Thinking Anglicans

Church of England advice on Coronavirus

The official Church of England website page, which is being updated regularly, is here. It shows the date and time of the most recent update.

It also says:

This page contains guidance, particularly for the Church of England:

Church in Wales advice

Scottish Episcopal Church advice

Church of Ireland advice

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Christ Church Governing Body criticised for its attacks on the Dean

The Church Times has published further details of the Christ Church saga. Do read the entire article:
‘Weaponising’ of abuse victims in Oxford row ‘beyond contempt’ Christ Church dons told.

SENIOR members of Christ Church, Oxford, have been accused of “weaponising” the suffering of abuse victims in a further attempt to oust the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy.

On Wednesday of last week, a message accusing the Dean of safeguarding lapses was posted on the college website (News, 6 March). Dr Percy issued an instant rebuttal. (Elements of his rebuttal were then challenged by lawyers working for the college.)

The Diocesan Canon Precentor, the Revd Dr Grant Bayliss, has written to all members of the Governing Body to object to the message, which was circulated to the press by the PR firm Luther Pendragon. Canon Bayliss, who is not a member of the Governing Body, has filed a complaint against the small “press group” at the college responsible for the rushed and “staggeringly inadequate” consultation process on Wednesday of last week, when the safeguarding statement was posted on the college website.

He goes on: “I find the fact that no comment or mitigating defence from the Dean was included in the House statement bewildering. . . Moreover, how is it that our website has still not been updated with the Dean’s response, and that its existence is only evident in the Guardian and Church Times?”

He concludes by considering the view that the safeguarding statement was an “intentional attack” on the Dean. “Like some colleagues, I have spent many hours supporting and counselling victims of abuse and violent crime, and to ‘weaponize’ such suffering in any way is beneath contempt…”

The Guardian report mentioned above is this: Oxford dean accused of failing to report child sexual assault claim.

The “rebuttal” message issued from Luther Pendragon can be found online only in the Cherwell student newspaper, see Christ Church dean accused of mishandling child sexual assault case and scroll down…

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Suffragan See of Sherwood

Updated

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan See of Sherwood
11 March 2020

Queen approves nomination to the Suffragan See of Sherwood.
Published 11 March 2020
Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Doctor Andrew Neil Emerton BSc, BTh, DPhil, Dean of St Mellitus College, in the Diocese of London to the Suffragan See of Sherwood, in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, in succession to the Right Reverend Anthony Porter BA MA who is due to retire on 22nd March 2020.

Andy was educated at York University, and Queens College, Oxford and trained for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at Holy Trinity Brompton in the Diocese of London and was ordained Priest in 2006.

In 2008, Andy was appointed as Assistant Dean, St Mellitus College and in 2015 Andy took up his current roles as Dean, St Mellitus College and Principal, St Paul’s Theological Centre

Update

There is more detail on the diocesan website, including the consecration date which is Ascension Day 21 May 2020.

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Meeting of the House of Bishops

Press release from the Church of England

Meeting of the House of Bishops
10/03/2020

The House of Bishops met today at Lambeth Palace.

The bishops heard from the Reverend Professor Gina Radford and the Reverend Dr Brendan McCarthy on the developing situation with regard to the spread of the Coronavirus. They also heard about the Archbishops’ decision to update the latest guidance.

The bishops also discussed the Living in Love and Faith project in advance of this summer’s publication of the teaching and learning resources.

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Archbishops advise suspension of common cup

The archbishops of Canterbury and York have this evening issued revised advice in relation to Coronavirus COVID-19.

Their latest letter is here: Coronavirus letter 10th March 2020 – Archbishops guidance on common cup and the full text is copied below the fold.

…It is our view, in light of the continued increase of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom, that it is now necessary to suspend the administration of the chalice as well as physical contact during the sharing of the peace, blessing or “laying on of hands”.

We therefore advise that all priests should:-

  • Offer Communion in one kind only to all communicants i.e. the consecrated bread/wafer/host, with the priest alone taking the wine;
  • suspend handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the peace;
  • suspend direct physical contact as part of a blessing or ‘laying on of hands’…

The full Church of England advice can be found over here.

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Dean responds to claims made by Christ Church Governing Body

The Church Times reports: Lid comes off Christ Church dispute. Do read the entire article if you can.

