Category : Church of England (CoE)

(SS) New Bishop of Shrewsbury welcomed to Shropshire at Abbey service

The new Anglican bishop Rt Rev Sarah Bullock received a warm welcome at her investiture service at Shrewsbury Abbey which was attended by guests from numerous community organisations and faith leaders.

She joins the area bishops of Wolverhampton and Stafford in a team led by the Bishop of Lichfield the Rt Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave.

And the town’s first female bishop will have particular responsibility for the pastoral oversight of churches, ministers and communities in the towns and villages of North Shropshire, Shrewsbury, and the northern part of Telford.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Church Times) Hattie Williams talks to Paul Handley about covering the IICSA hearings

“Hattie Williams, senior reporter at the Church Times, has covered the proceedings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church from the beginning. She talks to Paul Handley, Editor, about the experience, and what she thinks the Church can learn.” Listen to it all (slightly under 17 minutes).

Posted in Anthropology, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(CEN) Sheikh Dr Muhammad al-Hussain–Investigating institutional bullying within faith and interfaith organisations

One of my most difficult experiences as a perpetrator of fitna myself was at the 2014 General Meeting of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN).

A conglomeration of largely self-appointed “faith community representative bodies” and interfaith groups led by a Church of England bishop, the IFN has been funded over the years in millions of pounds by the taxpayer and enjoys privileged lobbying access to government.

Above all, the IFN embodies the vested interests of a monetised interfaith industry, and the project of the liberal Church of England hierarchy to reinvent itself as head boy of Eton for all UK faiths, just as England’s bishops chase continued political relevance in the face of the C of E’s own terminal decline in congregational numbers.

When I spoke publicly as a Muslim academic about the Inter Faith Network’s membership including the Islamic Foundation and Muslim Council of Britain, among whose founding leaders have been individuals convicted of genocide or linked to Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist networks overseas, it was the Methodist Director of the Lambeth Palaces ponsored Christian Muslim Forum who protested offence at the allegation that the IFN has members associated with extremism.

The written record shows how he demanded that my remarks as a Muslim cleric about Islamist extremism be expunged from the minutes of the meeting.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Guardian) Archbishop of Canterbury calls for mandatory reporting of sexual abuse

The archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind calls for the government to make the reporting of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults mandatory.

Justin Welby told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA): “I am convinced that we need to move to mandatory reporting for regulated activities.”

Regulated activities cover areas where professionals come into routine contact with children and vulnerable adults, such as teaching, healthcare and sporting activities. In a church context, this would cover clergy and youth leaders.

Survivors of clerical sexual abuse have argued that mandatory reporting of allegations or suspicions of abuse to statutory authorities is a vital component of effective child protection. They argue that a failure to comply should lead to criminal sanctions.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Church Times) Number of self-identifying Anglicans falls according to latest National Centre for Social Research Report

The number of British people who identify themselves as Anglicans is lower than ever before, the latest figures from the British Social Attitudes survey suggest.

The report, published by the National Centre for Social Research, on Thursday of last week, found that only 12 per cent of respondents would describe themselves as “belonging to the Church of England [or the Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church]”. This figure is down from 14 per cent last year, 22 per cent in 2008, and 40 per cent in 1983, when the survey was first run.

Among 18- to 24-year-olds, just one per cent said that they belonged to the Church, while 33 per cent of those aged 75 and over identified as such. Two per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds identified as Anglican last year (News, 7 September 2018).

An unexpected figure is the rise in those who identified as a non-denominational Christian, which is 13 per cent, up from three per cent in 1998. This means, the report says, that the number “is now equivalent to ‘Church of England’”.

It continues: “Wider research suggests that Britain is becoming more secular not because adults are losing their religion or inclination to practise but because old people with an attachment to the Church of England and other Christian denominations are gradually being replaced in the population by unaffiliated younger people.

Read it all.

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

(Churchman) A 1957 Article by (then) Bishop Hugh Rowlands Gough–Our Evangelical Heritage

A study of our Evangelical Heritage would be grossly incomplete unless attention were drawn to the high standard of conduct and of disciplined holy living set by our forefathers. These Evangelicals of old were men who knew their God ; they were men of God, men of Prayer, men of Christlike character, men filled with the Holy Ghost.

