The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in London from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 November. The agenda (GS 2322) and papers were released today. The report of the Business Committee (GS 2323) includes a guide to the group of sessions.
The papers can be downloaded as two zipped files, and there are links to individual papers below the fold.
The main business of this group of sessions will Living in Love and Faith; the supporting paper is GS 2328 Living in Love and Faith: Setting out the progress made and work still to do. There will be an informal session on Monday afternoon, and then on Tuesday afternoon the Bishop of London will move:
‘That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides feel pain at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, and encourage the House to continue its work of implementation.’
Approximately nine hours have allocated to the debate, spread over Tuesday afternoon and most of Wednesday.25 Comments
The General Synod Report of Proceedings July 2023 is now available.
In addition to the usual verbatim transcript of the proceedings, there is an appendix containing several supplementary questions with answers that were provided after the meeting. These include
The Church of England has today published a set of National Safeguarding Standards and an accompanying press release which is copied below. The approved version of the standards can be downloaded here.
Safeguarding standards published
Church of England safeguarding standards published
The Church of England has today published a set of National Safeguarding Standards, an essential benchmark to understand the quality and the impact of its safeguarding activity at a local and national level. The Standards will enable Church bodies to identify both their strengths and areas for development, which will in turn inform their strategic planning in respect of safeguarding.
Along with an accompanying Quality Assurance Framework these Standards have been developed over a three-year period in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including victims and survivors. They build on existing policies and procedures including the previous Promoting a Safer Church statement. The five standards aim to cover the breadth of safeguarding activity in the Church.
Each Standard contains:
The standards will also inform the second round of independent audits of dioceses and cathedrals, to begin in 2024 and announced in August. It is not expected that every Church body will be able to meet every indicator immediately and the auditors are aware that those dioceses and cathedrals in the early audit phase will have had less time to embed these standards.
The National Safeguarding Team is also entering a partnership with the parish Safeguarding Dashboard. This will enable the dashboard to become fully integrated with the new standards, thus making it easier for thousands of parishes to explore the standards.
The Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, Joanne Grenfell, said: ‘All organisations, including the Church, must be able to demonstrate how well they are fulfilling their safeguarding responsibilities. The standards published today are part of a vital quality assurance framework aimed at making the Church a safer place for all and build on work already developed. I know they will be welcomed by all those involved in their local church as an important part of ensuring that our safeguarding activity is making a difference to people’s lives. It will also help the Church to be accountable to all its key stakeholders particularly survivors and victims of abuse.
There are a range of resources for parishes including:
Premier Christianity has published the full text of a statement by bishops who are publicly dissenting from the statement issued by the House of Bishops on Monday. This is copied in full below the fold. For reactions to this letter, see the preceding TA article. (more…)124 Comments
Last updated Wednesday 18 October
Church of England Evangelical Council CEEC responds to House of Bishops’ announcement
Church Society Ros Clarke Who wants the Prayers of Love and Faith anyway?
Anglican Network in Europe Not Fit for Office
Andrew Goddard Psephizo Prayers of Love and Faith: what has the House of Bishops done?
This article contains a very detailed analysis of what the statement may mean. Worth reading in full.
See also next TA article about 12 bishops who dissent from the announcement.
Anglican Futures Caution: The Travelator Continues…
Further statement from CEEC responding to the 12 bishops: CEEC welcomes bishops’ dissenting statement
Some bishops have now issued individual statements:
Please do report any other letters, or more direct links for these ones, via the Comments.
Update Wednesday 18 October
Church Society has published What are the Prayers of Love and Faith and why do they matter? which links to this PDF.
And there is also this: Editorial: Good Lord!
Prayers of Love and Faith: Bishops agree next steps to bring to Synod
House of Bishops agrees to commend Prayers of Love and Faith
The Church of England’s House of Bishops has agreed in principle that prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples – known as Prayers of Love and Faith – should be commended for use.
The House, which met in London, also concluded that structures for special services for same-sex couples, based on Prayers of Love and Faith, should go forward to be formally authorised under canon law.
The bishops will bring proposals to General Synod next month which will pave the way for a process that would lead to the authorisation of these special services under Canon B2.
This process, expected to take until 2025, would involve consultation with every diocese and require approval by General Synod.
Bishops gave serious consideration to an alternative legal process which could have enabled special services to be authorised almost immediately – but temporarily – (under Canon B5A). This would still have required a further process for the services to be authorised permanently (under Canon B2) by Synod.
New draft pastoral guidance will be brought to next month’s meeting of Synod, setting out how the system could operate. Further work is already in progress on the second part of the Pastoral Guidance which will look at matters in the life and work of clergy and lay ministers.
