Thinking Anglicans

Organisational change at the Anglican Communion Office

Press release from the Anglican Communion Office: Standing Committee review leads to shift of focus in the Anglican Communion Office (full text copied below)

Further information about the changes can be found on the Anglican Communion website: anglicancommunion.org/renewal2021.

Press release:

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion has announced changes to the operational priorities of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) which will see it taking more of a coordinating role; with programmatic activity instead focused in provinces, regions, networks and agencies. Currently, three charities serve the Anglican Communion through the ACO – the Anglican Alliance, the Lambeth Conference Company, and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). Today’s announcement relates only to those staff employed by the ACC.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, was commissioned by the Standing Committee to chair an international review in May 2020. The review committee reported in September and, after continuing deliberations, the Standing Committee announced their decisions publicly today after they were shared with staff last week.

The Review recommended that the work of the ACC should focus on supporting the Instruments of Communion and those elements of programmatic work which could not be undertaken more effectively regionally or within provinces. The new focus for ACC staff will be to facilitate and coordinate programmatic work by member churches and authorised networks.

The restructuring has placed a number of staff at risk of redundancy and a formal process of consultation is underway.

In a written Case for Organisational Change distributed to staff, the Standing Committee said that the proposed changes were not only driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. It said that the re-focussing recognises that “the resource gaps between provinces in terms of education and technology have reduced significantly and the resource available to the Communion has increased as a result. It said that “aspects of the programmatic work undertaken at the ACO would be more effectively undertaken through provinces, regions or other agencies across the Communion with the ACO coordinating and communicating that work across the Communion.”

It went on to say that “the more centralised approach which currently dominates project / programme work, has a negative impact on diversity and inclusion and does not reflect the breadth of culture and diversity represented in the Communion, in particular those parts of the Communion who do not have English as their first language or as an official language of their country or province.”

Vice Chair Maggie Swinson, a lay canon in the Church of England’s Diocese of Liverpool, said: “The direction commended by the review report will draw provinces into active participation in the Communion’s work and our common mission to build the kingdom. Staff in the office have served us well and it is a sadness that, in our efforts to increase provincial engagement through devolving aspects of the Communion’s work, some redundancies may result.”

The President of the ACC, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said: “The Anglican Communion is a global family of churches that are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ in an extraordinary range of contexts. This review has been an important part of discerning how we can draw more fully on the gifts, resources and wisdom of provinces across the Communion, as we seek to serve a world in need.

“I’m grateful to Archbishop Thabo, Canon Margaret Swinson and all those who have led this work. I would also like to thank all the staff at the Anglican Communion Office who have served with such passion, commitment and faith over many years, and assure them all of my prayers throughout this process.”.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, responding to the changes by saying: “This review takes us back to the original rationale behind the setting up of the ACO. The new structure will enable the ACO to assist the 41 provinces to act out our Five Marks of Mission in a united collaborative manner, as well as enable them to become the family of churches that God wants us to be in order to advance God’s mission.”

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Opinion – 16 January 2021

Updated 21 January

Fergus Butler-Gallie The Fence At the Altar of Capital
“The Church of England is plugging the gaps left by Tory austerity. Fergus Butler-Gallie explains how the party of religion split from its Church.”
Update: a vesrion of this article has subsequently appeared in The Guardian The Conservatives think the Church of England can fill all welfare gaps. We can’t.

Bernice Hardie Church Times It is time to value all equally
“Bernice Hardie suggests ways to include people with learning disabilities in churches”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Observing the power dynamics of the Church and its congregations

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News Church of England: Will the Quest to be Woke Save Us?

93 Comments

Christ Church Oxford to act on complaint against Dean

Updated again Wednesday
See previous item.

press release from Christ Church

Further statement in response to media interest
12 January 2021

Christ Church’s Governing Body and Cathedral Chapter have decided to take forward internal disciplinary proceedings, following a complaint that was reported in October 2020. These proceedings are part of Christ Church’s HR procedures for dealing with employment issues, as set out in its Statutes.

We fully recognise that this has been an extremely distressing time for each of the parties involved, exacerbated by high levels of media interest and the strong feelings the case has generated. It is now crucial that this internal disciplinary matter is left to be resolved, formally and properly, through the correct procedures, which will include the appointment of an external, independent chair. These procedures exist to protect all of our staff, students and congregants, and Christ Church as a whole, in equal measure.

