The Church of England’s General Synod meets in York this weekend from today until Tuesday.
Stephen Lynas bathwellschap A bridge over troubled water
Stephen’s usual excellent introduction to this week’s business
Madeleine Davies Church Times Anglican Catholic Future raises concerns about Methodist proposals
“Conference’s backing same-sex marriage is now another issue”
[See our earlier article on this topic here.]
Synod ‘lazy and incurious’ about safeguarding scandals
Gabriella Swerling The Telegraph Church of England will condone gay couples for first time – as long as they were man and wife when they took vows
Steve Doughty Mail Online Church of England will allow husbands and wives to stay married after one changes gender, giving their blessing for same-sex marriages in major departure from traditional views
[This refers to question 86 here.]
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E to recognise religious communities for first time in centuries0 Comments
Updated 26 July (video recordings added)
The timetable for Week 2 of these hearings has been published today.
The transcript of today’s (Thursday week 1) hearing is now published here.
Discussion paper by Colin Perkins
Law & Religion UK IICSA: Some more legal views (includes links to more of today’s documents)14 Comments
Updated 26 July (video recordings added)
The transcript of the hearing for day 3 (Wednesday) is now available here.
Media coverage has already appeared:1 Comment
The booklet of Questions and Answers to be taken at the Church of England’s General Synod this weekend is now available for download. It includes both the general questions to be taken on Friday, and those regarding safeguarding to be taken on Sunday. Since the answers are published in advance neither they nor the questions will not be read out, but members will have the opportunity to ask supplementary questions.11 Comments
Duncan Forbes Christian Today What Christians shouldn’t say in response to an abuse story
Carrie Pemberton Ford Women and the Church The Fall of the Berlin Wall, GPS and the Ordination of Women: the liberation of the Church of England? 25 years and counting7 Comments
Updated 26 July (video recordings added)
Transcript of second day of hearings published here.
Document links (28 in total for day 2, now a total of 7 for day 1) here.
Media coverage:1 Comment
…This further report comes before General Synod this week (as paper GS 2135). Anglican Catholic Future is glad to see that it picks up–or seems to pick up–a range of concerns raised in 2018 including:
- whether a partial development such as this–with interchangeability of ministry between two churches that remain distinct–aids or hinders the goal of full visible unity (section A1);
- whether the change in ecclesial life of the Methodist Church proposed in MMiCconstitutes a recognisable form of the historic episcopate (section B);
- the relation between Eucharistic presidency and episcopal ordination (section A3).
The working group has done important work in relation to the first of those questions, concerning the unity of the churches, which we welcome. When it comes to the other two questions that caused concern in early 2018, however, the document placed before Synod this week is far more problematic…
In our own February 2018 statement, we noted questions about whether the proposals would lead to unity, and whether the office of ‘President-bishop’ (to be held for one year only) could be recognized as a ‘local adaption’ of the historic episcopate of the catholic Church. We are grateful to note some progress with regard to the question of unity, but our question as to whether what is proposed is in fact episcopacy remains.
Our third and greatest concern was about the proposal to set aside the requirement that those who minister as priests in the Church of England should have been episcopally ordained to the office of priest. In response to this concern, which was shared by others, the General Synod asked the Faith and Order Commission to ‘explore and elucidate further the relationship between episcopal ordination and eucharistic presidency’. That the Commission has not attempted to offer such an elucidation is a deep disappointment…
The Church Times carried a report recently: Synod should welcome bishops’ safeguarding letter.
A LETTER from the bishops of the diocese of Blackburn, which warned that the Church’s mission was “fatally undermined” by the abuse crisis (News, 21 June), should be formally welcomed by the General Synod, two lay members have suggested.
A motion commending its “victim-centred approach” as a “suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission” has been proposed by Martin Sewell, of the diocese of Rochester, and David Lamming, of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.
They are seeking the permission of the Archbishops to introduce this motion at the meeting in York next month, when the Business Committee submits report on the first day.
