Category : Church of England (CoE)

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell and David Lamming-How far is Bishop George Bell’s reputation restored? When is a cloud not a cloud?

The allegations were extremely serious. Archbishop Justin is to be applauded for treating the matter so seriously: we cannot ignore the fact that the evidence in all cases was not strong. Justice is a balance: if one finds it hard to administer coolly and dispassionately, it might be an argument for placing such decisions away from the Church. A pastor’s heart is a great thing, but perhaps not in one necessarily exercising judicial decisions and commentary.

The suspicion of dual standards between the living and the dead is illustrated by the case of the former Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, who was the subject of similar allegations which were also found unreliable after investigation. Upon his retirement he received a standing ovation from General Synod, with Archbishop Justin declaring that he was “glad to thank Bishop Perham wholeheartedly for his ministry after all the investigations and inquiries had cleared him”.

The Archbishop was, of course, dealing with someone he knew; a much-liked and respected colleague. But his acknowledgment that Bishop Perham had been ‘cleared’ followed the well established rule: innocent until proven guilty. It was good to see a faithful servant of the Church vindicated, but is hard to see how that precedent differs from that of George Bell, save that one was personally known to many of those insisting ‘innocent until proven guilty’ at the time, whereas few of us will have a personal attachment to a man who died in 1958.

If there is a clear and proper distinction between the cases, it needs to be fully articulated. As things stand, the discrepancy between the cases is hard to reconcile.

It seems to us that a black-and-white approach to these matters has the considerable merit of certainty, whereas once one moves into gradations of grey we will be asking for trouble. That is why an official approach that accepts the quasi-judicial decision is probably the wisest course of action in such cases. What one thinks privately and individually is, of course, entirely a matter of conscience.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Statement from the Bishop of Chester, Martin Werner, on the George Bell case and the Briden report

It became obvious that a more thorough investigation must be made before any public announcement can be considered and that the level of investigation typically undertaken for settlement of a civil claim is not adequate to justify an announcement. It is now clear that if an announcement about any other person is to be made, it must not imply certainty when we cannot be certain. We have also now understood much more besides, in particular about the trust that people place in us and their legitimate expectations of us as guardians of the inheritance of faith.

We recognise the hurt that has been done to all who have been directly involved, including the family of George Bell and those who continue to respect his achievements, as a result of the areas where we have fallen short. We apologise profoundly and sincerely for our shortcomings in this regard. The responsibility for this is a shared one, as are the lessons learnt from it.

For the future, we recognise how damaging and painful this has been. We have all been diminished by this case. The legitimate quest for certainty has been defeated by the nature of the case and the passage of time. Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited. There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved. We ask those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognize the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion. Moreover, we continue to believe that the good things that George Bell did in his life will stand the test of time. His prophetic work for peace and his relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer are only two of the many ways in which his legacy will go on being of great significance to us in the Church and we hope and pray we can go on learning from what he has given to us.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby on the George Bell case and the Briden report

The Church’s dilemma has been to weigh up the reputation of a highly esteemed bishop who died over 60 years ago alongside a serious allegation. We did not manage our response to the original allegation with the consistency, clarity or accountability that meets the high standards rightly demanded of us. I recognise the hurt that has been done as a consequence. This was especially painful for Bishop Bell’s surviving relatives, colleagues and supporters, and to the vast number of people who looked up to him as a remarkable role model, not only in the Diocese of Chichester but across the United Kingdom and globally. I apologise profoundly and unconditionally for the hurt caused to these people by the failures in parts of the process and take responsibility for this failure.

However, it is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation relating to an historic case of abuse and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. We need to care for her and listen to her voice.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has already questioned the Church of England over its response to the Bishop Bell case and the review by Lord Carlile. We expect that their report on our hearings will address further the complex issues that have been raised and will result in a more informed, confident, just and sensitive handling of allegations of abuse by the church in the future. We have apologised, and will continue to do so, for our poor response to those brave enough to come forward, while acknowledging that this will not take away the effects of the abuse.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(C of E) The National Safeguarding Team statement on Bishop George Bell

A ruling by Timothy Briden, a senior ecclesiastical lawyer, relating to fresh information received about the late Bishop George Bell, has been published today. Mr Briden was appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to make an independent assessment of the evidence that had been brought before the core group, the Church’s response to any safeguarding situation.

