Thinking Anglicans

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

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Kate Keates
Kate Keates
26 days ago

This wasn’t a mess of +Helen-Ann’s making, and yet she is the one to resign. Something feels wrong.

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

Unfortunately it seems to be part of the AC’s ‘management by hand grenade ‘ protocol which ensures they sabotage anything they would prefer not to happen while trying to avoid making it clear this is what they are doing. Though a number of conservatives are complaining about X Newcastle for not trying harder I think she did the right thing by withdrawing from what is so clearly a rigged process. It is worth reading this in tandem with the next item about the sacking of the members of the ISB. It is a shame the section on the BBC Sunday… Read more »

Matt
Matt
Reply to  Kate Keates
23 days ago

How is it a mess exactly? she has shown she cannot work with someone of a different viewpoint. Which shows she was unsuitable.

Graham Holmes
Graham Holmes
Reply to  Matt
23 days ago

It has been pointed out elsewhere that her letter clearly states that she has stepped down because of the PROCESS of that appointment. That the appointment PROCESS was clearly inappropriate is clearly echoed by the immediate statement from the remaining Co-Lead Bishop when he laid down 4 conditions necessary for him to remain in post, otherwise the appointment PROCESS would have caused the resignation of BOTH Co-Lead Bishops. There has also been speculation as to whether the inaccurate and unfounded criticism levelled at +Newcastle relates to her gender or her theological outlook or both, but Thinking Anglicans is not the… Read more »

David G
David G
26 days ago

The appointment represents another high-handed “we know best” approach from the Archbishops’ Council., who cannot conceal their contempt for process, General Synod, other Bishops, and the wider world. This is a repeated pattern of behaviour by Lambeth Palace and the Secretariat, who operate with no accountability, transparency, integrity or the slightest sense of liability. General Synod members are being mocked by those who sit at the podium in their whigs and gowns, flanking the Archbishops and the Council. It is a truly pathetic charade of democracy, and an utter waste of time, money and energy. With the CofE being run… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  David G
26 days ago

I agree. There is an increasing lack of moral fibre in high places (strange for a church). But “the pathetic charade of democracy” is not beyond salvation. A General Synod that was probably representative of the Church of England would wield power that the House of Bishops would find hard to resist. The Bishop of Newcastle has shown real steel. Candidates for the See of Canterbury (and a vacancy any time soon would be welcomed) are few and far between, but I have revised my list.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Anthony Archer
25 days ago

… properly representative …

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Anthony Archer
25 days ago

I completely agree, Anthony. Despite the valiant efforts of some notable exceptions in all three houses, its lack of effectiveness is pretty much guaranteed by two factors, in my view. First, there still remains a prevalence of the ambitious, establishment ‘great and good’, those who like the sound of their own voice even though they have little to say, and those concerned merely to advance the narrow interests of one party or another among the membership of the Houses of Clergy and Laity, and Archbishops’ ‘nodding dogs’ among the House of Bishops. This, coupled with a mode of meeting that… Read more »

Last edited 25 days ago by Realist
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anthony Archer
25 days ago

“But “the pathetic charade of democracy” is not beyond salvation.” Three simple reforms could end the charade. First, amalgamate the three houses and have a uniform franchise for a single house: one which is not based on a selectocracy (presently, a very grave flaw for the house of laity), but on genuine elections. Second, make Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and their respective agencies directly accountable to General Synod, which would have the power to direct that they do (or not do) things, and which can vote them out of office and appoint others in their stead. Third, give General… Read more »

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

Could you please clarify further your ideas for ‘genuine elections’ . For example who would be the electorate?

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

Is some of the confusion due to not having a theological account of the office of bishop that people actually understand and agree to? And that the bishops themselves understand? There is an ordinal, of course. It does stipulate the office of Bishop and its duties and responsibilities, before God and the Church. Instead there is this complex proliferation of structures, independent, overlapping, vying. Throw in the establishment reality and its challenges, and it looks a real stew made of meat, bolts, wire and string. So the question of functionality and viability is boiling over.