After recounting recent events (see previous article and in particular Update 3) it has the following new information:

…In response [to the latest Christ Church statement], Dr Percy issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon denying the accusation and citing a police statement. He writes: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Dean dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the aca­demic year 2016-17, and the infor­ma­tion on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time. One of these individuals had already made a report to the police, which was already known to the college officers concerned.
“A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the alleged assault on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position of this individual has not changed.
“No person making a disclosure was still a minor — all were over 21. Three of the cases took place before 2014, prior to the Dean taking up office. None of alleged perpetrators posed a safeguarding risk.”

The Dean goes on to state that, in 2017, he raised concerns that college officers were ignorant of their safeguarding duties, and were untrained, something borne out by an email from Professor Johnson at the time, quoted in The Times.

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Opposition to same sex marriage continues to decline rapidly

The Ozanne Foundation has released the results of a new YouGov poll.

Here is a link to the research results summary with graphics.

This has been reported in the Telegraph: ‘Most’ Anglicans believe gay couples have right to marry, YouGov poll suggests.

The full YouGov survey results are available in a spreadsheet here. (Another version shows only the Anglican numbers. There is also a Handout in pdf format.)

Click here for chart of Anglican Men Under 65 vs Over 65 and Anglican Women Over 65 vs Over 65.

Results from the 2013 Questionnaire and 2016 Questionnaire are summarised here.

The full text of the press release (without diagrams) is copied below.

(more…)

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Christ Church dispute with Dean: many more details exposed

Updated Monday; updated again Tuesday, and again Wednesday (scroll down)

We last reported on this long-running saga on 16 February. Today The Times carries a lengthy article by Andrew Billen which contains a great deal more detail, and names of individuals involved, than any previous report. You will need to register with the website to read this. It’s well worth the trouble.

Christ Church scandal: Lavinia Woodward, college dean Martyn Percy and the censors

…It is the story of how a professor at Christ Church blew the whistle on an archaic and inadequate safeguarding regime that had failed her, and claims of how a cabal of academics conspired first to thwart and then delay his proposed reforms before working to remove him from office. The whistleblower was not a junior employee, a naive young don, but the head of the college, the dean of Christ Church himself, the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy…

There is also a leading article: The Times view on Martyn Percy: Low Table.

Update 1: (Saturday 29 February) there is a revised (from earlier 14 February) statement from Christ Church here:

There has been a clear attempt, through the media, to disrupt the ongoing mediation process that the Governing Body is funding to resolve the current dispute with the Dean. Confidential legal information has been leaked and presented in a deliberately-misleading fashion, aimed at damaging the reputation of Christ Church and a number of its former and current trustees. This account of the dispute is simply not true. Even in the light of such pressure, we remain committed to the mediation.

There is categorically no link between safeguarding and the complaint over pay initiated by the Dean. Christ Church is focused on providing a safe environment for all, and to giving safeguarding the highest importance. Christ Church has been reviewing its safeguarding processes over the last three years and we are confident that all relevant policies met statutory requirements throughout the period in question.

Legal advice has been provided to trustees and officers, acting on behalf of Christ Church, throughout the dispute with the Dean. Those trustees and officers are, and always have been, committed to working for the good of Christ Church. In December 2019, a vote of no confidence was put to the Governing Body. 38 voted that they had no confidence in the Dean, with only 2 against the motion. Frustrations conveyed about the Dean, exacerbated by the dispute over his pay, have also in the past been expressed in some private emails – however, again, none of these related to safeguarding matters.

Mediation with the Dean, funded by Christ Church, is due to continue next week. We very much hope that we can find a way forward through this process.

Update 2:(Tuesday 2 March)There is a new report in The Times: Christ Church Oxford tries to silence defence of dean

The headline in the paper edition reads: Don’t read it! Oxford college tries to silence defence of dean.

…On Sunday evening all 60 members of the governing body of Christ Church were emailed an unredacted copy of the judgment delivered in secret last summer by Sir Andrew Smith, a retired High Court judge.
The emailed copy was sent by the Rev Jonathan Aitken, the former cabinet minister who was once an undergraduate at the college…

…Within half an hour of Mr Aitken sending his email, Geraldine Johnson, the senior Governing Body member …wrote: Please immediately delete the email from Mr Aitken… It is extremely important that we retain our united front on this matter…

Do read the full article if you can. There is also a letter to the editor from Jonathan Aitken.

