Thinking Anglicans

“Shock at the total breakdown of trust in the CofE”

Ruth Peacock writes about Roger Bolton’s video interview of Sir David Lidington which is available on YouTube under the headline Lidington: I was used to acrimony in politics, but I hadn’t expected to find it in the church.

Sir David Lidington, a former de facto deputy prime minister, and long-standing member of the Church of England, has spoken of his shock at discovering a total breakdown of trust within the church.

In an interview with Roger Bolton for the Religion Media Centre, he said the flaws in the governance of the church were not by themselves the sole cause of the culture of distrust within the church, but he was convinced they had aggravated the mistrust…

The interview itself is here: RMC Big Interview: Sir David Lidington shocked at total breakdown of trust in the CofE

Strongly recommended.


Dioceses Commission recommends collaboration

press release 3 August

Recommendations for collaboration between dioceses shared following consultation

Recommendations outlined following ‘bishops and their ministries’ diocesan stakeholder consultations

The Church of England’s Dioceses Commission has shared outcome themes from a consultation looking at bishops and their ministries, as part of a series of listening exercises exploring how the Church of England can best serve the nation in the 2020s and beyond and make best use of resources.

Recommendations will include suggestions for new collaborations between dioceses in areas such as Net Zero, Racial Justice, Ministry Training and Education, either on a regional level or between a number of dioceses.

The consultation asked diocesan stakeholders for views and suggestions on how dioceses might cooperate to use resources better and on how The Church can best enable the important ministry of suffragan and area bishops, including whether any structural changes should be considered.

In the letter, Dame Caroline Spelman and Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich say that there will not be any centrally-led structural changes to dioceses, or combinations of dioceses as a result of the consultation.

Stakeholders are now invited to join an autumn workshop to look at practical steps for those who are either already leading inter-diocesan collaboration projects, or who are interested in exploring further.

Read the letter here

The Church Times reports this with the headline: No ‘big bang’ restructuring of Church of England dioceses, says Commission.


Safeguarding: unfinished business

The Archbishops’ Council has today, 2 August, announced this: Next round of independent safeguarding audits

INEQE Safeguarding Group has been appointed by the Archbishops’ Council to carry out the next round of independent external audits of Church of England dioceses and cathedrals, starting in January 2024. They were appointed after a full and open tender process, which included survivor representation…

This is the only official Safeguarding statement from the Church of England since the announcement of Alexis Jay’s appointment on 20 July, before which there was the 12 July announcement relating to Meg Munn’s departure.

We have heard nothing further of any independent investigation into what when wrong in relation to the disbanding of the ISB.

Update 25 July Written Questions to Church Commissioners:

Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab, Exeter): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the announcement by the Archbishop of York of an independent inquiry into the decision to close down the Independent Safeguarding Board, if he will publish a copy of the inquiry’s finings once available.
Andrew Selous: The Archbishop of York has committed that the findings of this review will be made public.

But even more urgent, we have heard nothing about arrangements for the care of those survivors who were already engaged with the former ISB board members.

Jasvinder Sanghera wrote, on 31 July: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Five weeks have passed since the body established to provide much needed independence to safeguarding across the Church of England (CofE), was disbanded by the Archbishops’ Council.

They could have used this whole experience to raise the bar higher for victims and survivors, instead, they lowered it, leaving those harmed by the Church in greater distress and limbo. The consequences have been devastating.

We have recently been informed that the Church of England is considering its options, however, this is without regard for what this lack of urgency and care means for these victims and survivors. I wish to enlighten you, as it continues to be irresponsible and unsafe not to speak out about these lives…

Do read the whole article. It concludes with this:



Bristol diocese to review Uganda link

The Church Times reports (2 August): Diocese of Bristol reviews Ugandan link after Anti-Homosexuality Act

…In a statement on Tuesday, Bishop Faull said that her diocese had been blessed by “enduring friendships” within the Church of Uganda for 50 years, but that, “For the time being, the Diocesan Link Committee will cease to meet and the diocese will be reviewing all institutional links — current and prospective — at the next Bishop’s Council in December.”

She explained that, while she welcomed Dr Kaziimba’s opposition to the death penalty, “as the Bishop of Bristol, I am compelled to reiterate that the basic dignity and safety of LGBTQ+ human beings in Uganda must not be conflated with theological debates about same-sex marriage in church or matters of abusive behaviour. However, there is a legitimate space for those conversations amongst well-meaning people who can disagree without threat of imprisonment or danger…”

An earlier (26 July) statement on the diocesan website: Bishop Viv provides clarity on the future of diocesan links to Church of Uganda.


Appointment of Dean of Southwark

It has been announced this morning that the Bishop of Southwark has appointed the Revd Dr Mark Oakley as the next Dean of Southwark. Mark Oakley is currently Dean of Chapel and Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.

More information below and at Southwark Cathedral.



Opinion – 29 July 2023

Martine Oborne ViaMedia.News Equality, ‘headship’ and authority: drawing the line in schools and churches

Stephen Parsons Surviviing Church An Open Letter to Professor Alexis Jay as she begins work to produce a Future Safeguarding Programme for the Church of England


Bishop of Newcastle will not reinstate Lord Sentamu’s PtO

Updated 2 August

See our 13 May report here: Devamanikkam: Bishop of Newcastle responds to Sentamu.

Today, 27 July, the Bishop of Newcastle has issued: Lord Sentamu – statement from the Bishop of Newcastle.|
The full text of her statement is copied below the fold.

The Church Times has reported this: Bishop of Newcastle does ‘not feel able’ to grant Lord Sentamu permission to officiate.

Philip Jones 
has written this in defence of Lord Sentamu: Safeguarding and the Rule of Law.



Bishops of Selby and Whitby to retire

The Diocese of York has announced that the Bishop of Selby and the Bishop of Whitby will both retire in July 2024.

The Rt Revd John Thomson, Bishop of Selby, and the Rt Revd Paul Ferguson, Bishop of Whitby, will each have served ten years since their consecration together by the then Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, in York Minster in 2014. Events in July 2024 to mark their retirement will be announced nearer the time.


Opinion – 26 July 2023

Will Timmins Bible By Day Abuse NDAs and the Church: Making a Covenant with Death

Religion Media Centre Briefing: Is the Church of England ungovernable?

Kirk Smith The Living Church A Bishop Goes to Seminary
“How Working in Four Episcopal Seminaries Changed My Understanding of Theological Education”

David Runcorn Inclusive Evangelicals General Synod, LLF and the mind of the church


Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Dorking

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. There is more information on the Guildford diocesan website.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 26 July 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Venerable Richard Paul Davies, Archdeacon of Surrey, to the Suffragan See of Dorking, in the Diocese of Guildford, in succession to The Right Reverend Dr Jo Bailey Wells, following her resignation.


Paul was educated at the University of Wales, Lampeter and the University of Oxford, and trained for ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon. He served his title at St Davids Cathedral in Wales and was ordained priest in 1998.

In 2001 Paul became a Team Vicar in the Benefice of Dewisland with responsibility for Solva and Brawdy, in the Diocese of St Davids, and in 2006 was appointed as Vicar of Burry Port and Pwll in the same diocese. During these years, he additionally served as Diocesan Director of Ordinands, and an Officiating Chaplain to the Military.

In 2012 Paul was appointed as Archdeacon of Bangor and Anglesey in the Diocese of Bangor. In 2017 he took up his current role as Archdeacon of Surrey in the Diocese of Guildford.


July General Synod – electronic voting results

Updated 31 July to add the originally missing results.

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available online and are linked below. The texts of the motion can be found in the official record of Business Done for each session of Synod. For convenience I have made a note of what each item was about and given a link to the relevant item of Business Done.

The texts of the motion can be found in the official record of Business Done for each session of Synod. For convenience I have made a note of what each item was about and given a link to the relevant item of Business Done.

In addition to the votes above there were two other counted votes

  • That Standing Order 8(1) be suspended for the duration of Item 63 (Monday am)
  • That Item 511 be adjourned until the next group of sessions’ (Tuesday am)

the lists for which have not been made available.

Update The lists for the two votes above are now available.


Opinion – 22 July 2023

Jonathan Clatworthy The point of it all Early Christian marriage

Caroline Newman Surviving Church Is anyone safe in the Church of England?

Mark Bennet ViaMedia.News Learning Lessons? Leading a Church Where Abuse Has Happened

Lorraine Cavanagh Christian Faith in the here and now


LLF: A Public Letter on behalf of Inclusive Organisations

This letter was recently published on the websites of several inclusive organisations, see list of signatories at the end.

A Public Letter on behalf of Inclusive Organisations to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of London and Truro as co-chairs of the LLF implementation process 11th July 2023

Dear Archbishops and Bishops,

We write in response to the growing campaign by some leaders and bishops in the Church of England to delay and obstruct the progress of the Living in Love & Faith journey by asking for the Prayers of Love and Faith to be approved under Canon B2, requiring two-thirds majorities in all three houses of the General Synod.

Resistance to LLF

We are saddened that this campaign indicates, above all, the failure of many in the Church to engage fully in the LLF journey in which we have participated together for the last six years, and into which so much valuable theological and pastoral reflection has been poured. This is not, of course, an accidental failure, when groups like the Church of England Evangelical Council have actively discouraged churches from making use of the LLF resources. However, it appears clear to us (and some have been told directly by conservative colleagues) that the conservative view of marriage and sex was very fully represented throughout the LLF process, and we have sought to engage with it in good faith…

Read the full text of the Letter here. 

Andrew Goddard  subsequently published this response.


Opinion – 19 July 2023

Theo Hobson The Spectator The Church of England is on the brink of a crisis

Morwenna Ludlow ViaMedia.News Giving Up Sex? What Macrina Tells Us About Choosing Celibacy


ISB controversy episode 11

Continued from episode 10 Updated 24 July

1. The Church Times has a detailed account of the Sunday afternoon session: General Synod digest: Survivor and Archbishops’ Council present on safeguarding chaos.

2. Premier Christianity Newscast: Tim Wyatt has a whole podcast (1 hour) devoted to the ISB story: Safeguarding in crisis in the Church of EnglandHe includes interviews with Andrew Graystone,  Gavin Drake, Jasvinder Sanghera, Jamie Harrison, Ian Paul.

3. Alexis Jay and John O’Brien will develop new proposals for the Independent Safeguarding Board.  See press release from Alexis Jay and another press release from the Church of England: Welcome for Professor Alexis Jay.

From the former, Professor Jay said:

“When I was Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I heard at first hand of the devasting effects of abuse within the Church of England, and of the failures, often repeated, to prevent it from occurring. I was very clear in my recommendations that safeguarding in the Church would require genuine independence in order to be fully effective. I have been just as clear with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Archbishop of York that this programme of work must be entirely independent of the Church too for it to succeed.

I would like to assure everyone that I mean what I say. My team will not include anyone employed by the church, nor will we hold meetings or conduct any business on church premises. I have explained that if I detect any attempt to interfere with or to hinder my work, I will withdraw from this programme of work immediately.

I also wish to make clear that my work will be fair, impartial, objective and rigorous. One of my first tasks will be to hear the views of victims and survivors of church abuse, and to listen to those involved in safeguarding at all levels of the church across England. I look forward to hearing their experiences and using this process to inform the recommendations I will make to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

4. Media reports on this development:

5. There is a letter (scroll down) in the Church Times today, signed by 14 General Synod members, and titled (by the CT) Synod: safeguarding, procedures, and governance. The letter has also been published on Twitter, see here.

6. The Religion Media Centre held a briefing yesterday, now available on YouTube, titled Is the Church of England ungovernable? About half of this is devoted to Safeguarding/ISB.

7. The Church Times has this report on 24 July: Put us first, survivors tell Archbishops’ Council after Professor Jay’s appointment. It includes this quote from a Church House spokesperson:

 “We are aware that the former ISB members had promised to undertake a small number of reviews and look into particular complaints.

“We are proposing to have a package where survivors, if they want to continue in this way, can choose from a variety of possibilities to look at their review or complaint.

“We recognise that the current uncertainty is causing anxiety for survivors, but it is important that proposals are developed that can command their confidence. Conversations are taking place and we expect to make details available later this month.”


Opinion – 15 July 2023

Helen Hall and Javier Garcia Oliva ViaMedia.News Marriage Law in England and Wales – Some Reflections

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Jayne Ozanne and Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin speak passion and truth

Rosie Dawson The Living Church A ‘Culture of Mistrust’ at General Synod


Dean of Newcastle

Press release from the Church of England

New Dean of Newcastle announced


The Reverend Canon Lee Batson has been announced as the next Dean of Newcastle.

He succeeds The Very Reverend Dr Jane Hedges, who has been Interim Dean since January, following the retirement of The Very Reverend Geoff Miller last year.

Lee is currently Team Rector of the Epping Team Ministry, as well as Area Dean and World Church Partnership Officer in Chelmsford Diocese, where he developed a strong connection with the Anglican Church in Kenya. He also serves on the Diocesan Board of Education, and is Chair of a large Multi-Academy Trust.

Read the full story on the Diocese of Newcastle website. An installation service for Lee to formally become Dean will take place at Newcastle Cathedral on 14 October.


Bishop of Durham

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, has announced that he plans to retire from the role at the end of February next year. He will have served as Bishop of Durham for 10 years.


