Thinking Anglicans

Meeting of the House of Bishops, 19 & 20 October 2021

Press release from the Church of England

Meeting of the House of Bishops, 19 & 20 October 2021
20/10/2021

The first in-person meeting of the House of Bishops since March 2020 was held over a two-day period (October 19 & 20) in York.

The Bishop of Manchester opened the meeting following opening prayers.

Two safeguarding items were presented for consideration and discussion.

The first item updated the House regarding changes in safeguarding governance, with the creation of the Independent Safeguarding Board and the recent appointment of the Board’s Chair and a Survivor Advocate. The House noted the progress made to date.

The second item concerned House of Bishops Safeguarding Guidance on Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults that has been revised and presented to the House for approval.

The House heard introductory remarks by the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop, and a presentation on Spiritual Abuse from Dr Lisa Oakley who previously led the Spiritual Abuse Task and Finish Group. This was followed by discussion.

The House noted its thanks to the National Safeguarding Steering Group and the National Safeguarding Team for their work and affirmed the need for clear guidance on spiritual abuse. It was agreed that the paper should come back to the House in December with the NSSG further addressing points raised and bringing a full implementation plan.

The Bishop of Birmingham then took the Chair for the remainder of the first day.

The Bishop of Lichfield gave an update on behalf of the working group concerning Holy Communion and the Reception of the Elements. The House agreed that there should be further discussion of this issue, while confirming that it did not wish to propose a change to canon law in this area.

The following morning (Wednesday 20 October) the Bishop of Blackburn was in the Chair as the meeting began with a discussion on governance matters.

The Bishop to the Archbishops gave an update on the consultation process arising from the document ‘Bishops and their Ministry: fit for a new context” which sets out plans for consultations on culture and structures for bishops and their ministries. The House noted the progress in plans for further consultation.

The Bishop of Leeds then spoke to the Governance Review Group Report which was published last month and generally well received. The House agreed to strongly support the report and its introduction to the General Synod.

The House then turned its attention to the Mission and Pastoral Measure Review Consultation Exercise and was addressed by the Head of Pastoral and Closed Churches. The Mission and Pastoral measure seeks to simplify some of the current complex legislation on pastoral reorganisation. The House endorsed the proposals for the review of the Measure and encouraged the Church Commissioners to sponsor legislation through the Synod.

The Bishop of London, accompanied by the Chief Enabling Officer of Living in Love and Faith (LLF), then introduced group conversations in relation to the work of LLF. The aim was to strengthen relationships and provide a strong foundation in the House when bishops are later called upon to discern together a way forward for the Church in relation to questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

The House then considered a paper from the Episcopal Refence Group of the Faith and Order Commission on the implications for Local Ecumenical Partnerships of decisions on marriage by other denominations. The House agreed to further work to be done on this.

The Bishop of Guildford then took the Chair and invited the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich to speak to the paper on Resourcing Ministerial Formation in his capacity as Chair of the Ministry Council. The House agreed to endorse the approach as set out in the paper.

The meeting closed in prayer.

(The meeting was held at a hotel in York given that social distancing and health and safety requirements meant that it was not feasible for the meeting to take place at Bishopthorpe)

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Father David
Father David
1 month ago

Did Jesus get a look in or even a mention apart from in the opening and closing prayers?

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

In fairness, I don’t think the gospels suggest that Jesus had a great interest in the church, as compared to the kingdom. But if we want a church, then it has to try and address issues such as safeguarding, divergent views on sexuality, ecumenical relationships, etc. You or I or anyone else may be impressed or unimpressed by how bishop(s) respond to any given issue, but I don’t think we can disparage them from trying to work out the right things to do in such issues.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

The Bishop to the Archbishops gave an update on the consultation process arising from the document ‘Bishops and their Ministry: fit for a new context” which sets out plans for consultations on culture and structures for bishops and their ministries. The House noted the progress in plans for further consultation. I observe the presence and participation of +Ineson and look forward to seeing more detail on this, and her own role ‘going forward’. In passing I also realise I have failed to notice these appointments, also consequent upon the retirement of Tim Thornton: https://twitter.com/SouthwarkCofE/status/1439816841828786183 https://trurodiocese.org.uk/2021/09/bishop-hugh-announced-as-bishop-to-the-armed-forces/ The Bishop of Leeds then… Read more »

Helen King
Helen King
1 month ago

Other than “later”, do we know when it is that bishops will be “called upon to discern together a way forward for the Church in relation to questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage”? Is that only the House, or also the College, of Bishops? And bearing in mind “Nothing about us, without us”, where do LGBTQI+ people come into this, when there is only one out gay bishop?

