Lincoln declared void

Lincoln diocese issued this brief statement yesterday:

The Venerable Mark Steadman has been appointed as acting Dean of Lincoln

The Rt Revd Dr David Court, acting Bishop of Lincoln, has appointed the Venerable Mark Steadman, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey, as acting Dean of Lincoln from Friday 22nd November 2019. This decision is to enable the continuing governance and functioning of the cathedral. Mr Steadman continues in role as Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey alongside his new duties.

The Lincolnite has two news reports that shed further light on what has recently happened:

The most surprising item in the first report is this:

Dean Christine Wilson added that on Monday, the President of Tribunals made a determination that a complainant and the bishop had not followed the proper process at the outset and therefore the complaint, which led to Christine’s absence, was void and invalid.

The President of Tribunals stated that this was “unfortunate” and the complainant may wish to issue another complaint.

It now appears that this is likely to happen, which leaves the cathedral without their dean for a further period of time.

She added that she had over the last seven months respected the processes of the church throughout the inquiry and cooperated fully.

And this is further amplified in the second report:

…A Church of England spokesperson said: “The Church is taking this issue very seriously and is aware how difficult it is for all parties involved.

“As the Dean said in her statement, the President of Tribunals made a determination that the complainant and bishop had not followed the proper process at the outset, that this was ‘unfortunate’ and the complainant may wish to issue another complaint.

“The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team will be issuing another complaint, however, it should be noted that the President of Tribunals made no decision on the actual substance of the complaint.

“Nothing further can be said as this process continues but we ask prayers for everyone involved…”

13 Comments

Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case

Update The Guardian has the background to this story: Church of England reviews its handling of sexual abuse case.
“Matthew Ineson said his claims that a vicar had raped him when he was 16 were ignored”

Update 2 Matthew Ineson has written about the review in a comment below.

Update 3 (Monday) Church Times has now covered this story Devamanikkam review challenged by survivor.

Press release from the Church of England

Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case
22/11/2019

Safeguarding consultant Jane Humphreys has been appointed as the independent reviewer into the Church of England’s handling of the allegations relating to the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam.

Jane brings more than 30 years of experience from the statutory sector having previously been a director of children’s and adult services (see biography below).

The aim of the review is to identify both good practice and failings in the handling of these allegations, in order that the Church of England can take steps to enhance and improve its response to allegations of abuse and thereby ensure a safer environment for all.

The reviewer will look at written and verbal evidence from the survivor who brought the original allegation of abuse.

The reviewer will also make contact with the relevant archbishop and bishops as well as those safeguarding professionals in the Church who dealt with the allegations and external agencies.

The review will be published in full except for jigsaw identification details.

Melissa Caslake, the Church of England’s national director of safeguarding, said: “We are very pleased that Jane has agreed to take on this vital piece of work to enable the Church to learn lessons. We have listened to concerns about the importance of independence in this work and we believe Jane’s wealth of professional experience fits this criterion. We hope the review will be completed and published during 2020.”

Jane Humphreys said: “As an independent reviewer I am committed to working in a transparent way and will ensure that anyone who wishes to provide evidence to the Review will be heard. I will also ensure that all relevant documents relating to the Church’s handling of this case are looked at so lessons can be learnt to enable the Church to be a safer place for all.

Jane is a highly experienced Senior Social Care Consultant, and previous Director of Children’s and Adult’s Services with a career spanning more than 30 years. Having trained as a social worker she worked in a number of local authorities becoming a director of children’s and adult services in 2008. She currently specialises in change management and has a proven track record of directing service reviews and ensuring preparation for Ofsted and CQC inspections. Jane is also undertaking some work for the Local Government Association as a children’s improvement adviser. She is committed to supporting families and service users, and driving improvements in service delivery in a range of organisations. She also has broad based expertise in chairing Adult and Children Safeguarding Boards.

6 Comments

CTE blocks appointment of person in same-sex marriage

Updated

This story is of Anglican interest as the Church of England is a constituent member of Churches Together in England.

The Church Times reports today that CTE block appointment of fourth president because the nominee is in a same-sex marriage

THE appointment of a new President of Churches Together in England (CTE) has been blocked because the nominee is in a same-sex marriage.

There are six Presidents of CTE, the Churches’ ecumenical instrument. They include the Archbishop of Canterbury and the RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The fourth presidency became vacant in October 2018, when Billy Kennedy finished his four-year term.

In May, Hannah Brock Womack, an active Quaker, was formally appointed to the position by the fourth presidency group: Quakers in Britain; the Lutheran Council of Great Britain; the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England; German-Speaking Lutheran, Reformed, and United Congregations in Great Britain; and the Church of Scotland.

On learning that Ms Womack had recently been married to a woman, however, a majority of the member Churches of CTE, through its enabling group, voted in September to request that the fourth presidency group “refrain from enacting its Presidency, leaving the Fourth Presidency as an ’empty chair’ for the current term of office”.

