Thinking Anglicans

House of Bishops – 9-11 May 2022

Update There was an earlier press release More clergy from UK Minority Ethnic backgrounds join House of Bishops.

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops – 9-11 May 2022 inclusive
12/05/2022

The House of Bishops held its first residential meeting in 2022, in York over three days. Joining the meeting for the first time were four participant observers of UK Minority Ethnic/ Global Majority Heritage (UKME/GMH) background who were formally welcomed by the House.

As the first substantive item, the House turned its attention to Governance reform. The House noted the update from the National Church Governance Project Board and the Board’s plan to establish the Episcopal Reference Group which will help shape how bishops and the Church of England National Services (CENS) will work together within the new governance model.

The House was then given an update on Racial Justice by the Archbishops’ Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns with the House taking note of progress made to date.

The House was then informed of agreed spending plans on behalf the Triennium Funding Working Group which outlined details and spending plans that will be made public. Plans include a significant increase in funding for the next three years to support God’s mission and ministry across the country, supporting local parishes and growing many more new worshipping communities to serve the whole nation. The Church Commissioners for England intend to distribute £1.2 billion between 2023 and 2025, up 30% from £930 million in the current three-year period, and plan to maintain this level of funding in the subsequent six years.

The House was then given an update on the work of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) by its Chair. The Chair discussed the Board’s focus as it moves from phase one to phase two of its work and looked ahead to presenting at July Synod.

The House was then addressed by the Interim National Director of Safeguarding with an update on the work of the National Safeguarding Team including work to date on the Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2) which also included an update from the Chair of PCR2 Board.

The following day the House was addressed by the Bishop of London in her capacity as the Chair of the Next Steps Group of Living in Love and Faith (LLF). The House discussed the future discernment process of LLF and was joined by the Enabling Officer of LLF. In subsequent group work, the House detailed its aspirations for the discernment process as it relates to future engagement at the College of Bishops in the Autumn and July General Synod.

The Bishop of Kensington then updated the House on plans for the Centre of Cultural Witness, a new initiative launching in the Autumn to strengthen the Church’s public witness. The House took note and shared views on the development and scope of the Centre and ways in which Bishops and other prominent Christians can work towards the development of a distinctively public and Christian voice.

An update was then given on appointments to the Sees of Maidstone and Ebbsfleet which were both noted by the House.

The House was then addressed by the Vice Chair of the Clergy Conduct Measure Implementation Group who set out the final revised proposals for approval. The proposals were approved by the House, with a view that the reforms will establish a proportionate, efficient, and fairer system than the existing system

The House then turned its attention to developing the priority of a younger church, as part of the Vision and Strategy work stream. The House was addressed by the co-head of Vision and Strategy and the Head of Education , with later group and plenary work that focussed on the best ways to ensure the voices of children and young people are heard at both the national and diocesan level.

The House then looked at the future of education – particularly in the context of recent government white papers concerning a proposal that all schools have joined an academy trust by 2030. A series of proposals were approved by the House aimed at allowing dioceses and the whole church to engage in positive and proactive moves to secure the Christian character of Church of England schools and work towards full academisation.

On the final day the House was updated on recent progress towards Net Zero Carbon, including the findings of the Wayfinders Progress. The House endorsed both the Net Zero Carbon planning principles and diocesan milestones and agreed to annual reporting on carbon emissions and the Route map to Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

The House then heard how the Cathedrals Measure 2021 is being implemented by the Church Commissioners and noted the role of diocesan bishops. The House agreed to consider the proposed draft Church Commissioners guidance on cathedral visitations and provide input as part of the consultation.

As a penultimate item the Ministry team at Church House provided an update on theological education and resourcing for Ministerial Formation. The House endorsed their continuing work and the general direction of travel.

As a final item the House took note of reflections from UKME / GMH participants on the meeting, followed by general reflections from the House.

The meeting ended in prayer.

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Susannah Clark
16 days ago

“The following day the House was addressed by the Bishop of London in her capacity as the Chair of the Next Steps Group of Living in Love and Faith (LLF). The House discussed the future discernment process of LLF and was joined by the Enabling Officer of LLF. In subsequent group work, the House detailed its aspirations for the discernment process as it relates to future engagement at the College of Bishops in the Autumn and July General Synod.” What ARE its aspirations for the discernment process? I’m glad they were detailed, but it would be instructive to know what… Read more »

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Susannah Clark
15 days ago

I have never seen anything substantial in the reports from these meetings. Why don’t they just publish the agenda and leave it at that – it would serve the same purpose. Probably these meetings are for the Bishops to be informed of the party line and told to stick to it. Not that there is much that could be done if they didn’t but few have the bravery to have and share their own opinion in a public domain.

Shamus
Shamus
16 days ago

Do acronyms and multifarious “impressive” sounding groups/strategies eat real action/change for breakfast?

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
15 days ago

At long last, the House of Bishops is starting to agonise over Living in Love and Faith, but don’t expect any material developments at the July 2022 General Synod. The whole strategy has been to get beyond the Lambeth Conference without frightening the horses, made more difficult by the twice postponed date, as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most bishops know exactly what needs to be done, and need to ‘come out’ and say so. The Church of England needs to decide what is right for it, and not use the views of the Anglican Communion as a proxy… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Anthony Archer
15 days ago

I agree with your analysis. I’ve been exchanging correspondence with the bishops for the past four years. Over 50 have interacted, which I respect. Even this week one wrote: “A ‘Unity in diversity’ approach is the one I try to take.” Of course individual bishops cannot be named. 17 bishops have written to me over the past three weeks. As you say, most bishops recognise action needs to be taken, and not only endless words. I do agree that actual action has been avoided for fear of de-railing the much-delayed Lambeth Conference. In the end, given that the present 5-year… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Susannah Clark
15 days ago