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Helen King
1 month ago

All is revealed in a document just sent out to those of us who’ve been involved in writing for this project and as it doesn’t say ‘confidential’ I am hoping there will be some sharing of this shortly… I am asking if there’s a web link we should share

Charles Read
1 month ago

That sound you can hear is a can of communion wine being kicked down the road.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
1 month ago

The Governance Review report is going to the new Synod – perplexed to see that it has already been “generally well received” when the comments I have seen (and made) include questions about the number of unaccountable entities and persons in a report which mentions accountability, but doesn’t analyse it. Also when it locates vision away from the parishes – and the role of the parish was an issue in many of the Synod elections. Surely a comment about reception belongs after Synod, not before? Also, I hope the version of the paper on Resourcing Ministerial Formation which was discussed… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Simon Kershaw(@simon-kershaw)
Admin
1 month ago

How many people does it take to drink from a chalice to make it a common cup? Two, presumably. So you could have umpteen chalices with a small amount of wine in each, and allow each couple or household or “bubble” in a congregation to drink from one chalice — and that would be, according to the HoB and their lawyers, permissible. (This discriminates against those who have no one else to share with, but I’m just pointing out another oddity in the interpretation.) Did anyone in the NT make any comments about lawyers?

Bob
Bob
1 month ago

I find it amazing that there is a discussion over whether to use individual cups at communion during this COVID pandemic when they were permitted during the serious but so deadly outbreak of swine flu.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Bob, I think proportionality comes into the equation. I was nursing patients in critical care when swine flu was occurring, so I do understand how lethal it was. However, incidence rates were far far lower, and I suppose the judgment was made that the chances of spreading the illness did not justify changing sacramental practice for the whole population of worshippers. However, we are approaching a peak level of infection for Covid-19, with 1 in 54 people in the UK infected, which may yet get much worse. It does seem commonsense NOT to share a drinking cup, when the infection… Read more »

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

My point is that individual cups were authorised then but not now. Apparently some Bishops are happy for individual cups so long as they are not told about it. I was certainly not advocating the sharing of a common cup.

Michael H.
Michael H.
1 month ago

‘The Bishop of Lichfield gave an update on behalf of the working group concerning Holy Communion and the Reception of the Elements. The House agreed that there should be further discussion of this issue, while confirming that it did not wish to propose a change to canon law in this area’ further discussion – that has been their mantra for well over a year. How much discussion is needed? the House did not wish to propose a change to canon law. But that is exactly what was achieved in March 2020 and has still not been undone. With the stroke… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Michael H.
1 month ago

Whether you believe to Church of England to date back to the 6th or 16th century, individual cups have never to my knowledge been part of Anglican tradition. So I feel we should cut the HoB some slack. Those Evangelical churches that sit lightly to tradition and the canons are probably using individual cups anyway. My sympathies are with those Evangelicals such as Charles Read who are reluctant to depart from historic norms in the absence of episcopal approval.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

The spoon included in some sick communion sets is, of course, not an individual cup … There is a need to reflect properly on the actual and very varied practices across traditions and across circumstances and on possible alternative modes of distribution, not normally adopted, but which might be appropriate to avoid cross-contamination in times of infection.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Michael H.
1 month ago

The following letter from me has been published in today’s Church Times (No. 8277, 5 November 2021, page 14): A report on the C of E website of the recent meeting of the House of Bishops includes this paragraph: “The Bishop of Lichfield gave an update on behalf of the working group concerning Holy Communion and the Reception of the Elements. The House agreed that there should be further discussion of this issue, while confirming that it did not wish to propose a change to canon law in this area.”   Especially given the current coronavirus infection figures, it is… Read more »

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