The CTE was due to publish its decision in a statement today: “Over recent months CTE has been engaging with the reality of living with diversity, acknowledging that although so much unites us as Churches, we remain in disagreement over certain issues…

The CTE Statement is here: Churches Together in England statement on the Fourth Presidency

The Quakers in Britain have issued this: Churches’ plan for new President falters because of equal marriage which is copied in full below the fold.

Update There is also this article: Walking together with difficulty.

(more…)

29 Comments

Archbishops issue General Election message

The archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued this press release:

Time to ‘leave our echo chambers’ and listen to others, say Archbishops in General Election message.

The full text of the message is available as a PDF here.

A direct link to the video which shows the archbishops reading the message is here.

7 Comments

New Church of England document on Christian-Jewish relations

The Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England has published a teaching document entitled God’s Unfailing Word.  This is available as a PDF here.

There is a press release:

Church of England teaching document calls for repentance over role of Christians in centuries of antisemitism

Christian theology played a part in the stereotyping and persecution of Jewish people which ultimately led to the Holocaust, a new reflection on Christian-Jewish relations issued by the Church of England acknowledges.

The teaching document, entitled God’s Unfailing Word, is the first authoritative statement on the subject from the Church of England. It speaks of attitudes towards Judaism over many centuries as providing a “fertile seed-bed for murderous antisemitism”.

It urges Anglicans and other Christians not only to repent of the “sins of the past” towards their Jewish neighbours but to be alert to and actively challenge such attitudes or stereotypes.

The document, published by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, encourages Christians to rediscover the relationship of “unique significance” between the two faiths, worshipping one God, with scriptures shared in common.

The Christian-Jewish relationship should be viewed as a “gift of God to the Church” to be received with care, respect and gratitude, it makes clear.

Christians should, therefore, be mindful of the difficult history of the two faiths and apply sensitivityin the use of some passages of scripture and liturgy, hymns and art as well as in sharing their faithwith Jewish people and in discussions about Israel.

The document includes an honest and challenging afterword by the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, in which he speaks of “profound friendship” but also a “substantial misgiving” on the question of evangelism.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, responds in a foreword, describing the Chief Rabbi’s reflection as doing Anglicans a “great service” and making clear that Christians sharing their faith must do so with “gentleness and grace” and recognising the “weight of that history”.

The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Faith and Order Commission, said: “Assumptions about Judaism and Jewish people, past and present, colour Christian approaches to preaching, teaching, evangelism, catechesis, worship, devotion and art, whether or not Christian communities are conscious of their Jewish neighbours, near and far; teasing out those assumptions and exploring them theologically is therefore a challenge that pertains to the whole Church.

“That challenge is also, however, a precious opportunity. As the first ‘principle’ underpinning this report states, we are convinced that ‘the Christian-Jewish relationship is a gift of God to the Church, which is to be received with care, respect and gratitude, so that we may learn more fully about God’s purposes for us and all the world’.”

The Church Times has a news report, which gives some background information: New book seeks to repair the harm done to Jewish people.  And also has a helpful page containing extracts from the document.

5 Comments

Civil partnerships extended to opposite-sex couples

Updated

Both Houses of Parliament have now approved The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019. The regulations will come into force no later than 2 December.

There is an accompanying Explanatory Memorandum.

There is also an extremely helpful House of Commons Library briefing paper, Civil partnership for opposite sex couples (full text available as a PDF here).

This change applies only to England and Wales. It is for the Scottish Parliament to decide on whether to do this in Scotland too, but the Scottish Government has introduced a bill to do so.

The regulations do not permit opposite-sex couples who enter a civil partnership to subsequently convert their relationship into a marriage (as is the case for same-sex couples). The Government has conducted a separate consultation on conversion rights generally, but has not yet announced the outcome of that, or decided what actions it will take. Further regulations relating to this may be made in 2020.

The position of the Church of England on this new form of civil partnership has not yet been announced.  I will update this post when it does. But it does seem unlikely that the policy statement of 2005 can be applied unchanged now.

There is further discussion of these regulations at Law and Religion UKCivil partnerships, marriage registration, stillbirths – update.

And Russell Sandberg has written Religion and Opposite Sex Civil Partnerships: An Update.

36 Comments

Bishop of Dorchester to retire

The area bishop of Dorchester in the diocese of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, has announced he will retire on 4 October 2020. Details are on the diocesan website.

3 Comments

Martin Gorick to be next Bishop of Dudley

Press release

Suffragen [sic] Bishop of Dudley: 4 November 2019

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Martin Charles William Gorick, MA, to the Suffragan See of Dudley, in the Diocese of Worcester,

Published 4 November 2019
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Martin Charles William Gorick, MA, Archdeacon of Oxford, in the Diocese of Oxford, to the Suffragan See of Dudley, in the Diocese of Worcester, in succession to the Right Reverend Graham Barham Usher BSc, MA, following his translation to the See of Norwich.

Martin was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge and trained for ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon. He served his title at St John the Evangelist, Birtley in the Diocese of Durham and was ordained Priest in 1988. In 1991, Martin was appointed as Chaplain to the Bishop of Oxford. He became Vicar of Smethwick Old Church in the Diocese of Birmingham in 1994 and was additionally appointed Area Dean of Warley in 1997. Martin was appointed as Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon in the Diocese of Coventry in 2001 where he was also Hon. Chaplain for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He took up his current role as Archdeacon of Oxford and Residentiary Canon of Christ Church in 2013 and also serves as Diocesan Inter-faith Advisor. He is married to Katharine who is County Lead for Visual Impairment in Oxfordshire and they have three adult children.

More details on the Worcester diocesan website

41 Comments

Statistics for Mission 2018

Updated Friday morning to add some press reports
Updated Monday morning to add link to diocesan tables

The Church of England has published two sets of statistics today.

There is an accompanying press release, Church engages millions through apps and social media, which concentrates on the digital report. It is copied below the fold.

Update: Detailed Diocesan tables (excel file) are now available.

Press reports

Church Times Enquirers’ courses are attended mainly by churchgoers, statistics suggest

Telegraph Church of England’s prayer apps used a record five million times, while attendance figures fall

Christian Today Church of England’s digital reach grows as service attendance continues to fall

(more…)

35 Comments

2020 General Synod Elections: Inclusive Church launches campaign leaflet

Nic Tall is Election Campaign Coordinator for the IC and partners’ 2020 Synod Campaign. Inclusive Church has published this article by him: 2020 Synod Elections: Shaping the future of the Church of England.

Should same sex couples be able to marry in church?  How can the church respond to the climate emergency?  How do we equip the church for the challenges of mission and ministry in the 21st Century?  Do you ever find yourself asking these questions?  And do you ever wonder who in the church has the job of answering them?

In the Church of England the big questions of the day are debated by the General Synod.  It can seem like a remote body, with little effect at parish level and no place for ordinary clergy and churchgoers, but that is a common misperception.  Many significant changes in how local churches operate come from decisions in General Synod, and the policies of the national church are shaped and decided in Synod.  Next year will see full elections for the next five year term of the General Synod, and whoever is elected will have a voice in how the church grapples with the big issues and shape its future.

Could you serve on General Synod?  Maybe you know someone you could encourage to stand for election.  The Church needs a diverse range of people on Synod, different ages, backgrounds and experience to represent the full breadth of the Church.  Inclusive Church is leading a campaign to organise for the 2020 elections, working in partnership with other inclusive organisations across the life of the church.  We have just launched our main campaign leaflet, saying what will be happening and how you can be involved.  Please download it here, and share it far and wide among people you know in the church who have inclusive values…

The campaign leaflet, Planning for the 2020 Elections to the General Synod, contains more detailed information:

Who is organising the Inclusive Synod Campaign?
This campaign is being organised by a coalition of key organisations from across the full breadth of traditions in the Church of England – evangelical, catholic, liberal. We represent the broad mainstream of the Church, those who want our national Church to be for everyone, regardless of gender, age, disability, tradition, race, socio-economic background or sexuality. Members include Inclusive Church, WATCH, One Body One Faith, Ozanne Foundation, Affirming Catholicism, Accepting Evangelicals, Modern Church, the Society of Catholic Priests, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the C of E, the Progressive Christianity Network and Thinking Anglicans. We are the only campaign for Synod organising across the whole of the Church…

4 Comments

Two reports about the Christ Church Oxford dispute

Updated

Two news articles about the dispute concerning the Dean, Martyn Percy, have appeared on the same day. Each contains new information, but there is surprisingly little overlap. Do read both articles all the way through. (Warning: the FT piece is very long.)

Church Times Christ Church continues to struggle to find peace

A NEW row is brewing in Christ Church, Oxford, despite the exoneration of the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy (News, 30 August). The Cathedral Chapter has now sought its own legal advice about the actions of a group of senior dons who accused the Dean of “immoral, scandalous, and disgraceful behaviour” (News, 5 November 2018).

As a consequence, there are reports that members of the Chapter have, in turn, been harassed and threatened with legal action. On Wednesday, Dr Percy declined to comment.

The small group of dons used an estimated £1.6 million of college funds to pursue the Dean, who is also Head of House (i.e. Master of the college) after he raised questions about governance and pay scales, including his own. He was cleared of all charges in August, in an internal inquiry led by Sir Andrew Smith, who produced a judgment of more than 100 pages. It is this document that is at the centre of the new row…

Financial Times Scheming spires: trouble at Oxford’s Christ Church

Update: this second article, which was available freely earlier today, has now gone behind a paywall. I am sorry about the inconvenience. See comments below about possible ways around this.

31 Comments

Archbishop responds to Church Times leader on Brexit

The Church Times has a news report today (which covers other episcopal Brexit responses too) This is how to honour the referendum: Welby clarifies Bishops’ statement. In it the Archbishop of Canterbury  makes a fairly lengthy response to last week’s leader column. Do read it all.

35 Comments

Channel Islands Commission publishes recommendations

Press release from the Church of England

Channel Islands Commission publishes recommendations
09/10/2019

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the wider Church of England has published its final report, including a recommendation for Episcopal oversight of the Islands to be transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury.

(more…)

37 Comments