Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 September 2021

Giles Fraser UnHerd Only chaos can redeem the Church
“God save our parishes from people with MBAs”

Church Times The love affair with the parish — has it ended?
Madeleine Davies, in part two of her study, looks at the forces for its retention and abandonment

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Purposeful Sexuality – naive, dangerous ideas about LGBTIQ+ and straight identities

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CDM Code of Practice: further criticisms

We linked on 7 August to a critique of the April 2021 amendments to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 Code of Practice written by Gavin Drake.
More recently, Rosie Dawson wrote about this for The Living Church: Church of England Code Silences Victims, Critics Say (some additional links added).

…”These were significant amendments ,” retired barrister and Synod member David Lamming told TLC. “It’s unfortunate that they were overlooked at Synod because they seem to me to go beyond what the measure authorises, which is that the guidance applies only to those who exercise functions within the CDM process.”

The timing of the amendments has led several commentators to conclude that they were drafted in direct response to concerns about the publicity surrounding a CDM complaint brought against the dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Rev. Martyn Percy, in November last year. In May 2021 the President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin, effectively dismissed the case, ruling that it would be disproportionate to refer the matter to a tribunal.

The complaint against the dean came within the context of a long-running, very public and very acrimonious dispute between him and the college and cathedral chapter. Supporters on both sides have engaged in briefing a voracious media. A dedicated website keeps Dean Percy’s supporters abreast of every twist and turn in the saga.

“It is rarely a good idea to legislate from the circumstances of a single case as, appears to have been done here,” says Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection lawyer and General Synod Candidate. While he believes the motivation behind the changes to the code of practice may have been well-intentioned, he says the effects run contrary to free speech and natural justice. “Much speculative gossip about the circumstances ensued about the nature of the case against Dean Percy. I don’t think it was wrong to have refuted such gossip in careful terms.”

The Church of England would not be drawn on the Percy affair in relation to the changes to the Code of Practice, but said that there had been number of recent cases in which details of complaints under the Clergy Discipline Measure had been made public, causing significant distress and upset for those concerned.

One priest who has fallen afoul of the new rules is the Rev. Robert Thompson, vicar of St. Mary and St James in West Hampstead, London, who announced on Twitter in April that he was subject to a CDM for online bullying. In the adjudication he later received, he was reprimanded for “weaponizing” social media and forbidden from disclosing any further details of the case, including the outcome.

“Robert got the result of his CDM and was told there was no case to answer,” says his friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain, “but he was also told that he couldn’t share that news with anyone. And the instruction was couched in terms of a threat. It should really be up to Robert what he wants to share. He didn’t tweet anything that identified the complainant. The whole thing just smacks of an attempt to silence people within a system which everyone admits is broken.”

In a statement the Church of England said the update to the code was “simply to underline the expectation of confidentiality in clergy discipline cases, while they are ongoing. It said the Clergy Discipline Commission would respond to Drake’s concerns in due course…

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Alan Griffin case mentioned in House of Lords debate

The speeches concerning the Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure  from the Bishop of Blackburn, Lord Cormack, and Lord Lexden are all worth reading. However, I draw you attention to this exchange between Lord Lexden and the Bishop:

Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cormack referred at the start of his powerful remarks to the passion and anger that he felt because of some recent events. I feel very deep passion and anger, as I shall explain.

I have had the honour of serving on the Ecclesiastical Committee for a few years, but I am afraid I cannot continue my membership of it. I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations. Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell, to whom my noble friend referred, was damaged–and damaged so unfairly. But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.

Long ago I was briefly close, perhaps for no longer than a single summer, to a witty and clever Cambridge contemporary. He was a classicist who became a lecturer at Exeter University and later took holy orders. His name was Alan Griffin. In November last year, the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin committed suicide. After the end of the inquest into his death in early July this year, the coroner wrote a detailed report on the way that the Church had investigated his suspected sexual misconduct. She revealed that when he died, the Church’s investigation had been going on for over a year. The coroner stated that

“he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which he had never been told”–

I repeat, the detail and source for which he had never been told.

Worse, when the coroner probed the evidence against him, she found it was non-existent. There was, she said,

“no complainant, no witness and no accuser”.

