Updated Monday afternoon
The Bishop of Oxford has issued this statement: Diocesan Synod statement concerning the Dean of Oxford.
Saturday 17 November 2018: The Bishop of Oxford gave a statement to the meeting of the Oxford Diocesan Synod. The full text of the statement can be read below. Following media enquiries over the weekend the College confirmed that Martyn Percy has been suspended from his duties pending the tribunal’s outcome. Bishop Steven said; “As always in such circumstances, suspension is a neutral act and does not imply that the complaint will be upheld.”
The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy
You may be aware that a formal complaint has been made against the Dean of Christ Church, Martyn Percy.
Christ Church is a complex institution and, uniquely in the Church of England, the Dean is also Head of an Oxford College. The Governing Body and Chapter have now requested that the complaint against Martyn, which relates to a governance matter, be properly reviewed by an independently chaired internal tribunal.
Martyn is a close colleague, widely respected across the Church and his absence is keenly felt. The tribunal must now conduct an impartial, thorough and fair review of the complaint that has been made.
I remain in close contact with Martyn and Emma and with the Subdean and Chapter and the wider college through this difficult period. I am monitoring the situation closely. I also want to see that any allegations of bullying are properly investigated. Meanwhile the Cathedral’s core work of prayer and the worship of God continues, albeit in very testing circumstances.
We wish Martyn a speedy recovery to full health following a period of sickness in recent weeks and commend all those involved in this difficult situation to the prayers of the diocese.
The most recent media reports are these:
Mail on Sunday: Corrections and clarifications which relates to this article, two weeks ago: Modernising Oxford University dean is taken ill after alleged ‘hellish bullying campaign by dons to oust him’
Earlier reports include: Church Times: Dean of Oxford, Martyn Percy, faces removal from office and this week the Church Times opinion columnist Angela Tilby wrote: A reforming dean may be unpopular.
Local Oxford coverage has included:
Oxford Mail: Dean of Christ Church in Oxford faces tribunal
Oxford Student: Christ Church Dean In Tribunal Over Pay
Cherwell Online: Christ Church dean faces coup
A fundraising site has been established here, which contains a summary of some of the points at issue in this case:
It appears therefore that Martyn’s position is a uniquely powerless one. It takes just seven complainants under the statutes of the college to request a tribunal to remove the Dean of Christ Church. Three strange steps appear to have led to this position.
First, the Dean was offered no proper investigation, at which evidence from both sides could be heard, read and weighed.
Second, there was no disciplinary hearing in which he could defend any allegations made against him.
Third, to avoid unnecessary conflict, processes of genuine mediation should always happen. Such mediation is entered into in good faith by both parties – rather than being used as a means to coerce and expedite a virtually immediate resignation, which is increasingly common in workplaces today.
In any normal place of work, a Tribunal would be the very final stage: and only if the investigation, disciplinary procedures and mediation had all failed. In Martyn’s case, the first three stages did not fail: it seems they were not really attempted.
Under the college statutes, the Dean has no grievance procedure available to him either, so he can’t complain about the treatment give[n] him. Consequently, he can do nothing about the bullying and harassment he has received. Under natural justice any person should have rights. But [the] Martyn doesn’t.
Finally, the Dean seems to have no right to free speech. To defend himself, he has to find his own legal costs. His speech is not free. If you think this is unjust, then please help the support fund.
Surviving Church: Oxford Bullying and the Church of England22 Comments
Updated Thursday to add press reports
The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2017 today. The report can be downloaded here.
Also published today is a report on the Church of England’s digital reach: A year in numbers: 2018 digital report.
In addition there is a press release which is copied below.
Madeleine Davies Church Times Could the Christmas effect boost attendance through the year, Bishop asks
Christian Today Mixed picture for CofE in latest attendance figures
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Attendance at Church of England’s Sunday services falls again
Church of England press release
Christmas attendance at highest level for more than a decade
Attendance at Christmas services in the Church of England is at its highest level for more than a decade, according to new figures published today.