A range of people came forward with further information following the publication of a review by Lord Carlile, in December 2017, of the Church of England’s handling of an original allegation against the late bishop. The Church’s response has included an independent, thorough investigation by former Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway. This was submitted to Mr Briden. Bishop Bell’s living relatives were represented during this process.

To enable Ray Galloway to have an informed understanding of the case he also interviewed ‘Carol’, who brought the original allegation; neither he nor Mr Briden reinvestigated her claim in respect of which a civil settlement has already been made.

Read it all and take the time to read the full Briden report.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Bradford Cathedral’s annual legal service to feature Archbishop Sentamu as preacher

Bradford Cathedral will be hosting the Annual Legal Service on Sunday 3rd February from 11am, an event where the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu will preach a special centenary sermon.

The Archbishop, who is an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda, will join members of the Judiciary, including High Court Judges and Magistrates from across West Yorkshire, for this public service.

The Legal Service will take place at 11am, where there will be processions followed by a service acknowledging the sovereignty of God and the Judeo-Christian foundation of UK law and the legal system.

The processions will include members of the choir, clergy, bishops, lawyers, barristers, judges, the High Sheriff, Lord Lieutenant and the Lord Mayor of Bradford.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Church of England invests £35 million in new Christian communities

The Church of England is to fund a bold series of projects to spread the Christian faith – from a new congregation in a nightclub area to a weekday church – as part of a £35 million investment in mission, it was announced today.

The Church of England is to fund a bold series of projects to spread the Christian faith – from a new congregation in a nightclub area to a weekday church – as part of a £35 million investment in mission, it was announced today.

The biggest investment so far by the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform programme is intended to help it reach tens of thousands of people including in city centres, outer estates and rural areas.

The grants will pioneer new types of churches – which may be far from the traditional image – along with outreach by the Church of England, from a social media pastor to work with school and community choirs.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Church Times) ‘Put aside differences’ to find a way through on Brexit, Bishop Lowson tells politicians

Politicians need to put aside their personal differences to find a way through on Brexit, the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, said on Wednesday.

Speaking after the defeat of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, Bishop Lowson said: “The need is for us as a nation, and especially in the Commons, is to listen to the people and to find a way forward that most can agree on.”

He went on: “We need to put aside our personal differences to find this way. Whether we have a general election or a second referendum is a question for the politicians.

“But I think there needs to be some kind of discovery process so the Commons can work out what they find acceptable — taking the temperature of what is possible. There has to be some give and take, though.

“As a nation, we have been through some fairly significant challenges over the centuries and we have found a way through them. As Christians, we believe that God will find a way forward.”

Bishop Lowson was one of four bishops to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal in the House of Lords, along with the Bishops of London, Durham, and Birmingham.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(CEN) Bishop Paul Butler welcomes U-turn on Universal Credit

THE BISHOP of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, has welcomed Amber Rudd’s announcement that the government will not extend the two-child limit on Universal Credit for children born before April 2017.

New changes also include pressing ahead with a pilot to support 10,000 people from ‘legacy benefits’ on to Universal Credit in a test and learn approach.

Bishop Butler, who speaks for the Church of England on issues relating to children and young people, said: “As a just and compassionate society, we believe that every child is a blessing and deserves to be treated equally.

“So I very much welcome the announcement that the two-child limit policy will not be extended to children born before the policy came into effect in April 2017.

“I also welcome the Government’s mor

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture

(Express) Bishop Alan Smith–Gambling is an addiction just like drugs – but why is the Taxpayer paying for the cure?

What dangerous activity do children do more often than smoking, drinking or drugs? If you said gambling, you would be right. Years ago, I met a family who had lost their teenage son to suicide after fighting a gambling addiction.

That family’s loss is not an isolated case: it’s been depressing to meet several other grieving parents. Those campaigning parents went on to win the battle to persuade the Government to slash the stakes on the most addictive gaming machines from £100 to £2. Yet this victory can’t lead to complacency as we face further gambling challenges.

