Thinking Anglicans

The College of Bishops: September 18 to 21

Press release from the Church of England

The College of Bishops: September 18 to 21

21/09/2023

The College of Bishops has been meeting in Oxford over the last four days.

The meeting, which welcomed eight new or incoming bishops, began with an afternoon of retreat for prayer and study.

Discussions then included sessions on public affairs – including proposals raised by the Archbishops’ Commissions on families and households, social care, housing and racial justice; the importance of making missionary disciples; generous ecclesiology and episcopal well-being.

The bishops devoted the remaining time to discussing the work to take forward the introduction of Prayers of Love and Faith for same-sex couples, the associated Pastoral Guidance and Pastoral Reassurance.

The College’s reflections will be taken forward to the House of Bishops meetings in October ahead of the meeting of General Synod in November.

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Shamus
Shamus
6 months ago

“generous ecclesiology”. Love a definition of that, or is it a euphemism?

David R
David R
Reply to  Shamus
6 months ago

Weasel words.

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Shamus
6 months ago

I think it’s a riff on the idea of generous orthodoxy, which is a contemporary theological methodology which tries to be both faithful to the received wisdom of the church, and sympathetic to new discoveries and perspectives (for example, you might say something like “oh you call it ‘transubstantiation’, and that’s a word I don’t use, but I think we mean the same thing”). I say it’s a riff though, because it seems to be echoing that phrase but also doesn’t really mean anything. Unless they do mean something like “we don’t know what ‘bishop’ means but we all think… Read more »

Wm Arthurs
Wm Arthurs
Reply to  Shamus
6 months ago

A sort of “Good Friday Agreement” — in the most general sense of that term.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Shamus
6 months ago

I read this as “generous ecclesiology and episcopal wellbeing” being one of the same thing – or one a consequence of the other. Its the old ++ Rowan angst of trying to maintain a unity and collegiality against a more generous progress …but at what cost?

Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

How much did this meeting cost the Church? More noise and vainglorious words. We stand in need of radical reform. Cut the number of Bishops by fifty percent. Cut their staff by fifty percent. It’s time to revisit the primacy of the principle of the Book of Acts that the early church had “all things in common”. We need to embody that principle in the life of the Church of England. All ordained stipendiary ministers should receive the same level of stipend irrespective of the Office they hold. We call on every Priest in the Church of England who receives… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

Lottie- while supporting much in your proposals- esp the reduction in number (and role?) of bishops- who is the ‘We’ of/ for whom you purport to speak? Might it be or become or give rise to a ‘movement’?

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  God 'elp us all
6 months ago

Is there no longer space for a poetic royal “we”. Maybe a movement for radical reform of our Church might not be a bad idea.

James Allport
James Allport
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

Dear Lottie, Question of clarification: Who’s the “we” in “We call on every priest…” More substantively: I’m sympathetic to your underlying point about stipends. Indeed I’d like to push wider and have a basically identical package for all those in stipendiary ministry, lay or ordained, so that children’s workers and the like have the same access to housing, pension, retreats and leave as their clergy colleagues. But I suspect that flat-rate stipends would need to happen in the context of some wider work about practicality, not least a review of how they will be funded. Will the Church Commissioners open… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  James Allport
6 months ago

I recall a few years back a friend of mine told me a story about going to see their Bishop and in the course of the conversation, the Bishop commented as an aside that the Church Commissioners had paid their tuition fees for taking a doctoral degree. Even though my friend actually likes their Bishop(!), they were utterly taken aback at the glib glee with which this tidbit was said, as they had to scrimp, save and take years over their doctorate to pay the fees, receiving no help at all from the Diocese or the national Church. This despite… Read more »

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  James Allport
6 months ago

Thank you. I’m with you on all of that. It’s a royal poetic “we”. Maybe we need a movement?

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  James Allport
6 months ago

Perhaps you are missing the point. If the idea was to pay every curate the same as a bishop, then funding might be required. If, on the other hand, every bishop is paid as a curate, money might be released.

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  T Pott
6 months ago

Or perhaps you are missing the point….

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Lottie E. Allen
6 months ago

I suspect I am.

