Bishops adopt international definition of antisemitism
During the annual residential meeting of the College of Bishops, which is taking place in Oxford, they agreed a joint statement endorsing the IHRA definition of antisemitism – including all of its examples – on behalf of the Church.
They also issued a call to everyone in public life to reject any language or actions which could cause “prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs”.
The Church of England’s interfaith team and national advisers already use the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism as the benchmark in their work and ministry.
However, the bishops noted the “necessity of making explicit” the Church’s adoption of and adherence to the definition without qualification or exemption.
Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also spoke of the need for the Church of England to adopt the definition formally.
The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said: “The Jewish community, among whom I live in Salford, carry with them the vivid memory and scars of the Holocaust; they know all too well that antisemitism is never far below the surface of our society.
“Today’s statement from the Church of England bishops assures them that we will continue to reject such prejudice and bigotry firmly, in line with our practice over 75 years.
“At the same time we will continue to speak out critically when governments here and elsewhere act in ways that our faith calls us to challenge.”
The full statement adopted by the College of Bishops reads:
“In the context of 75 years of friendship marked by the establishment of the Council of Christians and Jews, the Church of England’s College of Bishops now notes the necessity of making explicit its adoption of and adherence to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, including all examples, without qualification or exemption.
“We urge anyone involved in our political, spiritual and national life to reject all language and activity that leads to prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs.”12 Comments
Harriet Sherwood reports in the Guardian: Muslim group calls for preacher linked to Trump to be denied UK visa:
Britain’s leading Muslim organisation has called on the Home Office to refuse a UK visa to a prominent US evangelical preacher with links to Donald Trump and a track record of Islamophobic and homophobic statements.
Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham, has been invited to preach at a Christian festival in Blackpool this month.
The preacher, who said Trump’s election victory was evidence that “God’s hand” was at work, has called Islam “evil” and “wicked”, claimed Barack Obama’s “problem is that he was born a Muslim” and said Satan was the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.
The Muslim Council of Britain has joined three MPs, including a government whip, in demanding the Home Office apply its criteria on hate speech to Graham’s visa request…
Meanwhile, other Christians in Blackpool have issued this press release.
INCLUSIVE CHRISTIANS TO RESIST FRANKLIN GRAHAM
Christians in Blackpool are planning a series of inclusive services to protest against the visit of a controversial preacher.
Coinciding with the Festival of Hope at which American evangelist Franklin Graham will be principal speaker, the Rainbow Weekend aims to stand in solidarity with LGBT people of faith and resist what they believe to be a message of intolerance.
Mr Graham has previously courted controversy for his views on Islam, transgender people, women’s rights, and same-sex relationships – claiming Satan is behind same-sex marriage. He is also an outspoken defender of Donald Trump.
Mr Graham’s visit has led to local MPs Gordon Marsden and Paul Maynard expressing concerns about the Festival of Hope, with Mr Marsden suggesting Mr Graham’s views constituted hate speech and were “incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible”. A petition asking that Mr Graham is not granted a visa gained more than 8,000 signatures.
The Rainbow Weekend, a series of inclusive services and a prayer meeting on 22nd and 23rd September, is a collaboration between inclusive churches in the town and Open Table, a network of LGBT-affirming churches across England and Wales. During the weekend ‘Big Jesus’, a 4-metre high representation of Jesus wearing a rainbow sash, will be on walkabout in the town centre with a message of Jesus’ love for all people including LGBT people. ‘Big Jesus’ has walked in Pride parades throughout the UK from Brighton to Glasgow with the message that Jesus always spent time with marginalised people and would welcome and embrace the LGBT community.
In addition to affirming LGBT people, the Rainbow Weekend will also represent a Christian act of solidarity with Lancashire’s Muslim communities in the face of Mr Graham’s dangerous anti-Islamic prejudice.