The Church had acted on the basis of mere gossip and innuendo. Could there be a clearer example of the denial of natural justice?

And how did the Church carry out its investigation during the year in which Alan Griffin was kept in ignorance of the so-called accusations against him? The coroner states:

“nobody took responsibility for steering the direction of the process from start to finish and for making coherent, reasoned, evidence based decisions”.

And so the scene was set for a terrible tragedy.

The last element of the Church’s behaviour in this case which I want the House to note is very serious indeed. The coroner records that submissions

“on behalf of the Church of England … urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations.”

This is not from some shady organisation or business with suspect moral standards, but from our country’s established Church. These are the circumstances that led to the death of a friend of mine from long ago, and that is why my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been broken.

Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

Could the right reverend Prelate comment on the quotation from the coroner’s report that I read out at the end? The Church of England seeking to interfere with the content of a coroner’s report in order to diminish the extent of the criticism it would sustain: is that not utterly reprehensible?

The Bishop of Blackburn Bishop

It is reprehensible and unacceptable. One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. That is a very clear example and should never, ever be repeated. I will report that back to the national safeguarding team and others. We are in the business not of covering up but of being transparent and open, so that these things can be brought to light and people can learn from them. It is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.

16 Comments

Opinion – 15 September 2021

The Economist The Church of England needs new members. How to get them?
A new scheme hopes to create a million new converts in a decade

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Hierarchy, Bishops and Leadership in the Church

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Radical New Christian Inclusion – Changing Attitude England writes to the Bishop of London

Archbishop Cranmer Anglican Conclave to ‘sift’ all candidates for vacancies to see if they are ‘appropriate’

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Proposals made for reforming Church of England governance

Updated Thursday

The report of the Governance Review working group (49 pages)  has been published here. There is a press release about this, copied below the fold.

The Church Times has extensive coverage:

The Telegraph had this report by Gabriella Swerling on Tuesday evening (which has still not appeared in the CofE daily media digest): Church of England reveals huge overhaul of governance, as parishioners warn of ‘coup’

(more…)

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General Synod elections 2021 – candidates’ election addresses

The nomination period for this year’s elections to General Synod has closed. Dioceses are now required to post candidates’ election addresses on their websites before sending out voting papers. Some of these have already appeared, and the remainder should be available by the end of the week. I am compiling a list of links to all the addresses, which you can find here. I will update this during the coming week. So far as I am aware there is no similar requirement for the special constituencies.

I am also compiling a list of the members of the new synod here.

Additions and corrections to either list can be emailed to me here.

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Scottish bishops publish Aberdeen review

Updated Sunday and again Friday 17 September

The Scottish Episcopal Church has today, 11 September, published the Review of the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney by Professor Iain Torrance. The College of Bishops has also published a lengthy explanation of the complications which arose following its receipt on 31 July, which is copied in full below the fold.

Earlier, on 8 September, the College had published this: College instigates mediation process and commits to publish Aberdeen & Orkney review.

The Church Times has a very detailed news report: Review recommends Bishop step back in ‘dysfunctional’ diocese

Update

Another Church Times report: What about those who bullied me, asks Dyer, alleging one-sidedness and a letter to the editor: Heed Torrance on the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney.

(more…)

40 Comments

Opinion – 11 September 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Whither the Church of England – London diocese an exemplar?

Church Times ‘Focal’. ‘Oversight’. The C of E of the future
Madeleine Davies begins a two-part examination of the Church’s future

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley The Minister is Tired

Gilo and Tony Surviving Church Award for Investigative Journalist supporting Abuse Survivors: Issues for the Church of England

23 Comments

Opinion – 8 September 2021

Paul Bickley Theos The Hundred: What Can Cricket Teach Religion?

Surviving Church Bleeding for Jesus. Martin Sewell reflects

Psephizo What does charismatic renewal bring to the Church?
Ian Paul interviews Christopher Landau, the new Director of ReSource.

18 Comments

Bishop of Croydon to retire

News from the Diocese of Southwark:

The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announces departure from the Diocese of Southwark

The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announced today that he will be leaving the Diocese of Southwark on March 21, 2022 – exactly 10 years to the day of his consecration as Bishop…

12 Comments

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.

43 Comments

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

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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.

129 Comments

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.”

73 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.

44 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