Update 3: (Wednesday 4 March) There is a new statement from Christ ChurchUpdate on Safeguarding

On 7 February 2020, we received a media enquiry regarding the two Employment Tribunal claims, which the Dean has lodged against Christ Church. This included an allegation that a former student had been sexually assaulted during their time at Christ Church, whilst still a minor. Upon further investigation, it is apparent that this allegation was disclosed to the Dean, but never reported by him to the police, the local authority designated officer, Christ Church’s safeguarding officers, or the Church of England’s safeguarding officer.

This allegation has now been reported to the police. Internal investigations have subsequently raised serious concerns about the Dean’s handling of four separate matters reported to him. All relate to allegations of sexual abuse or assault, two involving a minor. On legal advice, we have also made a report to the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Office, and they have opened an investigation.

There is no implication whatsoever that the Dean himself has been involved in any form of sexual misconduct.

Protecting our students, pupils, staff, and all those who live, work, or study at Christ Church is our highest priority. We are assisting the Church of England and the police in their enquiries, and we are putting in place measures to ensure that our safeguarding obligations continue to be met.

Christ Church’s Governing Body is fully committed to safeguarding and has robust policies and processes in place. Our thoughts are with any survivors of abuse affected by this news. If anyone requires immediate support, they should contact Christ Church or the police.

March 4, 2020

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Religion or Belief in the UK Parliament

The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group in the UK Parliament has today published a report on Religion or Belief in the UK Parliament: Time for Reflection. Much of it is devoted to the 26 Church of England bishops in the House of Lords; the report calls for an end to their automatic seats.

There is a comprehensive summary of the report on www.politics.co.uk which starts

MPs, peers call for overhaul of place of religion in Parliament

Humanist MPs and peers have today called for a major rebalancing of the relationship between religion and state in the Westminster Parliament. Their new report calls for parliamentary prayers to be replaced with a ‘time for reflection’ inclusive of all, for the Commons speaker to consider introducing additional forms of religious and pastoral support alongside that provided by the Anglican chaplain, and for an end to automatic seats in Parliament for Anglican bishops.

Time for Reflection: A report of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group on religion or belief in the UK Parliament examines these matters in more detail than ever before, uncovering issues which have restricted non-Anglican parliamentarians from fully participating in the life of Parliament as equally as their Anglican colleagues…

Other coverage includes:

The Guardian Report: C of E’s right to 26 seats in Lords should be repealed.

inews Why the UK has the only parliament with reserved places for clerics – aside from Iran

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Post Synod roundup

Updated

Here are a few online articles relating to last week’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod.

Business Done [the official summary of business]
Video recordings of all the Synod sessions are available to watch on YouTube.

Tim Hind Open Synod Group report of proceedings

Church Times General Synod highlights [12 minute podcast]
Subscribers can read the detailed reports of all Synod debates here.

The Tablet CofE synod commits to ambitious green targets

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK “Public health funerals” and “direct cremation” – an update

The rules and related items for the forthcoming General Synod elections are here.

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Dean of Christ Church to claim damages at employment tribunal

Updated again 29 February

The Mail on Sunday reported: Revealed: The emails dripping in poison that dons at Oxford’s most prestigious college tried to cover up – including one which read, ‘Think of the Morse episode we could make when his wrinkly body is found!’

And: The alma mater of 13 Prime Ministers, Christ Church is Oxford’s grandest college… but now a toxic feud among its dons is set to spill out in court – threatening what one distinguished alumnus calls ‘a horror movie’

There are later reports (£) in the TelegraphOxford College dons in ‘poison’ email row over attempt to oust Christ Church Dean who was labelled ‘little Hitler’
and in The TimesOxford dons and dean of Christ Church in feud over email slurs

Oxford Mail Christ Church dean Martyn Percy was ‘labelled little Hitler’ in leaked email

Oxford BlueVery Reviled: Dons damn the dean in Christ Church email scandal

Christ Church has issued this statement: Christ Church statement in response to media interest 14 Feb 2020

In response to recent media interest, we can confirm that we are in receipt of two Employment Tribunal claims from the Dean of Christ Church. We are all too conscious that a disagreement over pay and remuneration with the Dean has led, over the last two years, to significantly-heightened tensions between him and Governing Body. Personal relationships have undoubtedly suffered, and we all regret this deeply.  We take our responsibilities towards all members of our community very seriously, and believe that we have acted in the best interests of Christ Church, including its students and staff.