Proposals for the Prayers of Love and Faith were discussed in an historic debate at the General Synod in February of this year. Synod called on the bishops to work on Pastoral Guidance and other arrangements needed to implement that decision.
The proposals will be discussed in detail at a meeting of General Synod in London on November 13 to 15.
At today’s meeting the bishops agreed that:
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who co-chaired the steering group which has brought the proposals forward, said: “The House of Bishops’ decisions today continue to implement Synod’s vote to recognise publicly the commitment of same-sex couples and to pray God’s blessing for them.
“They have agreed to commend Prayers of Love and Faith and also considered the best way to authorise special standalone services. Having carefully considering the legal, theological and pastoral implications of possible approaches, the bishops concluded that it would ultimately be clearer to proceed directly to consideration under Canon B2.
“We acknowledge that there are some who would like this process to move faster, however the move to full authorisation will provide clarity and wide consultation ahead of a final decision by synod in 2025.
“I know that for some, these measures go too far and, for others, not nearly far enough and the bishops discussed the need for pastoral reassurance, and for some the need for formal structural pastoral provision.
“But the heart of the gospel is reconciliation – our desire is to remain together as one Church in our uncertainty, finding ways to live well with our different perspectives and convictions.”
The meeting included times of prayer and worship, with prayers said for crises around the world including the situations in Israel and Gaza, and in Afghanistan.48 Comments
On 12 June, we published this item: House of Survivors challenges William Nye which links to an open letter:
Open Letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
Re: Notice of Complaint re Mr. William Nye LVO
Comments on that post noted at the time that House of Survivors was merely the website hosting the letter, not the originator of it, as our earlier headline had erroneously implied. Apologies.
Yesterday, 2 October, House of Survivors has hosted a second letter here: Open Letter to Archbishops, House of Survivors, and General Synod | October 2023
The letter is available both as a PDF, and on the HoS webpage. It is also copied in full below the fold.
Link to the PDF:
Open Letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York`
Re: Update on Notice of Complaint re Mr. William Nye LVO
Church Times report: Survivors’ complaint against Church of England secretary-general stalls41 Comments
The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Deborah Sellin, Suffragan Bishop of Southampton, for election as Bishop of Peterborough.
Appointment of Bishop of Peterborough: 28 September 2023
The Diocese of Liverpoool has published an independent review into its Transforming Wigan project. There was a brief summary (copied below) in its latest weekly email bulletin. The full story, with links to the review, is here.
We publish the Independent Review into the Transforming Wigan project
Today [22 September 2023] the Diocese of Liverpool publishes an independent evaluation of Transforming Wigan the first large scale change management project funded through the Church Commissioners Strategic Development Fund (SDF).
The report, from Kate Hudson of Intergras Consulting, provides a thorough appraisal of the project assessing its strengths and weaknesses. It shows that the project, which has now evolved into Church Wigan, highlighted that it hadn’t been able to solve the deep financial challenges it inherited. However, it has achieved great progress in creating local teams and helping mission across the town.
The report concluded that Transforming Wigan was ambitious, particularly in its aim to turn round the finances of the deanery. It recognises the ongoing financial burden of old buildings is being tackled through the Right Buildings review and commented the new structures through establishing the charitable Wigan Deanery Trust have made Church Wigan financially more efficient. They have greater autonomy on how funds are spent and ability to apply for grant funding.
Diocesan Secretary Mike Eastwood commented: “We always knew that the Transforming Wigan project would be a major challenge, even without the disruption of Covid. Being the first to embark on a missional journey such as this takes courage and it has been a challenge for all involved, and we didn’t get everything right. We also knew that Transforming Wigan would produce a great amount of learning that we, and the national church could benefit from. We are determined to do that. However, we can increasingly see the missional energy and dedication to facing the challenges that lie ahead with increasing confidence and excitement”.
Madeleine Davies has written a substantial article for the Church Times: Wigan transformation fails to hit its targets.48 Comments
The Church Times reports: Archbishops’ Council is retraumatising us, says group of abuse survivors
On Sunday evening, a letter was sent to the council by ten of the 12 people who had been awaiting a review of their cases by the ISB when it was disbanded without warning (News, 21 June). They write: “In the period since you closed the ISB we have been left in uncertainty and distress.”
The group criticise the announcement on 14 September that Kevin Crompton had been appointed as an “interim commissioner of independent reviews (News, 15 September). They say that the council’s handling of the situation has caused “harm” to members of the group…
There are more comments from survivors in the report. This in particular caught my eye:
“William Nye, the secretary-general, appears to be running the safeguarding show and making all the decisions, but there is no process to raise any concerns about him. He seems to be totally unaccountable.”