They proved the truth of the Evangelical Doctrines by the way they lived. They demonstrated the reality of justification by faith by their works. Through their evangelistic preaching and through the witness of their lives, thousands upon thousands of sinful men and women were converted and experienced a similar transformation of character, and this miracle was one which even their opponents admitted. Although special emphasis in their preaching was always laid upon the Atonement and man’s consequent reconciliation with God, the great implications of the Doctrine of the Incarnation were not neglected. By word and by example these men proclaimed how the Lord Christ, Who became Man, still dwelled with man upon earth, entering into his daily life and toil, so that work became worship, and “the daily round, the common task” a thrilling experience of the presence and power of God.

Moreover, as these truths were more closely studied, the Evangelicals became foremost in the movement for social reform, for the material as well as the spiritual welfare of their fellowmen….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Sex, gender and marriage in the C of E

Underlying the problems arising from contradictory statements, and the difference between civil and Church understandings of marriage, is the difference between biological sex and gender. The Church of England’s view of marriage as being between ‘one man and one women’ has usually been understood as a reference to biological sex—hence Christine Hardman’s answer to the question seems to assume that, since biological sex has not been changed by gender transition, the marriage is still believed to be valid. But the previous decision in 2004—that the notion of man and woman is understood with reference to the legal definition of gender—takes the opposite view. That was similar to the Government’s approach, in that prior to the 2013 Equal (Same-sex) Marriage Act, gender transition would lead to the dissolving of a marriage, since it was not possible in law for two people of the same gender in law to be married to each other—but it is worth noting that the Government here was only concerned with status in law, rather than questions of ontology and theology that the Church is more interested in.

In fact, the question was explicitly raised in the law around gender recognition. It is only possible to obtain a GRC for married people if they have obtained ‘spousal consent’; without this, the person would first have to get a divorce prior to applying for a certificate. (The Liberal Democrats opposed this idea, which would have meant that the spouse of someone undergoing gender transition would be forced into a same-sex marriage against their will.)

The term ‘gender’ with reference to the social manifestation of sex identity is relatively recent, having been coined in the 1950s by sexologist John Money. The term was taken up by feminists as a way of detaching biological sex from the (often rigid) expectations of social roles of the sexes. But with the rise of transgender ideology, the term has now been turned inward and used to refer to an ‘inner’ sense of sex identity—though without any real evidential basis in biological or psychological study. And this inward turn has ill-served feminists, since biological males who claim an ‘inner’ sense of being female can, under the legal mechanism of gender recognition, now enter social contexts that are limited to women only.

The Church of England is seeking to explore these complex questions around sexuality in a process called Living in Love and Faith (LLF). It is becoming ever clearer that this exploration will have to come to a view on the status of ‘gender’ in relation to biological sex: is it really a thing? how is it understood? how does it relate to biological sex as part of bodily human existence? does it have any theological status? And until that is done, I think the Church would be wise not to make any more ad hoc pronouncements about transgender issues.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Church of England General Synod backs expansion in new forms of church gatherings

More than 50,000 people are attending non-traditional church gatherings thanks to the success of a drive to attract worshippers with no previous contact with the Christian faith, the General Synod heard today.

Members of the Church’s national assembly gave their backing to an expansion of ‘Fresh Expressions’ churches – new forms of church gatherings meeting often in venues such as cafes, community centres and pubs.

Fresh expressions churches now account for 15% of congregations in the Church of England and are estimated to attract more than 50,000 worshippers, the equivalent to the size of two new dioceses, the General Synod was told.

Mark Sheard, Chair of the Ministry and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England, leading a debate at the General Synod said: “I am firmly of the belief that Fresh Expressions of church is one of the most significant ways in which we are seeing the Kingdom Come – which after all is what we pray for so fervently day by day.

“What we are witnessing here is a real and exceptional movement of the Spirit.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE)

(Christian Today) Church of England moves towards communion with the Methodist Church

The Church of England’s national assembly has backed proposals to continue the process towards communion with the Methodist Church.

Members of the General Synod meeting in York over the weekend agreed to begin drafting a number of texts towards this end, including a “formal declaration” outlining a new relationship of communion between the two Churches.

The motion approved by Synod also instructs the Faith and Order Commission to work on additional texts for the inaugural services that would take place after communion is agreed, and the guidelines covering how presbyters and priests from each Church could serve in the other.

