Thinking Anglicans

Oxford disciplinary tribunal decision

Updated 7 April and again 9 April

Law & Religion UK reports: Dean Richard Peers CDM decision

On 21 March 2024, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Oxford handed down its Decision The Revd Canon Richard Peers – March 2024 and reasons in relation to facts and conduct.

Updates

Comments on this article remain closed.

0 Comments

Suffragan Bishop of Burnley

Press release from the Prime Minister’s office

For further information see the Blackburn diocesan website.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Burnley: 22 March 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Joseph Kennedy for appointment as Bishop of Burnley.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 22 March 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Joseph Kennedy, Vicar of Oxton St Saviour in the Diocese of Chester, for appointment to the Suffragan See of Burnley in the Diocese of Blackburn in succession to the Right Reverend Philip North, following his translation to the See of Blackburn.

Background

Joe was educated at Edinburgh University and at St Hugh’s College and Keble College, Oxford, and trained for ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served as a Curate in the Diocese of Oxford, at Stratfield Mortimer (St Mary) and Mortimer West End with Padworth, and at Abingdon, and was ordained Priest in 2003.

In 2005, Joe was appointed Dean of Chapel, Chaplain and Fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and additionally served as Chaplain and Senior Member at Newnham College. In 2008, Joe took up the role of Principal, College of the Resurrection, Mirfield.

In 2011, Joe was appointed to his current role as Vicar of Oxton St Saviour, in the Diocese of Chester, additionally serving as a Lecturer and Tutor at St Mellitus College from 2015 until 2020, and as Rural Dean of Birkenhead since 2021.

20 Comments

Safeguarding: Advert for Wilkinson/Jay Response Group Co-Chair

Updated

This advertisement has appeared on Guardian Jobs, originated by Charisma Recruitment.

The full text is copied below the fold.

Co-Chair

Employer
Church of England
Location
Remote
Salary
Unremunerated with reasonable expenses paid*
Closing date
8 Apr 2024*
Update
The asterisked items above show the advert as originally published.
The Salary line has been changed, and now reads: Supplier fee paid.
The closing date has also been changed to read 17 March.

(more…)

45 Comments

Reparatory Justice: Oversight Group recommendations

Updated Tuesday

The Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice describes itself this way:

A seed for growth and change

In 2023, the Church Commissioners for England published a report into its historic links to African chattel enslavement. In penitence and hope, the Church Commissioners proposed a fund to address a legacy of racialised inequality that scars the lives of billions to this day.

The Church Commissioners appointed an independent Oversight Group to make their recommendations on how the fund should be used. This group is acutely aware that the crimes against humanity rooted in enslavement have caused damage so vast it will require patient effort spanning generations to address. They believe this fund represents a start to breaking the chains of discrimination.

The Oversight Group has a bold vision for the £100m Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice which they would like to see grow to £1bn and act as a catalyst for real change.

Other recent documents about this:

Church Times: Church Commissioners look for partners to boost reparatory-justice fund to £1 billion

Updates

Guardian Harriet Sherwood ‘It’s not a lot when you consider the harm’: Why bishop is calling for £1bn in C of E reparations for slavery (Interview with the Bishop of Croydon)

Archbishop of York We need a conversation about justice (Article in the Sunday Times)

90 Comments

LLF: re-formation of working groups

press release

New programme board to help steer LLF next steps
08/03/2024

Lead Bishop gives update to Synod members

Following discussion at the February meeting of General Synod, further details of plans for a new Programme Board to oversee the ongoing work of Living in Love and Faith (LLF) have been shared with General Synod members.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, the lead bishop for LLF, has written to Synod members to outline plans for a new oversight board and the re-formation of three working groups: the Pastoral Guidance Working Group, the Pastoral Reassurance Working Group and the Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) Working Group.

Synod members have been invited to express their interest in joining the groups which will be formed of bishops, other clergy and laity.

In addition to these working groups, meetings with stakeholders will be organised to help enable progress ahead of a meeting of The House of Bishops’ meeting May.

