Thinking Anglicans

Survivors challenge General Synod

Updated Thursday evening

A group of survivors of sexual abuse committed by Church of England clergy have written an open letter to General Synod members. The full text of that letter is copied below the fold (and is also on the Surviving Church blog).

Amendments, supported by the survivors, to the proposed motion due to be debated next week regarding the recommendations from IICSA to the Church of England have been proposed by David Lamming and Peter Adams.

Peter Adams has written an article about the need for stronger action by General Synod: Closing the door on a shameful past: the need for a fully rounded response by CofE General Synod to IICSA.

These amendments have however been ruled out of order. See today’s Church Times news report Safeguarding amendments to give Synod motion ‘more teeth’ are rejected.

The full text of the proposed motion if the proposed amendments had been accepted, is as follows.

GENERAL SYNOD FEBRUARY 2020 GROUP OF SESSIONS WEDNESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2020

AGENDA ITEM 9 Safeguarding: Response to recommendations in IICSA May 2019 Investigation Report (GS 2158)

COMPOSITE DRAFT OF THE MOTION AS IT WOULD BE IF AMENDED BY THE AMENDMENTS PROPOSED BY DAVID LAMMING (GS 399) AND PETER ADAMS (GS 392)

That this Synod:

(a) lament the Church of England’s abject failures in dealing with reports of abuse, as revealed during the hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and documented in its interim report, Anglican Church Case Studies: Diocese of Chichester and The response to allegations against Peter Ball (May 2019), and accordingly welcome the terms of the Diocese of Blackburn ‘Ad Clerum’ letter dated 17th June 2019, reflecting on the IICSA report and commend its victim-centred approach to all in authority within the Church as a suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission;

(b) affirm (in the words of the National Director of Safeguarding at para 4.1 of paper GS 2158) that the Church of England “remains committed to ensuring that words of apology are followed by concrete actions to improve how all worshipping communities across the whole Church in its many forms – across its parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, religious communities, national church institutions and other church bodies – respond to concerns and allegations of abuse and to all victims and survivors of abuse and others affected by this, whilst at the same time working to prevent such abuse from occurring in the first place.”

(c) endorse the Archbishops’ Council’s response, set out in paper GS 2158, to the five recommendations made by IICSA at pages 206 to 207 of its said report;

(d) request the Archbishops’ Council, National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), National Safeguarding Team, and House of Bishops to respond immediately to the recommendations of the final IICSA report on the Anglican Church when it is published, and bring their response to General Synod for debate no later than July 2021; and

(e) request the Archbishops’ Council, NSSG and House of Bishops, working in conjunction with the Church Commissioners, to bring forward proposals for an appropriate and properly resourced compensation and redress scheme, so that words of apology are matched by actions that truly reflect the justice and righteousness of God’s kingdom.

(more…)

10 Comments

Responses to the Apology from the Archbishops

The original signatories of the Open Letter have issued this public response

“MORE THAN WORDS ARE NOW NEEDED” – RESPONSE TO THE ARCHBISHOPS’ APOLOGY

Whilst we are grateful for the Archbishops’ apology and the recognition that their statement has jeopardized our trust, the fact is more than words are now needed.

Over 3500 people have now signed our open letter, which includes nearly 90 members of General Synod and a range of other senior church leaders.  This shows the strength of concern that exists across the Church of England that its mission is being significantly damaged and that their promise of a “radical new Christian inclusion” must now be delivered.

We await the evidence that they have truly heard and taken onboard our concerns by what comes out in the Living in Love and Faith report, and the willingness to engage directly with those whose lives it primarily affects.

Christina Baron
Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain
Ven Peter Leonard
Jayne Ozanne

————————————————————

Statement from the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England about the recent apology from the house of Bishops for their ‘Pastoral Statement on Same sex Civil Partnerships

We welcome the Archbishops’ apology and acknowledgement of the hurt & division their words have caused.
We regret that they have neither withdrawn their ill-advised Statement nor sought to amend its harsh and cruel wording. It still stands in its entirety as an attack on the integrity and lives of not just many in the LGBTI communities but also to the countless committed and faithful straight couples and lone parents raising children whose love and commitment they have disparaged.