Andrew Page, an elder in the United Reformed Church and one of the organisers, said: “Inevitably there have been calls for Mr Graham not to be allowed to preach in Blackpool. No doubt there will be people loudly protesting Franklin Graham and the Festival of Hope. Some of us as Christians wanted to send out a positive message that Mr Graham does not speak in our name. We are countering Mr Graham’s toxic rhetoric by welcoming and affirming LGBT people and others excluded by his version of Christianity.
“And so we have the Rainbow Weekend. We’re welcoming and including those who Mr Graham would marginalise. It’s going to be a great time of faith, celebration and affirmation.”
Nina Parker, the pastor of Blackpool’s Liberty Church, said: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.” She added that Mr Graham’s presence would be “extremely destructive in the area” especially in relation to interfaith relationships.
The disappointment with local churches was echoed by Claire Fox, a Christian who lives in Blackpool. She explained: “The disappointment for me isn’t that Franklin Graham is coming to Blackpool but that churches in Blackpool have invited him. They have not withdrawn their invitation despite knowing what damage they are doing. Much work was done to build bridges, and it seems that the organisers of the Festival of Hope have treated all these efforts with contempt.”
Tracy Charnock, the vicar of Holy Trinity South Shore, said: “I would like to make known my deep disappoint in local Christians and senior leaders of the Church, who have shown support (often through their silence) towards a man who has, on many occasions, preached hate. I rejoice in the diversity of this town of Blackpool and I hold the utmost respect for peoples of any faith or no faith. It’s also wonderful to celebrate the strong LGBT presence in Blackpool that makes this town so vibrant. I thank God that he has created us and loves us for who we are. I pray that this will be the resounding message of the Rainbow Weekend.”
Andrew Sage, the vicar of St Stephen’s on the Cliffs, added: “We are so nervous about this visit and the damage it will do. We cannot stay silent in the face of such dangerous and outspoken prejudice. To be clear. we are not against the Mission, but we are opposed to Franklin Graham leading it. To our minds, remaining silent is not to remain neutral, and is not an option. We wish to make it clear that the invitation to Franklin Graham to come to Blackpool is ‘Not in our name.’ How else would we be able to look our Muslim and LGBT brothers and sisters in the eye?”
Kieran Bohan, one of the co-ordinator of the Open Table network, said: “We are happy to support this and see such good partnership in solidarity against a divisive message from the mis-named Festival of Hope. We believe that the affirming celebration of the Rainbow Weekend is a perfect act of non-violent resistance.”
The Rainbow Weekend will begin on Saturday 22nd September with an inclusive communion service at Holy Trinity Church in South Shore (at 5pm), followed by an evening prayer meeting at North Shore Methodist Church (from 7pm). Sunday 23rd September sees a Songs of Praise event hosted by St Stephen’s on the Cliffs Church, including a thanksgiving service for people working in theatre and entertainment (at 3pm). The weekend culminates with a celebration service of informal, contemporary worship at Liberty Church (on Sunday at 6.30pm).
Blackpool Tower will fly the Rainbow Flag and be lit in rainbow colours throughout the weekend to show support for the LGBT community. The Rainbow Weekend organisers are delighted the Council have clearly demonstrated their support on one of Blackpool’s busiest Illuminations weekends, when thousands of people will come to the resort for the World Fireworks Championships on the Friday evening.14 Comments
The Commission on Religious Education has published its final report.
The Final Report of the Commission on Religious Education, Religion and Worldviews: the way forward. A national plan for RE, has been published. It sets out a National Plan for RE comprising of 11 recommendations, and calls on the Government to consider and adopt it.
The National Plan is built around a National Entitlement which sets out what all pupils up to the end of Year 11, in all publicly funded schools, should be entitled to be taught. The National Entitlement reflects a new and inclusive vision for the subject, fully embracing the diversity and richness of religious and non-religious worldviews. It will ensure a strong academic basis for the subject in all schools. The National Plan provides for flexibility of approach in the translation of the National Entitlement into programmes of study in schools, ensuring that Headteachers are able to choose the approach that is most appropriate for their pupils.
