Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 19 February 2022

Three articles by Martyn Percy for Modern Church
Embrace the “Tutufication” of the Church of England Part 3
Coda
Some Critical Comment on “Bishops and Ministry Fit for a New Context”

Rebecca Chapman Church Times Synod is falling victim to process
“Rebecca Chapman expresses her unease at procedural moves and general discontent”

Phil Groves ViaMedia.News MI5, Exclusion & The Church of England

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Independent Learning Lessons Case Review – Graham Gregory. Some comments

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John Wallace
John Wallace
3 months ago

Thank you, Martyn for your brilliant article. I wonder whether we need to employ Bordieu’s concept of ‘habitus’ to the episcopate. Not manageralism, not strategies, not diocesan visions, but being ‘clothed in Christ’ to shepherd the flock of God.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

My comment from a previous thread fit this discussion: I am worried. A consultation that began with bishops talking to the people of their dioceses would not produce the concerns or proposals in this document. The church is absent from the discussion while the bishops reorganise themselves and us. I am particularly worried about statements like ‘Each bishop should have access to a small team to help develop mission in their area.’ Bishops: the clergy and laity of your diocese are your team. But of course if episcopal ministry and the House/College of Bishops are a separate enterprise from the… Read more »

A (not so) humble parishioner
A (not so) humble parishioner
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

The fact is that modern corporate change management brooks no dissension. All the ‘professional’ advice Lambeth and the bishops will be able to receive is that anyone who disagrees is an obstacle to be overcome. I’ve been on enough courses and through enough changes to understand that. So, this is how it will be. Initial ideas proposed by senior corporate leaders rarely go through any sort of meaningful change through consultative dialogue. Opposition is either brought into the fold by one means or other or ignored. If that is not possible, plans are quietly shelved for use at another time.… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  A (not so) humble parishioner
3 months ago

If just one diocese refused to play ball (a united approach between the bishop, DBF, diocesan synod) with the culture at the centre I think others would follow. We often complain about the diocese as a fiefdom, but the present alternative is a provincial fiefdom. Unless one of the existing diocesans wants to grasp the nettle it would have to start with diocesan CNC members being very strong willed throughout the forthcoming appointment processes.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

I wonder if part of the problem is that the cost of bishops and their establishments is not a diocesan budget item in the C of E? Here in Canada, bishops and their expenses are all part of the diocesan budget, so they don’t feel so much like a separate level of management.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Hi Tim. That is really interesting. The separate funding streams could well be part of the problem. It’s odd that that didn’t feature in the recent consultation/review of episcopal ministry.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
3 months ago

The more I read about the organizational problems of the Church of England and its very top-down approach to everything, the more I think it would benefit from a shift to the TEC way of things–parish clergy called by the laity of the parish (not assigned from above); diocesan bishops elected by the diocesan synod; Archbishops elected by General Synod. If this means an end to establishment, so be it.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

If I may, TEC (USA) does not have an archbishop. The top administrative/hierarchical person is called the Presiding Bishop (which I shall abbreviate as “PB”). Outside TEC (USA), s/he (there has been one female PB) acts as the primate. S/he is elected at the triennial General Convention, which is a province-wide assembly of lay people, priests, and bishops. I believe the priests and laity comprise one chamber and the bishops another chamber. Both chambers have to agree on the same candidate. The PB’s term of office is nine years, and according to Wikipedia, no PB has ever been re-elected since… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

Whatever the primate’s role is in relation to the diocesan bishops, it is (to my mind), clearly preferable for him/her to be chosen in a democratic manner, rather than imposed by an outside authority such as the Queen through the CNC,

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

Her Majesty is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England – how on earth can she be considered an “outside authority”? I agree, however, that things might well be better if they didn’t have to go through the convoluted and secretive processes of the CNC.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

Her Majesty the Queen is, in no sense whatsoever, an “outside” authority in relation to the Church of England.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  T Pott
3 months ago

As they say in law, “a distinction without a difference.” The Queen is not actually making the appointments in the current system. She is merely lending her concurrence to the decision of the CNC and the Prime Minister. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous. The appointment of bishops in the CoE has become an entirely political affair.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

What do you mean by “political”? The CNC contains equal numbers of persons elected to represent the vacant diocese and persons elected by General Synod to represent the wider church (serving for a term long enough to see a number of vacancies over several years. And a couple of bishops. How is that more political than whatever system you would prefer?

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

And do you truly believe those people would ever propose someone the PM disapproved of?

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

Pat, you appear to be unaware of the current procedure. The CNC submits one name, this is then passed on for Royal approval. Politicians have had no choices to make since Gordon Brown made this change.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

I would argue that any time a group of people choose someone as a leader, politics is involved.
The poets are wrong, in my non-romantic opinion: Politics makes the world go ‘round.
To your question, it probably isn’t more political, but it IS political.

Last edited 3 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Richard
Richard
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

So you’re saying that when the TEC General Convention chooses a Presiding Bishop, that’s political?