We are disappointed that they do not address the undermining of the trust in their leadership and the Living in Love and Faith process that the release of the Statement has caused. Trust cannot be simply rebuilt by ignoring that reality. Bridges have to be built from both sides and the Statement released last week demolished the foundations on the Bishops’ side.

We had hoped that the Bishops might have learnt from this embarrassing experience but they appear not to have done so. We invite the Bishops to reach out and ask to meet with representatives of the LGBTI communities and sit down and ask how trust can be rebuilt. Telling us it will simply be so suggests that they are still unwilling to listen, unable to learn from this very public embarrassment and does nothing to inspire confidence for the future.

We would welcome an invitation to meet with the Bishops to discuss how that trust can be re-established.

Friday 31st January 2020

————————————————————

At Via MediaGiles Goddard an LGBT member of the co-ordinating group for the Living in Love and Faith project has published After the Apology – What Next?

…I have heard a great deal of contrition from the College of Bishops and from the Archbishops and I am grateful for that. I hope it will help us to move on. But I also have a strong sense that the underlying causes for the publication of the Statement have only just begun to be addressed. I have had very recent conversations with bishops who remain dismayed by the Church’s way of being: still, deep down, dominated by a world-view which feels white, male and patriarchal in its teaching on sexuality and relationships. Women still find it hard to be heard. There is still a huge problem with BAME representation. There is only one out LGBTI+ bishop…

Do read it all.

30 Comments

Prolocutors respond to House of Bishops statement

Simon Butler and Chris Newlands, the prolocutors of Canterbury and York respectively in the General Synod, have made public the letter they have written to the archbishops. The full text of this is available here.

22 Comments

General Synod – press previews

Madeleine Davies Church Times Absent children will be a focus at next month’s General Synod

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian
Church of England could stop heating cathedrals to hit 2045 emissions target
Church of England urged to apologise for Windrush racism
Church of England could seek to end paupers’ funerals

Patrick Sawer The Telegraph
Time for church to own up to past and present racism, say clergy
Heated cushions for zero carbon churches as Bishop praises ‘brilliant’ Extinction Rebellion

Zaina Alibhai iNews Church of England urged to apologise for racism toward Windrush generation

Steve Doughty Mail Online Will paupers’ funerals be banished? Church of England set to help families who can’t afford to pay for a loved one’s send off

16 Comments

Pre-Synod press release

The Church of England has issued its usual press release (copied below) in advance of next month’s meeting of its General Synod. Also released today is the second batch of papers for the Synod meeting; links to them have been added to my earlier post.

Church of England launches energy rating tool as Synod considers new ‘net zero’ carbon target
24/01/2020

The Church of England is launching an energy rating system similar to those used for household appliances to help monitor the carbon footprint of its almost 40,000 buildings, as General Synod considers a major new proposal to reach ‘net zero’ CO2 emissions.

Members of Synod, which meets in London next month, will debate a motion calling on all parts of the Church of England – from parishes to national bodies – to aim for ambitious year-on-year reductions in emissions to reach “net zero” by 2045 at the latest.

(more…)

0 Comments

February General Synod – online papers

Updated 24 January to include second batch of papers

The first batch of papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online. The remaining papers will be issued on 24 January and I will add links when these become available.

Papers with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets from Monday 10 to Thursday 13 February in London.

The Agenda is here and the Report by the Business Committee (Guide to the February 2020 group of sessions) is here.

Timetable

Synod members reading this might like to note that the deadline for the submission of questions is 12 noon on Wednesday 29 January 2020.

First mailing .zip file

Second mailing .zip file

(more…)

9 Comments

General Synod Agenda for February

The Business Committee of General Synod has today published the outline agenda for the February Group of Sessions in London.

The published information can be read here and is copied (with slight editing) below the fold.

(more…)

0 Comments

General Synod questions

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

15 Comments

2020 General Synod Elections: Inclusive Church launches campaign leaflet

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Comments

Synod Questions

Members of the Church of England General Synod have been sent the following email inviting questions for answer next month. As noted written answers will be given (and published); ie no supplementary questions will be possible.