The House of Bishops is to report back on the progress being made following elections to the new General Synod taking place next year.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Methodist

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Bp Philip Mounstephen calls for sanctions on countries which persecute Christians

The Bishop of Truro Philip Mounstephen has finally published his independent report on persecuted Christians across the world, and it doesn’t disappoint. The review was commissioned by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt last December, and launched in January, and the intervening six months have been worth the wait, not least for its impeccable justification:

..this particular focus is justified because Christian persecution, like no other, is a global phenomenon. And it is so precisely because the Christian faith is a truly global phenomenon. Thus Christian persecution is not limited to one context or challenge. It is a single global phenomenon with multiple drivers and as such it deserves special attention. More specifically it is certainly not limited to Islamic-majority contexts. So this review is not a stalking horse for the Islamophobic far-right, and nor does it give the Islamophobic right a stick to beat Islam with. To focus on one causative factor alone is to be wilfully blind to many others.

..Because the Christian faith is perhaps the one truly global faith it has become a bellwether for repression more generally. If Christians are being discriminated against in one context or another you can be confident other minorities are too. So renewing a focus on Christian persecution is actually a way of expressing our concern for all minorities who find themselves under pressure. And ignoring Christian persecution might well mean we’re ignoring other forms of repression as well.

Bishop Philip not only calls for the UK to impose sanctions upon countries that persecute Christians, but also for the adoption of a specific definition of anti-Christian discrimination and persecution. Since the Government has refused to adopt a specific definition of Islamophobia, and the definition of Antisemitism is not without contention, it will be interesting to see how anti-Christian discrimination (which some call ‘Christophobia‘) is actually finally defined.

Significantly, Bishop Philip affirms the view expressed by the Rev’d Jonathan Aitken last December in his Christmas sermon to the Foreign Office, of an essential lack of religious literacy among FCO staff.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religious Freedom / Persecution

([London] Times) The Rev Richard Bewes RIP

It became something of an open secret during the latter years of Richard Bewes’s ministry that he might have to “drop everything” if the call from the US came. A long friendship with Dr Billy Graham had led Graham and his family to ask Bewes to preach at his funeral. That honour was a measure of Bewes’s stature and a signal not only of the respect between the two men, but of their shared Gospel convictions.

For decades Bewes enthusiastically supported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse International. He had chaired Graham’s Eurofest event in Brussels in 1975. He was also an energetic member of the planning committee of the Amsterdam 2000 Congress, which brought together more than 11,000 evangelists from around the world.

It was an immense disappointment to Bewes that, after Graham’s death (obituary, February 22, 2018), his failing health prevented him from flying to take part in a ceremony viewed by millions. It could have been a fitting climax to a magnificent career.

Bewes was one of the most versatile Anglican parish clergy of his generation. He served as rector of All Souls, Langham Place in central London from 1983 to 2004 as a successor to John Stott and Michael Baughen.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Stephen Hance named as new National Lead for Evangelism and Witness for the Church of England

In this key role, Stephen will be responsible for working with dioceses, churches and other organisations to equip the Church’s million regular worshippers to be a confident witness in every part of their lives and enable a growing Church.

Stephen will also be responsible for a national project to identify, equip and release 1,000 new evangelists in the Church of England by 2025. His appointment emphasises the importance the Church attaches to our commitment to ‘motivate the million.’

Stephen is currently the Dean of Derby, a position he has held since 2017. He was previously the Canon Missioner of Southwark Cathedral and Director of Mission and Evangelism for the Diocese of Southwark from 2013 to 2017. Stephen is founder and convener of the Cathedrals and Growth Network and is a former member of the General Synod.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth

C of E Synod votes to adopt Covenant on Clergy Care and Well-Being

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted overwhelmingly in support of a new deal to co-ordinate and improve the approach to the care and well-being of clergy.
Members voted to adopt a covenant committing parishes, dioceses and the wider church as well as individual clergy to sharing responsibility for the welfare of ministers and their households.

The Revd Canon Simon Butler, who headed the working group which drew up the covenant, said: “There is a widespread acknowledgment that we can and must do better to support clergy in ways that promote good practice and prevent occasional stress becoming a harmful and chronic condition.

“It will be a great boost to many clergy to see the General Synod taking a lead, and I hope to see the wider church following in the coming months.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained

The Archbishop of York’s Presidential Address to General Synod July 2019

In his address to this General Synod in November 2010, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams asked this question:

How can people who read the same Bible and share the same baptism come to strongly diverse conclusions about human sexuality?

