Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 7 June 2023

Christopher Marshall Walking together with differences

Gilo Surviving Church Missing in Action?

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Consultation on National Standards

Mike Higton kai euthus Power in the Church of England

Craig D’Alton Humane Catholic Church for Introverts?

Paul Avis The Living Church The Role of Bishops in the Governance of the Church

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Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
11 months ago

Paul Avis suggests that proposed changes to voting thresholds for Canada’s General Synod will ‘diminish’ the role of bishops. With less opportunity to play a court of feudal overlords, the credibility of Canadian bishops will not be diminished but enhanced. I think it useful to look at what is actually being proposed. See the information below. I’ve taken it from Anglican Planet, a conservative publication which ironically has become a better source of news since Anglican Journal became a corporate newsletter. The proposed changes are clearly a response to the crisis of credibility the bishops collectively created for themselves in… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
11 months ago

Paul Avis also misses the point that the issue in Canada is also equality of representation at General Synod in the House of Bishops. In Canada, suffragans are also part of the house. The Diocese of the Arctic has a very small population but currently has four bishops – a full time diocesan, a full time suffragan, and also two bishops who are parish priests and also perform episcopal duties in their regions (this is because of the challenging geography of the diocese). All four of these bishops vote as members of the House of Bishops. There are many dioceses… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

Those are all good points. David Jones’ decision on the current marriage canon went a long way toward diffusing frustration and allowing dioceses to act with regard to the principle of subsidiarity. NSPEI had a suffragan for decades; but no longer. Not viable. Has T.O. scaled back their episcopal regions?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
11 months ago

‘Has T.O. scaled back their episcopal regions?’

I’m not sure, but I only see three bishops listed on their website right now. At one time they had five.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

I cannot find the info on their website; but Wiki indicates a diocesan plus four area bishops, two of which are vacant. (link) I think there is/was some sort of review of the area bishop model. I know at one point they reduced the episcopal areas down to four from a previous five. The rector of St. Paul’s, Bloor St., is a former area bishop; but as such I don’t think she has any specific episcopal duties in the wider diocese. I chaired an Episcopal Ministry Task Force for Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island diocese about twenty years ago.… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
11 months ago

At my last synod in the Diocese of the Arctic in 1990, the travel bill to bring all the delegates together was $150,000. I can only imagine what it is today. Episcopal ministry in the Arctic is enormously expensive because of travel.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

Roger that! The proposed changes going to General Synod are a result of a request from the previous general synod; but it will be interesting to see if they pass, to see how much has really changed at GS re the relationship of the house/order of bishops to the GS membership in general. Getting back to travel costs, this is also an issue for meetings the size of GS. A smaller GS may be in order on that front as well.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
11 months ago

Power needs to exist in the Church of England for it to function.
But power needs to be accountable and trustworthy and I don’t think it is.
It starts with Bishops who are appointed by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister. Yes there is consultation but it is opaque and it should be transparent.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Hawkins
11 months ago

Lack of accountability is the key but is probably hard to fix. Instead I suggest a term limit of 5 years for all diocesan bishops (and no getting round it by appointment to a different diocese) of, say, 5 years. If it works out, extend it to suffragans.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Kate
11 months ago

In Anglicanism, the office of bishop is a degree of Holy Orders. What you are suggesting sounds more like a temporary management position. And what to do with all those bishops who have been put out to pasture after 5 years? Are they still bishops? (The Lutheran churches in America have bishops who serve for a specified term. But bishop is not a degree of Holy Orders for them; it is more like an administrative assignment.)

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Richard
11 months ago

Put them into the next available suffragan position across the country maybe?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
11 months ago

So the diocese gets no say in who becomes their suffragen bishop?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Kate
11 months ago

Kate. I do not understand why limited contracts increases accountability. (if indeed that is the issue, which I doubt. But all my ministry experience – personal and observed – makes clear that five years is the time it takes to actually lay the foundations of a ministry in a place.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Runcorn
11 months ago

Firstly nothing can be hidden long term because there will be a new set of eyes every five years. So for instance if you look at some of the recent lessons learned reviews, had the diocesan changed midway things may have progressed much better.

If it takes someone five years to lay foundations we aren’t promoting the right people.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
11 months ago

My experience as a parish priest is that you can’t rush people into trusting you. They’ll move at their own speed. And I agree with David that it’s been at least five years before I’ve felt I have the trust of most of the people in my parish. Was I the wrong person for the job? I don’t think so, but I”m not the best judge of that. My experience is that with many people, you have to be willing to engage in a lot of small talk before they’re ready to trust you with the big talk. With some… Read more »

John Bunyan
John Bunyan
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

I made a rare comment somewhere recently but I cannot remember where, or what it was about. But I am encouraged by your words, Tim, since I feel almost guilty sometimes – unlike some radically evangelical colleagues – in spending most of my weekly hospital day (at 87, retired as a rector in 2001) engaging in a lot of small talk – always wearing a clerical collar (likewise on the train and two buses during the almost two hours to get to the hospital with some of the few passengers not fascinated with their phones). I’m not particularly good with… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
11 months ago

Also, ‘promoting’ is not a proper word to describe a priest who becomes a bishop. It’s not a higher calling, it’s just a different calling. I feel like I have to keep reminding fellow-Anglicans about this.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

Bishops can command priests and get bigger stipends and better houses. If that’s not a promotion, what is?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
11 months ago

If we treat it as a promotion, we are inviting them to act like managers. There has been considerable complaint on this website about bishops who act like that. But if we actually act and think like followers of Jesus, we’ll live by his teaching that the servant of all is the greatest of all. In other words, ‘servant’ is the highest office the Kingdom of God has to offer. Jesus did not say that if we serve others, our reward will be greatness in the Kingdom of God. His whole life was a demonstration of the principle that serving… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  David Hawkins
11 months ago

My diocese is just starting this process. It does not start with the King and Prime Minister appointing at all. The actual process is far more accountable, consultative and church owned than you suggest. The procedure is well documented. Significant numbers of the commission are elected from different representative groups – so accountable. This summary offers a pretty accurate outline of how it works. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appointment_of_Church_of_England_bishops#:~:text=Following%20the%20election%2C%20the%20new,elect%2C%20who%20then%20takes%20office.

Kate
Kate
11 months ago

Can I say how wonderful it is to see a detailed treatment of same sex marriage within the context of Romans 14-15. I have long said this is a central piece of Scripture to the debate but my ability to present the argument is miniscule compared to the excellent treatment by Prof Marshall.Many thanks to David Runcorn for making it available. Much as I like it – and I really like it – it is deficient in one regard. Paul didn’t really have a concept of safeguarding as we do today. While respect for the ‘weak’ Christians as Paul calls… Read more »

Alison Bryan
11 months ago

As a qualified psychodynamic psychotherapist and supervisor (WPF, UKCP reg) I see a handful of clergy for supervision, and suggest it to all ordinands I assess for the Ministry Division during the discernment process. Meg Munn points to the importance of this support which is “not integral for clergy” and it certainly is not. While it is essential for re-accreditation in my own field, clergy are left with highly complex issues, without an independent, confidential “ear and eye” on their pastoral work. To my mind this is unethical, potentially dangerous, and leaves clergy with onerous responsibility. The church is too… Read more »

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