Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Hull to retire in February 2022

The Rt Revd Alison White is to retire as Bishop of Hull in February 2022. There are more details on the York diocesan website.

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News and comment on Church in Wales vote to bless same-sex marriages

News

Church Times Welsh agree to same-sex blessings in church

BBC Church in Wales to give blessings for same-sex marriages

The Telegraph The Church in Wales to bless gay marriages

The Guardian Church in Wales votes to bless same-sex marriages

Comment

Equal The Church in Wales will bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships

Charlie Bell Equal A fly on the wall

15 Comments

Church in Wales approves blessing service for same-sex partnerships

Update – news and comment on this are being link in a separate article.

Press release from the Church in Wales

Church approves blessing service for same-sex partnerships
Provincial news Posted: 6 September 2021

Same-sex couples will be able to have their civil partnership or marriage blessed in Church in Wales churches for the first time after new legislation was passed today (September 6).

A Bill to authorise a service of blessing was approved by members of the Church’s Governing Body at its meeting. It was passed by the necessary two-thirds majority in each order of the three orders – Bishops, clergy and laity.

The service will be used experimentally for five years and 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 was introduced by the Bishops, following an indication from Governing Body members that it was “pastorally unsustainable” for the Church to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships.

Responding to the vote, the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, who introduced the Bill, said, “I come out of this debate with no sense of triumph but believing that the Church in Wales has done the right thing under God for the LGBTQIA+ community. The Church has spoken decisively today in favour of blessings.

There is a journey still to be taken but I hope that we can do it together with all the wings of the Church.”
The Bishops passed the Bill unanimously, the clergy by 28 to 12 with two abstentions and the laity by 49 to 10 with one abstention.

The discussion and vote was held on the first day of the Governing Body meeting at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport. The second day of the meeting will take place online only, via Zoom, on Wednesday, September 8 and will also be live-streamed.

1 Comment

Appointment of Dean of St Albans

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Appointment of Dean of St Albans: 6 September

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Joanne Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral, for election as Dean of St Albans.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 6 September 2021

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Joanne Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral, for election as Dean of St Albans, in succession to The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John following his resignation on 31st March 2021.

Background

Joanne was educated at Victoria University of Wellington and the Law Society of New Zealand. After a career in the law in Wellington and London she completed a theology degree at the Bible College of New Zealand, followed by graduate studies for ministry at St John’s Theological College in Auckland. Joanne served her title at St Aidan’s, Remuera in the Diocese of Auckland, and was ordained Priest in 2001. Becoming Vicar of St Aidan’s in 2004, Joanne took up the additional role of Chaplain for Corran School for Girls and in 2005 was appointed Acting Archdeacon of Auckland for the duration of 18 months. Joanne became Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland in 2010. In 2017, Joanne took up her current roles as Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral.

More on the diocesan website

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Opinion – 4 September 2021

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of the parish as a system

Mary Wakefield The Spectator What’s the harm in opening the church doors?

Theo Hobson The Spectator The fight for the future of the Church of England
[This is also available on The Spectator‘s UK site, where it is behind the firewall.]

Madeleine Davies Church Times The Church and NDAs: when silence is enforced

David Goodhew The Living Church Whither the Church of England?

Surviving Church Review Article – German Lessons

97 Comments

Resignation of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, one of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, is to step down and will be received into communion with the See of Rome. In the statement, Bishop Jonathan writes:

I have arrived at the decision to step down as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, in order to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, only after a long period of prayer, which has been among the most testing periods of my life. … I trust you all to believe that I have made my decision as a way of saying yes to God’s present call and invitation, and not of saying no to what I have known and experienced in the Church of England, to which I owe such a deep debt.

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Bleeding for Jesus

DLT has published a book, written by Andrew Graystone, about John Smyth: Bleeding for Jesus.

Religion Media Centre held a briefing this week, reported here by Rosie Dawson: Three moments of failure: sadistic barrister’s beatings could have been prevented, says author.

The churchwardens at St Andrew the Great, Cambridge have published A Letter to the Church Family from the Wardens, and Alasdair Paine has issued a 6 page Personal Statement. They complain that Andrew Graystone did not contact Alasdair Paine for permission to mention him.

The Church Times has published this news article: Welby should have done more to stop Smyth, says author. It includes the following:

A statement from the publishers of Bleeding for Jesus, Darton, Longman & Todd, appears unrepentant, saying of Mr Paine: “When eventually he reported the disclosure to his diocesan safeguarding adviser, he told her about only two instances of abuse — his own and Graham’s [the survivor (not his real name) who approached Mr Paine]. He did not tell her what he knew — that Smyth’s abuse had been far more widespread, and that he was still at large and potentially abusing.

“If Alasdair Paine had found the courage to speak earlier, John Smyth might well have faced justice. Victims in the UK might have had a chance to begin healing, and children and young people in Zimbabwe and South Africa might have been spared their abuse.”

76 Comments

Opinion – 1 September 2021

Tim Guymer Unadulterated Love Living in Love and Faith course material – key failings

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Personal Reflections on early Christian formation

Erika Cannon Earth & Altar Warning: Children in Church

Wesley Hill The Living Church Bring your Bible to Class – or Church

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Christ Church Oxford: update on the Dean

In an electronic letter to former students and others, from the Development Office of the College, dated 27 August, the following information is included:

We also wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the status of the Dean. The current situation is a source of great pain and frustration to us all.  It will be even harder to comprehend for those of you looking on from afar, especially through the lens of public speculation and, at times, disinformation.

The Dean voluntarily withdrew from his duties last November, following an allegation made against him. An independent investigation into the allegation was commissioned; this allegation is now being addressed under the relevant House procedures. We are sure that you will understand that due confidentiality is essential in such a matter.

In addition, the Dean has made a number of employment tribunal claims against Christ Church, which the House is defending. Sadly, these will now not be heard in court until 2023. It had been anticipated that, through mediation, a much earlier resolution could be reached but unfortunately the current phase of mediation was halted by the independent mediator earlier in the summer, after several months of negotiation.

Christ Church remains committed to a full review of its governance structures in due course, but this cannot take place until the Employment Tribunal has concluded. We understand there may be frustration at the amount of time these various processes are taking, but they must be allowed to run their proper course. In the meantime, Governing Body is continually reviewing and updating our policies and procedures to support the smooth running of Christ Church.

46 Comments

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

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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.

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