Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 28 August 2021

Leander S Harding The Living Church What should bishops do?

Giles Fraser UnHerd Does Jordan Peterson believe in God?
“The professor isn’t being shifty when he refuses to declare his faith”

Rosemarie Mallett The Diocese of Southwark Remembering Slavery and Emancipation: Reparation and Restitution

Archbishop Cranmer has two pieces relating to our article earlier this week.
Safeguarding suicide: ‘there is a crisis of trust within the Diocese of London’
Martin Sewell Fr Alan Griffin (RIP): the buck stops with Bishop Sarah Mullally

Edmund Weiner Surviving Church Memories of Bash (Iwerne) Camps in the early 70s

Margaret Pritchard Houston Church Times Want children in church? Put them in charge

42 Comments

Church in Wales to consider same-sex blessings

Press Release from Church in Wales

Governing Body meeting – September 6 and 8

Same-sex couples will be able to have their civil partnership or marriage blessed in Church in Wales churches for the first time if new legislation is passed next month (September).

A Bill to authorise a service of blessing will be considered by members of the Church’s Governing Body at its meeting on September 6.

It proposes that the service be used experimentally for five years and that it will be up to individual clergy to decide whether or not they wish to lead it.

The service is for a blessing only as same-sex couples are unable to marry in church.

The Bill is being introduced by the Bishops, following an indication from Governing Body members that it was now “pastorally unsustainable” for the Church to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships.

In the Explanatory Memorandum they say, “Approval of this rite would be stating that the Church in Wales accepts that the loving and faithful commitment of two persons of the same sex, aspiring to life-long fidelity and mutual comfort, and who have made a commitment in civil partnership or marriage, is worthy of acceptance by the Church by asking God’s blessing upon their commitment.”

While recognising that the Bill is controversial, they describe it as a “step on the way towards repentance of a history in the Church which has demonised and persecuted gay and lesbian people, forcing them into fear, dishonesty and sometimes even hypocrisy, and which has precluded them from living publicly and honestly lives of committed partnership.”

The bishops are urging Governing Body members to debate the Bill in a respectful and dignified way, acknowledging that it will raise difficult issues of faith and belief. They have issued a set of ‘Pastoral Principles’ intended to guide people towards thoughtful and considerate discussions.

Introducing them they say, “There can be no room for seeking to undermine sincerely held views. Neither should we seek to walk away from each other. Our union in Christ is at the heart of our life and the bonds and character of our baptism hold us together; sharing a commitment to each other as together we seek the Kingdom of God. We hope these materials will stimulate this quality of engagement.”

The Bill will be discussed on the first day of the Governing Body meeting which takes place on September 6 at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport and will be live-streamed via a link on the Church in Wales website and Youtube channel. The second day of the meeting will take place online only, via Zoom, on Wednesday, September 8 and will also be live-streamed.

The full agenda and all reports are online at: https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/about-us/governing-body/meetings/

The meeting will be live-streamed via a link on the Church in Wales website at www.churchinwales.org.uk and YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/churchinwales

36 Comments

Fr Alan Griffin: Diocese of London responds to Coroner

Updated Tuesday evening

Church Times report: Diocese of London accepts coroner’s list of failings in Fr Griffin case

Submission to Coroner – Fr Alan Griffin

This PDF version may be easier to read: Submission to Coroner Fr Alan Griffin

Response by the Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace to the Regulation 28 Report (9 July 2021) to the Church of England in relation to the death by suicide of Fr Alan Griffin on 8 November 2020

  1. Introduction

The Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace wish to thank the Coroner for writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury and bringing to our attention the various matters of concern that were prompted by her investigation into the tragic death of Father Alan Griffin.

Those concerns have been shared with and considered carefully by the various Church Institutions. We have formed a Case Steering Group, with representatives including the Diocese of London, the National Safeguarding Team (NST), Lambeth Palace, and an independent professional member of the Diocese of London’s Safeguarding Steering Group to oversee both this response and our next steps.

This report is our collective response on behalf of the Church of England to your Report to Prevent Future Deaths dated 9 July 2021, in accordance with the provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

  1. Aims

The Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace express their deep regret and sorrow at the death of Fr Alan Griffin. We acknowledge that there were either poor processes or systems, or mistakes, that led to unreasonable pressures on Fr Alan and we take responsibility for what went wrong. This response is prepared to assure the Chief Coroner of the Diocese’s commitment to change, ongoing learning and improvement.

We will seek to respond to the key points that have been raised by the Coroner in criticism of the Diocese of London’s handling of the concerns relating to Fr Alan, to set out current and future actions to improve our handling of conduct and safeguarding concerns, and to set out measures to mitigate the risk of any future suicide by someone who is the subject of such concerns within the Church of England.

We are also committed to undertaking a Lessons Learned Review and implementing any necessary actions (see section 5).

  1. Other parties

We are committed to doing whatever we can in partnership with our colleagues in the Roman Catholic Church to improve our joint management of matters that affect people within both our Churches.

  1. Immediate first steps

We had already made a Serious Incident Report to the Charity Commission, and this has been updated since the publication of the R28 Report.

As a result of the concerns that the Coroner raised in her report, we have revised the terms of reference initially proposed for the Lessons Learned Review and have taken steps towards appointing an experienced, independent reviewer,[1] not previously known to or associated with the Diocese of London, who is able to give rigorous external scrutiny to the safeguarding systems and processes of the Diocese of London as applied in this case.

To ensure good process, we have consulted the independent professional members of the Diocese of London’s Safeguarding Steering Group (part of the governance of the Diocese of London) and are engaging with the close family and friends of Fr Griffin who were registered as Interested Parties for the purposes of the Inquest, about these Terms of Reference.

  1. Lessons Learned Review

We aim to agree the Terms of Reference by early September with the intention of the Lessons Learned Review (“the Review”) beginning in September 2021.   The purpose and objectives of the Review are currently as follows:

  • This Review will examine the Diocese of London’s handling of information relating to the late Fr Alan Griffin in the light of the ten specific concerns and three further issues set out in Section 5 of the Coroner’s Regulation 28 Report. The Review will set out a simple and accessible chronology of events.
  • It will identify lessons to be learned and how they should be acted on, which will enable the Diocese of London and the Church of England to take steps to enhance and improve their handling of matters relating to conduct and safeguarding.
  • The Review will consider the effectiveness of procedures, areas of service improvement and development needs and will establish what lessons can be learned regarding the way in which information is responded to, recorded, assessed, shared, and managed.
  • The overall purpose of the Review is to promote learning and improve practice, not to apportion blame.
  • It will make recommendations about what could be done better in the Church of England to help prevent such a death taking place again.
  • With the cooperation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster, it will seek to understand how information was shared and acted upon between the Diocese of London and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster and set out lessons that should be learned to improve this.

The full Terms of Reference (subject to consultation) will be published on the Diocese of London website when consultations are complete (anticipated early September 2021).

The report continues at very great length to describe initial actions taken, actions being taken at national level by the National Safeguarding Team, and responses to the coroner’s specific criticisms. Read the whole document to understand the detailed level of these responses. It concludes with this explanation on one particular point:

  • Finally, the coroner responded to the legal submissions made on 28 June 2021 in these terms:

I then received submissions on behalf of the Church of England regarding any prevention of future deaths report. These submissions impressed upon me that referrals to child protection and safeguarding professionals must not be reduced and urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegation.  

The aim of making this submission to the Coroner was not to deflect criticism away from clergy or staff if they had acted inappropriately. It was made in the context of the IICSA recommendations and in the light of existing House of Bishop’s Guidance to the clergy that state that clergy must refer all safeguarding concerns or allegations to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team in the first instance and in any event within 24 hours (see 6, above). This is to ensure untrained clergy are not investigating or using their own judgement, and to establish consistency of process. We believe that our clergy and staff acted in accordance with this Guidance and we were concerned that any criticism of them for following it might deter others from the appropriate reporting of safeguarding concerns

Our submission, therefore, was intended to ask the Coroner to bear in mind when making her findings that all clergy and staff are obliged to follow this Guidance. The Guidance is clear that it is inappropriate for clergy and staff to filter or investigate any apparent or alleged safeguarding related concerns and instructs them to refer these directly to safeguarding professionals. The Church of England has worked hard to ensure that all clergy and staff are clear about their reporting obligations. We were and are keen that this good work is not undermined.

For completeness the relevant Diocese of London submission is included here:    

If, despite these submissions, the learned coroner remains minded to issue a regulation 28 report, she is urged not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations. The learned Coroner has heard that the events in question took place in the context of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The purpose of the Inquiry, as set out in its terms of reference, is to consider the extent to which State and non-State institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The Diocese of London is deeply committed to child protection and wishes to avoid anything that may have the unintended consequences of reducing referrals to child protection and safeguarding professionals.

At the bottom of the document the following list of names appears:

Case Steering Group:

Richard Gough, General Secretary of the Diocese of London
Joanne Grenfell, Bishop of Stepney
Zena Marshall, Interim National Director of Safeguarding
Tim Thornton, Bishop at Lambeth (alternate Richard Sudworth)
Tim Bishop, independent member of the London Diocesan Safeguarding Steering Group
Date: 24 August 2021

39 Comments

Opinion – 21 August 2021

Leslie Francis and Andrew Village Church Times Counting the cost of pandemic ministry
“What is the state of clergy morale, one year after the first lockdown”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Misogyny in Islam and Christianity

Jen Frost Insurance Post Briefing: Ecclesiastical’s child abuse claims shame – CEO Hews’ admission too little too late?

44 Comments

Titus Trust publishes a timeline about John Smyth

On Friday, the Titus Trust published Documents relating to the Titus Trust’s response to John Smyth’s abuse with the following preamble:

We believe that it is vital for the truth to be made known in a case like this and that this is especially important for those who have suffered so much harm. So in the interests of seeking to be wholly transparent about the role and actions of the Trust during the period in question, and given the delay in the publication of Keith Makin’s review, we are now publishing a timeline showing when the Trust became aware of John Smyth’s actions, how much we knew and how we responded. We are also providing answers to questions and allegations that have been raised about these matters in this document. It is our prayer that this will be helpful to all who have been involved in this tragic case.

The actual documents are all contained in this pdf. There are three parts:

  • Statement from Titus Trust Trustees (full text copied below the fold)
  • Timeline of matters relating to the Titus Trust’s response to John Smyth’s abuse (this is very long and detailed)
  • FAQs

The Church Times carries a news report by Madeleine Davies: Titus Trust: ‘This is what we knew of John Smyth’s abuse, and when we knew it’. And also Titus Trust timeline: a digest.

The Guardian has also covered this: ‘Bleeding for Jesus’: book tells story of QC who pitilessly abused young men (scroll down for reference to Titus Trust statement)

A statement in response to Titus Trust has been issued by survivors, the full text of which is also copied below. (more…)

23 Comments

Opinion – 18 August 2021

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Power of the Internet to bring change to the Safeguarding World

Frog Orr-Ewing Psephizo Do we need to ‘Save the Parish’?

42 Comments

Bishop of Newcastle to retire

News from the Diocese of Newcastle

Bishop Christine announces the date of her retirement

The Right Reverend Christine Hardman, after six years as Bishop of Newcastle, has announced that she is to retire from her role at the end of November.

Bishop Christine, the 12th Bishop of Newcastle, said: “I am reaching my 70th birthday at the end of August and my time as Bishop of Newcastle is drawing to a close. Her Majesty the Queen has graciously accepted my resignation, and with the Archbishop of York’s permission I will be stepping down as Bishop of Newcastle on 30th November, 2021…

119 Comments

Opinion – 14 August 2021

James Mumford UnHerd What the ‘Save the Parish’ campaign doesn’t understand
“Justin Welby’s plans are better than critics claim”

Mark Bennet Surviving Church Doing Church without the difficult bits

David Ford Church Times In defence of ordinary, faithful churchgoers
“Talk of ‘missionary disciples’ means little to lay people in the parishes — and risks alienating them”

Alison Milbank The Critic Is the Parish Church worth saving?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Finding the voice of LGBTIQ+ people and allies in the LLF conversations

9 Comments

Opinion – 11 August 2021

Greta Gaffin Earth & Altar 5 ways to pretend you know more about the Church than you really do

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Searching for Expertise in Safeguarding in the Church of England

Giles Fraser UnHerd The Church is on the brink of revolt

101 Comments

Opinion – 7 August 2021

Alister McGrath The Living Church Anglicanism and the Natural Sciences

Gavin Drake The Jill Saward Organisation Church of England’s High Court contempt threat for abuse victims

Rachel White Surviving Church Lessons Not Learned: an 18-Month Review

Helen King sharedconversations The Church of England as a WASGIJ

Alex Clare-Young Living in love and faith? The construction of contemporary texts of terror

Archbishop Cranmer Does it matter if Church of England parishes wither on the vine?

29 Comments

Save the Parish campaign launched

The Church Times has this report by Madeleine Davies: ‘Save the Parish’ campaigners have Synod in their sights.

A CAMPAIGN to elect members to the General Synod under a “Save the Parish” banner was launched in London on Tuesday evening, with a warning that this was “the last chance to save the system that has defined Christianity in this country for 1000 years”. The move was welcomed by a Church of England spokesman.

In his remarks at the campaign launch, in St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, in London, the Rector, the Revd Marcus Walker, spoke of the need for a “co-ordinated campaign” that would unite Anglicans across traditions, transcending debates about women’s ordination and same-sex marriage…

There is a video recording of the launch event, which you can view here. The keynote speakers were Alison Milbank and Stephen Trott.

And there is an embryonic website.

131 Comments

Opinion – 4 August 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Radical Christian Inclusion – a definition

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The ‘morale’ factor. Senior church staff and their support of clergy

20 Comments

GAFCON plans an Australian diocese

The Church Times carried this report by Muriel Porter on 23 July: Conservative Evangelicals plan new diocese in Australia

THE conservative Evangelical group GAFCON Australia has formulated plans for the creation of a diocese for “Anglicans who will be forced to leave the Anglican Church of Australia“, according to a media statement…

Here is the full press release from GAFCON Australia: GAFCON Australia backs plan to form non-geographic diocese for Australian Anglicans

Then on 30 July, there was a further report by Muriel Porter: GAFCON ark too early, Australian Primate observes

..Archbishop Smith criticised the board of GAFCON for not showing restraint until the Australian Church had had an opportunity to discuss the Appellate Tribunal’s decision. Instead, GAFCON’s decision was “ramping up the tensions among us”, he said. GAFCON’s move, he continued, was in contrast to the “very significant restraint . . . shown by people who might want to see movement toward the blessing of same-sex couples”.

Despite the forecasts, there had not been a “flood” of blessings of same-sex unions after the tribunal decision, he said, “Not a flood, not a trickle, not a drip”; so “faithful, orthodox Anglicans can continue with confidence as members of the Anglican Church of Australia. To suggest or insinuate otherwise is to not speak the truth.”

The  letter from the Australian Primate Archbishop Geoffrey Smith mentioned in that report can be read in full over here.

74 Comments

Opinion – 31 July 2021

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of church, speaking of strategy; speaking of leadership

Martyn Percy Meander Feeding the Five Thousand

23 Comments

Dean of St Paul’s to retire next year

The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, has announced his intention to retire in September 2022. Dr David Ison will be 68, and will have served at the Cathedral for ten years.

The announcement can be read on the websites of the Diocese of London and of St Paul’s Cathedral.

24 Comments

Update on Smyth Review

Press release from the Church of England

Update on Smyth Review
29/07/2021

An update on timing for the Smyth Review from the National Safeguarding Team:

For the survivors and victims of the appalling abuse by Smyth it is vital this review is done thoroughly but we have also taken very seriously their concerns on timing. Due to the ongoing high volume of information coming into the reviewers, following the recent publication of an executive summary and statements relating to Smyth, it has been agreed that the deadline for submission of evidence will now be September 30. The reviewers will then compile data and timelines and set up any further meetings before writing up their report. This will be followed by a representation process once the report has been completed, publication is expected in 2022.

We apologise for the length of time this has taken, while some meetings were delayed by COVID the reviewers have also been dealing with an exceptionally high volume of information which has needed looking into; this has included harrowing testimonies from survivors and victims and we thank them for their courage and willingness to participate.

After the deadline of September 30 arrangements will be made by the reviewers to listen to any further survivors and victims, or those who have other information, who wish to come forward to share their experiences in a supported and confidential manner.

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors.

Support continues to be offered; please contact Emily Denne at emily.denne@churchofengland.org

or call the independent Safe Spaces helpline, on 0300 303 1056, or email safespaces@victimsupport.org.uk

Anyone who would like to come forward and share information please do contact the independent reviewer Keith Makin keith.makin@independentreviews.live

2 Comments

Opinion – 28 July 2021

Francis Spufford The Christian Century How I changed my mind about same-sex marriage
“It began when I realized the church has always had a process for changing its mind.”

Gilo Surviving Church Interim Support Scheme & Redress Scheme

Ian Paul Psephizo Can the C of E plant new churches and retain the parish system?
An interview with John McGinley

Paul Andrews The Yorkshire Post Why Church of England needs new PR team to win back worshippers

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The LLF definition of radical new Christian inclusion is not radical, nor new, nor Christian, nor inclusive

Meg Warner The Tablet Anglicanism and mission
[requires free registration to access]

36 Comments

Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner

Press release from the Church of England

Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner
27/07/2021

Alan Smith, Senior Advisor – ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Risk and Inclusion, and former Global Head of Risk Strategy at HSBC, is to be the next First Church Estates Commissioner, Downing Street announced today. Alan has also been a Church Commissioner since 2018.

The First Church Estates Commissioner chairs the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee, a statutory committee responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2 billion investment portfolio.
(more…)

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House of Bishops meeting – 26 July 2021

press release

The House of Bishops met on Monday 26th of July 2021 via Zoom
26/07/2021

The House of Bishops met on Monday 26th of July as the final meeting prior to the summer break.

Following a number of procedural items, the House reflected on the July Synod and looked forward towards the next quinquennium. The Clerk to the Synod addressed the House as to whether it might be necessary for the Synod to meet more frequently in 2022 or 2023, for reasons including the substantive work arising out of the Emerging Church work.

The House then turned its attention to potential implications for Anglican – Methodist LEPs and ecumenical relations following the decision of the July Methodist Conference to permit same-sex marriages to take place in Methodist churches. The Secretary General addressed the House, as did the Enabling Officer for the LLF project and Next Steps Group. The House agreed to seek advice on the matter from the Episcopal Reference Group of the Faith and Order Commission, with the House noting the need also to engage with the Archbishops’ Council.

The Bishop of Huddersfield, in his capacity as the lead bishop for safeguarding then updated the House on the Safeguarding National Casework Management System. The House agreed additional steps to help the project become more fully embedded in dioceses, with the National Safeguarding Team available for discussions regarding any particular concerns or issues for dioceses.

The Archbishops’ Adviser on Racial Justice then addressed the House on the next stage of the Commission of Racial Justice, commissioned by both Archbishops. The House was updated and invited to note the progress outlined so far towards implementing the recommendations from the Lament to Action report. In addition, the House also noted and commented upon the draft terms of reference for the Commission on Racial Justice.

The Bishop of London, in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group (now concluded) then updated the House on what is now permissible since 19th of July and confirmed that she and her colleagues will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation carefully as it continues to evolve.

The Archbishop of York then briefly updated the House on the Vision and Strategy workstream of the Emerging Church work. This was followed by the Bishop of Leeds who spoke to the Governance Reviews Group’s (GRG) work and report. The House noted the progress made to date, with the full report of the GRG to be presented and discussed at the September College of Bishops.

The meeting concluded with the Archbishop of York giving a blessing.

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Myriad responds to criticism

Two statements have been issued about Myriad:

See also the interview with John McGinley linked in the previous article.

All of this is discussed in great detail by Madeleine Davies in the Church Times:
Priests and bishops a ‘given’ in Myriad’s vision for lay-led churches.

128 Comments