The latest annual Statistics for Mission report shows that while traditional Sunday attendance edged lower in 2017, in line with long-term trends, the numbers attending Christmas services increased by 3.4 per cent to 2.68 million.
It was the fourth successive rise in Christmas congregations since 2013 and the highest figure since 2006. Combined with figures for special services in churches during Advent, including carol services, there were nearly eight million attendances over the festive season.
The Statistics for Mission 2017 were published as #FollowTheStar, the Church of England’s campaign to encourage people to attend Advent and Christmas services this year, was launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Meanwhile separate figures also published today show that the Church of England more than doubled its monthly reach on social media – from 1.2 million in 2017 to 2.44 million this year.15 Comments
The Church of England collected figures on the extent of social action by its churches were collected as part of the annual Statistics for Mission 2017 survey, and these have been published today.
Full extent of Church of England work to support local communities revealed
More than 33,000 social action projects – from food banks to debt counselling – are run or supported by churches, according to figures setting out for the first time the full scale of the Church of England’s service to communities.
The findings – which amount to the largest survey to date of the extent of the Church of England’s work with some of the most vulnerable in society – show that 80 per cent of congregations are involved in one or more forms of social action…
The full Statistics for Mission 2017 report will be available soon.
Press report3 Comments
Updated Tuesday morning (scroll down)
…The Oxford bishops are committed to building a Christ-like church and have identified three values as animators of this aspiration: compassion, contemplation and courage. By pledging to listen to the experiences of LGBTIQ+ Christians and allowing such experiences to help shape the future direction of the church, alongside the acknowledgment that ‘as a Church we have continually failed our sisters and brothers in Christ’ the bishops have shown real compassion. Listening, deep listening, is of course also the very heart beat of contemplative practice. In writing this letter, in the sure and certain knowledge that there will be some very real kick-back, and through their insistence, that silence does not serve the Church well, alongside a commitment to express their own views with integrity the Oxford bishops have been courageous, for courage is worked out in the most difficult, most contentious and most potentially divisive issues.
One of the most moving responses I have seen so far to the Oxford bishops’ letter on inclusion came from someone who said that she was surprised and delighted by the way in which the bishops made her feel part of the church by their words. Usually, this kind of official pronouncement makes gay people feel slightly ‘other’, a separate order of humanity within the church, but here the respondent was grateful to feel like she was genuinely listened to and part of the same church…
Marcus goes on to discuss at some length the article by Giles Goddard on Via Media to which we linked yesterday.
…The bishops also announce in the letter that they will be setting up a chaplaincy for LGBTI+ people and their families across the diocese. We very much look forward to seeing how this latest exciting development unfolds, and hope and trust that LGBTI+ people will continue to be integral to the development, delivery and dissemination of this important and innovative work.
…We would encourage other dioceses to consider following the Oxford lead, to meet with LGBTI representatives from within each diocese to listen to their concerns, and to say explicitly that LGBTI people are welcome in their diocese, and should be welcome in each and every parish.
The LGBTI community and their allies are looking for tangible proof that the words”radical new Christian inclusion” are being taken seriously by each diocese. It is in concrete proposals, such as the provision of LGBTI chaplaincies and the creation of LGBTI reference groups, that they will begin to be reassured that a truly inclusive welcome is sincerely being offered for all…
For a roundup of comment from a conservative viewpoint, see Anglican Mainstream’s post: Oxford Diocese promotes inclusion.
31 Oct 2018 – four bishops from one of the largest dioceses in the Church of England have written to 1,500 ministers setting out the bishops’ expectations of inclusion and respect for all and announces a new LGBTI+ chaplaincy team.
Silence is both painful and damaging for LGBTI+ people in the midst of continuing debate within the Church about human sexuality, say the bishops. Their letter, sent to all clergy and LLMs in the Diocese of Oxford, sets expectations of inclusion and respect towards all and affirms LGBTI+ people called to roles of leadership and service in the church.
