Thinking Anglicans

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.

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Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
21 days ago

I’d like to say unbelievable but unfortunately it is all too believable. In the face of any challenge the AC wheels in the hyper-expensive lawyers, confident that the people in the pews will pay, with instructions to find reasons for doing nothing. Same old, same old. Shameful!

Froghole
Froghole
21 days ago

Looking at this correspondence (and the last, perfunctory, response of Mr Hughes), I am left wondering who, in the Hughes/Nye relationship, is really in charge of whom. This, and the wider context, reminds me very precisely of the philosophical debate which occurred in this well-known scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGb8EKwDkBE

Lottie E Allen
21 days ago

In the forty two years of my adult life never did I imagine that I would see a day when such a thing as this would happen in my Church.

There are clearly people on the Archbishop’s Council who consider themselves so important that they are above accountability.

They should consider their position.

Let us not hang out heads in shame at the state of the Church of England. Let us be on our knees exercising the ancient office of Silent Penitential Prayer that Jesus will have mercy on us.

PatrickT
PatrickT
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
20 days ago

Agree with Lottie. Never in a million years did I think it would come to this when I grew up in CofE, but what a sad, sad day. Dishonest and shameful – but it seems that the very last thing they will do is consider their position. The Church of England is now run by people who engage in abuse of power and relish showing people who complain who is boss. I thank God every day that I refused to stay in such a compromised and heartless church. And for those who think I’m speaking rather strongly: look at the… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
21 days ago

Dennis Healey, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, once famously commented “Follow the rule of holes; if you are in one, stop digging.” Looks like the Archbishops’ Council still haven’t got it. This isn’t going to end well.

David G
David G
21 days ago

I encourage TA readers to look at the short article on ‘Surviving Church’, and read the comments too, especially from the estimable ‘Froghole’:

https://survivingchurch.org/2024/02/11/can-we-find-integrity-and-accountability-in-the-leadership-of-the-church-of-england/

It is apparent that any prospect of honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability from the Archbishops’ Council is not going to be forthcoming. Each and every member, as a trustee, is corrupt, incompetent, gutless and foolish. We are watching the Post Office Scandal get played out all over again.

David Lamming
David Lamming
21 days ago

The letter from Martin Sewell and some 20 other members of General Synod, requesting the suspension of the Secretary General pending an investigation into the matters set out in the letter, was addressed to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. That it was the Archbishops personally who were being asked to suspend the Secretary General is apparent from this paragraph in the letter: “We appreciate that losing the advice of the Secretary General may be a significant embarrassment and inconvenience to you both, and to the Archbishops’ Council. We assert the importance of the principles that all persons within an institution… Read more »

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
21 days ago

Can I suggest: Send this to all members of Archbishops’ Council, as not all of them may have been involved or consulted in this Send it to all Archbishops, Bishops, Archdeacons, General Synod members and Diocesan Safeguarding Leads to demonstrate how the AC prefers to protect one of their own than do what is right Find an interested investigative journalist who’ll take this on, including getting responses from secular HR and Safeguarding professionals Tell the national press from the Church Times to the Guardian I have seldom been so dismayed at such shameful behaviour from an organisation that purports to… Read more »

David Rees
David Rees
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
20 days ago

To Alwyn and others on the ‘thread’ with such understanding of the issues please included on your list the following: a) All members of the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament b) Identify one or two MP’s from the list who following careful background briefing will raise the key issues on the floor of the House c) KEY- you are seeking to know where ‘actual POWER’ lies because the Denomination {Church of England} is Established by Law. Until you know the answer to that question which is complex and will take time, little progress will ever be made. c)… Read more »

Dave
Dave
21 days ago

This needs to come to an absolute crisis and external agencies called in – Charity Commissioners, Parliament or whoever.

The response of Carl Hughes is both condescending and superior. It comes across as someone being irritated by a naughty boy who dares to question him and so simply closes the matter in effect saying ‘Oh, just go away you little nuisance’. It really is not good enough. So wasteful of the church’s energy and resources. Is this what my mother had a standing order to the church to pay for?

RogerB
RogerB
21 days ago

The chair of the finance committee has management responsibility for the Secretary General??!
I assume the management structure of the Archbishops’ Council is also a secret.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  RogerB
20 days ago

In a previous post Janet Fife suggested that the secretary general knew too much to be suspended. What other answer can there be? If GS is allowed to go ahead as though nothing has happened this situation will continue until he reaches retirement age. Maybe members should refuse to cooperate with him prior to an external investigation ? The agenda has his name all over it. Clearly neither Archbishop is prepared to try to control him, or the other 7 of their number who decided to write to sabotage the work of the Living in Love and Faith group. The… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
20 days ago

I was about to use the well known cliche that Nye “knows where the bodies are buried” but, in the context of scandals involving churches, there is a small but real risk that actual bodies are involved. Surprise remains elusive with regard to the upper echelons of the CofE hierarchy, though shock remains intact.