Having discussed the issue of the ordination of women, he turns to the issue of same-sex unions:

The other issue, still bitterly divisive in the Communion, is that of our approach to same-sex unions. It is inevitable that, whether in open debate or in general discussion, this will be around during the lifetime of this Synod. I shall make only a brief comment here, having said a fair amount on the subject this time last year and in other settings. And it is that this has become a cardinal example of how we avoid theological debate. The need for some thoughtful engagement that will help us understand how people who read the same Bible and share the same baptism can come to strongly diverse conclusions is getting more urgent, because I sense that in the last few years the debate on sexuality has not really moved much. It is unthinkingly treated by some as almost the sole test of biblical fidelity or doctrinal orthodoxy; it is unthinkingly regarded by others as one of those matters on which the Church must be brought inexorably into line with what our culture can make sense of. Neither side always has the opportunity of clarifying how they see the focal theological issues – how one or the other position relates to our belief in a divine Saviour. And if we are not to be purely tribal about this, we need the chance for some sort of discussion that is not dominated by the need to make an instant decision or to react to developments and pressures elsewhere. [1]

Nine years later there has been little, if any, progress in answering it. In this Presidential Address I will offer some pointers towards an answer to Dr Rowan Williams’ question.

It has been said rightly that the church often has to wrestle painfully with issues that public opinion is prepared not to wrestle with, because public opinion can jump from one conviction to the opposite, and back again, without caring very much about consistency or fairness. Our disagreements can be a positive test of our faith – an opportunity to model difficult discussions that ought to be going on everywhere, but are not. But we cannot do that, if we cannot draw on the resources of faith, God’s word and God’s work.

The kind of disagreement we have is exactly the kind of disagreement one would expect to find in a church where the old habits of reading the Bible consistently and thoroughly, as part of a liturgical pattern or a pattern of private devotion, had broken down. The expectations we have of Biblical literacy – not only of laity but of clergy too – would strike most earlier generations of Christians as sadly low.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Stephen Lynas Summarizes the Early Goings on at the Church of England General Synod

For once, the debate on the agenda got quite agitated. As predicted, the speeches made were largely about safeguarding – or the lack of it, according to some – on the agenda.

There were plaintive requests that

  • we respond to the catalogue of failings being rehearsed at the current IICSA hearings (see yesterday’s post for some context on this)
  • we should debate the Blackburn letter (which I referred to in yesterday’s post, and which you can read here). A number of members had petitioned the two Archbishops (as Presidents of Synod) to use their powers to insert a debate into the agenda, despite the lack of notice. Their request was turned down.
  • We recognise that the outside world is under the impression that we are ‘dragging our feet until IICSA goes away’ (a reported quote from a legal adviser at IICSA this week).

The overall tone was of dissatisfaction on behalf of victims and survivors of abuse, that when the Bishops speak out on safeguarding failures, they do not ‘speak from the heart’.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE)

(Church Times) C of E Synod ‘lazy and incurious’ about safeguarding scandals

The General Synod has been “lazy and incurious” despite a wave of safeguarding scandals, a lay member said this week.

Martin Sewell, a representative from the diocese of Rochester, expressed disappointment that the Archbishops had declined a proposal to add to the agenda a motion welcoming a letter from the bishops of the diocese of Blackburn, which warned that Church’s mission was “fatally undermined” by the abuse crisis (News, 21 and 28 June).

He joined David Lamming, a lay member from St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, in making the proposal.

“At a time when the Church is nosediving into controversies over IICSA and Jonathan Fletcher, this motion was carefully designed to bring us together around a pastoral letter that prioritised repentance, humility, and genuine concern for victims,” Mr Sewell said on Monday. It deliberately sought support from General Synod, an institution that has historically been lazy and incurious as scandal after scandal broke. We never debate these matters properly.

“Instead we are left with a question for the Archbishops — ‘Don’t you want to hear what the elected representatives of the people of the Church have to say about all this?’”

Read it all.

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

CoE General Synod Q&A — if my spouse has a sex change, are we still married in the eyes of the Church?

The Bishop of Newcastle to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:

A. The Pastoral Advisory Group considered this question in the context of one specific case and I cannot comment here on the personal circumstances involved or draw a general theological principle from a single instance. However, we noted two important points. When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health – come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear.