The Oxford letter commends five principles for welcoming and honouring LGBTI+ people and looks at work underway in the Church of England to develop new pastoral guidance and teaching resources relating to human sexuality and same sex marriage.
A new chaplaincy team for LGBTI+ people, their families and loved ones is promised too. The chaplaincy team will also provide LGBTI+ insights and advice to clergy and bishops about being church together.
The Oxford letter concludes with a commitment from the bishops to continue to listen well to LGBTI+ people from a variety of perspectives, ‘including those seeking change in the Church of England’s polity and those seeking to live faithfully within it’…
The full text of the letter can be found here: Clothe Yourselves With Love.17 Comments
Updated Thursday to add some press reports
Adam Becket Church Times Cathedral attendance rose by three per cent last Christmas
Mike Wright The Telegraph Christmas Cathedral congregation numbers swell thanks to spiritually inquisitive, festival-going millennials
Christian Today England’s cathedrals continue to enjoy a strong turnout for Christmas services
Record numbers attend cathedrals at Christmas
Attendance at Christmas services in England’s cathedrals has broken records for the second year running, statistics published today show.
A total of 135,000 people came to Church of England cathedrals to worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 2017 – an increase of three per cent on the previous year, and the highest total since records began.
Attendances at Sunday worship in cathedrals throughout the year also continued to hold steady over a five-year period, while average weekday attendances continued their pattern of increase, with just over 18,000 attending in 2017, compared with 7,000 in 2000 when this data was first recorded. Over 10 years, the total number attending all regular services in cathedrals has increased by 10 per cent.20 Comments
Press release from Number 10
Queen appoints Suffragan Bishop of Ramsbury
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Andrew Paul Rumsey to the Suffragan See of Ramsbury.
Published 22 October 2018
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Andrew Paul Rumsey, MA, DThMin, Team Rector of Oxted in the Diocese of Southwark, to the Suffragan See of Ramsbury, in the Diocese of Salisbury, in succession to the Right Reverend Edward Francis Condry, MA, BLitt, DPhil, MBA, who resigned on the 12 May 2018.
There’s more on the diocesan website: New Bishop of Ramsbury Announced. Dr Rumsey will be consecrated on 25 January 2019.19 Comments
The second set of findings from a 10-year research programme into how clergy can flourish in ministry has been published today by the Church of England. Research from the Living Ministry project into the wellbeing of 85 ordinands and clergy is featured in the study Negotiating Wellbeing: Experiences of Ordinands and Clergy in the Church of England. This qualitative study builds on quantitative findings based on responses from 761 clergy and ordinands published by the Living Ministry programme last year.
Adam Becket has written about the report for Church Times: Change is worse than a rest, say stressed clergy.
Clergy struggle to cope with change, a new report on their well-being has said.
Published today, the report, Negotiating Wellbeing: Experiences of ordinands and clergy in the Church of England, says that periods of transition, for example coming to the end of a curacy, can cause physical and mental stress, and prompt clergy to question their vocation…
The Church of England has today published its response (copied in full below the fold) to the UK Government’s consultation on Reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. You can read about that consultation, which opened in July and closes today, over here.6 Comments
Thirteen evangelical bishops of the Church of England have written a letter in response to this document: Letter to the Churches – Gafcon Assembly 2018.
Their letter is titled Remaining Faithful within the Church of England.
The signatories are:
Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough
Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden
Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes
Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
Alistair Magowan, Bishop of Ludlow
Nick McKinnel, Bishop of Plymouth
James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle
Mark Rylands, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Exeter
Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford
David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke
Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
Readers who do not keep up with GAFCON statements may also be interested in:32 Comments
Updated again Thursday
The Church Times has reported on the letter published on Monday, see Evangelical bishops hint at split if marriage teaching is changed. This mentions that the Bishop of Liverpool tweeted:
“It’s good to talk. Letters like this contribute to the conversation, but they will not and should not replace or pre-empt the process by which the Church of England as a whole expresses the radical new Christian inclusion to which we’re called.”
