Thinking Anglicans

House of Bishops Meeting 9 February 2021

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops Meeting, 9th February 2021
09/02/2021

The February meeting of the House of Bishops was held on Tuesday 9 February via Zoom.

The meeting was an opportunity for the House to engage with key aspects of the Emerging Church workstreams, specifically the work of the subgroups focussed on themes of Younger & More Diverse and Mixed Ecology.

Amongst the first items was the Bishop of London in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group, who updated the House on the latest information available on the lockdown, Covid-19 and the ongoing work of the Recovery group.

This was followed by the Bishop of Manchester as Chair of the Coordinating Group of the Emerging Church of England workstreams. His address outlined feedback received from regional discussion held last month as well as an update on the future operation of the Coordinating Group.

The Archbishop of York then addressed the House in his capacity as head of the Vision and Strategy workstream. In his address, the Archbishop drew on feedback from Regional Bishops’ groups on Vision & Strategy and spoke about the integration of the Vision & Strategy work with the Five Marks of Mission and Missionary Disciples; the House took note of the work so far.

The Bishop of Durham and the Diocesan Secretary of Sheffield then addressed the House as Co-Chairs for the working group – Younger and more Diverse, setting out the issues, barriers and opportunities to creating a younger and more diverse church. In discussion groups, bishops discussed the proposed approach, aiming to direct feedback into further work of the Vision and Strategy Group.

A similar process was followed with the Bishop of Dunwich speaking to the House as co-chair of the Mixed Ecology the Norm, a subgroup of the Vison and Strategy workstream.

The interim Director of Safeguarding then addressed the House, with the House noting progress towards phase 1 of establishing an independent oversight structure for national safeguarding.

The Lay Ministry Advisory Group (a sub-group of Ministry Council) then addressed the House on its future work as it seeks to support diocesan strategies and implement a vision for the ministry of the whole people of God. Presented by the Bishop of Leicester, the House was asked a range of questions on how the Lay Ministry Advisory Group and Ministry Council can best support diocesan strategies for ministry. The House noted the points raised.

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David Lamming
David Lamming
2 months ago

Another anodyne press release that, while containing a little more detail than the briefest of communiques that used to be issued a couple of years ago, consists of little more than headlines with no detail. The word ‘workstream’ or ‘workstreams’ appears 4 times and ‘group’/’subgroup’/’co-ordinating group’ (or groups) 13 times, but ‘God’ and ‘parish’ not at all. To take one example, what were the “issues, barriers and opportunities to creating a younger and more diverse church” that the Younger and more Diverse working group identified, and what was the “proposed approach” that the bishops discussed? None of the topics discussed… Read more »

Alison Menage
Alison Menage
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Well said David Lamming! In a nutshell!

Helen King
Helen King
2 months ago

Stunning lack of information. Possibly even better than their last effort to tell us absolutely nothing. What is the point of these press releases? In what way do they go beyond “The House of Bishops met”?

Last edited 2 months ago by Helen King
Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
2 months ago

Diverse and younger? Well younger people will expect diversity as a given. From primary school onwards they will have been schooled in those principles, so what will they make of the CofE and its silly nonsense about sexuality? It’ll take a lot more than the pictures of clergy with tattoos and body piercings in a vocations leaflet I saw recently to impress the youth.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
2 months ago

The Bishop of Durham has strong links with the Scripture Union, renowned for its summer camps and beach missions. Who needs body piercings when young people can have bible stories and ice cream? There are exciting times ahead.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
2 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Fun times ahead on the beach in Hartlepool! The bishop there with his cool shades, a Panama hat and a short sleeved purple shirt languidly licking a 99 as his fresh expressions officers and diversity interim pioneer ministry growth officers make sand sculptures of the scene at Calvary. Obviously the bishop couldn’t wear a crop top but the bright young clergy of the Durham diocese could do so and show off their belly button piercings and a hint of green ink. Or alternatively the church could engage with Sir David Attenborough and install ground source and air source heat pumps… Read more »

Kate
Kate
2 months ago

I echo everything people are saying about management-speak and vacuity but there is one potential point of substance. We were told in December that independent safeguarding oversight would be in place by February Synod. The description of progress rather than a firm proposal for the bishops to affirm, suggests that timetable will not be met.

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
2 months ago
Reply to  Kate

We’re moving as fast as we can on this. What takes time is doing what we always should be doing in this context – namely, getting sign-off from survivors that they are content with the proposed model. There is no desire to delay on this, but we need to get it right with survivors.

Kate
Kate
2 months ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

Thanks Pete.
 