Secondly, never in the history of the church has divorce been actively recommended as the way to resolve a problem. We have always prioritised fidelity, reconciliation and forgiveness, with divorce as a concession when staying together proves humanl unbearable. In the light of those two points, if a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?

Read it all. Please note that there is also a [London] Times article (requires subscription) on this which appeared yesterday with the headline ‘Church accepts marriage between people of the same gender — with a catch’ which begins as follows:

The Church of England has given its blessing to marriage between two people of the same gender . . . but only if they were man and wife when they originally took their vows.

The church’s teachings state that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but bishops have now been asked to resolve a thorny question over the church’s position on opposite-sex married couples who remain married after one transitions to a new gender, thereby creating a same-gender couple of two men or two women.

A member of General Synod, Prudence Dailey, asked bishops: “Given that the Church of England’s teaching about marriage is that it is a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman, if one person in a couple undergoes gender transition, has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?”

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Church of England General Synod Starts today

You can find basic information about it here and livefeed there. There is also much useful materialthere and you can the synod’s own twitterfeed there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE)

A Forward in Faith Statement on the Anglican-Methodist Proposals

In our own February 2018 statement, we noted questions about whether the proposals would lead to unity, and whether the office of ‘President-bishop’ (to be held for one year only) could be recognized as a ‘local adaption’ of the historic episcopate of the catholic Church. We are grateful to note some progress with regard to the question of unity, but our question as to whether what is proposed is in fact episcopacy remains.

Our third and greatest concern was about the proposal to set aside the requirement that those who minister as priests in the Church of England should have been episcopally ordained to the office of priest. In response to this concern, which was shared by others, the General Synod asked the Faith and Order Commission to ‘explore and elucidate further the relationship between episcopal ordination and eucharistic presidency’. That the Commission has not attempted to offer such an elucidation is a deep disappointment.

The requirement of episcopal ordination was fundamental to the 1662 settlement, which is in turn fundamental to Anglican identity. The Preface to the 1662 Ordinal makes clear that this requirement is a matter of doctrine. If this doctrine is set aside for a ‘temporary’ period that could last for sixty or seventy years, as is proposed, it will effectively have been abandoned. If a central tenet of Anglican doctrine can be abandoned in this way, what other tenets of Anglican doctrine might follow?

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

A Statement by Anglican Catholic Future on the Forthcoming Discussion in Synod of Mission and Ministry in Covenant

Over what is to be received by the Methodist Church, the report by no means allays fears that the proposed Methodist President-Bishop does not resemble episcopacy as the episcopally ordered churches have known it. We recognise that it is not necessary for the precise details of how the Church of England has held the historic episcopate to be replicated. It is important, however, that an episcopal church, in conferring the episcopate, should do so in a form that bears a family resemblance to how it has been known across the episcopal churches, down their history. The report before Synod serves to underline our conviction that what is proposed lies a long way far from that.

One of our principal concerns with MMiC was that the personal, historic episcopate was presented there stripped down simply to a power to ordain. The more recent report further clarifies this point: the only thing what would be changed by episcopal ordination for the President of the Methodist Conference would be to limit the authority to ordain to her, or him, and to episcopally ordained predecessors. Beyond that, the role of those consecrated to the role of President-Bishop becomes personally episcopal in no other way. In taking about the future ministry of a past President-Bishop, for instance, the report only details roles that either already belong to a presbyter, or which could be undertaken by either a President or a Vice-President (a lay role).

Authority to ordain is, indeed, integral to the historic episcopacy, but possessing the historic, personal episcopate has also meant far more than that. In contrast to a vision of episcopacy focused solely on ordination, we must insist that the personal episcopacy is not simply about the transfer of what has sometimes, disparagingly, been described as a ‘magic hands’ understanding of the episcopal role.

The historical episcopate is a structural principle: episcopacy takes in an entire way in which the church is ordered in relation to bishops. The Methodist Church is currently ordered significantly differently from the churches with the historic episcopate, with the Conference bearing ultimate authority. Limiting to a small group of people those who can lay hands on those who are to be ordained does not by itself represent the acceptance of historical episcopal order.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Methodist, Religion & Culture

Archbishops of Canterbury and York launch Church of England’s first ever social media guidelines and charter

The Church of England has published social media advice aimed at tackling offensive behaviour and misleading content and encouraging a positive atmosphere for online conversations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, unveiled the Church’s first ever social media guidelines at Facebook today. The guidelines encourage positive engagement across all national social media accounts run by the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York.