This week, they noted that the letter from Blackburn had been welcomed by a number of survivors, including Jo Kind, who addressed the Synod last year (News, 7 July 2018).
“In recent times, we have sought a general debate on a safeguarding theme. Presentations and questions are not the same thing,” they said.
Their suggested motion offered “an opportunity to enable the Church to embrace the important themes of repentance, listening with humility, and pastoral care”.
The archbishops have today rejected this proposal. Below you will find the text of the proposed motion and the text of the reply sent by the Bishop at Lambeth. Note that the proposal was not to debate the IICSA report at all but only the four page pastoral letter from the Blackburn senior clergy.
“This Synod welcome the terms of the Diocese of Blackburn ‘Ad Clerum’ letter dated 17th June 2019, reflecting
on the IICSA report, dated May 2019, on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball, and commend its victim-centred approach to all in authority within the Church as a suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission.”
From: Tim Thornton
Date: 2 July 2019
To: Martin Sewell, David Lamming
Subject: Proposal to ask permission to introduce a motion
Dear Martin and David
Thank you for the e mail you have sent to both the Presidents letting them know about your intention to ask permission to introduce a motion at the Synod in York.
I am writing to let you know that both the Presidents have considered your idea carefully and both feel it is not appropriate at this time and so will refuse you the permission you seek.
Of course your motion is an important one and the matters you raise are crucial for our life as a Church. However as you both know the IICSA hearing is taking place at the same time as the York session and many of the key people in the NST and others (including the Bishop of Bath and Wells) are focussed on responding to the inquiry and listening carefully to the survivors and all who are giving evidence over this fortnight.
It is also the case that the Interim Report has only recently been published and the NSSG has even more recently sent in its response to the recommendations. The Presidents do think it is right to allow some more time for people to read those reports and consider their views and reactions to the important and difficult material contained in the report. It is also important to allow the present hearing to take its course before we have a debate on these matters on the floor of Synod.
There are of course questions and space being given to Safeguarding on the Sunday of this session so there will be opportunity for voices to be heard.
I understand this will not be the answer you would like but I hope you can understand the Presidents have given your question thought and do not think that this particular session is the right time to allow for the proper preparation and the availability for all who would and should be there to take part in any such debate.
Updated 26 July (video recordings added)
The transcript of the first day of this hearing, which covers both the Church of England and the Church in Wales, is available here.
Video recordings of today:
The Church Times has published two reports of the hearing:
The timetable.for the remainder of the first week is here. The hearings are scheduled to last two weeks.3 Comments
See our earlier article Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.
The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an interview by Donna Birrell with the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North (starts at 32 minutes, 45 seconds).
BBC Radio Cornwall has a longer version of this interview, listen over here.
A transcript of this (longer) interview is copied below the fold. (more…)2 Comments
Sylvia Keesmaat Empire Remixed What ever happened to the Bible in the Marriage Canon Debate? A Look at the Classic Texts
Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Safeguarding and the Clergy Discipline Measure
Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of liberalism
Hayley Matthews ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say….that Families Need a “Mummy and a Daddy”?9 Comments
The Daily Telegraph published a news article on 21 June: Minister ‘spiritually abused’ the vulnerable. This is behind a paywall, but the substance of it was subsequently reported elsewhere:
Two notices dated April and May 2019 signed by the Bishop of Maidstone and 3 others.
Statements and a video recording from an event on 27 June, at which Vaughan Roberts, Sarah Hall (Emmanuel’s Safeguarding Officer) and Andrew Wales QC describe in some detail what the abuse consisted of, and what actions have been taken by Emmanuel Church and by others, in response to the disclosures received. The transcript is worth reading in full.
In a separate but related development, two statements were recently issued by the Anglican Mission in England:
To date, two articles have been published which comment on all of this:
Church Times now has a further story Fletcher faces allegations of naked beatings which includes the full text of a statement from Jonathan Fletcher:
“As part of a long-standing prayer group, I have in the past been involved in a system of mutual encouragement whereby we set ourselves targets in healthy and holy living and then imposed what I thought of as light-hearted forfeits if we failed.