Susan Hunt
Susan Hunt
Reply to  RogerB
20 days ago

Mr Hughes’ response to Mr Sewell’s letter to the Archbishops is inappropriate on two counts: that he was chosen to reply at all. the tone and wording he used in saying, “Accordingly, I consider this matter closed and thus do not intend to enter into further correspondence on this matter’. ‘The case is closed’ were the same words used in May 2021 by a Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser in my support of a friend in a false allegation case where there has been no investigation. Now in 2024, three years later she is still implying that the case is closed as… Read more »

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
20 days ago

This may sound like a silly question, but if I were to write to, say, Andrew Selous MP (Second Estate Church Commissioner) and my local MP about this, what should I be asking? I don’t want to simply get the response that it’s internal CofE procedure. Is it worth writing to e.g. Chris Bryant too?

Apologies, I’m not used to writing campaigning letters to politicians.

Dr John Wallace
Dr John Wallace
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
20 days ago

Alwyn, Andrew Selous is my local MP and although I would never vote for him, I know from experience, unlike many MPs, he is assiduous in answering correspondence and taking up local and national issues. I have never contacted him re C of E stuff, but it’s certainly worth doing. Send me a copy of your letter and I will then confirm to him my support.

David G
David G
20 days ago

The Archbishops and a few others on Council clearly don’t believe that they owe any explanation to the rest of the CofE. Fair enough, if that’s their position. But in that case, can I suggest parishes stop paying their quota, and individuals boycott the collection plate? There are plenty of other urgent charitable causes to give and donate to at present. I for one have no interest in adding more fur to the silk-lined pockets of the Lambeth Palace lawyers and their PR people. I’m not going to fund a corrupt regime, and that’s what the leadership of Nye, Welby… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  David G
20 days ago

While I understand the frustration and outrage, and share in it, it will be the PBI of the Church who bear the consequences of any withholding of share – curates seeking their first incumbency, people on interim priest contracts hoping for an extension of same, parishes looking for a new priest. Were my benefice to withhold its share, it would wreck deanery finances and we’d be down to 2.5 stipends to cover an area which covers a couple of hundred square miles, four towns and twenty-some villages. It’s hard enough as it is. No matter how much I rail against… Read more »

Cheryl
Cheryl
Reply to  David Rowett
20 days ago

I agree with David Rowett about who would suffer. But it would be really helpful to know what concerted action would have the best chance of success. Who should we write to? In what capacity? I am a retired priest and sometimes feel very bitter that my integrity is mixed up with this lot, however I have been a baptised Anglican since I was less than 6 weeks old and don’t want to leave the church, just get it to change (‘Good luck with that!’ I hear you all mutter).

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Cheryl
20 days ago

(‘Good luck with that!’ you hear us all mutter). Listen more carefully. (‘Success with that!’ you hear us all pray).

As the Orangemen say: remember 1690. Remember 1558.

As Elisha said: this time tomorrow two baskets of barley will be sold for one shekel.

Jessie Brown already hears the pipes of Lucknow.

Change comes far more swiftly and surely than anyone can dare to hope or expect.

For such a time as this.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
20 days ago

This tells us about the gentleman concerned.

https://southwark.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Hughes-1.pdf

If you look at his list of current duties and responsibilities at the bottom of the second page, one wonders whether he has sufficient time in his busy calendar, even being retired, to fulfill all of them with sufficient attention and diligence.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Simon Dawson
20 days ago

Simon thank-you for this.
I realise that I am slow on the uptake sometimes, but are we really expected to believe that a highly paid employee of the Church of England is managed by a volunteer, regardless of said volunteer’s impeccable old boy network?? – and if this is the case then the entire management structure of COfE is extremely limited and needs to be properly overhauled without further delay.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Simon Dawson
20 days ago

Thank you for this, Simon. I note in particular two matters from the document.
1. Mr Hughes is a resident (or was then) in Putney, which is represented by Fleur Anderson MP, who is a member of its Ecclesiastical Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/174/ecclesiastical-committee-joint-committee/membership/ 2. Maybe relevant to other discussions, Mr Hughes lists his participation in the work of the so-called Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

Aljbri
Aljbri
Reply to  God 'elp us all
20 days ago

Well, well. I find myself wondering what it is about some evangelicals and a reluctance to address scandalous behaviour by the well connected? Iwerne still running after decades, and now this. ‘All for Jesus’ I must suppose.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Simon Dawson
20 days ago