Dear Synod members,

Mindful of the exceptionally high number of questions in February and July, the Business Committee has decided to use its powers under Standing Order 117(1) to give members the opportunity to submit questions for written answer between groups of sessions. This is a process last used in 2008.

The deadline is 12.00 on Friday, 8 November. Please send the questions to questions@churchofengland.org.

Answers will be published on www.churchofengland.org no later than Monday, 25 November.

Please also note that under SO 112(2), members can ask up to two questions, which should be addressed to one of the bodies accountable to the General Synod listed in SO 112(1).

Thank you very much.

Best regards,

Synod Support

1 Comment

General Synod – day 5 – Tuesday 9 July 2019

Order Paper 6 – Tuesday 9 July morning – details of the final day’s business

Synod members’ blogs

Andrew Nunn Heading home

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap I’m going home…

0 Comments

Crown Nominations Commission – changes to the rules

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) is responsible for providing the prime minister with the names of candidates to be diocesan bishops in the Church of England. The current rules are that the CNC must provide two names and place them in order of preference. Recent prime ministers have agreed to always submit the first name to the Queen. The second name is then only required if for some reason the first choice becomes unavailable.

But each of the two names must be supported by two-thirds of the CNC members. So if the CNC is able to agree on a first name, but not on a second it has to reconvene and start again, even though the second name is rarely required.

General Synod was therefore asked to amend its standing orders so that the Crown Nominations Commission

i) Submit one name to the Prime Minister, subject to the support of two thirds of the voting members of the Commission in a secret ballot; and

ii) May agree on a second name if they so wish, also subject to the support of two thirds of the voting members of the Commission in a secret ballot as a reserve candidate.

The submission of one name will not therefore be dependent in any way on the agreement of a second name.

Synod agreed to these changes yesterday afternoon and they will come into effect on 10 July 2019.

The first meeting to be affected by these changes will be next week. The CNC will be having its second meeting (the one at which the names are chosen) for the forthcoming vacancy at Hereford on 15/16 July 2019.

There is a paper explaining these changes in more detail: GS 2144.

34 Comments

General Synod – day 4 – Monday 8 July 2019

Order Paper 4 – Monday 8 July morning
Order Paper 5 – Monday 8 July afternoon
Order Paper 5b – Monday 8 July afternoon

Press releases from the Church of England about items from today’s business

General Synod backs expansion in new forms of church gatherings

News reports

Laura FitzPatrick The Telegraph Monks and nuns to be recognised by the Church of England for first time since Reformation

Synod members’ blogs

Andrew Nunn Cathedral-shaped church

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap I went down to the sacred store

Stephen notes that the Archbishops’ Council Annual Report is not available on the Church of England’s website. But the Council is a charity and its annual report is available here on the website of the Charity Commission.

1 Comment

General Synod – day 3 – Sunday 7 July 2019

Updated Monday morning

General Synod members attended the 10 am Sung Eucharist at York Minster, where the Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon.

Order Paper 3 – Sunday 7 July afternoon – details of the day’s business

Press releases from the Church of England about items from today’s business

Presentation from lead safeguarding bishop, Peter Hancock

Synod backs further steps towards communion with the Methodist Church

News reports

Laura FitzPatrick The Telegraph Contactless collection plates used in York Minster for the first time

John Blow Yorkshire Post Archbishop of York attends his last General Synod in the city

Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Adam Becket Church Times Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding

Christian Today Church of England has a ‘long way still to travel’ on safeguarding

Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Adam Becket Church Times Division over Anglican-Methodist plan prompts Synod to decelerate process

Christian Today Church of England moves towards communion with the Methodist Church

Synod members’ blogs

Andrew Nunn Cautious steps

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap Together we can make it happen; wait and see

6 Comments

General Synod – day 2 – Saturday 6 July 2019

Updated Sunday morning and evening

Order Paper 2 – Saturday 6 July morning – details of the day’s business

Archbishop of York’s presidential address

Synod passed this motion on responding to serious youth violence.