Soul Survivor: further developments

Previous report here.


As before, I am late in reporting on this, but The Soul Survivor Situation – A Timeline continues to provide regular updates, do check it.

Mike Pilavachi announced his own resignation on 11 July, and the next day the BBC had this: Watford church leader resigns during Church of England probe.  The Church Times report is here: Canon Pilavachi resigns as Associate Pastor of Soul Survivor, Watford.

The Diocese of St Albans has Statements on Mike Pilavachi and Soul Survivor.

We have been informed of the resignation of Mike Pilavachi from his employment at Soul Survivor and want to stress that the safeguarding investigation will continue in line with House of Bishops guidance and we will continue to listen to and offer support to those who come forward. The joint investigation is being run by the diocese of St Albans and the National Safeguarding Team, independently of Soul Survivor…

The Private Member’s Motion mentioned in our previous report, had 112 signatures at 21 June, but did not get into the July agenda.

The most recent development is reported in the Church Times today: Matt Redman speaks of ‘harmful behaviours’ and ‘gaslighting’ after Pilavachi resignation. See also this report in Premier Christian News:‘I spent years trying to fully heal from my time at Soul Survivor’: Matt Redman reveals input into Mike Pilavachi safeguarding investigation.


Gabriella Swerling reports in the Telegraph ‘Toothless’ Soul Survivor abuse investigation has no power to punish preacher

…However, it has now emerged that the Church’s investigation into Pilavachi has no power to discipline him and will instead only be able to refer him to a psychologist.

The revelations have prompted criticism from those who have disclosed evidence to the investigation, as well as victims, accusing it of being not only “toothless”.

The NST investigators, who are continuing to call for victims and those with information to come forward, have said that only if there was evidence of misconduct after 2012, when Pilavachi was ordained, can a separate investigation be triggered and internal Church disciplinary proceedings be activated.

The exact timespan of the allegations surrounding Pilavachi’s behaviour remain unknown….

And the whole story is retold by her at great length in the Saturday edition of the Telegraph: The abuse scandal leaving a trail of destruction across Christianity.


ISB controversy episode 10: Meg Munn quits

Continued from episode 9.

1. The Church Times reports:Archbishop Welby undermined me’ — Meg Munn quits as Church’s safeguarding chair. Hattie Williams writes:

THE acting chair of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), Meg Munn, has accused the Archbishops’ Council of being “slow to listen” to experts — and the Archbishop of Canterbury of “undermining” her work — as she resigns all her safeguarding responsibilities within the Church.

Ms Munn, a safeguarding professional and a former MP, is also the independent chair of the Church’s National Safeguarding Panel (NSP).

After weeks of silence as disputes about the functionality and future of the ISB escalated, Ms Munn released an explosive personal statement to the Church Times on Wednesday morning explaining her decision to cease working for the Church, and finally giving her side of the story of the ISB’s demise.

In it, she speaks of being unsupported by the Archbishops’ Council, which appointed her; says that the other two members of the ISB arbitrarily changed their brief; and calls the ISB “a huge waste of money”. But she also says that safeguarding in the Church of England is not in crisis, praising the professionalism of many diocesan and national safeguarding officers…

Read it all 

2. The Church of England has issued: Statements in response to the resignation of Meg Munn.

3. Here is the full text of the statement from Meg Munn.

4. The Church Times story now also reports on a statement received from Maggie Atkinson.
The full text of that document is over here.

5. I’ve prepared a transcript of the presentations from the four Archbishops’ Council members to General Synod on last Sunday afternoon. It may still contain errors, and I would be glad to receive corrections for inclusion in a revised version.

6. The Church Times reports today New church safeguarding regulator appears on the block, anonymously. The press release mentioned is available here.

7. I’ve now prepared a transcript of the presentation from last Sunday afternoon by Jane Chevous. This immediately preceded the Council presentations. As for item 5, please advise me if you find any errors.

8. Ian Paul has written about the ISB debacle, along with other aspects of the recent York General Synod, here: Fractures and fractiousness at General Synod.

9. There is also discussion of the ISB in the article A ‘Culture of Mistrust’ at General Synod by Rosie Dawson, which is linked in our Saturday Opinion article.

10. The final transcript that I have prepared is of the statements made by Steve Reeves and Jasvinder Sanghera, to “an informal meeting of General Synod members” in the course of last Sunday afternoon. As for items 5 and 7 above, this may contain errors, and please do notify me of any corrections for inclusion in a revision.

Continued in episode 11.