The full text of this letter is contained in the Church Times news article. It is also reproduced here, below the fold.3 Comments
See previous report here (also recently updated).
Many further items: (already updated twice today)
…On Tuesday night, Soul Survivor Watford held a meeting for members, attended by around 200 people, to address the congregations’ concerns and answer questions.
The Telegraph understands that a congregant asked a question “about saying goodbye to Mike” and that the question prompted applause from some other congregants…
I will update this article again if more items appear.8 Comments
The College of Bishops: September 18 to 21
The College of Bishops has been meeting in Oxford over the last four days.
The meeting, which welcomed eight new or incoming bishops, began with an afternoon of retreat for prayer and study.
Discussions then included sessions on public affairs – including proposals raised by the Archbishops’ Commissions on families and households, social care, housing and racial justice; the importance of making missionary disciples; generous ecclesiology and episcopal well-being.
The bishops devoted the remaining time to discussing the work to take forward the introduction of Prayers of Love and Faith for same-sex couples, the associated Pastoral Guidance and Pastoral Reassurance.
The College’s reflections will be taken forward to the House of Bishops meetings in October ahead of the meeting of General Synod in November.32 Comments
The Church Times writes about the response here: We don’t know, but consider religious freedom, says C of E response on exceptions to mandatory reporting.
On the Seal of the Confessional the response has this to say.
Like many other historic churches, the Church of England includes in its practices the ministry of Confession and Reconciliation. In this ministry, someone can come to a priest and disclose anything they feel they may have done wrong. It is the practice of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches to guarantee absolute confidentiality of what has been disclosed. This is often known as ‘the Seal of the Confessional’. The Seal is referred to in Canon Law, although the interpretation of the relevant legal provisions is contested.46 Comments
Updated again 19 September and 25 September
Previous report here.
The Church Times reported: Senior pastor of Soul Survivor under pressure as Pilavachi damage spreads
The full statement from New Wine: A statement from New Wine regarding the safeguarding investigation into Mike Pilavachi
There are numerous postings on social media questioning the accuracy of this statement. I will place some links to these in the Comments.
Update: New Wine has issued a further statement dated 15 September, in response to criticism of the 13 September statement, see link above.
Further update: latest Church Times report: New Wine to review its links with Pilavachi after attempt to distance itself fails
And this 21 September statement can also be found at the same New Wine link above
21 September 2023
Many have been hurt by Mike Pilavachi’s behaviour. As the new Chair of Trustees, I have asked for a full and independent review into the nature and extent of our relationship with Mike Pilavachi and Soul Survivor, to ascertain if there were allegations about his conduct at any New Wine events, and to highlight what we can learn for the future. We are in the process of doing this and will report as soon as possible. In the meantime, I would again urge anyone affected to seek the support and care that is available. Our priority throughout the NST investigation has been to enable a safe space for survivors to come forward, be heard and be cared for.
Bishop Jill Duff, Chair of New Wine Trustees
Update on work promised by former ISB – interim commissioner appointed
An interim commissioner of independent reviews has been appointed to ensure the work promised by the former ISB (Independent Safeguarding Board) can continue. Kevin Crompton, a senior safeguarding professional with experience in child and adult safeguarding and scrutiny in local authority setting, will start work this month.
The Archbishops’ Council had committed to setting in place arrangements to ensure that the case reviews and complaint responses promised by the former ISB would continue, where those met the terms of reference for the ISB, and as a result of feedback had also offered an independent advocacy service.
Kevin will commission and quality assure the reviews and complaints in line with the former ISB’s processes and will oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the completed Mr X review. Survivors with outstanding review requests can choose from a menu of reviewers including charities NSPCC and Thirtyone:eight along with Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel (DSAP) Chairs. FearFree formerly FearLess) has been engaged to provide advocacy and support for the survivors with completed, active and pending reviews and complaints.
The majority of survivors have had an opportunity to feed into these arrangements but the Archbishops’ Council is aware of four individuals who had review requests with the former ISB but whose contact details have not been passed on. The former ISB office staff can be contacted at email@example.com for information on how their review will proceed.
Kevin Crompton said: ‘I am pleased to have been offered this opportunity to make a contribution to this important piece of work. I am looking forward to working with survivors to ensure they have an independent review of their concerns. I also will do all I can to ensure that recommendations of such reviews are given proper consideration and are implemented within reasonable timeframes.’
If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by this news and want to talk to someone independently, please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056
Archbishops’ Council statement on ISB June 202313 Comments
Diocesan press release: Plans for the Diocese of Coventry during Vacancy-in-See
Following the announcement earlier this year that Bishop Christopher will be the new Dean of Windsor, he is now able to share the episcopal arrangements for the Diocese of Coventry during the Vacancy-in-See, which will begin in November 2023.