Updates

Archbishop Cranmer has already published a further article on this: Martyn Percy is a ‘sex pest’: Christ Church Oxford in new attempt to oust the Dean
This contains much information about the letter from the Reverend Jonathan Aitken to the Chapter, mentioned here earlier, but also it reproduces the reply to him from the Reverend Canon Graham Ward. The whole article is worth reading.

The Church Times has now (Wednesday) published Dean of Christ Church faces new attempt to remove him from office. This contains a good deal of additional information about the internal disciplinary process to date, and what may happen in the future, and also summarises the status of the separate Clergy Discipline Measure action which is, apparently, proceeding in parallel.

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Christ Church Oxford to consider new tribunal action against Dean

We reported on 19 November 2020 A new complaint about the Dean of Christ Church.

Since then we have also linked to several comment articles published on Surviving Church  and Archbishop Cranmer relating to this, in particular (and in reverse date order) on 9 January, 2 January, and 9 December. Some of the linked articles contain fragments of information about developments in this case.

Today and yesterday, two news articles have appeared in mainstream media, both unfortunately behind paywalls, but here are the links, with their headlines, anyway:

Telegraph Camilla Turner Dean of Christ Church faces fresh attempt to be ousted

Times Andrew Billen Oxford college accused of ‘toxic’ bid to paint dean Martyn Percy as a sex pest

Both Christ Church and the Oxford diocese have issued statements (full texts copied below)

The Christ Church statement contains no reference to this incident still being treated as a Safeguarding matter, contrary to earlier reports. The Diocesan statement confirms that a CDM action is still proceeding.  TA understands that Oxford diocesan officials, including the bishop, have recused themselves from participation in that action.

The Telegraph reports:

The College’s governing body and the chapter of the cathedral are due to vote on Monday on whether Dr Percy should be taken to an internal tribunal that could see him removed from office. This… follows an alleged incident which took place in Christ Church cathedral in October, where it is claimed that he stroked a woman’s hair and complimented her on her appearance.

The Times article includes this:

Few in the Church of England have voiced their concerns about a complicated affair over which the church has little say. Many, including the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, appear satisfied that Christ Church has acted responsibly over the latest complaint.

But Rev [Angela] Tilby told The Times: “The difference this time is that the patient machinations of those on the cathedral chapter who have consistently plotted against the dean have now borne fruit with other cathedral clergy apparently actively working for his sacking on the grounds of him being a ‘sex pest’. The mixture of malevolence and naivety is toxic and extremely disturbing in an institution supposedly dedicated to education, learning and holiness.”

Christ Church confirmed yesterday that the governing body would review its investigator’s report alongside the advice of an independent QC.

Both news reports mention that Jonathan Aitken has written to the Cathedral Chapter about the latest developments. In his letter he explains that if the Chapter endorses the Governing Body’s action (expected on Monday) to proceed with a new tribunal, he will seek a Judicial Review in the High Court. and outlines the legal and financial risks involved, both for the Chapter and its individual members. He also makes three suggestions for alternative courses of action by the Chapter.

(more…)

38 Comments

Opinion – 9 January 2021

Jonathan Draper Afterthoughts Religion and the Right

Robin Stockitt and S John Dawson Church Times Why Donewiths never darken the doors again
“If their deeply felt longings are not met, some church people will head for the exit”

Martin Sewell Surviving Church Dean Percy and the case for specialist professional competence

24 Comments

Archbishop of Wales to retire in May

News today from the Church in Wales

Archbishop of Wales to retire in May

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, is to retire in May after four years as leader of the Church in Wales.

Archbishop John, who will shortly celebrate his 68th birthday, has also served as Bishop of Swansea and Brecon for the past 13 years. The 13th Archbishop of Wales, he was also the first Bishop of Swansea and Brecon to be elected as Archbishop. He will retire from both roles on May 2…

24 Comments

Opinion – 6 January 2021 – the Epiphany

Janet Fife Surviving Church The Crystalline Personality

Laudable Practice “The Last of the Solemnity of this Season”: Caroline, Restoration, and Revolution Era Preaching on the Epiphany

7 Comments

Opinion – 2 January 2021

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Current Affairs – Power Games and Conflicts of Interest at Christ Church Oxford part 1
part 2

Editorial in The Guardian The Guardian view on liberal Christians: is this their moment?
“The election of practising Catholic Joe Biden is just one reason for religious progressives to be hopeful”

57 Comments

Opinion – 30 December 2020

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News Wise Words for this Year’s End…

A N Wilson The Times Church shepherds have lost their flocks
“The Archbishop of Wokeness Welby and the equally inept Nichols are not leaders that the faithful deserve”

Simon Jenkins The Guardian If the Church of England worships online, how can its historic buildings survive?
“Congregations have shown great adaptability in the pandemic, and churches could again be at the heart of British life”

86 Comments

Becket 850

Today is the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the hands of four of King Henry II’s knights. To mark the date we republish a piece that we originally published on this day in 2007.