Susannah, you refer to gay and lesbian marriage. Under English law there is actually no such thing as gay or lesbian marriage. There is opposite-sex marriage which may be annulled if copulation does not happen. Then there is same-sex marriage, in which there is actually no equivalent to copulation. and no legal requirement for gay or lesbian sex. Those who oppose gay or lesbian sex have no reason to block same-sex marriage. I feel very few people understand that. Secondly, you refer to the great central community in parish life who are not extremists. It seems to me that your… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  T Pott
13 days ago

Very well expressed

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Anthony Archer
15 days ago

Unity in Diversity, of course, is the general direction that’s being taken by the Anglicans in Scotland and Wales. It is rooted in respect for conscience. I believe it is the only way the present logjam will be broken, and bishops seriously reflect on this approach. Another bishop: “Your reflections about Unity in Diversity almost exactly mirror my own.” It obviously is not a direction that will please the most socially conservative people in the Church of England, some of whom may threaten to leave (which would sadden me). However, I do not think people should impose their own view… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
13 days ago

How will you keep people safe? Without a plan to do that, the unity in diversity approach is just saving up for the next safeguarding scandal.

The only way we keep people safe (which is vastly more important than any right to marry) is by making universal provision to embrace and welcome same sex relationships.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Kate
13 days ago

As a significant number in the Church of England conscientiously believe that gay sex is wrong (and I believe that’s a rational view though I disagree with it), you seem to be effectively seeking the State to rule on what views may or may not be expressed in sermons etc. Presumably churches that teach in sermons that the Bible says gay sex is wrong… would be outlawed, and the priests thrown out? I absolutely agree that it can harm young people to hear teaching like that, but I also believe in people’s right to have different conscientious views within the… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Kate
13 days ago

Just to be clear, then, your position is that only people who agree with you on this subject are to be tolerated in the church? Disagreement with you is actively dangerous to the safety and wellbeing of other Christians?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
12 days ago

That’s a really disingenuous way of phrasing it. Telling children and young people (and older people as well for that matter, but they’re more likely to have the perspective to be able to tell homophobes where to shove it) that they’re broken and wrong because of who they love is dangerous to them to the point of being fatal. The issue is not disagreement, it’s the subject of the disagreement. If a church leader were teaching a divinely ordained duty to stone women who don’t cover their heads in church it wouldn’t be disagreeing with me that was the crux… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

I did not intend to be disingenuous. Let me rephrase it. You are claiming that a certain position, which happens to be one you don’t agree with is harmful. But the position you cite as the one you disagree with is a strawman. Firstly, we know that we are all broken and wrong. Our human nature is shot through with sin, and we are constantly choosing to do the wrong thing. Secondly, we know that the death and resurrection of Christ has enabled us to have the relationship with God that He desires for us, even though by our own… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Anthony Archer
15 days ago

I’m not going to hold my breath Anthony. The bishops are in thrall to the ConEvo constituency.

Father Ron Smith
15 days ago

Anglican Bishops can be a source of either indignation or grudging admiration for many in the Church – both lay and ordained. However, in the Anglican Church of Australia – at this very moment – a particular drama is being played out between the House of Bishops (which voted AGAINST a controversial doctrinal statement about marriage presented by the conservatives of the Sydney Diocese (aligned with GAFCON) – and the House of Clergy and the House of Laity at the General Synod, which voted FOR the Statement. One factor which must affect the votes in both the Clergy and Laity… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Father Ron Smith
John Sandeman
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
15 days ago

In Australia diocesan Bishops only (together with the National Aboriginal Bishop) make up the house of bishops. This means that there is only one woman bishop in the house, Kaye Goldsworthy, archbishop of Perth. However, the Australian synod has an increasing female membership – this week’s meeting was 33 per cent female. Another change to note is the domination of conservative members, who now dominate all key committees apart from the House of Bishops and the Appellate tribunal. Progressive writer Muriel Porter wrote in The Guardian that the national apparatus of the Anglican Church in Australia is now dominated by… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  John Sandeman
14 days ago

John Sandeman said: “ Having spent the week reporting the General Synod the headline might be “The slow conservative takeover of the Anglican Church advanced at General Synod”. I beg to disagree, John. What actually happened was the fact that, because of Sydney’s size, self-publicity of its conservative anti-gay politics, and its use of a substantial monetary inheritance towards the influencing of other dioceses; it had amassed a formidable opposition to the more eirenic, inclusiveness of other dioceses, some of whose bishops, however, refuse to go along with the bullying tactics of the Sydney/Tasmanian conglomerate tied to the GAFCON schismatic entity… Read more »

Kate
Kate
15 days ago

Is the ‘inclusive’ they put in the title ironic? Or are they genuinely so out-of-touch that they use the word despite the lack of openly LGB and trans bishops despite the obvious offence that causes?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
15 days ago

Surely ‘participant observers’ is an oxymoron.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
15 days ago

Re the last line of your HoB report, “The meeting ended in prayer”, what a great title for a tragi-comedy stage play, one perhaps including a measure of sexual farce. The word over here is that if all the same sex partnered clergy couples were removed from C of E dioceses, some of said dioceses would collapse. Could this be true? I’m wondering if instead of playing the talk fest game, what would happen if C of E clergy in sufficient numbers simply began marrying same sex couples? Perhaps some good old fashion activism of a sufficient critical mass would… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rod Gillis
11 days ago

“people can only have as much authority over you as you allow them to have.”
 
That is starting to play out in practice. At the moment it isn’t outright disobedience but the days of automatic deference to the episcopate are over. I am avoiding commenting on the rights and wrongs of the Martyn Percy saga, but it is obvious that he now is going to be even more outspoken about the problems as he sees them. Others will follow in his footsteps.

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