At the same time the Church is urging Christians and others to sign up to a voluntary digital charter aimed at fostering a more positive atmosphere online.

As part of a live Q&A at Facebook UK’s Headquarters, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, launched the digital charter and guidelines and encouraged Christians and others to sign up to it.

The charter is centred on the five principles of: truth, kindness, welcome, inspiration and togetherness, and the opportunity for people to sign-up to show they support the principles.

It is hoped that people of all faiths and none will use the charter to consider how their own online interactions can affect others, both for good and bad.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(AI) GAFCON kept in the dark about Jonathan’s Fletcher alleged misconduct

Though Mr. Fletcher was removed from public ministry in 2017, he continued to hold himself out as a priest in his retirement and led an active ministry life. Following the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Andy Lines in Illinois by GAFCON archbishops last summer, a commissioning service was held in September 2018 at Emmanuel Church to inaugurate his English ministry. GAFCON Archbishops Peter Jensen and Ben Kwashi participated in the service.

The GAFCON spokesman explained: “The service was officiated by Robin Weekes [Emmanuel’s minister]. Jonathan Fletcher did a Q and A with Bishop Lines as part of the evening. The GAFCON global folks there did not know Jonathan’s PTO had been removed.”

He added that no one informed them of Fletcher’s status or the allegations of misconduct. Asked when Bishop Lines understood his long standing relationship with Fletcher may have been unhealthy, the spokesman said:

“Bishop Lines didn’t begin to recognize the nature of the abusive relationship until later in 2018 and didn’t fully come to grasp with it until the first quarter of 2019.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, GAFCON, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Church Times) Serious Allegations made against the Revd Jonathan Fletcher, an influential evangelical C of E clergyman

Mr [Andrew] Wales went on to cite other factors which supported “taking the allegations seriously”. They included: “The number of disclosures received”; “their consistent nature, where, for the most part, each person was unaware of what anyone else had disclosed”; and “the identity of those making disclosures, whose testimonies we consider reliable”.

A final factor cited by Mr Wales was that “Jonathan has recently acknowledged involvement in activities of the sort described. He did so only this week to [the Revd] William Taylor [Rector of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate]; and he’s done so to other senior leaders as well.”

Mr Wales went on to say that “all these factors, taken together, led Emmanuel to take the allegations very seriously, even though — and I stress this — nothing criminal or to do with children has been alleged.”

The Rector of St Ebbe’s, Oxford, the Revd Vaughan Roberts, who is director of the Proclamation Trust, said of Mr Fletcher: “Sadly, it seems that he has not yet accepted the seriousness of the situation, despite the efforts of a number of senior Evangelical leaders, who have sought to engage with him, both face to face and in writing.”

Read it all. Interested readers may also find the full statement of Vaughan Roberts there.

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

The Church of England’s response to the IICSA’s report

The NSSG, on behalf of the Church of England, reiterates the apology to all those who have been abused by those who held a position of power and authority within the Church. It remains committed to ensuring that words of apology are followed by concrete actions to improve how all worshipping communities across the whole Church in its many forms – across its parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, religious communities, national church institutions and other church bodies – respond to concerns and allegations of abuse and to all victims and survivors of abuse and others affected by this, whilst at the same time working to prevent such abuse from occurring in the first place. The Church must continue to find ways to place children and young people at the centre of its response and safeguarding at the heart of its mission and culture.

The Church recognises that these responses are made to the recommendations from the Inquiry that have arisen as a result of IICSA’s work to date. The Church will need to consider carefully the evidence given to the July public hearings in respect of the national and wider church and is committed to progressing further improvements that can be made ahead of IICSA’s final report, when we anticipate additional recommendations being made.

Read it all.

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

IICSA’s report of the Inquiry Panel on the diocese of Chichester and Peter Ball

This phase of the Anglican Church investigation has examined two case studies. The first was the Diocese of Chichester, where there have been multiple allegations of sexual abuse against children. The second concerned Peter Ball, who was a bishop in Chichester before becoming Bishop of Gloucester. In 1993, he was cautioned for gross indecency, and was convicted of further offences in 2015, including misconduct in public office and indecent assault.

The Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors. It failed to be so in its response to allegations against clergy and laity.