The Church of England has responded with a press release.
The Church Times reports: Commission calls for overhaul of Religious Education in final report
Other media reports include:
The National Secular Society has given it only a qualified welcome: Replace RE with ‘religion and worldviews’, says commission. Humanists UK were much more generous: Humanists UK welcomes landmark Commission on RE recommending new subject ‘Religion and Worldviews’.0 Comments
Martin Sewell has written another article at Archbishop Cranmer entitled It is pointless pouring the new wine of safeguarding into the old wineskins of arcane ecclesiology.
The Church of England media report on Monday told us that “a senior church figure” had been invited by the police to discuss an alleged failure to report a serious sexual offence. Following the case of Sir Cliff Richard, official police hesitance and revised guidelines apparently prevented further identification of who was involved and that ought to be respected, even though this particular genie was well out of the bottle. The controversy is a longstanding one, pre-dating the Cliff Richard case, and many know what this is all about, but let us do what Lord Carlile suggested when he reviewed the mistakes made in the case of Bishop George Bell.
Interestingly, the Church of England originally immediately repudiated that Carlile recommendation, yet in Monday’s media announcement they coyly adopted the police reticence and applied the principle in this case, though whether this is an official embracing of the wisdom of Carlile’s proposition or a ‘one off’ exception is unclear. This matters.
We need a debate on the principles of these cases in the abstract, because tainted by excessive sympathy or disapprobation of any individual or set of circumstances may well lead us astray.
While following this aspect of the debate amongst colleagues with a special interest in Safeguarding policy, a simple question arose: ‘Do the same rules apply to the most junior of deacons as to an archbishop?’ Essentially: ‘Is there equality under the law within the ecclesiastical community?’
It seems to me that the answer to that question may not be quite as simple as one may think, and we need to grapple with the complexity of the debate without being bogged down by unique contexts and individual circumstances…
The whole article is well worth reading.
Stephen Parsons has published an article, containing a huge amount of detail on the case which underlies the arguments made above, titled The Matt Ineson story continued. There is even more information in the comments to that article.
The Telegraph news report mentioned is here (registration required): Bishop of Oxford to face police questioning over allegations of sex abuse cover-up. The Oxford Mail report of the diocesan response is here: Abuse claims were not ignored insists Oxford Diocese.6 Comments
The British Social Attitudes survey has today released a summary of some figures from its latest survey:
Church of England numbers at record low
The most recent British Social Attitudes survey reveals that the number of Brits who identify as Church of England has more than halved in the last fifteen years.
The proportion of Brits who describe themselves as ‘belonging to the Church of England’ is at a record low, halving in the last fifteen years, with the sharpest decline among 45 to 54 year olds.
The most recent British Social Attitudes survey reveals that the number of Brits who identify as Church of England has more than halved since 2002, falling from 31% to 14%.The sharpest decline happened among 45 to 54 year olds (35% in 2002 vs 11% in 2017). The proportion of people who describe themselves as Roman Catholic (8%), belonging to ‘other Christian affiliations’ (10%) and ‘of non-Christian faiths’ (8%) have remained fairly stable. 52% of people now say they have no religion, compared with 41% in 2002. Men are more inclined to say they follow no religion than women (57% compared with 48%)…
This has attracted the attention of the press.
Tim Wyatt Church Times British Social Attitudes finds ‘C of E’ respondents halved in 15 years
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church in crisis as only 2% of young adults identify as C of E
Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Fears for Church of England’s future as people no longer turn to God in old age
There is also this press release from the Church of England.
British Social Attitudes survey
Dave Male, the Church of England’s director of Evangelism and Discipleship, has commented on the latest figures from the British Social Attitudes survey, showing a fall in the number of people self-identifying as Anglican.
He said: “The headline figure here only gives us part of the picture.