That this Synod, recognizing that Serious Youth Violence affects the whole community;
a) call upon the National Church Institutions to recognize the opportunity the Church of England has to contribute to understanding of Serious Youth Violence and strategies to prevent it and to make available resources for those affected;
b) call upon Diocesan Boards of Education to recognize how the use of Exclusions impacts on serious youth violence and encourage alternative provision;
c) call upon dioceses to resource:
i) information about locally based resource and support networks, and training for church leaders in best practice for supporting those affected by Serious Youth Violence, including gun and knife crime,
ii) partnership work with statutory organizations and wider civil society to provide pastoral care for people affected by serious youth violence.

There were 315 votes in favour, none against and no recorded abstentions. None of the three amendments in the order paper were passed.

Synod is not sitting on Saturday afternoon. Instead members are invited to attend a series of seminars on The Living in Love and Faith Project and the Pastoral Advisory Group.

Update

There are two press releases from the Church of England about items from this morning’s business.

Synod unanimously backs call to act on serious youth violence

Synod votes to adopt Covenant on Clergy Care and Well-Being

Press reports

Madeleine Davies Church Times Our Church is too addicted to sound-bites, Archbishop of York tells Synod

Christian Today Church of England has become an ‘echo-chamber instead of interpreter’ on issues of human sexuality – John Sentamu

Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Adam Becket Church Times Synod votes for collaborative efforts to stem youth violence

Press Association (via the Belfast Telegraph) Church vows to play proactive role in tackling violent crime

Laura FitzPatrick The Telegraph Church of England schools urged not to expel pupils amid rise in youth violence

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Bishop calls for Church of England schools to minimise exclusions

Christian Today Church of England clergy to be offered mentoring and coaching to support improved wellbeing

Christian Today Church of England commits to doing more to stop serious youth violence

Synod members’ blogs

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap Take good care of yourself

Andrew Nunn And / Or

14 Comments

General Synod – day 1 – Friday 5 July 2019

Order Paper 1 – Friday 5 July – details of the day’s business
Questions and Answers

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap I know there’s an answer
a summary of the day’s business

Christian Today Church of England schools must safeguard different views on gender and sexuality, says bishop

2 Comments

Pre-Synod News and Opinion

The Church of England’s General Synod meets in York this weekend from today until Tuesday.

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap A bridge over troubled water
Stephen’s usual excellent introduction to this week’s business

Madeleine Davies Church Times Anglican Catholic Future raises concerns about Methodist proposals
“Conference’s backing same-sex marriage is now another issue”
[See our earlier article on this topic here.]
Synod ‘lazy and incurious’ about safeguarding scandals

Gabriella Swerling The Telegraph Church of England will condone gay couples for first time – as long as they were man and wife when they took vows
Steve Doughty Mail Online Church of England will allow husbands and wives to stay married after one changes gender, giving their blessing for same-sex marriages in major departure from traditional views
[This refers to question 86 here.]

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E to recognise religious communities for first time in centuries

There are links to the Synod agenda and papers here. Synod opens at 2.30 pm today and you can view the live feed here.

0 Comments

General Synod Questions

The booklet of Questions and Answers  to be taken at the Church of England’s General Synod this weekend is now available for download. It includes both the general questions to be taken on Friday, and those regarding safeguarding to be taken on Sunday. Since the answers are published in advance neither they nor the questions will not be read out, but members will have the opportunity to ask supplementary questions.

11 Comments

Catholic Anglicans critique CofE-Methodist proposals

The CofE General Synod in York will debate the latest stage of the current proposals this weekend. The most recent document under consideration is GS 2135. The earlier document is GS 2086.

Today, both Anglican Catholic Future and Forward in Faith have issued statements.

A Statement by Anglican Catholic Future on the Forthcoming Discussion in Synod of Mission and Ministry in Covenant

…This further report comes before General Synod this week (as paper GS 2135). Anglican Catholic Future is glad to see that it picks up–or seems to pick up–a range of concerns raised in 2018 including:

  1. whether a partial development such as this–with interchangeability of ministry between two churches that remain distinct–aids or hinders the goal of full visible unity (section A1);
  2.  whether the change in ecclesial life of the Methodist Church proposed in MMiCconstitutes a recognisable form of the historic episcopate (section B);
  3. the relation between Eucharistic presidency and episcopal ordination (section A3).