While the specific matters being raised by the Dean should be left to the Employment Tribunal to consider, the Governing Body remains committed to achieving a satisfactory resolution. Christ Church expects members to show respect towards one another at all times, but equally we acknowledge that individuals are entitled to their personal opinions. Frustrations conveyed about – but not to – the Dean, exacerbated by the dispute over his pay, were in the past expressed in some private emails. However, mediation with the Dean, funded by Christ Church, resumed in November 2019 and is now ongoing. We very much hope that we can find a way forward through this process, and avoid considerable further cost.

The Diocese of Oxford has issued this: The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy

Sunday 16 February: following media reports this weekend the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, has issued this statement:

“Martyn is a close and valued colleague, widely respected across the Diocese of Oxford and the wider Church. What happens next is for the employment tribunal to determine, but it is never too late to begin a process of reconciliation. This will require acknowledgement of responsibility, and also transparency on all sides. Recent events, while painful, are but a moment in the lifetime of this historic and unique dual foundation which contributes so much to the University and to the Diocese of Oxford. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved.”

+Steven Oxford

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General Synod – Day 4 – Thursday

The day’s business is in Order Paper Six

Official press releases

General Synod approves Channel Islands legislation
Legal aid an ‘essential service’ that should be preserved for the ‘benefit of the nation’, Synod votes
Archbishop of Canterbury pays tribute to the Archbishop of York

Press reports

Church Times
Synod says yes to Channel Islands transfer

Members’  blogs

Andrew Nunn The last chapter
Stephen Lynas A hard day’s night

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General Synod – Day 3 – Wednesday

The morning’s business is in Order Paper Four.
The afternoon’s business is in Order Paper Five.

As usual, Stephen Lynas is providing his excellent summaries of each day’s business.

Stephen Parsons wrote this in advance of the first item of business on Safeguarding: Is Synod overseeing a revolution in the treatment of abuse survivors? We also covered this here.

At the end of the Safeguarding debate Synod passed the following motion by 361 votes to nil, with no recorded abstentions.

That this Synod
(a) endorse the Archbishops’ Council’s response, set out in GS 2158, to the five recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in its investigation report Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball (May 2019) at pages 206 to 207;
(b) welcome the statement in paragraph 4.1 of the response that the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) “remains committed to ensuring that words of apology are followed by concrete actions”;
(c) urge the NSSG to bring forward proposals to give effect to that commitment that follow a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors;
(d) request that the NSSG keep the Synod updated on the development and implementation of responses to recommendations relating to the Church of England that are made by the Inquiry, including by submitting a report for debate by the Synod not later than July 2021.

The paper (GS 2158) referred to in the motion is online here.

The rest of the morning session was devoted to a debate on the Climate Emergency and Carbon Reduction Target. The motion as originally proposed was amended, most significantly when “2045 at the latest” in paragraph (a) was replaced by “2030”. This amendment was quite narrowly carried by 144 votes to 129 with 10 recorded abstentions. At the end of the debate, the amended motion below was carried on a show of hands.

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;
(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs, education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals and the NCIs, to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;
(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCIs every 3 years beginning in 2022 and;
(c) call on each Diocesan Synod and cathedral Chapter to address progress toward net zero emissions every 3 years.

The first item of business in the afternoon was a debate on so-called Paupers’ Funerals. The motion before Synod (after amendment) was

That this Synod noting:

(a) the substantial rise in the number of ‘pauper funerals’ in England and the pain and hurt arising from them; and
(b) the call of the Gospel to meet people as Jesus does, in their time of need, as well as the duty of Christians to the poor as set out in Proverbs 31.8-9 and Deuteronomy 15.7-8;

call upon the Archbishops’ Council to direct and resource the Life Events Advisory Group, in consultation with the Churches Funeral Group and the British Council of Funeral Services to:

i. undertake the formation of plans at national, diocesan and parish levels to utilise Church resources (whether in the form of finance, volunteers or buildings) to tackle the issues relating to and, where possible, end ‘pauper funerals’;
ii. work with other stakeholders to find ways, at an affordable price, to deliver a more compassionate send off for the departed and to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of those left behind; and
iii. report progress made with reference to the above by the end of 2021;

and further call on Her Majesty’s Government to develop with Council leaders, a national plan and basic standards for pauper funerals, which should include allowing a Christian funeral service to take place in Church or at a Crematorium; for family or others to attend; and the return of the departed (where permitted) to family members.

and this was carried by 273 votes to nil, with one recorded abstention.