It would have been better for the House to say that expressly in the press release. A good writer can easily draft a press release of that type live during the proceedings so that the House in the final agenda item could review and approve the draft or request changes.

Tom James
Tom James
2 months ago

Is this little more than a long-winded and obfuscating attempt to tell us that those entrusted with leadership in the Church of England are performing a certain bodily function in a force 10 gale?

They might have a bit more credibility if they were at least seen to be expressing support and concern for the thousands of parish clergy who are wiped-out, washed-out and wrung-out – not least by the ‘mixed economy’ narrative that says they’re yesterday’s people.

Is it me, or did I miss any acknowledgement of the 15% decline in attendance since the publication of ‘Mission-Shaped Church’?

Alison Menage
Alison Menage
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom James

Well said Tom James!!

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
2 months ago

With respect – what do a group of people from a certain age, background and colour actually know about the young people of today? How many do they actually know from across the broad spectrum of the country with their varied beliefs, expectations, issues and joys? The vacuous report of a vacuous meeting reveals like talking to like, ignoring everyone by keeping information tight and basically being irrelevant and appearing remote and not a little bizarre given the situation most people are now in – jobless, frightened, tired and not knowing what their future holds. If this is the best… Read more »

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'
2 months ago

Marise, in describing the current plight of many do you not also identify the predicament of the House of Bishops precisely? They may have jobs (for the moment) but other that do they not also appear ‘frightened, tired and not knowing what their future holds?’ I would far rather hear from them some honest assessment of their/our predicament. It might be hard to for them to admit, but I would find it far more reassuring than all this ‘it’s only a flesh wound’ nonsense…

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
2 months ago

I think you have missed the reference to ‘the work of subgroups’. There is extensive work going on at ground level precisely by those who do know and this is now informing national church leadership and its strategies for engaging with younger generations. That seems a completely sensible, relevant and urgent strategy to me.

Kate
Kate
2 months ago
Reply to  David Runcorn

David, that’s a valid point but we both know that, whenever possible, sub-groups have a very strong tendency to produce reports and recommendations palatable to decision makers. Marise’s point is well-made. The FIRST step in broadening the appeal of the Church is to broaden the diversity of the House, especially at Diocesan level. Any good management consultant will tell you that the culture of an organisation inevitably strongly reflects the composition and attitudes of leadership, not least because those aspiring to leadership mould their own attitudes and approaches to those of leadership in the hope of advancement so everything cascades… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Kate
David Runcorn
David Runcorn
2 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate     ‘we both know that, whenever possible, sub-groups have a very strong tendency to produce reports and recommendations palatable to decision makers’. You are claiming this. I do not. Do you have actual evidence to support this claim? To presume my agreement is unfortunate assumption because creating, contributing to and implementing the work of sub-groups/working parties has been a significant part of my own ministry over the years. So it is hard not to hear this as your judgment on my own vocational and professional integrity. This is the way organisations move between vision, policy and effective implementation/change. If it is… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
2 months ago
Reply to  David Runcorn

David, do you know of a report on mission headed up by Stephen Cottrell?

Alison Menage
Alison Menage
2 months ago

Well said Marie!!

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
2 months ago

I’m picturing an account (whether ‘draft Minutes’ or ‘PR’ report) by Jackie Weaver: House of Leaders Meeting, any time, anywhere The meeting was an opportunity. Among the first items in terms of time and importance was a helpful and friendly discussion about ‘who’s in charge?’. A number of items suggested for discussion were ruled out of order as they had not been notified to whoever it was thought of as ‘the Chair’ at least 24 hours ahead of time. These items may or may not be scheduled for a subsequent meeting and include but may not be limited to such… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
2 months ago

I’ve heard that there’s a report on mission has recently been issued, headed up by the Archbishop of York. Does anyone know more about this? Can you point. me to a link?

Tim Chesterton
2 months ago

I feel for your bishops in the Church of England. Ours in the Anglican Church of Canada are a lot less visible and so a lot less liable to the sort of online vitriol that seems to be de rigueur at TA and other websites. I suspect bishops aren’t that much different from me and the other clergy I know – exhausted, lonely, trying to meet impossibly conflicting sets of demands from people with incompatible expectations of church, struggling to master technology none of us has been trained in, trying to carry on the community life of the church when… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Tim Chesterton
Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

‘Vitriol’ ?? I don’t follow every post, but I think most of us are just trying to hold the bishops to account and are exasperated in doing so. There is some gentle humour too, thank goodness; but these men and women have been called to, and accepted high office in the church, and they should be open to criticism and question. All of the statistics (in England) show that their leadership is failing the church.

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