Thursday, 26 May 2016

House of Bishops meeting reports

The House of Bishops met at Bishopthorpe this week and issued this press release afterwards:

Church of England House of Bishops Meeting May 2016
25 May 2016

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met on 23-24 May 2016.

On its first day the Bishops received an update on the shared conversations process, received a report from the Faith and Order Commission and discussed the contribution and vision of the Church of England on Education. A substantial amount of time was spent on safeguarding including receiving the report of the Elliot Review from the Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally. A news release from Bishop Sarah can be found on the Diocese of Exeter website here: http://www.exeter.anglican.org/bishop-sarah-presents-safeguarding-review-recommendations-house-bishops/

In addition the House agreed to publish reports from the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) on safeguarding in addition to a report from FAOC on “Diversity, Difference and Serious Disagreement in the Life of the Church”.

On its second day the House received an oral report from the Archbishop of York on his recently completed pilgrimage and the lessons learned. The House also received an update from the Bishop of Chelmsford on the discussions on Intentional Discipleship at the 2016 Anglican Communion Consultative Council.

The House received and agreed to publish a discussion document on welfare reform from Revd Dr. Malcolm Brown and also discussed the work of the “Turning up the Volume” Group on senior appointments and minority ethnic clergy.

The House discussed and approved work on the Renewal and Reform programme and received an update on its work from the diocesan secretary for the Diocese of Liverpool, Mike Eastwood. The House also discussed legislative proposals relating to canon law to be brought to General Synod (Canon B8 & B38) as well as other reports to be brought before Synod.

The news release from Bishop Sarah Mullally is also copied below the fold.

Continue reading "House of Bishops meeting reports"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at 7:25am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Church of Scotland approves the Columba Declaration

Updated Wednesday evening

The Church of Scotland reports today: Historic ecumenical agreement with Church of England approved.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has unanimously backed a landmark agreement to enter into an historic ecumenical partnership with the Church of England.

The Columba Declaration represents a “significant step” between the two denominations and will open up new future possibilities of closer working together to develop God’s Church…

Other reports on the decision include:

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Anglo-Scottish ecumenical agreement approved by Church of Scotland

The General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland has this morning approved the Columba Declaration – an ecumenical agreement between it and the Church of England; and – in identical terms approved by the C of E’s General Synod in February – instructed the creation of an ecumenical “contact group” which would include representatives of the two churches and also the Scottish Episcopal Church…

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of Scotland passes landmark unity pact with Church of England

BBC News Archbishop of Canterbury in Church of Scotland General Assembly first

The text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the Church of Scotland General Assembly includes this apology.

… First, for me at least, is an apology.

The Columba Declaration is one that I support strongly and I hope you will, but the handling of its announcement caused much consternation and deep hurt to the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). That hurt is exclusively my responsibility and I want to put on the record to you and to them my apology. We know that the goal of unity envisaged in the Columba Declaration cannot be pursued by some churches in isolation from others, and in our context that must mean a particular place for the Scottish Episcopal Church as your Anglican partner in Scotland, and as our immediate neighbour in the Anglican Communion (we have many close links, including ordained ministers moving between our two churches, as we do with the Church in Wales). For this reason there is great importance in the motion at our Synod saying that the Contact Group to take the Columba Declaration forward should include an SEC representative, whom we ask to be a full participant…

Our report on the initial announcement of the Declaration (on Christmas Eve) is here, and there are later reports here, here, here, here and here.

Update

Kelvin Holdsworth The Columba Declaration – where are we now?

Statement by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 at 3:07pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | Scottish Episcopal Church

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales

Updated Wednesday morning

Stephen Bullivant of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, has published a report Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales (free pdf download). Despite its title the report is not confined to Catholicism, as the headlines of these press reports make clear.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales – study

Rose Gamble and Megan Cornwell The Tablet Catholic Church in England and Wales is failing to attract new believers, finds report

John Bingham The Telegraph Exodus: churches lose 11 worshippers for every new member

Mark Woods Christian Today Religious ‘nones’ outnumber Christians in England and Wales

The Guardian article starts

The number of people who say they have no religion is rapidly escalating and significantly outweighs the Christian population in England and Wales, according to new analysis.