David Rees
David Rees
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

To Froghole and others in this ‘thread’. Helpful please to consider the following : a) Archbishops Council is a Charity No:1074857 b) Church of England Central Services is a Charity No:1155158 c) Church Commissioners for England is a Charity No:1140097 The Trustees are the people responsible for controlling the work, management and administration of these charities on behalf of its beneficiaries. 1)You ask a key questions – ‘how could you make these charities accountable to General Synod’ {most unlikely[?]- a better way is to find a way to appoint GS members onto the Boards of these Charites in-line with Charity… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

Many thanks to you all for your remarks. Unfortunately, the problem originated with parliament being a de facto general synod for the Church at a time when convocations were either suspended or had scant discretion. Many within the Church were anxious about a parliament with a large and hostile (Liberal) dissenting element having any say over the internal affairs of the Church. The objectives of the primary progenitors of General Synod (the 2nd earl of Selborne and Lord Hugh Cecil) was to give the Church control over its own affairs without compromising the establishment of the Church, and to give… Read more »

David Rees
David Rees
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

Could Froghole with his wisdom explain why it may not be possible for the 3 charities mentioned earlier in the ‘thread’ to have more ‘lay trustees’ on these Boards and what are the ‘barriers’ to making this happen?, If this is not at all possible where would you go to challenge it?, thank you.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Rees
25 days ago

Unfortunately, with respect to the Archbishops’ Council and Commissioners, this is governed by legislation: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/1998/1/schedule/1 and https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/Geo6/10-11/2/schedule/I, so it would require legislation to change the composition of both in order to increase the lay element (i.e., for it to be approved by both General Synod and Parliament). As to Church of England Central Services, the officials working in it are already, to a large extent, laypersons and have been so from the outset. In terms of your earlier points about safeguarding (for which I apologise for not responding to before now), so long as the Church remains ‘established’, I think… Read more »

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

Thanks for your reply. Currently of course deanery synod reps are elected by all those on the electoral roll at the APCM. Yet sadly few want to stand resulting in the same people remaining reps for many years. Often many on the electoral roll do not attend and so do not vote. Also the number of deanery synod reps allocated to each church does not fairly reflect the number of people on a church’s electoral roll. In my diocese the number is capped at three regardless of the number on the roll. I agree there needs to be change.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Bob
25 days ago

Yes, indeed. However, I think that one of the main reasons why there is such a lack of interest in deanery synods is that they have scant control over anything substantive. Moreover, General Synod itself has little control save by way of intermittent exception: it has influence but relatively little in the way of substantive power. Specifically, it does not control the bureaucracy because it has no rights over supply. Here we come back to one of the conventional explanations for why it is that relatively few people vote in local elections, for example. Those who fail to vote know… Read more »

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

Thank you for your wisdom. Having served on Deanery Synod I can echo your comments. It seemed to serve little purpose apart from electing General Synod members.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Froghole
25 days ago

This movement out of Parliament–for obvious reasons as you indicate; loss of interest in Christianity or indifference to the role–has created a curious amalgam of relationships, structurally. Add X, balance with Y, offset by Z. ‘Dictatorship’ of the episcopal sounds a little arch. Need it be that? Perhaps an episcopate that understands its role — would that not be simpler post-establishment? One begins to wonder if just adding things in order to keep all previous arrangements in some form, makes those prior forms otiose anyway.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anglican Priest
25 days ago

Many thanks, as ever (and thanks also to Bob). “One begins to wonder if just adding things in order to keep all previous arrangements in some form, makes those prior forms otiose anyway.” Yes, indeed: this is the British (perhaps rather English) habit, which prevailed at least until recently, to change the substance whilst preserving the outward form and appearance. By preserving the outward and visible, the essence can be transformed all the more conveniently. Yes, the reference to ‘dictatorship’ was somewhat arch, and apologies for that. It should be noted that until relatively recently the English episcopate was often… Read more »