“It has been clear for some time that we have moved from an era of people automatically, and perhaps unthinkingly, classifying themselves as Church of England or Anglican to one in which identifying with a faith is an active choice.
“We also know from research that people, particularly younger people, are less aware of denominations.
“Yet Research, especially amongst young people, shows an increase in willingness to engage in faith.
“Our experience is that people – of all ages – haven’t stopped searching for meaning and answers in their life.
“Ultimately the Church exists to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
“That was never meant to be easy and that work goes on whatever the figures may say.”29 Comments
The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, has announced that he will retire next year. His last official engagement will be on Easter Sunday. The Bishop of Reading is one of three area bishops in the diocese of Oxford.1 Comment
The appointment has been announced of Canon Philip Mounstephen as the 16th Bishop of Truro.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Philip Ian Mounstephen, MA, Executive Leader of the Church Mission Society, for election as Bishop of Truro in succession to the Right Reverend Timothy Martin Thornton, MA, following his resignation on 31 August 2017.
There is more information on the Truro diocesan website:
Philip is currently the executive leader of Church Mission Society, a role he has occupied since 2012. Prior to that, Philip was chaplain of St Michael’s Church, Paris. He has also previously worked for the Church Pastoral Aid Society in a number of roles, serving as deputy general director from 2004 to 2007.
Philip, 59, was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England in 1988 and priested the following year, serving his curacy in Gerrards Cross and Fulmer in the Diocese of Oxford. From 1992 to 1998 he was the Vicar of St James’ Church, West Streatham, in the Diocese of Southwark.
Philip has significant family roots in Cornwall with several generations of his ancestors living in Tregony from the mid-18th century, before moving to Truro.
It also quotes the bishop-designate:
Philip said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been called to lead the Diocese of Truro in mission and ministry. With my family roots in Cornwall I am very well aware of what a rich Christian heritage we have. I rejoice in Cornwall’s strong sense of identity and I look forward under God into leading us in what I hope and pray will be a fruitful and exciting future.”
Tuesday 21st August 2018 1430
VICTIMS LAUNCH CLAIM AGAINST JOHN SMYTH CAMP LEADERS
A group of men who say they were groomed and beaten by the English barrister John Smyth have launched a legal claim against the Titus Trust, which runs the notorious Iwerne holidays network.
One victim, who did not wish to be identified, said “The abuse we suffered as a consequence of attending Iwerne camps has had a devastating effect on all of our lives. We have been compelled to take this course of action because of the unwillingness of the Titus Trust to accept any responsibility for what happened.”
Since John Smyth’s abuse came to public attention in February 2017, Titus Trust has consistently refused to speak to the men, to help identify other victims or to provide for the counselling they all need. Victims’ advocate Andrew Graystone said “I have personally written to every individual Titus Trustee more than once, pleading for them to do their duty as trustees and as Christians, and help the victims. Not one has responded. The refusal of the trustees to offer any help to Smyth’s victims has massively compounded their suffering.”
The victims have instructed Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon Solicitors to pursue their claim against Titus Trust. Scorer has frequently represented victims of abuse In a church context. He said “No reasonable person could believe that the Titus Trust is anything other than the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust. If the current trustees of the Titus Trust persist in claiming that they bear no responsibility, we will be forced to launch additional claims against the individual surviving trustees of Iwerne, namely David Fletcher and Giles Rawlinson.”
Titus Trust is the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust, which continues to run camps under the Iwerne brand. Iwerne provides a programme of intensive Christian discipleship based around activity holidays. The programme has run continuously since 1930. The most recent Iwerne holidays were held this month.
John Smyth QC was the chair of the Iwerne Trust from 1975 to 1982. He resigned when the trust became aware that he was using the network to recruit young men for abuse. Smyth died at his home in South Africa on 11th August, just eight days after Hampshire Police had summoned him for formal questioning in connection with the offences.