Today there are 55,000 children defined as problem gamblers – something I term a ‘generational scandal’. Sadly, I fear we have done too little to prevent this from becoming a much wider problem.

Under-18s are regularly inundated with more than three gambling adverts a day while 90% of pubs fail to stop children from gambling on the loud and bright fruit machines found in nearly every establishment.

Children are the next target of an industry making billions in profits which shows little inclination to take any form of responsibility.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Gambling

([London] Times) Crispin Blunt–Why the time has come to scrap prayers in parliament

As our society becomes decreasingly religious we have to wonder why it is that in the House of Commons procedures of the day such as lawmaking and debates start with prayers.

During this time the doors are locked while MPs stand, perform an about-turn and pray. This process is closed to the public while Anglican prayers are read — hardly conducive with the diverse elected representatives and the constituents they represent.

While religious worship occupies a strong part in some people’s lives, it should no longer play a role in the way we conduct our political affairs as an independent, open and diverse nation. In 2019 for most MPs parliamentary prayers are the price paid to reserve a favourite place on the green benches for the day, having become a de facto seat reservation system. Many MPs have found that unless they attend these prayers, whether in line with their beliefs or not, they will struggle to secure a seat.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Bishop Graham Dudley responds to climate concerns raised by World Economic Forum

“It is significant that the threats posed by climate change have been recognised by the world’s top economic experts.

“While this report serves to strengthen calls for urgent action to protect and sustain God’s creation, it also highlights the peril of inactivity and delay, which particularly places the economically poorest people in our world at risk of devastating consequences.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(C of E) Statement following IICSA preliminary hearing

Read it all:

Bishop Peter Hancock, lead safeguarding bishop for the Church of England said:

“We welcome the comments today from Fiona Scolding QC* on the wider church hearing scheduled for July which outlined the focus of the Inquiry.

We fully support the emphasis on the present and future of safeguarding in the Church of England which will help with our commitment to make the Church a safer place for all. Miss Scolding QC said the Inquiry will be looking at whether changes being implemented by the Church of England are relevant and purposeful. I believe this part of the Inquiry will be critical in helping us ensure that our safeguarding work is effective and rigorous and that survivors’ and victims’ views are heard.

We continue to be committed to working closely with the Inquiry in a constructive and transparent way.”

*Fiona Scolding is the counsel to IICSA for the investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales.

(Interested readers will note the link to the full transcript of the hearing at the end to read more).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(ITV) Community spirit strong as thousands raised to replace stolen lead from church tower

Parishioners of a church in the New Forest have raised thousands of pounds to replace lead stolen from its bell tower.

Thieves scaled 35 feet to the top of St George’s Church in Damerham to steal the lead which had inscriptions etched into it dating back to the 18th Century.

The church says the generosity and goodwill of parishioners has more than outweighed the upset of the theft.

Read it all and consider watching the video also.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Christian Today) Leading evangelical bishop apologises for role in gender transition liturgy guidance – and now opposes it

A leading evangelical bishop who oversaw the production of controversial Church of England guidance about gender transitioning has apologised – and confirmed that he now doesn’t back it.

The Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, was chair of the House of Bishops’ Delegation Committee, the body which oversaw the publication of guidance last month on how to use the existing Affirmation of Baptismal Faith to enable transgender adults to mark their transition.

When the guidance was published, the official Church of England website quoted Bishop Henderson as saying: ‘This new guidance provides an opportunity, rooted in scripture, to enable trans people who have “come to Christ as the way, the truth and the life”, to mark their transition in the presence of their Church family which is the body of Christ. We commend it for wider use.’

But just a few days later, the Bishop was the lead signatory on a statement from the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), of which he is president. The CEEC statement described the guidance as ‘highly divisive and theologically and pastorally questionable’. The statement said the guidance ‘also risks raising serious concerns both within the wider Anglican Communion and ecumenically’.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(1st Things) John Wilson–the Faith of PD James

That project stalled, though it did prompt a re-reading of the Dalgliesh series to date, with many Post-it notes and scrawled observations. And it led me to re-read the Paris Review interview with James that appeared in the Summer 1995 issue (issue number 135), conducted by Shusha Guppy, the Paris Review’s London editor. There are some very interesting bits in the conversation, but this extract will allow you to understand why I felt like flinging the magazine across the room:

Interviewer

I believe you are religious, so perhaps you believe in an afterlife?

James

I certainly believe in God. As a Christian one is supposed to believe in “the resurrection of the body,” but I don’t think I do. I hope the soul is eternal. I am rather attracted to the Buddhist idea of reincarnation, that we are on the up and up!

Oh, dear. I re-read the interview earlier this week, for the first time since 2001. What struck me as before was not merely the feebleness of the response, but how incongruous it seems coming from James, whom I have admired greatly for her tough-mindedness. But reading the interview in the first week of 2019, I was no longer inclined to throw the magazine against the wall. Alas, it was old history.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Eschatology, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

Gafcon Chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s Epiphany Letter

The choice before us as a global communion is between this revealed wisdom of God and the wisdom claimed by secular ideologies. For a while the reality of this fork in the road can be obscured by an insistence on dialogue in its various guises such as ‘indaba’, ‘good disagreement’ and ‘walking together’, but in the absence of godly discipline, false teaching will continue to spread.

In the Church of England, just before Christmas, this process reached the point where its bishops took the unprecedented step of giving official guidance for what they described as ‘services to help transgender people mark their transition’ and it will be incorporated into ‘Common Worship’ (a range of services authorised by General Synod).

The guidance states that ‘the House of Bishops commends the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith as the central feature of any service to recognize liturgically a person’s gender transition’. A form of service which is intended to mark a renewed commitment to Christ and the new life we receive through him is instead used to celebrate an identity which contradicts our God-given identity as male and female (as affirmed by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4) and is still controversial even in secular society.

Although Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998 did not directly address gender transition, by taking this step, the Church of England is rejecting biblical authority in a similar way to TEC and other revisionist Provinces which have permitted same sex marriage….

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Rachel Treweek’s recent speech in the House of Lords on the stewardship of girls in refugee camps

My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hodgson, for securing this debate. It is a great honour to be taking part and to listen to the contributions of so many amazing supporters of women and girls. I should also like to draw attention to my interests as set out in the register.

Following previous speakers, I too should like to reinforce what has been said about violence and access to education. As has been said, before, during and after conflict girls face both physical and sexual violence. It is important to note that trauma follows adolescent girls when they flee from conflict, whether they become refugees or are internally displaced. There is a high ​risk of sexual abuse in overcrowded, unsanitary and unsafe refugee areas. Girls face not only prostitution and the risk of early marriage; they also face isolation and a lack of access to healthcare and psychological support. I would like to ask the Minister: what specific action are the Government currently taking to support girls in these vulnerable places, and how will rebuilding peace after conflict specifically involve support for these girls?

This year, when the Government will host an international meeting on preventing sexual violence, will there be a focus on support for girls in particular? Where a country experiences violence, women and girls also face increased domestic violence in the home. Can the Minister let us know when the Government plan to introduce domestic legislation that will allow the UK to ratify the Istanbul convention? In particular, UK nationals must be able to be tried in UK courts for domestic violence committed against women abroad.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence, Women

(Church Times) More than 100 Oxford clergy criticise bishops’ LGBTI guidance

Their main concern, they write, is with the “direction of travel” of the diocese. “In its desire for new expressions of ‘inclusion’, it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of scripture, and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction.

“We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible’s teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit.”

The signatories disavow any sense of being “morally superior” and acknowledge that they have “much to learn from others, including those with whom we disagree”; but they conclude that “the issue concerns the teaching of Christ’s Church, however lacking we may be as disciples of Christ. . .

“We would love our bishops to articulate clearly God’s love for us in helping us see both the attractiveness of deep friendships, but also the appropriate setting for sexual intimacy — namely in marriage between a man and a woman. However, if they are unwilling to do this, we would ask them to recognise the seriousness of the difference between us: advocacy of same-sex sexual intimacy is either an expression of the love of God or it creates an obstacle to people entering the kingdom of God. It cannot be both.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Christian Today) Oxford diocese in meltdown as clergy reject bishops’ view on sexuality

The letter to the bishops was sent before Christmas, and in turn the bishops have responded to the signatories with a statement of their own. Christian Today understands both letters are to be circulated to all clergy in the Oxford diocesan email news today, Wednesday. They are now also in the public domain on the website of the Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship.