Two formal groups will also be formed, as agreed following the commendation of the PLF:

  • A Pastoral Consultative Group – to aid bishops, diocesan staff and others with answers to the broad questions that arise from the implementation of PLF and other LLF work. This group will comprise a small number of bishops, supported by consultants.
  • An Independent Review Panel – to consider concerns about the implementation of the PLF and application of the Pastoral Guidance, and make recommendations for addressing justifiable concerns.

A timeline is being finalised to allow these groups to make progress ahead of the House of Bishops’ meeting later in May, which will feed into the General Synod sessions in July.

Read the full letter to Synod members from the Bishop of Leicester.

Church Times report on this: Synod members invited to apply to join LLF working groups

16 Comments

Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway announces retirement

News from the The Scottish Episcopal Church

The Right Rev Kevin Pearson has announced today that he will retire as Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway on 31 August this year.

Bishop Kevin became the 15th Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway in July 2020 upon his translation from the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles…

5 Comments

Jay report on Church of England safeguarding published

UPDATED

This report was commissioned by the Church of England and first announced on 20 July 2023. Details followed in August: see Future of Church Safeguarding.

The report is now published: The Future of Church Safeguarding (55 pages)

There is also a press release: Report into the future of safeguarding in the Church of England

And there is a video.

There is also this Legal Advice note (35 pages)

——–

The Church of England has issued a press release.

And there is this: Terms of Reference for the Jay and Wilkinson Reports Response Group

41 Comments

Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, has announced with great sadness the unexpected death of his colleague, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham.

Paying tribute to Bishop Alan, Bishop Steven said: “Alan was a dear friend and colleague to many across the Diocese. Alan has deep friendships and pastoral relationships across both church and community in Bucks. He has offered remarkable leadership to our work in education and church schools over more than a decade. Alan has been a friend and advocate for survivors of abuse and a strong ally and supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community for many years.

“Alan had recently begun a well-earned sabbatical and was planning to use the time to plan and prepare for retirement in the next year. Alan loved God and loved God’s church with a rare passion. He was a bishop who prioritised the parishes and clergy in his care above everything else and served the people of Buckinghamshire with devotion over a long and demanding ministry.

“I will miss him as a friend and colleague. The Church has lost a wise, pastoral and prophetic bishop.”

There is more on the Oxford diocesan website.

23 Comments

Correspondence re Secretary General

On 18 January, we published a letter addressed to the archbishops calling for the suspension and investigation of the Secretary General, William Nye. This letter was written by Martin Sewell and signed by 20 members of General Synod. The full text of the letter is here.

A reply to this letter was sent on 6 February from Carl Hughes, Chair of the Finance Committee of the Archbishops’ Council.

Martin Sewell replied to this on 8 February. The formal response is here, and there is also a covering note and an addendum.

Carl Hughes replied to this on 11 February.

39 Comments

LLF: roundup of recent statements and news reports

Updated

Since we posted the statement of the Bishop of Newcastle on Thursday morning, there have been several further statements. Some of these have been linked in the comments, but I am repeating them all here, as not everyone reads all the comments…

The Church Times has carried several news reports so far:

These include quotes from others, including from Dr Tom Woolford, and the Bishop in Europe.

Monday Updates

Helen King has written: Processing the process: LLF continues which contains much detail concerning these recent events.

A second interim theological advisor has been appointed: Statement: Interim Theology Advisers

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have announced the appointment of a new interim Theology Adviser, the Revd Canon Dr Jessica Martin, currently Canon Residentiary for Learning and Outreach at Ely Cathedral, to work alongside the Revd Dr Tom Woolford. Tom and Jessica will work as Joint Interim Theology Advisers to the House of Bishops and Secretaries to Faith and Order Commission (FAOC), on secondment for a six-month period starting in March 2024. These interim roles are in place while a substantive recruitment process is underway for a permanent successor to the Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley, who leaves the NCIs at the end of February to take up the role of Principal of Ridley Hall…

Tuesday Updates

Helen King has written a further blog article:One down, one to go: the LLF appointment saga continues

55 Comments

LLF: over 130 General Synod members oppose “reset” and “settlement”

The Church Times reports:  Do not obstruct Synod’s decision on same-sex blessings, members say

MORE than 130 members of the General Synod have signed a letter expressing their view that the proposal of a “reset” of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process is unwise, and that talk of a “settlement” for those opposing the introduction of blessings for same-sex couples fails to honour decisions taken by the Synod.

Last week, the co-chairs of the LLF process, the Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, and the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, co-wrote an article for the Church Times in which they argued for a “reset” of the process to allow for “reconciliation and bridge-building” (Comment, 26 January). (On Thursday, 1 February, Dr Hartley announced that she would be standing down as as co-chair of the LLF process. Story to follow)…

The report continues:

The GSGSG letter says: “It is clear that the mind of Synod, determined by due synodical process, is to implement those things agreed in February [2023], being new pastoral guidance to replace Issues in Human Sexuality and to introduce the full Prayers of Love and Faith, including the stand-alone services. It is also clear that Synod has rejected this implementation being dependent on an agreed settlement or structural provision. . .

“Any delay in moving forward will be seen as a failure by the House of Bishops to implement votes passed in Synod and a rejection of the courtesy of Synod in welcoming your proposals. This will not reset the tone of the debate in a positive direction, neither will it build trust for any reconciliation discussions on maintaining unity.”

28 Comments

LLF: Statement from the Bishop of Newcastle

Updated 4 pm Thursday

Living in Love and Faith: A Statement from Bishop Helen-Ann
First published on: 1st February 2024

My first commitment, and priority, is to continue to respond to God’s calling to be Bishop of Newcastle, and I rejoice in this calling. It has become clear to me in the last 48 hours that there are serious concerns relating to the recent process of appointing an Interim Theological Advisor to the House of Bishops. This was, and is not, an LLF appointment, and neither Bishop Martyn nor myself were involved in it. Whilst the remit of the theological advisor is broader than any matters relating to LLF, there is no doubt that LLF remains front and centre in the life of our Church at this time. What has transpired in the last 48 hours has had a critically negative impact on the work Bishop Martyn and I were seeking, in good faith, to do. My role as co-lead bishop for the LLF process is now undermining my capacity to fulfil my primary calling, to lead and care for the people and places of the Diocese of Newcastle.

I am fully committed to the vocation and life of the Church of England, its place in our diverse communities across this land, and in the wider Anglican Communion. Mindful of different views within my own diocese, I am also fully committed to the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people. I do not believe these are mutually exclusive, and I am not naïve in saying this. As I approach the 10th anniversary of my consecration as a bishop, my decision to step down from my LLF role is not one I have taken lightly, but is one built on all I have learnt about being a bishop, both here and in Aotearoa New Zealand. I will continue to be involved in the LLF process as a diocesan bishop, and will endeavour to prayerfully and actively work towards fulfilling the commitments expressed above, and those already agreed to in General Synod.

+Helen-Ann Newcastle,

February 1st 2024.

Update

The Church Times has this: Bishop of Newcastle stands down from LLF over ‘serious concerns’ about interim adviser

This report is comprehensive, and I urge you to read it in full. But here are two excerpts:

…Earlier in the week, the Vicar of All Saints’, New Longton, the Revd Dr Thomas Woolford, a tutor at Emmanuel Theological College, was announced as the interim secretary to the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) and adviser to the House of Bishops, before a permanent post-holder takes up the position in September.

After his appointment, an article by Dr Woolford, published in 2019 on the website of Church Society, a conservative Evangelical organisation in the C of E, began to be circulated on social media.

In the article, Mr Woolford wrote: “I think it would be disastrous and desperately wicked if the Church were to prepare blessings for things we must not bless, alter the canons to accommodate worldly thinking, give up the standard of chastity for ordained office-holders, or sanction false teaching.”

Speaking shortly after Dr Hartley’s announcement, Dr Woolford distanced himself from the tone of the article. “I’m still a conservative on blessings and on sexuality; so that part hasn’t changed,” he said. “But I’d put a lot of things differently in light of the journey that we’ve been on in Synod and in the wider Church.”

And the report later continues:

…On Thursday afternoon, the Bishop in Europe, Dr Robert Innes, who chairs the FAOC, said that Dr Woolford’s was an “advisory role, not an executive role”.

“He is an adviser among other advisers, and advisers come from an appropriately diverse array of positions,” he told the Church Times, and emphasised that it was a six-month interim appointment.

“It’s testament to the very febrile nature of the Church at the moment that the appointment of a temporary adviser attracts so much interest and controversy, and I do regret that.”

He described Dr Woolford as a “a very able theologian indeed”, who understood that he had to “behave in a neutral way”.

The article by Dr Woolford can be found here.

121 Comments

Bishop of Reading announces her retirement

The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, has announced she will retire later this year, on 30 September.

2 Comments

LLF bishops propose new commitments

Updated

The bishops of Newcastle and Leicester have written an article published today in the Church Times, in which they state that they intend to bring to General Synod in February some new proposals.

The full text of what they have written is here: Living in love, faith — and reconciliation.

The Church Times has a news report: LLF bishops respond to fears of schism over same-sex relationships.

Update

Unadulterated Love has this report: LLF “engagement opportunity” reveals Archbishops abandon radical new Christian inclusion

24 Comments

Professor Alexis Jay to publish report in February

From the Future of Church Safeguarding website: Professor Alexis Jay to publish recommendations on Church

Professor Alexis Jay CBE has informed the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York that she will next month (February) deliver to them and publish her report on how to make Church safeguarding fully independent.

In her report, Professor Jay will make a series of recommendations on how Church safeguarding can be made independent, accountable, fair and trusted, in order to learn from the past and better protect all those involved in Church life from harm.

The report has been informed by extensive engagement with those with recent experience of Church safeguarding, both in person and online, including victims and survivors, safeguarding practitioners, members of the clergy and volunteers.

This engagement exercise, which Professor Jay extended to ensure that all those who wished to share their views had the opportunity to do so, has now finished.

Professor Jay, supported by the Future of Church Safeguarding Programme, which is independent of the Church, is now preparing her report and recommendations.

In the interests of transparency, Professor Jay will publish her report online on the Future of Church Safeguarding Programme website.

Further details about publication will be provided in due course.

2 Comments

Response group for Wilkinson and Jay reviews

Press release from the Church of England

Response group for Wilkinson and Jay reviews
23/01/2024

Following the publication of Sarah Wilkinson’s Review into the ISB and in light of the forthcoming Future of Church Safeguarding review from Professor Jay, the Archbishops’ Council, AC, has set up a group to consider how to respond and plan next steps.

The AC has publicly committed to learning lessons for the future delivery of independent safeguarding oversight noting the vital importance of this for all who come into contact with the Church but particularly for victims and survivors who will play an integral part in this work.

The response group, chaired by the lead safeguarding bishop, will consider the important lessons to be learnt highlighted in the Wilkinson report and once published will look at the recommendations in the Jay report.

The group will be made up of a range of members including safeguarding professionals from within and outside the Church, along with survivor and victim representation to ensure that survivors have input into the discussion and that their lived experience is heard. Alongside this, it is envisaged that a survivor and victim focus group will also be set up. The response group will consult with it in order to ask questions on specific areas.

The response group will meet regularly and will consider what wider consultation and further reflection is needed around both Reviews before a final response is considered and made by the AC which will go to General Synod for debate. The terms of reference will be drawn up in due course.

22 Comments

Safeguarding Bishop admits that survivor was misled

press release 19 January 2024

A prominent campaigner alleges that senior leaders in the Church of England are protecting its Secretary General William Nye against allegations that he has put reputation management before the needs of abuse victims. The former Lead Bishop for Safeguarding admits that the survivor was misled.

Gilo is a survivor of non-recent sexual abuse in the Church of England, and a prominent campaigner on issues of church abuse.

Gilo’s abuse, and its subsequent handling by the church, were the subject of an inquiry by independent safeguarding expert Ian Elliott, which was published in March 2016. The inquiry report was highly critical of the Church’s treatment of Gilo, and particularly of the deliberate withdrawal of pastoral care from the victim, apparently on the instruction of the church’s insurer, Ecclesiastical. Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who was then Bishop of Crediton, was assigned to ensure that the recommendations of the review were fulfilled.

After the publication of the Elliott Review, a secretive meeting was held in Church House in August 2016 in which the church’s National Safeguarding Team, in-house lawyers, and communications team met with four executives from Ecclesiastical to discuss “a joined-up approach to stories and the media”, to preserve the reputation of both parties in the case. Neither Ian Elliott nor Gilo was aware of the meeting, or consulted about it.

Following the meeting, Ecclesiastical publicly questioned parts of Elliott’s review. They continued this approach when giving evidence at IICSA, describing the review as ‘flawed’ and ‘inaccurate’. In particular they explicitly rejected the suggestion that the insurer had suggested that the church should withdraw pastoral support from the survivor.  The representatives of EIO were subsequently recalled to the Inquiry to revisit their evidence, and were forced to retract part of it.

Following the IICSA Inquiry, Gilo obtained evidence that the reputation management meeting between Ecclesiastical and the church had indeed taken place. When Gilo attempted to get an explanation from the National Safeguarding Team and the Bishop of London, they shut him down.

In 2020 Gilo made a complaint against William Nye, the Secretary-General of the Church of England, who has overall responsibility for safeguarding in the church. The thrust of the complaint was that Nye was responsible for the reputation management meeting that the National Safeguarding Team and others had held in August 2016. The complaint was internally investigated by Canon John Spence, the member of the Archbishop’s Council who had the role of line managing Mr Nye. Mr Spence, who described himself as a “friend” of William Nye, reported that there were no further records of the meeting or of what was discussed. Nor could any of the parties recollect it. In any case, he said,  William Nye could not have been present because “he always takes his holiday at that time of year.” Consequently Gilo’s complaint against William Nye was dismissed.

In mid-2022 Gilo wrote to a number of senior staff in the Church of England, including the two Archbishops and safeguarding leads, asking for an explanation. Once again, he was blanked.

In March 2023 the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs, replied to Gilo admitting that church records showed the meeting about Gilo’s case had taken place, that William Nye had attended it, and that reputation management in relation to the church and its insurer had been discussed. He also admitted that Gilo’s “interests and well-being as a survivor were not as central as they should have been.”

Since July 2023 the Archbishops have repeatedly been asked by Gilo’s lawyer Richard Scorer for an explanation as to why the complaint against Nye had been dismissed on false grounds. The question has also been raised at General Synod. Repeated approaches have been left unanswered. In November 2023, the Archbishop of York, in a written response to a question at General Synod, said that an external firm of auditors had been engaged to conduct a “targeted” review. Neither Gilo, his lawyer or his advocate has been informed of the process of this review or invited to contribute to it.

Further information is available from Andrew Graystone
andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

Attached below are:
Letter from Richard Scorer to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
Extract from General Synod November 2023
Quotes from Gilo, Ian Elliott and others
Letter from Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs

51 Comments

College and House of Bishops meetings – January 2024

Press release from the Church of England

College and House of Bishops meetings – January 2024
19/01/2024

The College of Bishops has spent the last two days together, meeting for Bible study, prayer and discussion at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire.

On Thursday Bishops began the meeting with a Bible study from Romans 12, led by the Rev Dr Isabelle Hamley, reflecting on the theme of generosity and grace. Dr Hamley discussed blessing and what it means to be a body where we all depend on one another and live interconnected lives – as individuals and part of a church, both local and global.

That led into discussions about the operation of the “Five Guiding Principles” which were agreed as part of the package of legislation, 10 years ago this year, which paved the way for the consecration of women as bishops.