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Froghole
24 days ago

I think it’s worth thinking about this managerialism though. Because one could imagine a boringly efficient bishop who runs their diocese competently and enables the parishes there to do what they do. Such would be managerial. I think the issue is that this is the taught management style of an MBA, which is to say, the capitalist logic of running a business as profitably as possible. Not only is this not a particularly Christian approach, but it’s also not a very effective one. Sure, in business one can always squeeze one’s staff to get a couple more quid in the… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  David G
25 days ago

From the statement on the Faith and Order Commission page of the C of E website, the appointment of Dr Tom Woolford as Interim Theology Adviser appears to have been a personal appointment by the Chair of the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) by its chairman, the Rt Revd Robert Innes, not the Archbishops’ Council. That said, serious questions (such as I have posted in a comment on a related thread) need to be asked about the appointment process, and I hope will be asked by members of General Synod ahead of the meeting of GS later this month. [Note:… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  David Lamming
24 days ago

So … this time, 5 Feb (it’s hard, and time-consuming, to ‘keep up with developments’) yet another appointment process (of discernment?)- this time it is announced that the archbishops have decided – by some opaque process – on the appointment of a second (ie additional) Interim Advisor on Theology. Perhaps they were distracted by the news of the health of the Supreme Governor (the earthly one) and what it might mean for the church and its people? Or fending off the assault by apparently ‘malign actors’ on free access to Baptism? General Synod- what effect does that have on anything-… Read more »

Matt
Matt
Reply to  David G
23 days ago

Although I am conservative, I am inclined to agree with you. Which is why after almost 25 years of ministry, I shall be telling my wardens today I shall be leaving the CofE. I don’t want to spend the remainder of my ministry and life in this organisation. It is no longer Christian. Another illustration is our Area Bishop who when he came in wrote an impressive letter saying he would visit all clergy families at home. No-one I know in the area has been visited. Same old, same old. Just as useless as the former Bishop.

David G
David G
25 days ago

Excellent article from Helen King? What exactly did Nye bring to this charade of a process? More of his corruption, conflicts of interest, cover ups, misconduct and incompetence is the answer. William Nye’s theological qualifications in this field are zero, and he had no business to be there other than to fix the process. That, he did. He’s bringing the CofE into serious disrepute. Any sign of some moral leadership or courage from the Archbishops’ Council? None.

David Lamming
David Lamming
25 days ago

According to the report in the Church Times, Dr Woolford has confirmed that “on taking up his new post, he had resigned his [General] Synod membership, and would not be at this month’s group of sessions.” Regardless of the merits of his appointment as Interim Theology Adviser, Dr Woolford’s resignation will be a loss to the Synod. His speech in July 2023, proposing a Blackburn diocesan synod motion calling for the abolition (or, at least, significant reduction) of wedding fees, was powerful—and particularly memorable for his concluding peroration: “So, catholics, please vote for this motion on sacramental grounds, as it… Read more »

Andrew Dawswell
Andrew Dawswell
25 days ago

Helen King refers to a clause in the job description for the theological advisor: ‘The post-holder will need to be able to contribute significantly to theological and pastoral work on LLF and will need to command the respect of the very wide diversity of stakeholders with an interest in this matter. The post-holder will form part of the core team working on LLF, working closely with +Helen-Ann Hartley and +Martyn Snow as the episcopal leads on LLF.’ She also writes that the job description was found by Simon Sarmiento- so thank you for your work on that. Helen implies that… Read more »

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
25 days ago

I see the second interim theological advisor requested by +Leicester as a condition of his continuing as LLF bishop has now been appointed. To the surprise of no one, it is someone from the liberal wing of the Church’s life. The first appointment was, according to the FAOC website, the result of an open and competitive process. We know the post was advertised, candidates interviewed and the successful candidate duly appointed with the whole thing presumably run by the Church House HR Department who can answer for the fact that it was properly conducted. However both +Newcastle and +Leicester found… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Jane Charman
24 days ago

Jane. I always read you with care. But on this I continue to struggle. Firstly, is it really so clear how transparent the appointment process actually was? Others are far less sure. ‘Presumably’ is to take on trust. Secondly, the job spec clearly said ‘The post-holder will need to be able to contribute significantly to theological and pastoral work on LLF and will need to command the respect of the very wide diversity of stakeholders with an interest in this matter. The post-holder will form part of the core team working on LLF, working closely with +Helen-Ann Hartley and +Martyn… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Runcorn
24 days ago

David, Jane Charman has covered your point in a previous comment.