Clergy signatories include conservative evangelical Canon Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s Oxford, who has openly spoken of his celibacy despite same-sex attraction, and the leading charismatic churchman Canon Charlie Cleverly, Rector of St Aldate’s, Oxford. Their two congregations are among the largest in the diocese. There are also signatories who are lay people and retired clergy, including the distinguished author, evangelist and lecturer Dr Michael Green.

The letter says: ‘Our overriding concern is with the direction of travel which the Diocese is taking as revealed by this letter. In its desire for new expressions of “inclusion”, it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of Scripture and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction. We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible’s teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit.’

They continue: ‘As Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany in the Episcopal Church of the USA said last month in relation to the introduction of “blessings” for same-sex couples, it ‘does a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Manchester Evening News) A Cheshire church is offering couples the chance to get wed for just £1,000

It is likely to be the happiest day of your life, but it also guaranteed to be the most expensive.

The average wedding in the UK now costs £30,355, an all-time high, with couples across the UK willing to splurge saying ‘I do’.

Now a church in Cheshire is offering couples the chance to have a wedding for just a fraction of the usual cost.

St John’s Church in Hartford, near Northwich, is recognising the huge expense couples face as they enter married life and offering an affordable alternative.

Dubbed ‘A Grand Wedding’, for just £1,000, a handful of lucky couples will be be given use of the venue, organist, a two-tier personalised wedding cake, invitation and service stationary, a photographer and flowers.

Also included in the package is a catered reception in the church centre for up to 30 guests including a two course meal, with the option to add a further 20 guests for an additional amount.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

([London] Times) Millennials shun modern liturgy for ‘bells and smells’

Almost everything about services at St Bartholomew the Great church is old-fashioned. Purple-robed choristers process through clouds of pungent incense. The priest, the Rev Marcus Walker, brandishes an ornate golden King James Bible above his head before reading from the 1611 text. The liturgy is a mixture of 16th-century prose and sung Latin. The medieval priory church, which sits a stone’s throw from the central London hospital of the same name, was founded in 1123.

However, the congregation watching on at a recent service were younger than most would expect; at least a quarter were under 35. They had come to observe a handful of men and women, mostly in their late twenties, be baptised into the Anglican faith. Afterwards the millennials gathered inside the stone cloisters to explain why the archaic drama of traditional worship still appealed.

Several said they relished the connection to past generations of believers through reciting the Book of Common Prayer, which English Christians have been using since 1549. Others valued the beauty and history of the choral music and Shakespearean liturgy. They were not simply “young fogeys”, they insisted. Three of the group had separately found their way to St Bartholomew’s after becoming friendly with Walker on Twitter.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell–Church of England Safeguarding Guidelines: progress, regression or PR spin?

Such lack of liaison with legitimately interested parties mirrors the church’s approach to compiling the terms of reference for inquiries into its other failings. If you talk to the campaigners for Bishop George Bell, for example, they report a similar refusal in our leadership to publish, let alone offer for advanced discussion, the terms of reference and timetable for the investigation. Plainly a prolonged discussion of such detail cannot be expected and would lengthen an already tortuous process in such matters. Nevertheless, a confident institution would surely be happy to set out in advance its modus operandi across the board. An unwillingness to listen to the views and experiences of others who might contribute to good process suggests insecurity rather than strength, and in the case of the survivor community it adds to their sense of being seen as a nuisance rather than a resource to be utilised and valued.

The new requirement for reporting Safeguarding matters to the Charity Commission was initially welcomed; and sharing data with the Church Commissioners sounds like an interim step towards external oversight. But the more it was discussed, the more questions arose.

What exactly constitutes a “serious safeguarding concern”? If a Parochial Church Council thinks a matter is serious but the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor disagrees, will it be reported? Who will audit the statistics? How many staff will the Charity Commissioners have working on the data? Will that be sufficient? Given that the Church of England made dreadful errors over the Past Cases Review and that the figure supplied last year to General Synod concerning the number of live cases had to be quickly revised, such questions are not unreasonable.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

([London] Times) Women ready to break stained glass ceiling by winning race to be next Archbishop of York

The Church of England could appoint its first female archbishop after two women were named among the frontrunners to be the next Archbishop of York.

