House of Bishops meeting: 29 November
The House of Bishops met online on the morning of 29 November 2023.
The House considered the November Group of Sessions of General Synod, including next steps required following the vote on Prayers of Love and Faith.
It was agreed that a motion for the commendation of the “Prayers of Love and Faith: resource section” would take place at a further meeting before the end of the year. This aligns with the timescale indicated at Synod.
There was also consideration of the House of Bishops’ processes, with The House agreeing to begin a review with a focus on increasing transparency. The House voted in favour of immediate steps to publish summaries of meetings, and to set up a task-and-finish group to make recommendations to the House on potential improvements. A fuller summary of the meeting will be published in the coming days, in accordance with this.
The meeting ended in prayer.0 Comments
The Church Times reports that “TWO former Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) members [Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves] have announced that they have ceased to co-operate with the independent review of the ISB’s demise. They have concerns about the reviewer’s remit.”
Jas Sanghera has posted on X/Twitter that “At no point have @churchofengland engaged with us on terms of reference for this review, despite our numerous request. This is in effect CofE marking it’s own homework & not consulting with the very ppl it concerns. Shocking”.
Steve Reeves has posted that “the Church, with a remit solely defined by the Church, and excluding events critical of the Church, won’t tell anything like the true story.”15 Comments
A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy. Details are in a press release, which is copied below.
Christ Church Review Group announced
A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.
The Review will look at the handling of these safeguarding issues, and relevant reports and investigations including those commissioned by National Safeguarding Team and the Diocese of Oxford as well as material from Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) proceedings. It will not be concerned with the wider issues between the former Dean and the College.
The Review Group, details below, will consider that evidence with a view to appointing and instructing an independent reviewer with relevant expertise and experience.
The Review, commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council and diocese of Oxford was originally referred to the former Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, with Terms of Reference announced in May 2022. Later that year the ISB announced it was pausing work on the review due to finite resources and workload.
This is the first Safeguarding Practice Review, formerly known as a learning lesson review, set up under the new Safeguarding Code of Practice approved at General Synod in July. Its aim is to improve safeguarding practice.
Review Group membership:32 Comments
The House of Bishops of the Church of England met for three days this week, and afterwards issued this press release.
House of Bishops Oct 30 – Nov 1, 2023
The House of Bishops has held its annual autumn residential meeting, spending time in prayer and discussing matters including the war in Gaza, safeguarding, finance, youth evangelism, and Prayers of Love and Faith. The meeting was held at Cookham, Berkshire.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, updated Bishops on his recent visit to Jerusalem and led a discussion on the war in Israel and Gaza. The Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, the Church of England’s representative on the Holy land Coordination Group, led a time of prayer.
The House then discussed proposals for a National Redress Scheme for victims and survivors of abuse, ahead of draft legislation coming to Synod this month.
Bishops also heard updates on the Safeguarding Programme arising out of the recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) Inquiry Report on the Anglican Church.
This included Recommendations One and Eight, covering diocesan safeguarding officers and national safeguarding standards and audits as well as information sharing and the national casework management system.
Bishops also spent time reflecting on their recent decisions about the process of introducing Prayers of Love and Faith and discussed the upcoming meeting of Synod.
On Tuesday bishops heard updates on Diocesan finances and clergy retirement housing support. They also discussed the operation of the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015, which ensures that vacancies on the Bishops’ Bench in the House of Lords would be filled first by female diocesan bishops for 10 years or until parity is achieved.
The House reviewed guidance for good practice in praying for others, including a briefing document on conversion therapy.
Bishops also engaged with ongoing work to meet the challenge of ensuring that a church with a flourishing children, youth, and families’ ministry is within reach of every child or young person in England.
On Wednesday bishops considered questions around interventions in public life.
During the three days bishops attended the local parish church, Holy Trinity, Cookham, for services of morning prayer and Holy Communion.21 Comments
The Church Times reports: Don’t delay guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages, say 44 bishops
A GROUP of 44 bishops made a public statement on Wednesday afternoon expressing their hope that pastoral guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages would be issued “without delay”.
The statement in favour of reform follows three weeks after 12 bishops publicly dissented from a majority decision by the House of Bishops to commend prayers for same-sex couples (News, 20 October).
The new group, 14 diocesan bishops and 30 suffragans, write that they “recognise the complexities of the Pastoral Guidance in relation to ministry, and also the need for a swift end to the current uncertainty for LGBTQIA+ clergy and ordinands…
Do read the whole article. The full text of the statement is copied here below the fold.47 Comments
The Church Times reports: Second Commissioner responds to MPs’ questions on Prayers of Love and Faith
The full texts of both questions and answers can be found at They Work For You, starting here. For convenience, the substantive content has been copied below the fold.
Update This Church Times article also includes information on voting in the House and College, some of which is additional to that in the previous report:
…In September, the College of Bishops voted 72-26 to “recommend to the House that we continue the work on pastoral provision, to extend this to clergy who enter into same-sex marriages”.