Next was a debate on Children and Youth Ministry. The motion before Synod (after amendment) was

That this Synod, recognising the continuing decline in numbers of under 16’s engaging with Church:
(a) encourage dioceses to act urgently and consider practical ways they can support and resource those churches both with significant numbers of children and young people and with specific aspirations to increase their numbers of the same;
(b) encourage dioceses to make provision to support and resource those churches serving communities which currently have small numbers of children, teenagers and young people;
(c) request dioceses to share good models of practice through churches helping to resource others so that we have many more churches engaging with children and young people;
(d) request the NCI’s to commit funding for qualitative research on the data received to help understand best practice in a variety of contexts;
(e) encourage dioceses to explore new ways to grow new church communities with young people as a primary missional focus;
(f) request the Evangelism and Discipleship team to ensure this work is clearly joined up with Growing Faith; and
(g) request an update from the Evangelism and Discipleship team in two years with analysis of progress in these areas.

and this was carried on a show of hands.

Official press releases

Overwhelming support for Synod safeguarding motion – This includes links to some of the speeches in the debate.
General Synod sets 2030 Net Zero carbon target
General Synod calls on Government to act over ‘pauper’ funerals

Press reports

Church Times
C of E ‘to be carbon-neutral by 2030’, after Synod rips up original target
Synod accepts that ‘serious money’ must be found for abuse survivors

The Guardian
Church of England may have to pay out millions over child sexual abuse

The Telegraph
Church of England cuts target for carbon neutrality by 15 years, from 2045 to 2030

Christian Today
Archbishop of Canterbury reaffirms apology to victims of clergy abuse

Ekklesia
Operation Noah welcomes Church of England decision to set 2030 net zero target

Blogs

Andrew Nunn Reality
Stephen Lynas You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

[This page will be updated during the day.]

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General Synod – Day 2 – Tuesday

The morning’s business is in Order Paper Two.
The afternoon’s business is in Order Paper Three.

Synod papers are online here.

As usual, Stephen Lynas is providing his excellent summaries of each day’s business.

Much of the morning was spent on the Draft Cathedrals Measure. This had been revised by a revision committee and it was now Synod’s turn to accept or revise it. The proposed amendments are in order paper two. All were accepted by Synod except for 510 and 516. The Measure now goes to committee for final drafting before coming back to Synod for final approval at a later group of sessions.

The other item of business before lunch was deanery synod term limits. The recent complete rewriting of the Church Representation Rules (the “Rules”) included a provision to limit lay members of deanery synods to two consecutive terms of three years (although APCMs could vote not to apply this). There was opposition to this at the time but by the time people realised the significance of the change it was too late to do anything about it. However the Business Committee had undertaken a consultation and proposed to introduce a change to the Rules so that the default position would be no term limit, although APCMs would be allowed to make a limit. Today’s debate was to see if there was sufficient support in Synod to make it worthwhile starting the process of amending the Rules. Because this requires a two-thirds majority in each house of Synod, today’s vote was by houses with this result:

Bishops for 14, against 6
Clergy for 66, against 31
Laity for 128, against 14

There were recorded abstentions of 1, 3, 2 respectively.

Today a simple majority in each house was sufficient, so the motion asking the Business Committee to introduce the necessary resolution at the July 2020 group of sessions was passed. However it should be noted that whilst the laity today were overwhelmingly in favour, the bishops and clergy only just reached the two-thirds majority that will be needed in July.

The afternoon started with a presentation on Living in Love and Faith the Pastoral Advisory Group – see the Church Times story linked below for details.

Later there was a private members’ motion on Windrush Commitment and Legacy. After some amendments the motion before Synod was

That this Synod, commemorating in 2018 the martyrdom of the Revd Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., noting with joy the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush liner in the United Kingdom in June 1948 bringing nearly 500 Commonwealth citizens, mainly from the Caribbean, to mainland UK; and the eventual arrival of approximately half a million people from the West Indies, who were called to Britain as British subjects to help rebuild the post-war United Kingdom:

(a) lament, on behalf of Christ’s Church, and apologises for, the conscious and unconscious racism experienced by countless Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Anglicans in 1948 and subsequent years, when seeking to find a spiritual home in their local Church of England parish churches, the memory of which is still painful to committed Anglicans who in spite of this racism from clergy and others, have remained faithful to the Church of England and their Anglican heritage;
(b) request the Archbishops’ Council to commission research to assess the impact of this on the Church of England in terms of church members lost, churches declining into closure, and vocations to ordained and licensed lay ministries missed, and to report back to this Synod and the wider Church.
(c) express gratitude to God for the indispensable contribution to the mission, ministry, prayer and worship of Christ’s Church in this nation made by people of BAME descent in the Church of England;
(d) acknowledge and give joyful thanks for the wider contribution of the ‘Windrush generation’ and their descendants to UK life and culture in every field of human activity, including service across the Armed Forces and other services during and after the Second World War;
(e) resolve to continue, with great effort and urgency, to stamp out all forms of conscious or unconscious racism, and to commit the Church of England to increase the participation and representation of lay and ordained BAME Anglicans throughout Church life; and
(f) request the Archbishop’s Council to appoint an independent person external to the Church to assess the current situation as regards race and ethnicity in the Church, in order to present a report to this Synod with recommendations for actions to achieve reconciliation and authentic belonging so that we can move towards truly being a Church for all people;

to the greater glory of the God in whose image every human being is made.

The motion was carried by 295 votes to nil, with no recorded abstentions.

Official press releases

Cathedrals proposals move forward
General Synod votes to apologise over racism

Archbishop Justin Welby’s remarks during Windrush debate

Press reports

Church Times
Synod apologises to Windrush generation for C of E racism
Living in Love and Faith talks ‘will have an end’

The Guardian
Justin Welby says he is ‘sorry and ashamed’ over church’s racism

The Telegraph
Row erupts at General Synod over LGBT rights in the church

Christian Today
Church of England apologises for racism towards Windrush generation and minority ethnic people
Living in Love and Faith process is a ‘call to action’ for Church of England – bishop

Independent
Church of England ‘deeply institutionally racist’, admits Archbishop of Canterbury

Daily Mail
Archbishop of Canterbury compares CofE’s attitude towards black people to how churches treated Jews in Nazi Germany

Members’ blogs

Stephen Lynas All kinds of everything

Andrew Nunn Jewels in the crown
Quotable quotes

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General Synod – Day 1 – Monday

The February group of sessions of the Church of England’s General Synod opened this afternoon. Proceedings can be watched live here.

The first day’s business is in Order Paper One.

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a presidential address; you can read a transcript here.

There is some background information on one item, the draft Channel Islands Measure, in the item below. Synod voted to proceed with this draft measure, and it will be considered for revision in Full Synod tomorrow (Tuesday).

Synod voted to proclaim the Clergy Covenant for Wellbeing as an Act of Synod. The Covenant is here, and a paper on the Act of Synod, and an update on progress is here. There is also a Document for Reflection and Action for the Clergy.

The day’s business ended with Questions.

Official press release

Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing declared Act of Synod

Press reports

Church Times No biting, Welby tells his fellow Anglicans

Christian Today Archbishop of Canterbury appeals for unity at the start of Synod
Church of England’s parliamentary body reaffirms commitment to tackling clergy stress and burnout

The Telegraph
Social media is evil at root of society’s ills, warns Archbishop of Canterbury

Press Association (via This is Money)
Archbishop says technology could be `danger to flock´ or `aid to shepherd´

Members’ blogs

Andrew Nunn Making a beginning
Stephen Lynas Over the sea, on the Island(s) of Dreams

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Channel Islands

There is a proposal before the Church of England General Synod this week to transfer the Channel Islands from the diocese of Winchester to the diocese of Salisbury. This follows from the recommendations of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on the Relationship of the Channel Islands to the Wider Church of England (GS Misc 1241) which was chaired by Richard Chartres, the former bishop of London. This requires a Church Measure (the Church of England’s equivalent to an Act of Parliament) and it is intended to take all stages of this before Synod closes on Thursday. The first stage will be taken this afternoon and this will primarily deal with the principle.

Not everybody agrees with the proposal. One such is Simon Cawdell, a Synod member from Hereford. He has written a paper which has circulated amongst some Synod members and this has prompted a response from the Deans of Guernsey and Jersey (the senior clergy on the islands). With permission I have copied the texts of both papers below the fold.

The text of the draft measure is here and the explanatory notes are here.

(more…)

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pre-Synod news and comment

Updated Saturday evening

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London from Monday to Thursday next week. I published a list of news stories here. Here is some more news and comment.