The secretive recruitment process to replace the Most Rev John Sentamu when he retires in June next year is due to begin soon. The bishops of London and Ripon, the Right Revs Sarah Mullally and Helen-Ann Hartley and the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Rev Stephen Cottrell, are joint 3-1 favourites, William Hill has said.

The appointment will be made by the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which will not reveal who is in the frame until its final announcement, planned before the end of this year. A female archbishop could prove controversial among other Anglican heads around the globe. They are due to meet in London in 2020 and many do not approve of female bishops. Women have only been appointed as bishops in the church since 2014. There are now 18.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) Matthew Lee Anderson: The C of E’s recently released “pastoral” guidelines…Baptizing the spirit of the Age

At the heart of the guidance is a prioritization of the “pastoral,” which effectively cordons the ceremony off from meaningful theological reflection. This leaves the guidance grossly underdetermined, reducing priests to cheerleaders for those on their way to a new sex. The document opens, for instance, by announcing that the Church of England “welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ….” It goes on to insinuate that transitions from one sex and “identity” to another may sometimes be licit—and that affirming these transitions is always the appropriate “pastoral” response. In conducting such ceremonies priests should be “guided by the wishes of the candidate.” The church, it now seems, must give unconditional welcome to trans individuals, but those individuals are apparently free to impose conditions upon the church.

This triumph of the “pastoral” happens when the church abdicates its responsibility to respond to such moments theologically. As the document notes, the “giving or adoption of a new name has a long history” within the tradition, as at confirmations or upon taking holy orders. Yet the text does not attempt to connect such a practice to the taking of a different gender. This simple derivation from past to present circumvents the very theological thinking required to keep such a practice from sliding into a warmed-over celebration of therapeutic individualism. This is a baptism-type ceremony, to be sure, but it is the spirit of the age that is being consecrated.

Of course, developing the theological architecture necessary to provide real pastoral guidance to gender dysphoric Christians and their priests would make explicit the deep revolution that is at work in the church’s teaching about the nature of sex and the person. It would also open up the possibility that pastors and priests might have the responsibility to say “no” to requests for consecrating new names for transgender individuals.

It is ironic that such an individualistic and therapeutic atmosphere would infect the church’s understanding of baptism through a service reaffirming baptismal vows. It is in baptism, as the document notes, “where we find our true identity in Christ.” Yet any “Affirmation of Baptismal Faith” founded upon transitioning into a new sex risks conveying that the source of alienation within one’s former life was one’s physical body—introducing a latent Gnosticism into the theology of baptism.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Prayer for the New Year from the Church of England

Eternal Lord
we give you thanks for bringing us through the changes of time to the beginning of another year
Forgive us the wrong we have done in the year that is past
and help us to spend the rest of our days
to your honour and glory
through Jesus Christ our Lord

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

(Telegraph) One in ten members of clergy victims of violence as anti-Christian hate crimes rises

One in ten members of the Church of England clergy has been the victim of violent behaviour in the last two years, a government-funded survey has found.

The same proportion say they are experiencing more anti-Christian hate crime than they did two years ago.

The survey also found that more than two-thirds have been on the receiving end of verbal abuse and one in five has experienced threatening behaviour over the last two years.

The findings, released on Friday, also showed that clergy who have suffered violence are more likely to find their work “more challenging” than they did previously.

The research was carried out by academics at Royal Holloway, University of London, with £5,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, amid fears that increasing secularisation, the declining status of clergy and abuse scandals may be impacting on the way clergy are treated.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

The 2018 Christmas sermon from the Bishop of Sheffield

Some of you will have seen where I’m going with this, I suppose. There was a time, and maybe you can say the same, when the story I carried around in my head, and with which I interpreted the world, excluded God. The result was that when I was granted the occasional glimpse of God’s presence, I used to squeeze that data into the existing framework: ‘Obviously it’s not God. The genuine article is not possible. It must be a look-alike, or a sound-alike, or a feel-alike’. And I dare say I’m not the only here for whom conversion meant, in effect, abandoning an old story which had ceased to be adequate, which no longer did justice to my growing experience, in favour of a different outlook, one which made more satisfying sense, sense not just of the existence of God, but of myself in relation to God.