The working group has done important work in relation to the first of those questions, concerning the unity of the churches, which we welcome. When it comes to the other two questions that caused concern in early 2018, however, the document placed before Synod this week is far more problematic…

Forward in Faith – The Anglican-Methodist Proposals

Forward in Faith welcomes the statement by Anglican Catholic Future about the latest Anglican-Methodist report.

In our own February 2018 statement, we noted questions about whether the proposals would lead to unity, and whether the office of ‘President-bishop’ (to be held for one year only) could be recognized as a ‘local adaption’ of the historic episcopate of the catholic Church. We are grateful to note some progress with regard to the question of unity, but our question as to whether what is proposed is in fact episcopacy remains.

Our third and greatest concern was about the proposal to set aside the requirement that those who minister as priests in the Church of England should have been episcopally ordained to the office of priest. In response to this concern, which was shared by others, the General Synod asked the Faith and Order Commission to ‘explore and elucidate further the relationship between episcopal ordination and eucharistic presidency’. That the Commission has not attempted to offer such an elucidation is a deep disappointment…

14 Comments

Archbishops will refuse debate on Blackburn letter

The Church Times carried a report recently: Synod should welcome bishops’ safeguarding letter.

A LETTER from the bishops of the diocese of Blackburn, which warned that the Church’s mission was “fatally undermined” by the abuse crisis (News, 21 June), should be formally welcomed by the General Synod, two lay members have suggested.

A motion commending its “victim-centred approach” as a “suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission” has been proposed by Martin Sewell, of the diocese of Rochester, and David Lamming, of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.

They are seeking the permission of the Archbishops to introduce this motion at the meeting in York next month, when the Business Committee submits report on the first day.

This week, they noted that the letter from Blackburn had been welcomed by a number of survivors, including Jo Kind, who addressed the Synod last year (News, 7 July 2018).

“In recent times, we have sought a general debate on a safeguarding theme. Presentations and questions are not the same thing,” they said.

Their suggested motion offered “an opportunity to enable the Church to embrace the important themes of repentance, listening with humility, and pastoral care”.

The archbishops have today rejected this proposal. Below you will find the text of the proposed motion and the text of the reply sent by the Bishop at Lambeth. Note that the proposal was not to debate the IICSA report at all but only the four page pastoral letter from the Blackburn senior clergy.

“This Synod welcome the terms of the Diocese of Blackburn ‘Ad Clerum’ letter dated  17th June 2019, reflecting
on the IICSA report, dated May 2019, on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball, and commend its victim-centred approach to all in authority within the Church as a suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission.”

From: Tim Thornton
Date: 2 July 2019
To: Martin Sewell, David Lamming
Cc:
Subject: Proposal to ask permission to introduce a motion

Dear Martin and David

Thank you for the e mail you have sent to both the Presidents letting them know about your intention to ask permission to introduce a motion at the Synod in York.

I am writing to let you know that both the Presidents have considered your idea carefully and both feel it is not appropriate at this time and so will refuse you the permission you seek.

Of course your motion is an important one and the matters you raise are crucial for our life as a Church.  However as you both know the IICSA hearing is taking place at the same time as the York session and many of the key people in the NST and others (including the Bishop of Bath and Wells) are focussed on responding to the inquiry and listening carefully to the survivors and all who are giving evidence over this fortnight.

It is also the case that the Interim Report has only recently been published and the NSSG has even more recently sent in its response to the recommendations.  The Presidents do think it is right to allow some more time for people to read those reports and consider their views and reactions to the important and difficult material contained in the report. It is also important to allow the present hearing to take its course before we have a debate on these matters on the floor of Synod.

There are of course questions and space being given to Safeguarding on the Sunday of this session so there will be opportunity for voices to be heard.

I understand this will not be the answer you would like but I hope you can understand the Presidents have given your question thought and do not think that this particular session is the right time to allow for the proper preparation and the availability for all who would and should be there to take part in any such debate.

Yours

Tim

7 Comments