‘Since Christmas a day:
and the day of St Stephen, First Martyr.
‘Since St Stephen a day:
and the day of St John the Apostle.
‘Since St John the Apostle a day:
and the day of the Holy Innocents.
‘Since the Holy Innocents a day:
the fourth day from Christmas.
‘To-day, what is to-day?’

So wrote T S Eliot at the start of the second act of his play Murder in the Cathedral, written for the 1935 Canterbury Festival, and first performed in the Chapter House at Canterbury, just a few yards from where, on this day in 1170, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was killed.

The murder, or assassination, of Thomas Becket within his cathedral church shocked the whole of western Christendom. Within three years he had been canonized, his name added to the roll of saints of the Church, and King Henry II forced to do penance for his role in Becket’s death. From Iceland to Italy there are churches dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, and relics, statues and images from just a few years after 1170.

The cause for which Becket died, however, is not one that today we necessarily regard as unambiguously right. As Eliot has the assassins remind his audience, the rule of law that we treasure as a great protection was begun by the reforms of Henry II that Becket stood against. ‘Remember,’ says the Second Knight in his speech to the audience, ‘remember that it is we who took the first step. We have been instrumental in bringing about the state of affairs that you approve.’ On the other hand, the rule of law that Henry II was introducing was harsh, whereas the rule of the Church, which Becket wanted to encompass as many people as possible, was more lenient.

And yet we cannot easily regard the murder of Becket as justified, even if we can agree with some of the sentiments Eliot has the knights express. The end does not justify the means. The powerful cannot go around murdering those they disagree with, whether they be political rivals or obstacles (as Becket had become to Henry II), or the weak and impoverished (as the boys of Bethlehem were to Herod, or indeed today). The prophets of the Old Testament remind us of this too: we see David brought to book by Nathan for arranging the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11, 12); and Elijah foretells disaster on the house of Ahab for his complicity in bearing false witness against Naboth and causing him to be executed (1 Kings 21); and there are plenty of other examples.

The very rule of law that Henry II wanted to introduce requires that arbitrary exercise of power is not allowed. The murder of Thomas Becket reminds us still that the rule of law (tempered by equity and mercy) is fundamental to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and that it applies as much if not more to the rich and powerful and to the rulers as it does to the dispossessed, the powerless and the ruled. Those in power must always be held to account for their treatment of those who are in their power.

‘To-day, what is to-day?’
‘Let our thanks ascend
To God, who has given us another Saint in Canterbury.’
‘Blessed Thomas, pray for us.’

Simon Kershaw is Lay Chair of the Ely diocesan synod and a lay canon of Ely Cathedral. He was also a founder member of the TS Eliot Society in 2006.

8 Comments

Opinion – 26 December 2020

Chantry Westwell British Library The ox and ass at the Nativity

Giles Fraser UnHerd Why I won’t be closing my church this Christmas

Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Church The Church and Bishopsgate

63 Comments

Opinion – 23 December 2020

Rachel Treweek ViaMedia.News The Sound of Silence

Jonathan Jones The Guardian Myrrh mystery: how did Balthasar, one of the three kings, become black?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Bishops, Safeguarding and Jonathan Fletcher

The Anglican Communion News Service has links to Christmas messages from Anglican Primates.

13 Comments

Peerage for Sentamu

We reported in October on the coverage in the press asking why the recently retired Archbishop of York had not been given a peerage. The Prime Minister’s office has today released a list of Political Peerages 2020, and Dr Sentamu is included in the Crossbench section of the list. Despite the title of the press release, the crossbench nominations are for public service.

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St Helen’s Bishopsgate announces “broken partnership” with House of Bishops

St Helen’s Bishopsgate has issued the following statement:

STATEMENT

Date 16 December 2020

ST HELEN’S BISHOPSGATE ANNOUNCES “BROKEN PARTNERSHIP” WITH HOUSE OF BISHOPS

St Helen’s Bishopsgate, following much prayer and reflection, has announced a state of broken partnership with the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

St Helen’s and many other churches have over a prolonged period called for and prayed for Bishops, as the denomination’s senior leaders, to uphold their vows to teach what the Bible says, including in the area of sex and marriage, and to deny false teaching and practice. Instead the House of Bishops is divided on sex and marriage; its official orthodox doctrine is expressly undermined by how some bishops speak and act, and by the failure to speak and act of many others. This has resulted in a muddled message and confusion for churchgoers across England. Despite their consecration vows, Bishops have overseen the appointment to influential leadership positions of people who openly advocate change to the Church of England’s doctrine and/or forms of service, and Bishops have permitted alternative services and events that do not uphold the Church of England’s stated doctrinal position on sexual ethics.

Seven years ago the House of Bishops published the Pilling Report which called for ‘facilitated discussions’ on sexuality. Earlier this month the House of Bishops published the Living in Love and Faith book, course, and library of resources which call for yet further discussion. Living in Love and Faith demonstrates the division in the House of Bishops with some sections setting out the orthodox biblical teaching but others erroneous alternative views. The overall effect suggests that the clear biblical teaching on sex and marriage is not clear. The House of Bishops is responsible for upholding biblical doctrine in the Church of England. Whilst St Helen’s is encouraged by the faithful work of some involved in the LLF project, the clarity and consistency of the bible’s teaching on sex and marriage is in marked contrast to the House of Bishops’ muddled message.

In good conscience, St Helen’s is no longer able to remain in gospel partnership with the House of Bishops until they again speak and act consistently in accordance with the plain reading and plain teaching of scripture on sex and marriage, as recognised by the church down the centuries.

The loving summons of the Lord Jesus to ‘repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand’ leads his followers into a life of rich fulfilment that stretches into eternity. Thus, when Church of England bishops depart from proclaiming and defending clear biblical teaching, it is not just a breach of the Canons of the Church of England, but more seriously it is unloving and painful to the many people within the Church of England who want to live faithful and sacrificial lives following Jesus, and it risks causing others to stray from the way of salvation revealed in the scriptures.

St Helen’s has a deep love and concern for those in the church who experience same-sex attraction, and seeks to provide support and care for such men and women in our own congregations. Sadly when Church of England leaders contradict or fail to promote the clear teaching of scripture in the area of sexual ethics, they are heard by our and other congregations to say that scripture does not matter and the personal obedience of committed Christians desiring to be faithful to Jesus’ teaching does not matter.

St Helen’s, like the great majority of Anglicans around the world, believes that scripture clearly and consistently teaches that it is God’s good plan that the only loving and God-honouring place for sexual practice is within the marriage of one man and one woman, and that this is a matter of primary biblical importance. It is not merely a ‘secondary matter’ over which faithful Christian disciples can ‘agree to disagree’, rather it is a matter of the authority of God’s word to which all disciples of Jesus Christ should seek to submit (and not reword).

Tracey, a member of St Helen’s who knew she was gay when she was 12, lived an active gay lifestyle in her twenties until she became a Christian a few years ago.

She says, “Now that I’m a Christian it doesn’t mean that I have become straight. I’ve always been attracted to girls. The thing that helped me was understanding that temptation and sin were different things. I have a choice: I can either honour God with my actions or dishonour him.”

She continues, “I find it upsetting when Christians take different bits of the Bible and say, I’ll go with this and not that, as it was quite clear to me what the Bible taught on homosexuality. There is a cost and it is tricky, but holding onto the truths in the Bible, I choose to honour Jesus. I have a wonderful church family who are incredibly supportive.”

St Helen’s is not leaving the Church of England and will remain a member of its Deanery and Diocesan structures for the most part. However St Helen’s will be withdrawing from those activities which indicate full spiritual partnership. This is likely to include the selection and recommendation of people going forward for ordination, as well as planting new Church of England churches. We have been in regular communication with both the current Bishop of London and her predecessor about our developing concerns. We are grateful that the Bishop of London has, in response, proposed working with St Helen’s to assess how the potential consequences of broken partnership could be addressed.

William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s says, “The House of Bishops has responsibility for spiritual leadership in the Church of England-teaching the truth, correcting error and exercising discipline. Their failure of leadership over many years is responsible for the confusion that the Church of England now finds itself in. By contrast the Bible’s teaching is clear, authoritative and loving as is the historic doctrine of the Church of England. Sadly, therefore, we find that although authentically Anglican, we are not, for the time being, in gospel partnership with the House of Bishops. We feel obliged to take this step to differentiate ourselves visibly from the House of Bishops.”