The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census. Those who define themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8% of the population…

St Mary’s University has its own news item, St Mary’s Study Finds London Most Religious Area in England and Wales, and a page of key findings.

Update

Lucy Denyer The Telegraph Fewer churchgoers? That’s no bad thing if it means they’re there for a reason

Mark Woods Christian Today The rise of the ‘nones’: Why are people leaving the Church?

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 24 May 2016 at 9:53pm BST
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Categorised as: statistics

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Opinion - 21 May 2016

Andrew Lightbown Why I am worried about the C of E’S 8.2% return

Kelvin Holdsworth We worship a non-binary God. Don’t we?

Giles Fraser The Guardian Giving your body for dissection overcomes an ancient taboo

Deepening Connections: The Diocese of Virginia and the Diocese of Liverpool — a personal reflection by The Rt Rev Susan E Goff, Bishop Suffragan of Virginia

Helen King Behind closed doors

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 21 May 2016 at 11:00am BST
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Scottish Episcopalians consider equal marriage

While the [presbyterian] Church of Scotland is due to vote today on whether to allow its ministers to be in same-sex marriages, Harriet Sherwood also reports in the Guardian: Scottish churches push forward on gay rights that:

…The Scottish Episcopal Church is expected to take the first step in a two-stage process at its synod next month towards changing church law to allow same-sex weddings in church. If passed, a second vote would be required next year.

Such a move would invite de facto sanctions by the international Anglican Communion similar to the measures imposed on the US Episcopal Church earlier this year after it permitted clergy to perform same-sex weddings.

David Chillingworth, the primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “The canonical change would make it possible for our clergy to conduct same-sex marriages and to be in same-sex marriages – that’s the direction in which we’re moving.”

However, he added, “there is also a significant group of people who regard it as wrong, contrary to scripture and the fundamental teachings of the church”. He said his job was “to preserve the unity of the church”.

If the change to church law passed next year, he said, “we’re aware we will probably find ourselves in the same position as the US Episcopal Church. These are difficult issues; we are all in transition.”

ACNS has a more detailed report on this by Gavin Drake: Scottish Episcopal Church to debate changes to marriage canon.

…The current Canon, C31, begins by defining marriage by stating: “The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”

The proposed amendment to Canon C31 would replace that wording with a new clause which says: “In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .”

The full text of the report by the Doctrine Committee on the Theology of Marriage which has led to this debate can be found here.

This page contains links to all the documents for the June meeting of the Scottish General Synod.

Fulcrum has published a lengthy critique of the doctrine committee’s proposals by Oliver O’Donovan available here, but also more conveniently as a PDF here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 21 May 2016 at 7:45am BST
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Categorised as: Scottish Episcopal Church

Friday, 20 May 2016

Kenya elects Jackson Ole Sapit as Archbishop

ACNS reports: Bishop Jackson Ole Sapit elected as next Archbishop of Kenya:

The Bishop of Kericho, the Rt Revd Jackson Ole Sapit, has today been elected to serve as the sixth Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya and Bishop of the Diocese of All Saints’ Cathedral.

The 52-year-old bishop was baptised in 1977 and confirmed eight years later. His first church role was as evangelist and community motivator in Narok, which he undertook from two years from 1987 before joining the Berea Theological College. He was ordained a deacon in July 1991 and a priest a year later.

He served as vicar of Belgut Parish in the diocese of Nakuru and then as vicar of Kilgoris Parish and project manager at Transmara Rural Development Programme.

Throughout this time he continued his education, gaining a Bachelor of Divinity from St Paul’s University in Nairobi and a Certificate in Research and Consultancy at Nairobi’s Daystar University. In 1997 he studied for an MA in Social Development and Sustainable Livelihoods at the UK’s University of Reading…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 May 2016 at 2:13pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Monday, 16 May 2016

Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

Updated Monday night

The Church Commissioners have issued their annual report for 2015 this morning, and the following accompanying press release.

Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.

In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “I want to congratulate the investment team for the continued strong performance, delivering more than 8% in a challenging financial climate. Without this leadership and good stewardship it would not be possible to support the Church as we do. But we must not forget the generous support from parishes, dioceses and cathedrals which provide around three quarters of the Church’s annual spending on ministry and mission.”

First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Andreas Whittam Smith also congratulated the long-term performance but warned of harder times ahead due to the nervousness of investors: “The Commissioners’ fund has grown by an annual average of 9.7% over the past thirty years compared with an annual inflation rate during the same period of 3.4%,” he said. “Unfortunately it may be harder in the future to achieve such a satisfactory performance. My message to the wider Church is – don’t count on it. The nervousness of investors is explained by the feeling that governments have lost the power to reverse any slowdown in economic activity. In earlier time they would reduce interest rates, but now that rates hover around zero, that remedy is unavailable.”

Examples of funding provided in the report include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support strategic mission activities including:
  • Strategic Development Funding for large scale projects amounting to more than £6m, such as the Growing Younger initiative in Birmingham Diocese;
  • Supporting new churches to be planted across the country from a new City Centre Resourcing Churches fund, such as St Swithin’s, Lincoln;
  • Pioneering church workers in new communities such as the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London and a new housing estate in Exeter.

Growth and diversification

Notable performance was once again delivered in property, private equity and timber. The property markets in which the Commissioners are invested were strong across the board and their property portfolio totalled just less than £2bn at the end of 2015 with an average return of 14.4%, generated through active management of a high quality set of properties.

The private equity portfolio continued to grow in the year, bringing the total to £87.7million. These strategies generated a combined return of 20.2% in 2015.

The Church Commissioners continued to invest in forestry with two new holdings in Australia, bringing the total holdings to nearly 120,000 acres. The timberland and forestry portfolio delivered a total return of 13% in 2015.

Responsible investment

The Church Commissioners’ ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment practice. In 2015 the Commissioners adopted a new climate change policy, setting out a comprehensive approach to climate change including how we divest, how we seek low-carbon investments and how we engage with companies and public policy. The Church Commissioners are actively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making.

Notable work in 2015 included the Commissioners’ role in the Aiming for A initiative and the success of the shareholder resolutions on climate change disclosure that the Commissioners co-filed with BP and Shell. These were overwhelmingly passed at both companies, with the support of their respective boards.

Notes

The annual report can be download here. The annual review can be downloaded here.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners has commented on 2015’s results. Audio is available here, and video here. (1 min).

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, has commented on our responsible investment work in 2015. Audio is available here, and video here. (1:53 min)

Update

Press reports

Katie Allen The Guardian Church of England sells investments fearing market slowdown

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England invests in Google despite criticism of its tax record

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 16 May 2016 at 1:01am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Opinion - 14 May 2016

Guy Elsmore Modern Church Can liberals embrace the Growth Agenda? Part 2 of 3.
This week it was announced that Guy is to become Archdeacon of Buckingham.

As a follow-up to one of last week’s threads, Andrew Lightbown has written ‘In Christ,’ absolutely; but….

Jayne Ozanne wrote “Perfect Love Casts Out Fear”.

Fr Jonathan has written On the Eucharist: Yes, Anglicans Believe in the Real Presence.

Chimene Suleyman has written Sadiq Khan may not represent a win for all Muslims, nor should he.

John Reader has written The EU Debate: A Primer in Political Theology.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 14 May 2016 at 11:00am BST
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Categorised as: Opinion

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Opinion - 7 May 2016

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons Religion News Service Fifty proven ways to revive mainline churches [and six common pitfalls to avoid]

Kelvin Holdsworth The Seven Actual Marks of Mission

Theo Hobson The Spectator The BBC should commission a Christian version of Woman’s Hour

Ian Paul Should we ‘Hate the sin and love the sinner’?
[in response to the article by Simon Butler linked to here last week]

David Ison ViaMedia Right or True – Discerning the Difference

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 7 May 2016 at 11:00am BST
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Friday, 6 May 2016

ACC-16 Walking Together: A Clarification

Updated Monday morning

The following statement has been issued by the outgoing members of the ACC standing committee.