People – including those at very senior levels – are not consulted on decisions all the time. Sometimes they clearly should have been consulted.

People at the top of hospitals or schools or companies just grit their teeth and get on with the job when it happens

You seem to be applying episcopal exceptionalism here. Bishops should display the same resilience as the rest of us

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Peter
24 days ago

‘they clearly should have been consulted’ – that is exactly what I am saying.

Michael M.
Michael M.
Reply to  Peter
22 days ago

“The job” is above all not what Froghole and Scripture proposes for them; “the job” is to move things and change things for unstated purposes and in unstated ways. Who knows – religion might have an effect on people we don’t even know about (the comparison with hospitals and schools is a bit near the bone these days). Not only “Archbishop Nye’s” own history but the structures he wields spoke for themselves, as David G and numerous others have constantly pointed out for some years now. That apart, Jane’s and Peter’s points are very correct. May I suggest a large… Read more »

Aljbri
Aljbri
Reply to  Peter
21 days ago

Peter, because my views differ from yours I always read your posts with care. I’ve been pondering this one. ‘Taking the rough with the smooth’, no need to ‘strain at gnats’ and so on are useful prompts for coping with much of the jostle of life. But LLF is clearly very important to many on both sides of the argument and I think that calls for care in making sure process is transparently fair. If process looks shaky, people with emotion invested in the subject will see skulduggery and the temperature rises, as posts on this thread show. That is… Read more »

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
Reply to  David Runcorn
24 days ago

Thank you, David. I always read you with care too. I think many of us are now looking to GenSyn Question Time to produce a definitive version of the facts. Meanwhile, if, as I suppose, Church House HR oversaw the making of this appointment they should be able give an assurance that all steps were properly followed. The second thing to establish is how the LLF bishops were or were not involved. I don’t myself agree that they should have been on the panel. Sometimes it’s better not to have people who are too personally invested on a panel. They… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Jane Charman
24 days ago

The identity of an appointments panel is crucial to any process; were it not, the appointment could be made by monkeys, by drawing lots, or ChatGPT. Talking of AI, in this case it would have done a better job. We know that the process lacked integrity for reasons of the composition of the panel. Whether +Newcastle and +Leicester were intentionally excluded we don’t know. Questions at Synod might shine some more light on this core aspect, although I am not holding my breath, and like Jane Charman now am no longer a member. Less spoken about is the politics of… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Anthony Archer
24 days ago

There is additionally the issue of where the initial advert for the post was sent. The C of E is becoming very adept at getting round the requirement to advertise posts by selecting very carefully where those adverts appear. I come across it all the time in appointments within Dioceses, usually referred to by such opaque titles as ‘preferred candidate’ process. I forget who asked what the ‘priest theologian’ network is. I suspect it is what used to be known as the ‘young priest theologian’ network, which for a while was overseen by Bishop John Inge. I understand the word… Read more »

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Realist
24 days ago

Thank you, Realist. I asked the question about the ‘Network’. So is it for those who have reached the age of 40 and are thus no longer eligible for the ‘Young’ Priest Theologian Network (of which I *had* heard, hence knowing that there is an age limit)? I agree, an open advert would have been a better way to go.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Helen King
24 days ago

I’m afraid I don’t know, Helen. At the time it was mooted, that was the proposal as the age of the ‘youngsters’ rose and rose(!) But as in so many things involving the C of E, I fell by the wayside as the years passed!

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Anthony Archer
24 days ago

Dear Anthony,

Do we know who was on the panel? Was there a panel?

“LLF has the most clear direction of travel.” Is this you saying that you would have been happy if the appointee was supportive of the “direction of travel”?