To date the letter remains unreported in the secular media.
There have been several articles written in response. Two of these are written by bishops:
Other responses include:
Stephen Parsons Eleven English Bishops teaching about Sex and Marriage
Andrew Lightbown Talking of the evangelical bishops letter
Marcus Green a never failing stream
Two campaigning groups have also issued statements:
Updated 13.00 Monday
Christian Today has a report this morning, headlined as: EXCLUSIVE: Evangelical bishops issue blunt warning to Church of England on sexuality which says that :
Anglican evangelical bishops have warned of ‘major problems’ and the danger of division if the Church of England changes its stance on sexuality.
Eleven leading evangelical bishops have issued a joint letter in which they say that the traditional Christian view of sex as being for heterosexual marriage alone ‘is the teaching of Scripture’ and ‘therefore expresses the character and will of God’…
…The letter has been signed by the Bishops of Carlisle, Shrewsbury, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone and Lancaster…
Four of the above are diocesans (Carlisle, Durham, Blackburn, Peterborough), the others are all suffragans, and the See of Shrewsbury is currently vacant.
The article also reports that the full text of the letter can be found at the website of the Church of England Evangelical Council. At the time of writing (noon on Monday) what can be found there is only the following:
A letter from evangelical bishops to the ‘Living in Faith and Love’ coordinating groupBishop Julian Henderson, President of CEEC, writes : ‘In response to repeated requests from around the country, a number of evangelical bishops have produced a letter which they are sending to Bishop Christopher Cocksworth and the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) Coordinating Group. It asks that the LLF work takes seriously the biblical evidence and the church’s traditional understanding of it regarding identity, marriage and relationships, hears the voice of the Anglican Communion and understands that for many evangelicals, change in the Church of England’s teaching and practice has serious consequences. We are aware that a position of no change equally has serious consequences for others and our letter therefore assures the LLF Coordinating Group of our prayers as they wrestle to know the mind of Christ.’
The full text of the letter is now linked, and can be found here.78 Comments
General Synod February 2019
The Business Committee of the Church of England General Synod has agreed the outline timings for the February 2019 group of sessions.
Synod will meet from 2.30pm on Wednesday February 20 to 4pm on Saturday February 23 at Church House Westminster.
Following the workshops and seminars in York in July, there will be a update on progress with Living in Love and Faith and the plans for completing the project through a presentation as part of the main Synod agenda as well as a collection of fringe meetings.
It is anticipated that the timetable will be published in December.5 Comments
The Diocese of Canterbury has announced that the Bishop of Dover will retire in May 2019.
The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury, has announced his intention to retire in May 2019. He has served in this role since February 2010, taking on additional responsibilities for the Channel Islands in 2014. Bishop Trevor will conclude his public ministry on 12 May at Canterbury Cathedral…
The Bishop of Dover exercises most of the functions of his diocesan bishop, allowing the Archbishop of Canterbury to concentrate on other things.3 Comments
The Bell Society, which seeks to restore the reputation of Bishop George Bell, held a second Rebuilding Bridges conference on 5 October. See here for more information about the first conference, held in February. Note that this organisation is distinct from the George Bell Group.
One of the speakers on 5 October was Lord Carey. The full text of his remarks has been published by Archbishop Cranmer. He also discusses the separate case of Bishop Peter Ball.55 Comments
Call for ‘Big Conversation’ on clergy care and well-being
The Church of England is being invited to take part in a ‘Big Conversation’ on a new deal to coordinate and improve its approach to clergy care and well-being, in a set of draft documents published today.
The suggested text of a Covenant for Clergy Care and Well-being, modelled on the Military Covenant, is published for consultation along with a set of proposed shared commitments between ministers, churches and the wider church.
The documents have been drawn up by a Working Group appointed last year following a debate at the General Synod which heard of the impact of stress, isolation and loneliness on clergy’s lives and ministries.