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

I believe that Synod Moderators in the URC (the nearest it has to bishops) receive the same stipend as other ministers, although they can claim extra necessary expenses. In my own denomination ministers are paid locally and, although there is a generally-agreed minimum, obligatory for those receiving Home Mission support, churches can (and sometimes do) offer more.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Baptist Trainfan
6 months ago

In the US Episcopal Church, it is my understanding that each diocese sets a base minimum for rectors, but that every parish negotiates its own employment contract with its rector which may include not only salary, but benefits and allowances for housing (if there is no rectory or parish house).

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  Baptist Trainfan
6 months ago

Commendable models!

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

I estimate it cost £75,000. 108 bishops, each on average with £200 travel allowance, £300 for three nights accommodation at St Anne’s College (or wherever they were), and £150 food and beverage. Add 8-10 people at that rate to cover staff time and costs. Obviously their working expenses get reimbursed in different ways. But to be fair, all large organisations want to get their leaders together once or twice a year, and post-COVID many of these meetings. especially the House of Bishops, are held remotely. So the overall budget for meetings of this type may well be down over the… Read more »

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

Points well made. With you on LLF.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

I take your point about other organisations holding meetings for their senior leaders. However, four days seems rather long. I wonder if LLF took a large share of the time as they want to have their ducks in a row before General Synod.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

That would be a reasonable cost in a business but in a charity? One of the longer journeys is Newcastle to Oxford. A coach is about £30 each way. A Travelodge on Abingdon Road (lay on a coach to take the group there and back) is £55 a night. Food and drink should definitely be less than £50 a day.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

It’s only a guesstimate on my part! Would need a question at General Synod to get the proper answer, although it’s not really a matter coming under the purview of General Synod, so it might not get answered!

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

‘We call on every Priest in the Church of England who receives a stipend greater than the average Parish Priest to take a voluntary cut in their stipend until General Synod grasps the mettle and legislates on this matter.’ Well, I don’t know how it works in the Church of England, but here in Canada there are significant differences in the cost of living across the country. That’s probably the reason that in our church the dioceses set their own salary scales. My brother lives in Manchester and he tells me that there are significant cost of living differences between… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Tim Chesterton
Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Same here re cost of living north and south. Taking that onboard does not negate that the Church of England stands in serious need of radical reform.

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

With tongue only projecting mildly out of earhole, I have to say that the pay differential between parish clergy and bishops is not nearly enough for me to want to ascend to such heights of preferment! 😉

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  David Rowett
6 months ago

Bless you thank you!

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  David Rowett
6 months ago

You would probably make a very good Bishop then!

Mark
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

I think that at least some of the bishops, archdeacons etc should be non-stipendiary, as only then might they appreciate how the Church looks from the point of view of those who offer their time and talents to it unpaid…

Lottie E. Allen
Lottie E. Allen
Reply to  Mark
6 months ago

Point very well made!

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
6 months ago

Lottie, the enhanced remuneration arrangements for senior clergy are not just about putting extra cash in their bank accounts on the last working day of the month. Their palatial homes and their indoor and outdoor staffs seek to project a sense that the CofE is a force to be reckoned with. The chauffeurs and housekeepers help to bolster their masters and mistresses to overlook the inexorable decline manifested each year in the Statistics for Mission. Each prelate presiding over a confirmation service in a half empty church goes home to a many roomed mansion to be fortified to overlook the… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Fr Dean
6 months ago

Fr Dean, Lottie, Mark- I agree with you. Does a bishop or archdeacon have more sleepless nights than a parish priest; a shorter, less healthy life; put in more hours? Is there evidence? All the rest is ‘expenses’ surely.

Elliot
Elliot
Reply to  God 'elp us all
5 months ago

While I largely agree with many of the points being made, I think your characterization of the Bishops is unjustly malicious. Bishops have an increased stipend and generally larger houses, which are not unused and unwarranted. The houses, generally speaking, are used to host meetings, both professional and pastoral, as well as church and community events, which require houses of a sufficient size to host (due to the large area Bishops cover). This is often why in most dioceses, only one Bishop will have the palatial houses you talk of. The stipend increase is also not as massive as you… Read more »

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