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Paul
23 days ago

Simply a fact that needs to be recognised.

Peter
Peter
25 days ago

Jane Charman’s comment below is a clear rebuttal of Helen King’s attempt in her article of 5th February to claim the debacle over Woolford is not about theology.

It is all about theology. My understanding is that Charman actually shares King’s basic view of the theology.

It is to Charman’s very considerable credit that she is not interested in dissembling just get a tactical edge.

She can smell a rat and knows we all need it recognised as such.

Last edited 25 days ago by Peter
Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Peter
24 days ago

Another personal attack from you, Peter. I am not ‘dissembling’. I can smell several rats but I don’t agree with Jane as to their identity.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Helen King
24 days ago

I have never made any personal attacks on you.

You are taking matters too personally.

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Peter
23 days ago

I have read your post more than once. It is perfectly clear to me that you imply that Helen King was dissembling to make a point. Your second post compounds matters by being condescending and patronizing. These interventions do not really move the discussion along. I might add that I do not know her and I have had no contact with her other than to read her posts.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
23 days ago

Honestly, can you not see the contradiction in your own words !

You are yourself making a highly personalised comment about me !

For the record, I make no objection. When serious matters are at stake, we cannot be thinking about our own delicate sensibilities all the time.

However, please do not scold me for something you claim I am doing and then do the very same yourself

Last edited 23 days ago by Peter
Michael M.
Michael M.
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
22 days ago

My initial reading was simply that Jane wasn’t dissembling from any motive and that this helped us see how she and Helen agreed (as I thought also); but I’m prepared to defer to Daniel who has read more of Helen’s and Peter’s contributions. I agree absolutely that this is all about the theology. But the whole theology. Since we all had to go “evangelical” or else (in the C of E and denominations that look to it), any belief in Holy Spirit (until then part of Scripture) has been doctrinally outlawed, so that in church administrative matters (which unites process… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Michael M.
22 days ago

My point could not possibly have been any clearer.

I was commending Jane for her integrity. Read the comment. It’s there in black and white.

The dust kicked up around my comment has been intended to direct attention elsewhere.

Last edited 22 days ago by Peter
Jane Charman
Jane Charman
Reply to  Peter
24 days ago

Thank you, Peter. You are correct. I don’t agree with Tom Woolford’s theology, in fact I directly disagree with nearly all of it. But I like to see fair play. Fight a clean battle, brothers and sisters, and have nothing to reproach yourselves with.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
24 days ago

There is one thing I didn’t get but which has escaped comment so far. Supposedly there wasn’t time to run a process to appoint someone permanently but people are ‘presuming’ that the temporary post was properly advertised and candidates interviewed. Either that didn’t, in fact, happen or there is something odd going on.

Is it possible that someone feared the interim appointment could be controversial and wanted to fly the kite claiming “it’s only temporary” if there was an outcry? Or is there some innocent explanation?

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Kate Keates
24 days ago

No, I think they have a (permanent) candidate, but s/he cannot start until the autumn. It was therefore decided to fill the post on an interim basis. At least that part of the process is intelligible.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Anthony Archer
24 days ago

So, is it therefore also possible that +Helen-Ann thought the process by which the permanent candidate was appointed was flawed?

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Anthony Archer
24 days ago

PS are you sure? Helen King has just said (quoted in the update above):

“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”

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Kate Keates
24 days ago

Well, I thought I saw somewhere that +Europe said the permanent appointment had been made, with the inference that the successful candidate could not start (nor be revealed) before September, but that might be wrong. You would have thought that the process was capable of identifying (and appointing) a permanent candidate at this stage, regardless of when s/he could start. But given the lamentable process (I have spent the last 30 years advising on these things – including on the CNC!) anything is possible.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Anthony Archer
24 days ago

One thing is certain. The process is totally opaque. For a senior and highly influential role that’s wrong in my opinion, but transparency doesn’t seem much valued by the CofE establishment.

Jonathan Chaplin
Jonathan Chaplin
Reply to  Kate Keates
23 days ago

This is true. I’ve heard an insider confirm this.

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