When John Spence was proposing Carl Hughes to GS as his own successor, he said that he was ‘frighteningly good’. In the light of both these gentlemen’s success at allegedly managing their underling, Mr Nye (no, I don’t believe it either), I’d have to concur that their performance is frightening but it is not remotely good. It’s time that the Archbishops took back control of their eponymous Council, and sent Mr Nye back to the job of taking notes, instead of letting him manage them as has been the case for far too long. The ABC has never shown the… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Malcolm Dixon
Francis James
Francis James
20 days ago

Note that from 2019 to 2022 Hughes was profitably in bed with En+, an energy group set up by Russian oligarch, and only resigned under media pressure well after Russia invaded Ukraine, as revealed by Private Eye. Clearly not a man with high moral standards, so ideal for his job.
As to the confusion over who manages Nye, given CofE institutional incompetence it seems entirely possible that nobody in Archbishops council really knows, and quite certain that nobody even attempts to manage him. 

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
20 days ago

The archbishops seem to have abnegated responsibility – yet again. We badly need some principled leaders.

David Smith
David Smith
20 days ago

It’s a lovely night. It’s not cold, Light up the other boilers and full steam ahead. And will somebody please tidy up the deck chairs, they’re making the ship look untidy . . . . .

The CofE lookouts are shouting loud and clear, but the leadership is deaf, or not listening, or both.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
20 days ago

Time for a diocese or two to model a better way. Pretty much every function of CofE life can be organised at a diocesan level. Perhaps then some of the roles at national level can be deflated.

Vasanthi Gnanadoss
Vasanthi Gnanadoss
20 days ago

Is this relevant to these discussions?

The Church of England
 
https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files… · DOC file ·Web view
NCI Service Complaints Policy – The Church of England
WebNCI Service Complaints Policy Institutions: & Service Complaints Policy and Procedure for the NCIs At the National Church Institutions (NCIs), we aim to provide a helpful, efficient.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
19 days ago

It’s not edifying to see the archbishops hiding behind their muscle men in the manner of East End gangsters. There is a smug mocking tone to their side of the correspondence. Mr Sewell’s tenacity will pay off in the end but sadly the establishment will fight them every step of the way.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fr Dean
19 days ago

They ought to know by now that the game is up. It would be better for them and for everyone if they stopped fighting it now, and gave in with as much grace as they can muster. But I suspect they won’t.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Janet Fife
18 days ago

In any normal organisation, corporate, public sector, or not-for-profit, the issues concerned would be resignation issues. But this is the Church of England. I have been following this with some interest and believe the way the ISB was dismantled was the most egregious and shameful act I have ever seen. The responsibility ultimately lies with the trustees, the members of the Archbishops’ Council (AC), but that body has never acted in the way of a normal charity. Its members don’t behave like, and think like, trustees. They therefore don’t hold the ‘executive’ to account, a core function of a trustee… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anthony Archer
18 days ago

Thank you for this. One of the reasons for the Turnbull commission (1995), and the ensuing report ‘Working as One Body’, was to cut through the thicket of consultative and deliberative committees, to eliminate overlapping jurisdictions, and to create a coherent form of government for the Church which would have a measure of accountability to Synod. This was in response to the ‘extreme disillusionment’ which had characterised the period between 1989-95, when Church finances appeared to be imperilled. Yet, after nearly 30 years, it seems that one cycle of disillusionment has been succeeded by another. Looking back at the reportage… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Froghole
17 days ago

Is a complaint to the Charity Commission about the disbandment of the ISB a possibility?

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Kate Keates
17 days ago

When the secretariat sent a highly sanitised critical incident notification about disbanding the ISB to the Charity Commission I seem to remember reading ( on this site somewhere) an equally anodyne response from the CC saying that it was all lovely and they would leave any investigations in the capable hands of Professor Jay- which instantly made me understand why she was being brought in. Isn’t it likely they would do nothing this side of Jay? And yet another Long Grass Committee seems to be waiting for her report…..I feel very sorry for Synod members if they feel protesting will… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
16 days ago

I’m signing off from TA for the time being. The Church of England is in considerable disarray, hopefully only for a season. I will observe from afar (especially during the forthcoming General Synod) but am committed on much else at present, which is the priority. I may have more to say about Horizon and Paula Vennells in due course. Those who know me might understand. As for LLF and other seismic issues, including Makin, I will wait until there are further developments.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Anthony Archer
16 days ago

I shall miss your posts, Anthony, as I have always found them to be insightful, moderate, and very well informed by your years in GS and CNC, and your network of contacts. Best wishes in your other endeavours. Hope to see you back before too long.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
16 days ago

I’ll miss them too- you are so well informed. Malcolm has summed it up very well- I too hope to hear from you again

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