Bishops then heard from members of the Standing Commission on the Five Guiding Principles, set up in 2022, and the Independent Reviewer, Maggie Swinson, who handles concerns and disputes over the operation of the arrangements put in place in 2014.

They also heard first hand examples of the experiences of female clergy, including examples of misogyny and online abuse. There were then discussions in small groups and in plenary about lessons which could be learned from the 2014 arrangements.

In the evening the bishops took part in an informal question-and-answer discussion with three special guests – the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet; the historian Tom Holland and the musician Guvna B – chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Questions ranged widely over subjects from current global events and conflicts to the origins and meaning of English identity; challenges facing young people; knife crime and the need for greater public knowledge of the Bible.

This morning bishops spent time considering issues in public life and proposals for a period of prayer for the nation to coincide with the expected General Election campaign.

Turning to recent developments on introducing public prayers for God’s blessing for same-sex couples, the bishops discussed how we move forward as a whole Church, pay attention to the needs of those who hold profoundly different views, and consider making commitments on what a more unified approach to these next stages of implementation might look like.

  • Following the meeting of the College, members of the House of Bishops held a short meeting to discuss Living in Love and Faith in more detail and looked forward to the lead bishops, Bishop of Newcastle Helen-Ann Hartley and Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, further developing a paper for General Synod next month.
3 Comments

Glasgow report: call to investigate Secretary General

The Church Times carries a report: Psychologist reports ‘significant harm’ after closure of Independent Safeguarding Board which deals with the Glasgow report, as covered on TA previously here.

In addition it reports

…On Wednesday, a letter was sent to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, signed by 20 members of the General Synod. The letter called for “the immediate suspension and subsequent investigation” of the secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye.

The letter, written by Synod member and safeguarding lawyer, Martin Sewell, accuses Mr Nye of failing to heed a request from Steve Reeves, one of the sacked members of the ISB, to delay the announcement of its termination so that survivors could be informed privately rather than learning via the media.

Ms Wilkinson’s report quotes an email from Mr Reeves to Mr Nye, in which Mr Reeves writes: “I am urging caution as powerfully as I can. The harm could be significant and the announcement is not urgent.”

The letter alleges that Mr Nye “rejected that advice and chose to take the risk; it had foreseeable and foreseen consequences . . . avoidable significant harm towards the vulnerable people to whom he owed a duty of care.”

The full text of this letter can be found here.

14 Comments

Update on Smyth review

The Church of England issued a press release today, giving an update on the Smyth review. It is copied below.

Update on Smyth review
17/01/2024

Statement from National Director of Safeguarding

The following statement has been issued by the independent reviewer into the Church’s handling of allegations against the late John Smyth. We would like to say as commissioners of the review, the NST recognises the process has gone on longer than is acceptable for those waiting for an outcome and for the Church to act and learn on the outcomes of the report. Along with the reviewer we apologise for this delay. We continue to offer additional resources and financial support to ensure the report is received by the end of April with a view to publication as soon as practically possible after that date.

Statement from Keith Makin, Independent Reviewer

I would like to take this opportunity to thank victims for their courage, time, and detailed input to the review and more recently in meetings with me. I recognise the impact that the duration of the review has had on victims, their families and others involved in this case.

Concerns have been expressed that I may have been put under pressure to delay publication of this report, I can confirm this is not the case. Several factors have contributed to the time taken reaching this current stage, including varying the terms of my contract. This will enable me to carry out representations, where those criticised in the review will be given advance notice of this and provided with an opportunity to respond.

I can confirm that my report is now being prepared for this process and I anticipate this will commence in March 2024.

Support

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. While support has previously been offered the NST has now secured the service of a specialist advocacy service. FearFree Support provides specialist support to victims and survivors of abuse, offering trauma informed and victim led bespoke support. Its director of services has identified an experienced independent advocate for victims and survivors – Nina Tanner – to deliver this service and this information has been relayed to the survivors and victims.

Contact: Nina.Tanner@fearfree.org.uk/ 07825 741751

10 Comments