“These included going without chocolate, cold baths and school-type gym shoe punishments. Although at the time we definitely did not think we were doing anything wrong, I’ve seen since that it could have caused much harm both to individuals and to the reputation of conservative evangelicalism for which I am profoundly sorry. Needless to say, this activity has now stopped.
“In addition, a number of people are reporting that I have had naked massages with them. I enjoy massage and benefit from it. To that end I regularly have it professionally administered. However, if I can avoid the cost by finding a male friend to administer, and in return receive, massage, I do.
“These sessions categorically do not have erotic or sexual overtones and I have never coerced or intended to coerce anyone into an arrangement. If any have felt pressurised by me to do this, I apologise.
“Again, I realise that in the position I have held in the past as an incumbent, it was unwise of me to involve anyone to whom I was also ministering and I apologise for doing so.
“I confirm that I no longer engage in public ministry.”
Press release from Number 10
Suffragan Bishop of Dover: 28 June 2019
Queen approves appointment of the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin to the Suffragan See of Dover.
Published 28 June 2019
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
The Queen has approved the appointment of the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, BPhil Ed, Hon LLD, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and Priest in Charge of St Mary-at-Hill, in the Diocese of London to the Suffragan See of Dover, in the Diocese of Canterbury, in succession to the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, MA, who resigned on 31st May 2019.
Rose was born and raised in Jamaica. She was educated at Montego Bay High School for Girls and later at Birmingham University. She trained with the Church Army and was commissioned in 1982 as an Evangelist; she later trained for ordination at Queens Theological College on their part-time course, ordained deacon in 1991 and ordained priest in 1994 serving her title at St Matthew’s Church, Willenhall Road in the Diocese of Lichfield.
For sixteen and a half years she served as a priest in Hackney (Holy Trinity with St Philip, Dalston and All Saints, Haggerston). In 2007 she was appointed as a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and in 2010, she became the first woman appointed to the position of the 79th Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. In November 2014, she took on the additional responsibility as Priest in Charge of city Church, St Mary-at-Hill near Monument. She is an Honorary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral and a Priest Vicar of Westminster Abbey.
She has previously served as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and also as one of the Panel of Chairs of the Synod. She has twice represented the Church of England at the World Council of Churches (in Zimbabwe & Brazil); she served as its priest representative on the Anglican Consultative Council for 9 years. She also served as a Selection Secretary for the Church of England, helping to select men and women seeking to test their vocation to the ministry. She does numerous preaching and speaking engagements nationally (and occasionally overseas). She was a member of the Broadcasting Standards Commission and has wide experience of media engagement including some religious broadcasting.
She is married to The Reverend Kenneth Wilkin, a Prison Chaplain and they have three adult children.
The Canterbury diocesan website states that her consecration will be on 19 November 2019.21 Comments
Press release from the Church of England
Church of England response to IICSA’s report
The Church of England has published today its response to IICSA’s report on the Chichester diocese and Peter Ball case studies. This is ahead of next week’s wider IICSA hearing on the Anglican Church in England and Wales.
The timetable for the first week of the IICSA hearing on the Anglican Church in England and Wales is available here.7 Comments
Earlier this month, there was surprising news from Botswana: Botswana scraps gay sex laws in big victory for LGBTQ rights in Africa.
Botswana’s High Court has overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations in a landmark victory for Africa’s LGBTQ movements.
The court in the southern African country unanimously ruled on Tuesday that the legislation was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the public interest.
“A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness,” Justice Michael Leburu said, noting that discriminatory law not only serves as a detriment to LGBTQ people, but holds back all of society.
“Societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity,” he said…
CNN also carried this comment article the next day: Africa is doing better on LGBTQ rights than you think.
Living Reconciliation reported on the role of Alice Mogwe in this achievement: We Believe in Human Dignity
Decriminalisation of LGBTQI people is a victory for human dignity.