He continues, “We are grateful for the ongoing faithful ministry of the Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, who is not himself a voting member of the House of Bishops but has repeatedly and faithfully raised these concerns about departure from the Scriptures. Rod will review me annually in my role as Rector of St Helen’s, with input from the churchwardens and other members of the team at St Helen’s. We will also continue to pray for the leadership of the Church of England and for the House of Bishops, especially that they will stand strong in the orthodox truths and have the confidence to be unashamed in preaching the gospel as set out in scripture – the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, no matter how counter-cultural it may seem to contemporary society.”

Many local church leaders, from different Anglican churches across the country, share similar concerns to those expressed by St Helen’s. We wish to support and remain in full partnership with these likeminded churches, who seek to teach the good news of Jesus with faithfulness and compassion and provide on-going care, love and support for those within their congregations experiencing same-sex attraction.

End

For more information, please see www.st-helens.org.uk/about/cofe and/or contact media@st-helens.org.uk

167 Comments

Opinion – 19 December 2020

Giles Fraser UnHerd Hope rises from the rubble of my church
“My ancient parish stands firm as the demolition diggers move in”

Kelvin Holdsworth Conversion Therapy and why I can’t join calls for it to be banned

Laudable Practice ‘Moderation, Learning, Usefulness, Piety’: An Old High Church Alternative To ‘Simpler, Humbler, Bolder’

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Power games in Church life

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News To Sign or Not To Sign – A Bishop’s Dilemma

8 Comments

General Synod February/March 2021

The Church of England General Synod next meets from Friday 26 February to Monday 1 March 2021. The draft timetable for the meeting was published today, and is copied below the fold.

(more…)

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The Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani will be the next Bishop of Chelmsford

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Chelmsford: 17 December 2020

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Gulnar (Guli) Francis-Dehqani BA MA PhD, Suffragan Bishop of Loughborough, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford.

Published 17 December 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Gulnar (Guli) Francis-Dehqani BA MA PhD, Suffragan Bishop of Loughborough, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford, in succession to the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell following his appointment as Archbishop of York.

Background

Guli was born and raised in Iran and her faith was nurtured in the tiny and much persecuted Christian community there. Her father was Bishop in Iran and her brother was murdered subsequent to the Iranian Revolution. He is commemorated in the Chapel of the Modern Martyrs at Canterbury Cathedral. Guli and her family were forced into exile.

Now a UK Citizen, Guli was educated at Nottingham University and Bristol University and trained for ministry at The South East Institute for Theological Education. She served her title at Mortlake with East Sheen, in the Diocese of Southwark and was ordained priest in 1999. She also has a doctorate in theology on cross cultural mission.

In 2002, Guli was appointed Chaplain of the Royal Academy of Music and St Marylebone Church of England School, in the Diocese of London. In 2009, she took up the role of Inter-faith Liaison Research Assistant at the University of Northampton and in 2011 was appointed Curate Training Officer, in the Diocese of Peterborough.

In 2017, Guli took up her current role as Bishop of Loughborough, in the Diocese of Leicester.

She is married to Canon Lee Francis-Dehqani, also ordained, and they have three children, one at university and twins at school.

There is more on the Chelmsford diocesan website.

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Safeguarding: Durham diocese publishes Granville Gibson report

The Diocese of Durham has today published the report by Dr Stephanie Hill into the case of convicted sexual abuser Granville Gibson, formerly the Archdeacon of Auckland.

Statement by Bishop Paul Butler which explains why the report, completed in 2017, has been delayed in publication until now.

The full text of the report is here: Independent Report into the case of George Granville Gibson.

The diocesan responses to the recommendations in the report are tabulated here.

9 Comments

UK government hosts launch of Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives

The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives has brought together over 350 senior faith leaders from around the world to call for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBT people and for a global ban on conversion therapy.

They have released a video of senior faith leaders saying this declaration.

They are holding a one day conference today, 16 Decemberwhich is available as a livestream from 0930 – 1630. This is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

The programme of the conference can be viewed here.

The Bishop of London has recorded this welcoming video.

This will be followed at 1730 by a Celebration at Westminster Abbey with both the Dean of Westminster and the Dean of St Paul’s.

They invite all people of faith to sign the declaration with them.

The full text of the press release is copied below the fold.

Media coverage

(more…)

7 Comments

Opinion – 16 December 2020

Andreas Wenzel All Things Lawful And Honest People first, then priests

Robert Paterson Church Times Consecrated bread should not be posted to communicants
“Doing this this might be motivated by pastoral intentions, but is a breach of fundamental principle”

Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News LLF: Listen to all the Voices

Charles Clapham Unadulterated Love Living in Love and Faith and heterosexual fragility

Janet Fife Surviving Church Alphabet Soup: A Glossary of Safeguarding

4 Comments