For further information contact Andrew Graystone
07772 71009011 Comments
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written a three-part post concerning the public hearing of the Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into the Peter Ball case study which took place 23 – 27 July 2018. I’ve listed the topics covered in each below. It’s all well worth reading.
Peter Ball – legislation, then and now (I) Legislative and other changes, to 2018 and beyond
Appointment of diocesan bishop
Permission to Officiate (PTO)
Timeline of events
Implications of a police caution
Sanctions applicable to bishops
Misconduct in public office
Mandatory reporting of safeguarding
Seal of the confessional
Peter Ball – legislation, then and now (III) What next after the IICSA Peter Ball Inquiry?
IICSA Final Report
Closing Statements of Peter Ball Inquiry
Updated Tuesday to add Church Times report
Growing numbers of young people are seeking ordination to the priesthood, as the Church of England makes progress towards achieving a key target of recruiting more candidates for ordained ministry, according to new figures published today.
The number of people aged under 32 years old recommended for training for ordination this year rose by nearly a third, or 32%, to 169, compared to 128 in 2016, a report on vocations from the Church of England shows. This means nearly one in three, or 29%, of those entering training for the priesthood this year are expected to be under 32 years old.
The overall number of people recommended for ordination training is up 7% on last year, from 541 to 580. This follows a 14% increase the year before, putting the Church on course to achieving a key target of recruiting 50% more candidates for ordination by 2020.
The figures have been published alongside Ministry Statistics for 2017 showing just over 20,000 active clergy in the Church of England, with women making up nearly a third, or 30% of the total. But the number of clergy in paid positions in 2017 fell by 50 from 7,790 to 7,740 compared to 2016.
Nearly a quarter, or 23% of paid clergy in senior posts, such as Bishops, Cathedral Deans or Archdeacons were women in 2017, compared to 12% in 2012.
Meanwhile the vocations report shows that women are set to be the majority entering ordination training for the second year running, with 54% of this year’s recommended candidates being female.
Harriet Sherwood The Observer Young people hear the call to rejuvenate ageing priesthood
Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Rising numbers of women opt for priesthood as a second career
Madeleine Davies Church Times Ministry vocations rise again, though overall figures remain sobering19 Comments
We are amongst the scores of victims viciously beaten by the late John Smyth QC whilst he was Chair of The Iwerne Trust.
We are appalled by the statement issued on Monday 13th August by the Titus Trust, which now runs the Iwerne network.
The statement says that the Titus Trust has “done all that [it] can to ensure the matter is properly investigated by the relevant authorities.” This is untrue.
The statement further says that the board of the Titus Trust was only informed of the allegations against John Smyth in 2014. This is also untrue.
The Revd The Hon David Fletcher was employed as the senior officer of the Iwerne Trust from 1967 until 1986, when he became a trustee. He served in that capacity continuously until August 2016, only resigning his post when the Iwerne Trust was closed in a bid to distance it from its successor. Revd Fletcher was also a trustee of the Titus Trust from its foundation in 1997 until the same date.
It is a matter of record that Revd Fletcher and numerous leaders of his movement have been fully aware of Smyth’s abuse for 36 years. Revd Fletcher commissioned a comprehensive report of Smyth’s abuses in the UK in March 1982. From 1993 he was in possession of a further report of Smyth’s abuse in Zimbabwe. These reports, which were stored in the loft of the Chair of the Titus Trust Giles Rawlinson, were not made available to any secular authorities until 2017, when they were requisitioned by Hampshire Police under warrant.
An earlier statement from the Titus Trust website says that Smyth’s abuse took place between 1978 and 1981. They know this to be untrue. Smyth’s abuse in the UK started in 1975 and continued until 1982 and probably until 1984. Rev Fletcher and other Iwerne Trustees then facilitated Smyth’s move to Africa, where he abused at least 60 children between 1985 and 2017.