The 11 June 2019 decision of the Botswana High Court, to strike down colonial laws which discriminated against LGBTIQ persons was greeted with joy by those seeking to promote human dignity.
Alice Mogwe – Anglican lay woman, Human Rights defender, and founder and Director of DITSHWANELO – the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, welcomed the ruling with joy.
‘We believe in human dignity: that all are made in the image of God’ she said. ‘This is a step on the road to dignity for LGBTIQ persons in Botswana, a great step, but still a step. It offers the hope of more to come. LGBTIQ people need to have dignity in all our communities, in their families and among all of our people. This can make it possible.’
Alice has been journeying with LGBTIQ people on their road to freedom for over 20 years. In 1998 DITSHWANELO created a project focused on the rights of LGB persons. This led to the establishment of a fledgling group called LeGaBiBo – Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo). It was seeded and nested by DITSHWANELO.
Many human rights groups advocate for the voiceless and speak for the oppressed. Alice has long championed human dignity over human rights and her aim is to enable people to speak for themselves, not to be spoken for…
Law & Religion UK reported on the court’s decision here: Same-sex relationships in Botswana:Motshidiemang
On 11 June, in Motshidiemang v Attorney General  MAHGB-000591 16, the Botswana High Court held that the criminalisation of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex was unconstitutional. Tafa, Leburu and Dube JJ concluded that ss.164(a), 164(c), 165 and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code violated the constitutional rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons to dignity, liberty, privacy and equality. The Court began from the proposition that sexual relations between consenting adults in private were none of the law’s business:
“What regulatory joy and solace are derived by the law, when it proscribes and criminalises such conduct of two consenting adults, expressing and professing love to each other, within their secluded sphere, bedroom, confines and/or precinct? Is this not a question of over-regulation of human conduct and expression, which has the effect of impairing and infringing upon constitutionally ordained, promised and entrenched fundamental human rights?”…
The Church of England announced yesterday that Bishop Chris Goldsmith is to become its next Director of Ministry. The bishop is currently the suffragan Bishop of St Germans in the diocese of Truro, so that post will become vacant when he takes up his new position in September 2019.5 Comments
Marcus Green ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say…that St Paul ‘Hates Gays’?
George Sumner The Living Church Why should Anglicans want to be a Communion?
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church John Smyth and the question of Anglican membership116 Comments
General Synod meets in York next month and the Church of England issued its usual pre-Synod press release this morning, and this is copied below the fold. It concentrates on one item (youth violence and knife crime).
Madeleine Davies in Church Times has a fuller preview of the Synod agenda: Synod to focus on youth violence and knife crime.
There are two other Church Times articles.
Invest in refugees, Synod motion proposes
Synod will be asked whether it ‘gladly bears’ eucharistic presidency by Methodist presbyters as ‘temporary anomaly’
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England urged to offer haven from knife crime
Izzy Lyons and Laura FitzPatrick The Telegraph Churches should become knife crime sanctuaries with weapon amnesty bins, General Synod to discuss17 Comments
The Church of England issued the following press release today.
Safeguarding Data Report 2015-17
Safeguarding data has been published today taken from annual safeguarding returns, collected by dioceses from 2015-17 and sent to the National Safeguarding Team. This is the first time that trends have been analysed over a three-year period.
The Church of England consists of more than 16,000 churches across the country; with around 1.14 million adults and children making up the regular worshipping community. This means it comes into contact with vast numbers of children, young people and adults every day of the week and safeguarding them is a priority. The majority of safeguarding-related concerns or allegations relate to children or vulnerable adults who attend or who have contact with the Church and their lives within the community.
In any report about data of this nature, it is important to recognise that behind each statistic is a person. Safeguarding is about everyone’s wellbeing and means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture; it is about valuing every person as made in God’s image.
Madeleine Davies Church Times Safeguarding reports grow by a half in two years
The full text of the MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) press release referred to in this article is here.
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England finds 50% rise in abuse claims and concerns