“As ‘Chief Pastor,’ the Presiding Bishop is charged with initiating and developing church policy and strategy, speaking God’s Word to the church and the world, and visiting every diocese of the church.” The PB is chairman of the Executive Council and presides at and/or arranges the consecration of bishops of the church. The PB, however, does not have metropolitical jurisdiction.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Richard
3 months ago

There’s “political” and there’s “political.” By dictionary definition, anything involving people is “political” (polis=the people). But the UK method of appointing bishops inherently involves politicians (the PM) which is another level of “politics”.

And again, I have to ask, do any of you really think the PM would pass through a recommendation from the CNC of which the PM did not approve?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

The role of the PM in the current process is not to influence the choice of names but to pass on the advice of the CNC to the Crown. It has become (in Walter Bagehot’s phrase) part of the “ceremonial” process of our constitution. Do I think “the PM would pass through a recommendation from the CNC of which the PM did not approve”? Yes, I do.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

Then you have more faith in politicians than I do.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

Perhaps, but the Prime Minister has his appointments secretary as part of the process too. That person, one presumes, if they are doing their job correctly, has a responsibility to ensure the prime minister is part of the process.

If, as you suggest, Simon, the prime minister’s role is ‘ceremonial’ then why doesn’t the CNC simply report directly to the Crown directly, without troubling the prime Minister.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

Indeed the PM’s sappointments secretary attends all meetings of the CNC, and one can expect them to represent the PM’s interests. But I doubt that the PM pays too much attention. As for your second question, why does the advice go through the PM rather than directly, this has been mooted before, but is based on the constitutional position that the monarch must receive official advice from the responsible ministers of the Crown, and that means the PM or the relevant ministerial substitute.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

I may be wrong, but didn’t PM Margaret Thatcher decline or work behind the scenes to disfavor some nominations, susch as for the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

It’s rumoured that Mrs Thatcher played an active role in some appointments, and is said to have vetoed the appointment of Jim Santer Thompson to Birmingham (if I remember correctly), though he subsequently went to Bath and Wells. But that was then and this is now: Gordon Brown decided to relinquish the ability to choose from the names, agreeing instead to always pass on the CNC’s first choice.

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

No, Santer went to Birmingham and stayed there.

My favourite Thatcher story, though, does involve B&W. ‘Twas said that she vetoed every appointment involving Jim Thompson, then Bishop of Stepney. So if you wanted a particular candidate to get a job, you always put him second and Jim Thompson first. The irony was that Thompson was then John Major’s first appointment after he succeeded Thatcher – to B&W.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  peter kettle
3 months ago

Thanks, yes, same story, but getting my bishops muddled up. (Original comment corrected.)

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

Yes. Prime Ministers’ Appointments Secretaries are now a post box. They do contribute to the discernment process, but have no other power. Pre Gordon Brown’s Governance of Britain they did exercise influence, although I could never understand why. The most egregious was re Peter Ball and Gloucester, but there are other examples.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Richard
3 months ago

Regarding your opening question, yes.
It’s all well and good to believe that the Holy Spirit moves through and guides the delegates to the General Convention, but the Holy Spirit has to cope with human beings whom God has given absolute free will.

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

The role is deeper and wider than administrative with the role of PB being full time – they do not have a diocese. They set a direction of travel – for PB Michael Curry this has been about ‘The Jesus Movement’ that has incorporated a core pilgrimage spirituality with a commitment to justice and reconciliation – especially racial justice in the time of #BLM and gender justice in the time of #MeToo as well as cementing the celebration of LGBTI+ people within TEC. It is a multinational role as TEC has dioceses – even its biggest diocese in terms of… Read more »

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

The election of the PB is by the bishops only with the laity and clergy electing the President of the House of Deputies. There can be tension between the two – although Gay Jennings and PB Michael get on really well, there is always a tension with who has primacy. In GC resolutions have to be passed in both houses with the same wording and with the houses meeting separately. It can get complex!

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Philip Groves
3 months ago

Sounds like it.
Thank you for the clarification. A press release on the Episcopal Cafe website when Michael Curry was elected as PB states he was elected by the House of Bishops and confirmed by the House of Deputies.

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

I was there – yes there is confirmation but that is routine. In this case it was more acclamation. There were a couple of great alternative candidates, but the house of deputies set out in a report what it wanted from the PB for the HoB to consider. ‘Please’, they said, ‘Give us someone who speaks from the heart and does not quote endless reports’. This was followed by the presentation videos for each candidate. The pre recorded videos for two of them started with quotes from research papers and surveys. In the room you could see the looks on… Read more »

Richard
Richard
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

That is correct.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
3 months ago

Good comment(s) by Rebecca Chapman in CT. Canterbury diocesan synod only commented on their number of representatives on a future Canterbury CNC. My spies tell me that Oliver O’Donovan’s group did discuss the possibility of enlarging the Anglican Communion representation, but for whatever reason the report was silent on the matter. Probably because it would have exceeded the brief. This idea comes from Lambeth alone. It might have subsequently been raised at AbpC. When I heard of it some time ago, I said that I doubted Synod would support it. The pressure to reject it will continue. No one wants… Read more »

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