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap Return to Sender [Stephen’s usual informative introduction to the Synod]

Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News Is All Well with the “Clergy Well Being” Covenant?

recent Church Times news and comment
Synod members are invited to climate vigil
Priestly formation needs revising to benefit children’s ministry
To belong

There are links to Synod papers here. The official General Synod app is available to download on iOS and Android devices. It is described as “Once downloaded, the app allows access to an electronic version of the timetable as well as all the documents you need to take part in the session as a member. Any changes or updates to the timetable and documents are also sent to the app.” Although primarily intended for Synod members anybody can use it.

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General Synod questions

Updated Monday

The Church of England’s General Synod will have its usual question and answer session on Monday afternoon next week. The questions, and answers, have been published today (see links below). These will not be read out at Synod and the session will be devoted to supplementary questions.

Questions Notice Paper
Question 18
Question 91
Question 92
Question 105
Question 106
Question 108

Update: A list of errata has been published.

1 Comment

Church Commissioners questions – Civil Partnerships

The new Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, on behalf of the Church Commissioners. There is a transcript of the questions and answers here. Questions were asked about LGBT+ equality, civil partnerships, church buildings, church schools and universities, HS2, and Christians in Nigeria.

Readers may be particularly interested in the question on Civil Partnerships.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Whether the Commissioners were consulted on recent guidance by the Church on civil partnerships; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Selous: I am accountable for the Church of England in this place. The Church Commissioners are not consulted on announcements by the College of Bishops. The archbishops have since apologised for the division and hurt caused by the pastoral statement.

Mr Bradshaw: Regardless of that, I think it was discourteous of the bishops not to inform the Second Church Estates Commissioner. The legislation was passed overwhelmingly in this House with all-party support. It is bad enough that the Church still treats its LGBT+ members as second-class Christians, but to say to the child of a heterosexual couple in a civil partnership that they should not exist because their parents should not have had or be having sex is so hurtful. Will he tell the bishops that unless this nonsense stops serious questions will be asked in this place about the legitimacy of the established status of the Church of England?

Andrew Selous: I will certainly feed back the right hon. Gentleman’s strongly felt concern on this issue to the College of Bishops. In their apology, the archbishops did recognise that the pastoral statement had jeopardised the trust that has been built up as part of the Living in Love and Faith project, which is intended to discern the way forward for the Church of England on this issue.

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New Lead Safeguarding Bishop and Deputy Announced

Press release from the Church of England

New Lead Safeguarding Bishop and Deputy Announced
05/02/2020

The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs has been announced as the Church of England’s new lead safeguarding bishop, taking over from Bishop Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells who leaves the role at the end of February.

Bishop Jonathan, a member of the House of Bishops, will be supported by the Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, as deputy lead safeguarding bishop.

Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie will work closely with the national director of safeguarding Melissa Caslake, who took up the role six months ago, along with the all members of the National Safeguarding Team as they continue to develop the Church’s safeguarding practice. Bishop Jonathan will chair the National Safeguarding Steering Group, the delegated House of Bishops body responsible for making national safeguarding decisions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “We are truly grateful to Bishop Peter who as lead safeguarding bishop, represented the Church at its three IICSA hearings over the past two years as well as leading on the response both to the recommendations and the important calls for change from survivors. His commitment to safeguarding and the mission of the Church is exemplary and the House of Bishops has learnt a lot from him.

We welcome Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie and commend their willingness to take up this role which is a vital part of the work of the Church. I am aware of the immense time commitment involved and pray for them as this new chapter begins.”

Bishop Jonathan said:

“Having been a member of the NSSG for the last two years, I am deeply grateful to Bishop Peter Hancock for all that he has done, as well as very aware of the responsibility involved in taking on this role. I am profoundly conscious of the work that lies ahead, both in response to the findings of IICSA and beyond. In particular, I am committed to working closely with the survivor community, to whom we owe a huge debt of thanks for their courage, integrity and willingness to hold us to account. Safeguarding is about enabling the Church of England to go on becoming a safer, healthier place for all, and it is a sacred responsibility in which every single one of us must share.”

Bishop Debbie said:

“It is a privilege for me to take on this role, and to play my part in helping the Church respond well to survivors. Having begun ministry as a Family and Children’s Worker, I am committed to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and supporting families in need. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and I am pleased to be working with the National Team in developing our practice further.”

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