The Titus Trust, under the leadership of Fletcher and Rawlinson, took over the Iwerne network in its entirety in 1997. Titus has continued to run holidays under the Iwerne brand until as recently as last week. To suggest that the two are completely separate is simply deceitful.
Since Smyth’s horrific abuses were publicly exposed in February 2017, the Titus Trust has flatly refused to engage with his victims, or even to enquire after our well-being, let alone to offer any form of support or redress. Their protestation of sympathy is cynical and disingenuous.
Had the Titus Trust acted on the information that was available to it since its foundation, Smyth’s abuse could have been stopped long ago. Our hearts go out to the 60 or more children of Zimbabwe and South Africa who suffered at the hands of John Smyth as we did, but needlessly.
We have no interest in the “thoughts and prayers” of the Titus Trust. We do not believe they are fit to work with children.
As we reported here, it emerged earlier this month that the Bishop of Oxford had given Lord Carey permission to officiate (PTO) back in February. The Bishop of Oxford issued the following statement today.
Lord Carey PTO : statement from the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford
“Along with many others, I am sorry and ashamed to hear again this week of the abuse perpetrated by Peter Ball, and the way in which the Church of England failed to respond to the survivors over such a long period of time and at the most senior level. The whole Church needs to respond to what has been revealed with repentance, improved practice and a continued change of culture.
“We recognise that there will be renewed questions concerning Lord Carey’s Permission to Officiate following the IICSA hearings this week and I am sorry that my response to Lord Carey’s request for PTO in February this year caused additional distress to some survivors of abuse.
“When Lord Carey stepped down from his role as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Oxford following the publication of the Gibb report in 2017 it also meant that he was no longer able to preside over services at his local church. There were no legal grounds for me to deny Lord Carey’s request for PTO in February this year as he was not subject to a disciplinary process, and there has never been any suggestion that he is himself a risk to children, young people or vulnerable adults.
“Lord Carey’s PTO remains in place at this time, providing him with a safe space to exercise his ministry. However, as part of the Church of England’s ongoing response to IICSA, there will now be a process of review and support offered to Lord Carey by the Diocese of Oxford together with the National Safeguarding Team.”139 Comments
The transcript for the final day, Friday, is available here.
The transcript of Thursday’s hearing is now available. Gregor McGill, Andrew Nunn, Ros Hunt and Bishop Frank Sergeant were interviewed.
The transcript for Wednesday’s hearing is now published. Witnesses questioned were Andrew Purkis, Wayne Murdock, and Carwyn Hughes. Statements from Lady Alice Renton and Ian Beer were also read out.
There is a list of 35 documents, and the links to all of them are here. More details later.
The transcript of Tuesday’s hearing is now available here. The entire day was taken up with questioning Lord Carey.
The National Secular Society reported it too: “Establishment” helped abusive bishop evade justice, inquiry hears.0 Comments
Queen appoints new Suffragan Bishop of Warrington
The Queen has appointed the Venerable Beverley Anne Mason as Suffragan Bishop of Warrington.
Published 24 July 2018
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Beverley Anne Mason, MA, Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, to the Suffragan See of Warrington, in the Diocese of Liverpool, in succession to the Right Reverend Richard Finn Blackburn, MA, who resigned on the 31st May 2018.
There are more details on the Liverpool diocesan website. The new bishop will be consecrated on 18 October 2018.7 Comments
The transcript of the first day is now available here.
Three documents have been published:
The lawyer representing the Archbishops’ Council read this opening statement.
IICSA video recordings:
The Diocese of London has announced that the Rt Revd Adrian Newman will be resigning on health grounds as Bishop of Stepney and will withdraw from public duties at the end of October.9 Comments
In November 2017, we published an article headed Update on Episcopal Teaching Document and Pastoral Advisory Group. This listed the then current membership of the various groups. Since that time there have been some changes, and the current rosters are listed here. For convenience those lists (as of July 2018) are copied below the fold. Some corrections are noted. (more…)5 Comments