After working closely with Lambeth Palace over the summer he is delighted to announce that Bishop Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, has agreed to become Acting Bishop of Coventry during the vacancy. Bishop Ruth will be supported by Bishop Saju Muthalaly, Bishop of Loughborough, as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese.
Bishop Ruth has been a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Bath & Wells for over seven years and has previously led the Diocese through a Vacancy-in-See period. Bishop Ruth will be based in the Diocese of Coventry for 4 days a week. Bishop Saju is currently ministering in our neighbouring Leicester Diocese as Suffragan Bishop and is able to give the equivalent of one day a week to the Diocese of Coventry…
And there is also this: Appointment of Bishop Ruth as Acting Diocesan Bishop.
Towards the end of the first press release there is also this:
Following discussions with Bishop Ruth, Bishop Christopher has also invited Bishop Jonathan Meyrick, retired Bishop of Lynn, who lives in Oxford Diocese, to become an Assistant Bishop, and he has generously accepted. With Bishop Edward Condry, who is already active as an Assistant Bishop in the diocese, and Bishop Paul Thomas, Bishop of Oswestry and Assistant Bishop, we will have a strong team to support Bishop Ruth and Bishop Saju as they come to join us.
Bishop Christopher has also moved to strengthen our Archidiaconal Team so that, working with the Diocesan Secretary, the Acting Diocesan Bishop would have a well-resourced engine room of support with which to work and minister.
For further details or if you would like contact our Archdeacons, please see our webpage here.
Bishop Ruth will need to be made Acting Bishop of Coventry by an Instrument of Delegation under s.14 of the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007. Bishop Saju will need to be made an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Coventry for the period of the vacancy. Neither action needs further consultation with the Diocesan Synod.
The Diocese of Bath & Wells has published this: Bishop Ruth seconded to the role of Acting Bishop of Coventry15 Comments
press release 11 September 2023
Leading public law barrister to head review into Independent Safeguarding Board
A leading public law barrister is to head the independent review into the first phase of the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), it was announced today.
The Archbishops’ Council has instructed Sarah Wilkinson, a barrister from Blackstone Chambers, to undertake a review of the ISB Phase 1. She is an experienced public law practitioner who has represented the Government both as sole and junior counsel in a wide range of high-profile judicial review cases.
The Archbishops’ Council has asked Ms Wilkinson to establish a clear account of the events from the conception, design and establishment of the ISB until the announcement of the termination of contracts of members, establish and identify the reasons for the action to terminate, and identify lessons to be learned based on the findings.
She will complete her review by the end of November and the Council will aim to publish this report as soon as possible following the end of November. This review will also inform the work of Professor Alexis Jay on the future of safeguarding.
The review was announced at the General Synod in July by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, and follows the statement issued by the Council on the future of the ISB.
If you or anyone you are in contact with wish to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or visit www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk
Alternatively, you may wish to contact the diocesan safeguarding team in your area or the National Safeguarding Team – email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also a range of other support services available.
In a letter to his diocese, the Bishop of Southwark has announced the death yesterday of the Bishop of Woolwich, the Rt Revd Dr Karowei Dorgu. Update: further details, including a tribute from the Archbishop of Canterbury, now at the Southwark website.
Bishop Christopher writes:
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Bishop Karowei Dorgu. Bishop Karowei died peacefully after a long struggle with his health on Friday 8 September in the presence of his family at King’s College Hospital.
There will be time for proper tributes to be paid to him in due course — but for now I wish to convey my deepest sympathy to his wife Mosun, son Timi, twin sister Collette and the whole family. I express my gratitude for Bishop Karowei’s friendship and inspirational ministry — latterly as Bishop of Woolwich — where he brought much joy in his passion for the Gospel and loving encouragement to all whom he encountered. It was a privilege to join the family at his bedside and anoint him in his last hours, and I am grateful that the Archbishop of Canterbury came to pray with the family. We have lost a dear friend, brother and colleague and we will miss him greatly. I commend Bishop Karowei and his family to your prayers. May he rest in peace.
Living in Love and Faith – first facilitated group conversation held
The first meeting of the ‘Living With Difference’ group – who have been invited to be part of a series of three facilitated conversations around the Prayers of Love and Faith – was held on Thursday September 7.
The members of the group are:
Notes to Editors:
The group will aim to reflect the spectrum of views held and work to offer back to the Bishops an understanding of how their proposals can be taken forward, reflecting the issues raised in the conversations. The group will meet for three full days, in London, on September 7, 12 and 28.
This is scheduled to feed into meetings of the College of Bishops in September and the House of Bishops in October.28 Comments