They also agreed, by a margin of 81-17, that there should be “no questions around sexual intimacy” put to “clergy in same-sex civil partnerships”.
The House of Bishops also voted in favour of a motion stipulating that the pastoral guidance should remove all barriers to clergy entering same-sex civil marriages, albeit by a narrower margin: 18 votes to 15.
The House agreed, however, by a vote of 23-13, to delay the publication of such pastoral guidance until “further work” had been done — a decision that was announced last Friday, when an update on LLF was published in advance of the next month’s General Synod meeting…
Francis Martin reports in the Church Times:
Read the whole article if you possibly can, but it starts out:
A LARGE majority of C of E bishops support a move towards allowing priests to enter into same-sex marriage, and the immediate adoption of stand-alone services of blessing for same-sex couples, the Church Times can report.
The House of Bishops, however, voted to slow progress on both issues in a meeting earlier this month, in the face of conservative hostility. The outcome has prompted MPs to question the process of episcopal governance…
The report includes the following specific voting figures:
The leader in the Church Times reports that the College of Bishops voting on the pastoral guidance was “72 to 26 to work on giving permission for clergy to enter same-sex marriages”. This leader is also recommended reading.70 Comments
There are two new documents on the website of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches:
The full list of those attending is copied here below the fold. It includes three active clergy of the Church of England, John Dunnett (Chelmsford diocese), Richard Moy (London diocese), and Nicky Gumbel (London diocese).96 Comments
The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in London next month, and the usual pre-Synod press release, copied below, was issued today.
Synod meeting to focus on implementation of Prayers of Love and Faith
General Synod papers published for November 2023 Group of Sessions
The General Synod of the Church of England will meet next month in London to discuss the steps being taken to implement texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith, which ask for God’s blessing for same-sex couples.
In February of this year, Synod agreed a motion welcoming the texts and calling on The House of Bishops to further refine and commend them for use in the Church of England, together with new pastoral guidance and proposals for pastoral reassurance.
Earlier this month, The House of Bishops agreed in principle that the Prayers of Love and Faith should be commended for use, also concluding that special services for same-sex couples, based on the Prayers, should go forward for consideration to be formally authorised under canon law. Synod also voted for no change to the doctrine of the Church of England around marriage and sexual intimacy.
In November, Synod members will be presented with the work that the House of Bishops has carried out on the Prayers of Love and Faith since February. They will also have the opportunity to discuss the draft pastoral guidance, specifically supporting the Prayers, which has been shared for the first time.
The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, who has co-chaired the Living in Love and Faith steering group, said: “This twin-track approach means that prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples will be available for use in church very soon, as Synod has asked. A means of offering special, standalone services for same-sex couples will go forward to be considered for formal authorisation at a later stage.
“While we do not all agree about questions of marriage and sexual intimacy, a long period of discernment has shown that a majority of people would like to see a change in the Church of England’s approach to same-sex relationships. Based on what the Church has told us, no change is not an option.
“There are those who would like to see us go much further, and those who believe we are going too far. Yet we have expressed our heartfelt wish to remain together as one Church. The pastoral provision must protect and value both those who struggle so much with this that they need reassurance, and those who wish to place same-sex relationships before God in prayer.
“In other words, it will be ‘both and’, not ‘either or’. We are implementing what Synod asked us to, prayerfully and with the hope of God’s Grace.”
Papers for the November 2023 Group of Sessions were published and sent to members today.
Synod will consider and vote on the first consideration of the draft Redress Measure which makes legal provision for the creation of a national redress scheme for victims and survivors of Church-related abuse. This delivers on the commitment made by the Church in its response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
The draft Measure lays the groundwork to deliver a Scheme which offers redress in a range of forms including apology, acknowledgement, therapeutic, and financial support to survivors of abuse perpetrated by a person acting under the authority of the Church of England. It makes provision for a single ‘redress body’ to deliver the Scheme and also makes provision for the financing and includes further details of the Scheme’s operation.
The Bishop of Winchester, Philip Mounstephen, chair of the Redress Project Board, will introduce the draft Measure and take questions from members.
The Measure is expected to return to the Synod for the Revision Stage in July 2024 followed by the Final Drafting and Final Approval stages.
More information44 Comments
New Bishop of St Davids elected
Provincial news Posted: 17 October 2023
A senior cleric, who has served in every county of Wales’ largest diocese, will now lead it as its 130th bishop.
The Archdeacon of Carmarthen, Dorrien Davies, was today elected as the next Bishop of St Davids – a diocese which covers the three West Wales counties of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.
Archdeacon Dorrien secured the necessary two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College on the second day of its meeting at St Davids Cathedral.14 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
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 of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today announced the death of the Right Reverend Keith Riglin, Bishop of Argyll & The Isles.3 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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.
Bishop David Hamid, suffragan bishop of the Diocese in Europe and one of the longest serving bishops in the Church of England, has announced his plans to retire in February 2024. Details are on the diocesan website.5 Comments