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

(C of E) Rose Hudson-Wilkin named as next Bishop of Dover

Rose was born and raised in Jamaica. She was educated at Montego Bay High School for Girls and later at Birmingham University. She trained with the Church Army and was commissioned in 1982 as an Evangelist; she later trained for ordination at Queens Theological College on their part-time course, ordained deacon in 1991, priested in 1994 and served her title at St Matthew’s Church, Willenhall Road in the Diocese of Lichfield.For sixteen and a half years she served as a priest in Hackney (Holy Trinity with St Philip, Dalston and All Saints, Haggerston). In 2007 she was appointed as a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and in 2010, she became the first female appointed to the position of the 79th Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. In November 2014, she took on the additional responsibility as Priest in Charge of city Church, St Mary-at-Hill near Monument.

She has previously served as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and also as one of the Panel of Chairs of the Synod. She has twice represented the Church of England at the World Council of Churches (in Zimbabwe & Brazil); she served as its priest representative on the Anglican Consultative Council for 9 years. She also served as a Selection Secretary for the Church of England, helping to select men and women seeking to test their vocation to the ministry. She does numerous preaching and speaking engagements nationally (and occasionally overseas). She was a member of the Broadcasting Standards Commission and has wide experience of media engagement including some religious broadcasting.

She is married to Kenneth, a prison Chaplain and they have 3 adult children.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Christian Today) Prominent evangelical minister Jonathan Fletcher accused of spiritual abuse

A report in The Telegraph has detailed allegations of spiritual abuse against prominent evangelical leader and former Reform trustee Jonathan Fletcher.

According to the report, in 2017, the Bishop of Southwark stripped Mr Fletcher of his powers to continue preaching and officiating at services following anonymous complaints.

It is understood that the complaints against Mr Fletcher did not involve criminal behaviour and related only to spiritual abuse, not physical or sexual.

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

(Guardian) Time Is Now thousands march in London for urgent climate action

Campaigners, religious leaders and people of various faiths, led by the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams proceeded along Whitehall on a “walk of witness”.

Williams said he was proud the UK was taking the climate crisis seriously. “I compare it with the great struggle 200 years ago with ending the slave trade. Parliament took an option that wasn’t easy, it must have felt risky at the time facing massive entrenched global culture – and things changed,” he said.

At least 195 MPs who met campaigners were encouraged to mark their constituency with a pin on a large map of the UK before being taken by rickshaw to speak to their constituents.

At 2pm the thousands present rang alarm clocks, mobile phone alarms and sirens, and cheered loudly to symbolise “the time is now”.

Jane Alexander, a primary school headteacher from London, brought five pupils from her school, North Harringay primary, to the lobby. She said: “Our children may be too young to vote but they are not too young to have their voices heard.”

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

(C of E) New study outlines impact of two child limit

Research on the impact of the two-child limit in tax credits and universal credit, conducted by the Child Poverty Action Group and the Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England, is published today.

All Kids Count: the impact of the two-child limit after two years, shows that parents affected by the policy are reporting that they have cut back on fresh food for children, are unable to cover essential utility bills, and are being obliged to withdraw older children from activities such as swimming lessons and school trips.

The report, with additional contributions from Women’s Aid, the Refugee Council, and the charity, Turn2us, includes analysis by the Institute for Public Policy research (IPPR) which projects that one million children who already live in poverty will be pushed further below the poverty line by the time universal credit is fully rolled out in 2023/24 as a result of the policy.

The research draws on a survey of more than 430 families and 16 in-depth follow-up interviews with a representative sample of survey respondents. Women’s Aid and the Refugee Council provided additional findings from interviews with survivors of domestic abuse and refugees.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Children, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General

(C of E) Bishop Chris Goldsmith to lead Church of England’s Ministry Division

Bishop Chris will play a lead role in supporting the continuing renewal of ministry throughout the Church of England as the Church looks to increase the scale and diversity of those called to both lay and ordained ministries.

Chris is currently The Bishop of St Germans in the Diocese of Truro, a position he has held since 2013. Prior to that he has been a lay leader, a Reader, a minister in secular employment and the vicar of two parishes. Bishop Chris had a 25-year career in research and HR in the energy industry.

Bishop Chris succeeds Dr Mandy Ford, interim Director of Ministry, who has been leading the Division on secondment from the Diocese of Southwark since September 2018.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry