Updated to incude survivors’ statement
The Archbishop of Canterbury issued the statement below this morning.
A group of survivors has issued a statement in reponse and this is copied below the Archbishop’s statement.
Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Following a recent meeting with survivors of the abuse carried out by John Smyth QC, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has made the following the statement today:
I am pleased to have met recently with a group of victims of the horrendous abuse perpetrated by John Smyth QC. I apologised to them that the meeting had taken so long to arrange and acknowledged that this has caused much frustration and anger.
In February 2017, I issued a general apology on behalf of the Church of England, as the story was breaking, and before we understood the full horror and scope of the abuse. Having met some victims now, I want to offer a full, personal apology. I am sorry that this was done in the name of Jesus Christ by a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism. It is clear that the impact of this has been widespread. I want to offer this apology, in addition, to those Smyth victims that I have not met. I continue to hear new details of the abuse and my sorrow, shock and horror grows.
The victims I met have made clear that they are angry that John Smyth was not stopped in 2013, when disclosure to the Diocese of Ely was first made and I was duly informed. By this time Mr Smyth had been out of the UK for nearly thirty years. We, the Church, were unclear as to his activities abroad or indeed to the utterly horrendous scope and extent of his actions here and overseas. I recognise the anger of the survivors and victims but having checked that the Diocese of Cape Town was informed and that the police were properly informed and involved our jurisdiction did not extend further. I believe that by 2013 Mr Smyth was no longer attending an Anglican Church.
These victims are rightly concerned that no one appears to have faced any sanction yet, when it is clear a number of Christians, clergy and lay, were made aware of the abuse in the 1980s and many learned in subsequent years. I have not yet received a list of names. I am told by Survivors that some facilitated Smyth’s move to Africa. I have made it clear that the National Safeguarding Team will investigate every clergy person or others within their scope of whom they have been informed who knew and failed to disclose the abuse.
The victims asked me specifically to consider John Smyth’s victims in Zimbabwe and South Africa, known and unknown. Guide Nyachuru died at a Smyth camp in 1992 and I will be writing to his family. I apologise on behalf of the Church of England to all those in Africa who were abused after John Smyth had been uncovered in the UK in 1982, although the Church did not know, owing to the cover up, of the abuse until 2013.
I am aware of what a long wait it has been for John Smyth’s victims. The abuse was almost forty years ago, and it was first disclosed in 2012. I applaud the bravery of those who came forward and all those who have testified since. I know this has come at great personal cost and continues to cause suffering. I told the victims I met that I am absolutely determined that the Makin Review will be as comprehensive and strong as it can be. I have given an undertaking that it will be published in full. I pray that this can give some sense of closure for these victims.
The Church has a duty to look after those who have been harmed. We have not always done that well.
I know that words are inadequate and will have a different meaning and impact on individuals, but I hope that my words today can convey on behalf of the Church of England and myself our deepest sorrow.
A review of the Church’s handling of allegations of abuse carried out by the late John Smyth is being carried out by the Church and was announced in August 2019. The independent reviewer is Keith Makin, who will be assisted by Sarah Lawrence who is also independent. Further details are available on the Church of England website.
In response, a group of victims of abuse by John Smyth QC wish to make the following statement:
As victims of John Smyth’s horrific abuses, we are pleased that the Archbishop of Canterbury is taking responsibility and acting as a good example for the other culpable parties involved in our story. We welcome his comments and also his commitment to publishing the Church of England’s independent review of Smyth in its entirety. We call upon the other organisations – the Scripture Union, Titus Trust, and Winchester College – to follow this lead and to reveal everything they know about the abuses and their coverup. It is clear a large number of individuals, clergy and lay, have known about these abuses for over thirty years and we call on them to cooperate fully with the Makin Review and the National Safeguarding Team. For victims like us, full closure is impossible without full disclosure.
This statement is issued by Andrew Graystone on behalf of a group of Smyth survivors.
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
All Things Lawful And Honest A younger church?
The Rev’d Steven Hilton recalls the success of the Church of England’s youth initiatives in the 1990s, and asks whether the Church’s mission and growth might be better secured by employing not more clergy but more youth workers.
ViaMedia.News Kate’s Story
by Kate, a transgender woman from the north of England, who bravely shares her horrific experience of being prayed for in three different evangelical churches.
Manmit Bhambra and Austin Tiffany LSE blogs From the Sanctuary to the Sofa: What COVID-19 has Taught us about Sacred Space17 Comments
House of Bishops Meeting 17th-18th May 2021
The House of Bishops met on the afternoon of Monday 17 May and the morning of Tuesday 18 May remotely via Zoom.
The Chief Operating Officer of the National Church Institutions gave a brief update regarding the new national Register of Clergy which went live last week. This was followed by a brief discussion covering issues raised during the roll out.
The House then discussed updated proposals relating to the Clergy Conduct Measure which were shared with the House in December. The proposals were discussed in an opening plenary session (introduced by the Bishop at Lambeth), followed by breakout groups and a final plenary discussion in advance of wider Synodical engagement in July. Amongst the issues discussed were the wider work needed to develop an appropriate ‘framework’ for ordained ministry in the Church of England, covering such areas as fitness to practise, ‘supervision’, ministerial development review, grievance procedures, and capability procedures. The House agreed to support in principle the outline of the proposed Clergy Conduct Measure as presented to the House.
The Bishop of London then addressed the House in her capacity as the Chair of the Next Steps Group. The House discussed engagement with the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) processes to date across dioceses. The House heard encouraging reports of good engagement and, in break out groups, considered how further engagement with LLF can be strengthened. The House discussed additional working groups related to the LLF process and agreed in principle to the formation of a working group on gender identity and transition under the auspices of the LLF Next Steps Group, details of which will be announced in due course.
The afternoon session of the House of Bishop’s then closed in prayer before reconvening the following morning.
At the Tuesday morning session, the Bishop of Sheffield addressed the House in his capacity as Chair of the Mutuality in Finances Group. The Bishop requested the House’s endorsement for the Group’s proposal for a July 2021 General Synod motion. The motion will enable a more equitable sharing of historic assets and give dioceses more freedom to be generous with these assets to other dioceses. The House endorsed the proposal for the July 2021 General Synod, which will be moved by the Bishop of Sheffield on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council.
The Archbishop of York then addressed the House with an update on progress of the Vision and Strategy workstream, including the proposed approach for developing the Vision and Strategy work through to the end of December 2021. An overall framework was presented and following breakout in groups, the House considered a range of strategic priorities, outcomes and actions to be taken. The House agreed to take note of the progress to date and identify key actions to assist the Vision and Strategy workstream.
The Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich then addressed the House in his capacity as episcopal lead for the Transforming Effectiveness workstream for the National Church Institutions. He gave an update on current plans to streamline and simplify the NCIs with the House agreeing to take note of progress and planning to date.
The Bishop of London, in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group, updated the House with the latest developments regarding places of worship and the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The House congratulated Archbishop Hosam on becoming the Archbishop of Jerusalem. The House also supported the statement made by Bishop Christopher the Bishop of Southwark, who was present at the installation.
The House prayed for peace and justice across the Middle East and noted with sadness the hostilities taking place at present.
Archbishop Hosam has asked for support for the Al Ahli Hospital, an Anglican project, which serves all who are sick and are brought to their doors and is in desperate need of funds.
The House noted with real concern incidents of anti-Semitism in this country and condemns all such incidents and prays for building communities in the nation.
The meeting concluded with a blessing given by the Archbishop of York.23 Comments
The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group issues new guidance on Human Rights
The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has today published advice for the National Investing Bodies (NIBs) to ensure that international human rights norms are respected by the companies in which they invest. The National Investing Bodies have simultaneously published a new stand-alone Human Rights policy in line with this guidance.
The full report is available to read and download, here.
The EIAG provides timely, practical, and theologically grounded advice to the three NIBs to enable them to invest in a way that is distinctly Christian and Anglican. Its expert and independent membership includes leading Christian theologians, business-people, investors and other practitioners.
The NIBs’ policy was developed and agreed upon by all three National Investing Bodies. The NIBs have a long track record of engagement on human rights topics. Other policies have previously referenced Human Rights, but this new policy sets out a comprehensive and more detailed approach to stewardship on Human Rights.
Recent and ongoing engagement work carried out by the NIBs on this issue include:
Anna McDonald, Secretary to the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, said:
“This new guidance for the national investing bodies acknowledges that investors, like all business actors, have a responsibility to address the risks to people present in their investments and provides a reasoned and theological reflection detailing why a respect for international human rights norms is grounded in Christian tradition and teaching.
“Whilst the EIAG believes that a truly Christian conception of a just society needs more than a minimal legal framework established by rights, it believes that a minimum framework is helpful particularly with regard to the Church’s investments in businesses. The EIAG believes all human beings have an irremovable dignity as persons which must be respected and protected. It affirms the responsibility of all businesses to respect and protect this dignity and endorses the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as the authoritative global framework for helping businesses assess their impacts on human rights.
“The EIAG has been pleased to see the NIBs adopt a robust and updated human rights policy based on our guidance, and will look forward to their continued work protecting human rights through their investments. We expect the publication of these documents to strengthen their hand in engagement, public policy dialogue, and in calling for change.2 Comments
Abigail Frymann Rouch Church Times Could interim ministry be the answer in tough times for the Church?
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Church. Does it really serve Emerging Adults?
Tina Beardsley Unadulterated Love So-called conversion therapy, gender identity, and the dangers of coercion and consultation
ViaMedia.News Yve’s Story – “I Felt Set Up To Fail”
by Yve, who has experienced both the very worst and the very best of the Church of England
Church of England press release
National Register of Clergy launched
The National Register of the Church’s clergy with a licence or Permission to Officiate (PTO) is now publicly available on the Church of England website.
The Register is an important development in strengthening safeguarding in the Church and was a recommendation in the 2017 Gibb Report which looked into the Church’s handling of allegations against the late Bishop Peter Ball.
Having a single, reliable, up to date register will enable clergy, churchwardens, and members of the public to check the bona fides of all clergy with licence or permission to officiate.
The National Register shows an individual’s title and name, how they are engaged with the Church of England (current post/licence) and the diocese, area or benefice to which they are licensed. The Register does not include contact, biographical or historical information.
At the time of launch, the National Register includes those who are ordained, expanding to include lay ministry in due course.62 Comments
Charlie Bell For whom the Bell tolls Why marriage matters
Helen King sharedconversations Conversion therapy: faith without fear7 Comments
Three items have appeared today which suggest the road ahead for LLF is not straightforward.
First, the Bishop of London has responded to the item in the Queen’s Speech about banning conversion therapy. Here’s the full press release which includes the following:
Following the announcement in the Queen’s Speech that the Government will ban conversion therapy, the Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith Next Steps Group, said”The Church of England believes that all people are made in the image of God and must be cherished for who they are.
“The General Synod has voted overwhelmingly to reject coercive Conversion Therapies so we welcome the Government’s commitment to explore these matters further with a view to enshrining that position in law.
“We recognise the difficulties in defining Conversion Therapies and look forward to working closely with the Government to develop a viable definition and subsequent legislation.
“We want to prevent abuses of power, and ensure that issues of consent are made absolutely central to any future legislation.”
The motion agreed by General Synod in July 2017 was:
That this Synod: (a) endorse the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK of November 2015, signed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists and others, that the practice of gay conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, is unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence; and 3 (b) call upon the Church to be sensitive to, and to listen to, contemporary expressions of gender identity; (c) and call on the government to ban the practice of Conversion Therapy.
Note that the word “coercive” does not appear in the motion passed by General Synod.
Second, the Next Steps Group has been explicitly criticised for its handling of a complaint relating to the inclusion of video featuring a particular person in LLF resource materials. This is explained carefully in an article on the Unadulterated Love site by Tina Beardsley titled LLF Next Steps Group refuses to act on trans people’s concerns. This article is not amenable to precis, and needs to be read in full to understand the complexities of the matter.
Third, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England has issued a press release, and written to the Bishop of London about the case involving The Rev’d Robert Thompson, Vicar of SS Mary and James, West Hampstead, and the person featured in Rachel’s Story – I Don’t Want to Be Part of An Institution that Allows Abuse to which we linked in an earlier TA article. The press release in full:
WHISTLEBLOWING PRIEST IN THE DIOCESE OF LONDON BEING FALSELY INVESTIGATED OVER TRUMPED UP ONLINE BULLYING CLAIMS
The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England has written to the Bishop of London condemning the Clergy Discipline Measure case brought against a whistleblowing priest.
The Campaign has learned that The Rev’d Robert Thompson, Vicar of SS Mary and James, West Hampstead, is currently being investigated by Church authorities for whistleblowing on the basis that he engaged in online bullying, harassment, intimidation and abuse of another cleric accused of traumatising a lesbian Christian.
In 2020, Fr. Robert was approached by a young woman who had been, in her words, ‘repeatedly traumatised’ by the actions of the vicar of a Holy Trinity Brompton plant in London because of her sexuality. You can read her story in her own words here. Fr Robert has been acting as her support, advocate and guide as she has sought for recognition of the harm done to her. In this process there has been an official investigation by the Diocese of London into the abuse of this young woman, which has made recommendations that have yet to be fully implemented by the parish concerned.
Nigel Pietroni, Chairman, Campaign for Equal Marriage etc, said:
“We have reviewed Fr Robert’s online comments, tweets and retweets in relation to the case of this young woman and can find no evidence of bullying and intimidation, and in fact no reference to the other priest concerned at all.
“Fr Robert’s focus has been on supporting the young woman in her struggle for redress and support, and the need for substantial changes in the approach by the Diocese of London, illustrated by the young woman’s experience, into safeguarding LGBTQIA+ people in its churches. The case demonstrates the deep harm that can be done by a lack of transparency and honesty about the position of LGBTQIA+ people in Church of England parishes. There are genuine questions raised by this case about spiritual abuse and the misuse of power.”
The Church of England has published guidance for parishes and cathedrals addressing concerns over memorials with links to slavery and other contested heritage
The new guidance enables churches and cathedrals to consider the history of their buildings and congregations, and to engage with everyone in their community to understand how physical artefacts may impact their mission and worship. It offers a framework to approach such questions locally and, where necessary, to engage with the relevant bodies who oversee changes to cathedral and church buildings.
In June 2020, the Church of England announced a consultation on approaches to contested heritage following a series of cases around the country. The work forms part of ‘Open and Sustainable Churches’, a long-running programme seeking to identify issues affecting the ability of churches and cathedrals to provide worship and welcome, offering support and resources to tackle these.
The guidance published today has been informed by a wide-ranging consultation which has included every Church of England diocese and cathedral, as well as heritage bodies, specialists in church monuments, and those with an interest and specialism in UKME representation in the Church of England.
It notes that while churches and cathedrals are, above all, places dedicated to the worship of God, for a range of reasons, members of communities may not always feel welcome in these buildings. One such reason could be the presence of objects commemorating people responsible for the oppression and marginalisation of others.
The guidance specifically addresses the issue of heritage associated with racism and the slave trade – including plaques, statues, inscriptions and other monuments, but hopes that by doing so it will establish a methodology which can be used for other forms of contested heritage.
The guidance does not prescribe solutions, but presents a range of options and considerations, together with suggested models for local consultation and discussion. It encourages balanced, inclusive decision-making.
It also states that while ‘no change’ may be the outcome of such a consultation, this is not the same as ‘no action’ and encourages research, consultation and reflection where concerns are raised, to assess how much objects may impact on missional, pastoral and liturgical activities.
On publication of the guidance, The Church of England’s Director of Churches and Cathedrals, Becky Clark, said:
“With this guidance, the Church of England is seeking to provide a framework for parishes and cathedrals to lead discussions about how the heritage in our buildings can best serve our commitment to be a welcoming and inclusive Church today.
“Church buildings and their interiors have been adapted over centuries in response to practical needs, architectural styles, as well as to society itself.
“The issues of contested heritage require us honestly and openly to discuss ways in which our buildings can demonstrate our commitment to social and racial justice as a reflection of our faith in Jesus Christ.”11 Comments
General Synod: July meeting to take place in London
The University of York, which hosts the annual July group of sessions of the General Synod, has taken the decision to cancel all events on its campus this summer as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.
Arrangements are therefore being made for the Synod scheduled for July 9 – 13 to take place at Church House, London, during the same dates.
It will be the first full in-person Synod for 18 months. Although it is expected that the final stages of the Government’s ‘reopening’ roadmap will have been passed by that time, Synod staff will ensure that all necessary health and safety arrangements are in place for everyone attending.
A timetable for the group of sessions will be finalised by the Business Committee later this month and the full agenda and papers will be published on the Synod App and the Synod web page on Friday June 25.1 Comment
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Victim of abuse failed by London bishops who perversely then pursue the victim’s defender
Charles Foster Surviving Church Growing up and away from the #Fletcherculture
Jaime Sommers ViaMedia.News Jaime’s Story – “They had absolutely no idea what to do with me”
by Jaime Sommers, a bisexual 50 year old woman whose story of abuse by the Church of England will shock many
Jon Stobart Church Times From the genteel to the exotic
“Auction catalogues provide a glimpse into the home lives of rural Georgian clergy”
Luke Dowding OneBodyOneFaith Service & Self
ViaMedia.News Rachel’s Story – I Don’t Want to Be Part of An Institution that Allows Abuse
by Rachel, a 30 something Christian, hockey player and lesbian whose experience in an HTB plant has seriously damaged her faith.
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Towards Healthier Power Dynamics in the Church
Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of culture; speaking of church
ViaMedia.News Revd Adams’ Story – Is It Wrong for Me to Tell the Truth?
by the Reverend Adams, a gay Methodist Minister
To the people of the Diocese of Lincoln:
I am writing during the season of Easter, as we look forward to the celebration of Ascension Day and to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Whitsunday, the first Christian Pentecost, to announce my retirement as Bishop of Lincoln on the 31st December 2021 – more than ten years after I took up the post on the 19th September 2011 and as I approach my 69th birthday.
This will be preceded by a period of study leave during October to December in which I will reflect on the last ten years of ministry. I will do this by attending a retreat and undertaking guided study.
Of course, there will be time later for me to give thanks and for others to reflect on all that has happened in the Diocese during these ten years – to mark what has gone well and what has not gone so well; more of that later.
I hope my farewell service will be in Lincoln Cathedral on Sunday 21st November at Evensong at 3.45pm – COVID19 permitting.
I have not made this decision lightly, but after careful thought and prayer and after consultation with people of wisdom inside and outside the Diocese…
The press release goes on to explain the reasoning behind this timing.25 Comments
Thinking Anglicans is being moved to a new server. Unfortunately this has proved more complicated than expected and the changes have been temporarily backed out. I think that the state of comments has been restored, but I apologise if a comment has been lost in the process.
Updated Thursday evening: The move has now been completed, and if you are seeing this message then you are seeing us on our new server.3 Comments
Jas ViaMedia.News Jas’ Story – Please. Be. Kind.
by Jas, a former drug addict, Bible College Student and now married lesbian
Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Lesbians, Sex and the Church of England
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Responding well to Survivors. A Cautionary Tale from the Past4 Comments
Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Lynn: 28 April 2021
The Queen has approved the appointment of the Venerable Dr Jane Elizabeth Steen as the next Suffragan Bishop of Lynn.
From:Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published:28 April 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Dr Jane Elizabeth Steen, MA LLM PhD, Archdeacon of Southwark, in the diocese of Southwark to the Suffragan See of Lynn, in the diocese of Norwich, in succession to the Right Reverend Cyril Jonathan Meyrick who resigned on 25th January 2021.
Jane was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge and trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. She served her title at St John the Baptist, Chipping Barnet, in the Diocese of St Albans and was ordained Priest in 1997.
In 1999, Jane was appointed Chaplain to the Bishop of Southwark in the Diocese of Southwark. In 2005, she became Canon Chancellor at Southwark Cathedral, also serving as Diocesan Director of Ministerial Education and Canon Theologian.
In 2013, Jane took up her current role as Archdeacon of Southwark.
There are more details on the Norwich diocesan website.46 Comments
Updated 29 April and 2 May and 6 May
Although there has been extensive media coverage of the recent report, aided by the recent BBC television documentary, there has been relatively little commentary on the content. Here is a small selection:
Church Times Leader comment: Welcomed to the table at last?
Diocese in Europe Racial Justice: “From Lament To Action”
Telegraph Calvin Robinson The Church of England is institutionally woke
Archbishop Cranmer From Lament To Action: the report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce
Nicholas Adams Lament and Action
Mike Higton Theological Education in ‘From Lament to Action’
Mike Higton (again) How should the church respond to race? – A reply to Ian Paul – kai euthus2 Comments
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Bishop to the Archbishops opposed to equality of LGBTIQ+ people
David Wilbourne Church Times Bigger platoon at Bishopthorpe
“News of further appointments to the Archbishop of York’s staff has prompted David Wilbourne to recall his time as John Habgood’s chaplain”
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Open Letter to +Emma of Penrith47 Comments
Updated Sunday and Tuesday and 8 May
Today’s session started at 9.30 pm and a live video stream is available here.
Order Paper II – the morning’s business
Order Paper III – the afternoon’s business
Andrew Nunn writes about some of the business: Responsible representation.
Stephen Lynas summarises the day’s business: So sad to watch good love go bad.
Business Done – the official summary of both days’ business.0 Comments