In a report published alongside the Covenant, the Working Group calls for shared responsibility for clergy well-being between ministers, churches, dioceses and the national church. It also sets a goal of a culture change in the Church of England towards greater concern for the health and well-being of its ordained ministers.
Canon Simon Butler, who chaired the Working Group, said: “We are calling for a ‘Big Conversation’ on clergy care and well-being and we are providing the framework for this to happen. Our aim is not to be prescriptive, but to promote a conversation which will lead to action across all levels of the church, from members of local churches through to the Cathedrals and National Church Institutions.
“Our goal is to bring about a culture change in the Church towards greater awareness of our shared responsibility to promote clergy care and well-being and a significant move towards a preventative approach alongside responsive care.
“The Working Group is very keen to listen to the responses before taking that into the final document for the Synod next summer. We are hoping that the Covenant and the report will be debated by every Diocesan Synod by the end of July 2020.”
The draft paper ‘A Covenant for Clergy Care and Well Being’ can be found here.
Details on the membership of the Working Group and last July’s General Synod debate can be found here.
We reported on the setting up of the working group here.
Madeleine Davies writes at length on the report for Church Times: Clergy burdened by unrealistic job specs, C of E told.3 Comments
Dr John Sentamu has announced that he will retire from his post as Archbishop of York on 7 June 2020, Trinity Sunday, 3 days prior to his 71st birthday. The official announcement is here.
Some press reports
Adam Becket Church Times Archbishop Sentamu announces his retirement — but not for another 21 months
Joe Cawthorn Yorkshire Evening Post Archbishop of York John Sentamu has announced his retirement date
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Archbishop of York says he will retire in 2020
Victoria Ward and Jamie Merrill The Telegraph Sentamu retirement opens door for Church of England’s first female archbishop34 Comments
Greg Smith and Linda Woodhead have published research on “Religion and Brexit: populism and the Church of England”. The article, in the journal Religion, State and Society, is here. They have also published a summary on the LSE Brexit blog: How Anglicans tipped the Brexit vote. It starts:
Two-thirds of Anglicans voted for Brexit, a much higher proportion than in the country as a whole. Greg Smith (William Temple Foundation) and Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University) look at the reasons for the disparity and note that the divergence between the beliefs of UK evangelicals – including the Archbishop of Canterbury – and ‘normal’ Anglicans.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been busy again attacking the markets and calling for more welfare. His views are at variance with those of ordinary Anglicans, two-thirds of whom think that welfare spending is too high.
Research we have just published reveals an equally significant ‘values gap’ when it comes to the EU. ‘In the run up to the referendum of 2016 Welby was against Brexit but in the vote Anglicans strongly supported it…
The Economist has also published a related article: The Church of England’s views rankle with the laity.
“The clergy is more left-wing than its flock on politics–but more conservative on social matters”
This week, the Church Times has a major feature on Brexit, with articles from a range of experts, spread over ten pages.
The following (related) items have been published on the website in advance:
The whole set is now published. The Church Times has a leader: Second thoughts on Brexit.
And Dave Walker has this Brexit cartoon.
Ten further articles are currently linked from this page.26 Comments
The Church of England has announced the appointment of the first independent chair for its National Safeguarding Panel with this press release:
Meg Munn, former MP and Government Minister, with a professional background in child and adult safeguarding issues, has been appointed as the first independent chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel (NSP). Meg attended her first Panel today where she was officially installed as Chair, taking over from Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop.
Meg Munn is a qualified social worker with 20 years’ experience and led children’s social services in York before being elected as a Member of Parliament in 2001. She spent 14 years in Parliament and was a government minister; in 2010 she established and chaired the All-Party Child Protection Parliamentary Group having previously chaired the All-Party Voice Parliamentary Group which worked for the prevention of abuse of vulnerable adults. Stepping down from parliament in 2015, Meg became an independent governance consultant and non-executive director. She has been a member of the Methodist Church since her teenage years and lives in Yorkshire…
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E appoints first independent chair of safeguarding
“Meg Munn insists apologies for past wrongs will mean nothing without deep cultural change”