Well, I don’t know how far you identify with that. But the Gospel reading this evening suggests that that process, or some process like it, is not just a common one, but an inevitable one where God is concerned — inevitable because a relationship with God is not something within our grasp. It’s not easy for creatures like us, who dwell in time and space, to know an eternal and infinite Creator. It’s not easy for sinners like us to know the Holy One. Or (to use the terminology of our Gospel reading), it’s not easy for us to hear the Word of God.

Repeatedly in our reading there are little indicators that if we are to know God, we are utterly dependent on what Christian tradition calls ‘grace’: we rely on God’s initiative, his gift, his unmerited favour towards us. Listen again to these words: The true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.

The true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. It had to because almost by definition, it is beyond our capacity to enlighten ourselves: enlightenment always does come to us. Though the true light came into the world, the world did not recognise him, because this enlightening Word is almost always contrary to human expectation. But to those who did receive him (since the true light is always something that to be received), he gave power (because this power is always a gift), to become children of God (because a relationship with God is not our natural state, it is always something // into which we must enter). This true light, the Word of God, became flesh, says John, and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Bishop Libby Lane named as next Bishop of Derby

Bishop Libby is currently the Suffragan Bishop of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester – a post she has occupied since 2015.

Libby describes Derbyshire as ‘the place that holds my heart’. She grew up in Glossop in the north-west of the county and was selected for ordination while working in the parish of St Thomas Brampton, Chesterfield.

Bishop Libby said: “I am excited and privileged to have been called to serve as Bishop of Derby.

“I grew up here and my vocation was fostered here. Derbyshire nurtured me and brought me to faith and I want to love Derbyshire back.

“I want to lead a church in Derbyshire where people find hope because they know they are loved by God in Christ, and I pray that hope sets us free to live our lives in ways that bring change for good.”

On hearing the news, the Dean of Derby, the Very Reverend Dr Stephen Hance, said: “I am thrilled that Libby is coming to be our bishop. Her roots are here in Derbyshire, and we are all very much looking forward to welcoming her home and working with her in the months and years ahead….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Guardian) Bishops pray for politicians’ integrity amid Brexit turmoil

Church of England bishops have said they are praying for “courage, integrity and clarity for our politicians” after a week of turmoil over Brexit.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday, the bishops also urged the country to “consider the nature of our public conversation” and called for more grace and generosity.

The statement echoes concerns raised by the archbishop of Canterbury in the House of Lords on Friday when he stressed the need for reconciliation after a “week of deep division” over Brexit.

Justin Welby said it was central to the country’s future that the divisions were healed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A CEEC response to the C of E House of Bishops’ “Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition”

The Church of England holds to the principle that our prayers express what we believe (lex orandi, lexcredendi). As this new guidance will be included in Common Worship, its support for services liturgically
recognising a person’s gender transition, and the theological views contained in the guidance for such services,are of both liturgical and doctrinal significance.

Although the bishops have declined the request to issue a new formal liturgy they have encouraged a newliturgical act. They seem to have proposed a hybrid liturgy for such services. They do so by commending a
properly approved rite which should express our baptismal unity to be used to do something else and something new liturgically. This innovative use is both highly divisive and theologically and pastorally
questionable. It also risks raising serious concerns both within the wider Anglican Communion and ecumenically.

Although the bishops have not issued a new formal teaching, they have issued pastoral guidance which makes theological judgments. They have done so through what appears to be a flawed process; a process which
lacked theological scrutiny and bypassed the existing structures for such theological discernment. These judgments develop and narrow previous teaching. They do so in ways that many Anglicans view as reversing that teaching to establish a position which is incompatible with biblical revelation and the Church’s traditional understanding of what it means to be human.

We recognise that some in the church will share our understanding of the nature and significance of this step and welcome it. Others may think our interpretation of the guidance flawed. We believe, however, that our
interpretation is widely and legitimately held. We, and we believe many others, are concerned as to the consequences of this development.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Uncategorized