Walking Together: A Clarification May 6, 2016

Since the enriching, empowering and constructive meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC16) in Lusaka, 8 - 19 April 2016, a number of statements have appeared with respect to ACC16’s engagement with the outcome of the January 2016 Primates’ Gathering and Meeting.

As outgoing members of the Anglican Consultative Council and of the Standing Committee, we are writing to clarify our understanding of what transpired at ACC16 with respect to the earlier Primates’ gathering.

ACC16 approved a resolution ‘Walking Together’, as follows:

The Anglican Consultative Council

1. receives the formal report of the Archbishop of Canterbury to ACC16 on the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting of January 2016; and

2. affirms the commitment of the Primates of the Anglican Communion to walk together; and

3. commits to continue to seek appropriate ways for the Provinces of the Anglican Communion to walk together with each other and with the Primates the other Instruments of Communion.

In receiving the Archbishop of Canterbury’s formal report of the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting, ACC16 neither endorsed nor affirmed the consequences contained in the Primates’ Communique. There was no plenary discussion or decision with respect to the Primates’ Communiqué. From our perspective there did not seem to be a common mind on the issue, other than the clear commitment to avoid further confrontation and division. ACC16 did welcome the call for the Instruments of Communion and the Provinces to continue to walk together as they discern the way forward. No consequences were imposed by the ACC and neither was the ACC asked to do so.

During the meeting there were many opportunities, both formal and informal, to explore the ACC16 theme of ‘Intentional discipleship in a world of differences’. This was done faithfully and respectfully.

As outgoing members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee, we remain passionate about the ACC’s distinct and independent role as one of the Instruments of Communion. The ACC provides a crucially important space for the sharing of our stories in God’s mission as laity, priests, deacons and bishops from the many and diverse contexts of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. At ACC16 we truly witnessed the stated commitment to walking together in our life as the Body of Christ.

Helen Biggin, The Church in Wales
Prof Dr Joanildo Burity, Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
The Rt Revd Ian T. Douglas, The Episcopal Church
The Rt Revd Dr Sarah Macneil, The Anglican Church of Australia
Canon Elizabeth Paver, The Church of England, Outgoing Vice-Chair
The Rt Revd James Tengatenga, The Church of the Province of Central Africa, Outgoing
Chair

Update
The ACNS has issued this statement: Secretary General rejects criticism over Walking Together resolution.

The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has rejected criticism from six former members of the Anglican Consultative Council’s standing committee of statements made during and after ACC-16. The comments centre on Resolution 16.24 – “Walking Together” – which deals with how the ACC responded to the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting in January.

The critics issued their own statement which they said was to clarify their understanding of that response. In it they say that in receiving a report on the gathering by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ACC “neither endorsed nor affirmed the consequences contained in the Primates’ communiqué”.

But Archbishop Idowu-Fearon said he took a different view…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 6 May 2016 at 5:59pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

House of Commons: Question on Same-Sex Marriage for Clergy

A Question on Same Sex Marriage: Clergy was put to the Second Church Estates Commissioner on Thursday. Here is a transcript (scroll down for the other topics covered):

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)

1. What discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Church of England on supporting clergy who have entered into same sex marriages or civil partnerships.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Mrs Caroline Spelman): I should first declare my personal position, which is that I voted in favour of same sex marriage when the decision was before Parliament, but I do recognise that it is difficult for the Anglican Church. The Anglican Communion extends over many different cultures and many continents, and not all cultures and societies move at the same pace. It is therefore all the more remarkable that the Archbishop of Canterbury managed to get a unanimous agreement among all the bishops of the Anglican Communion, in Canterbury, in January, that there should be a new doctrine condemning homophobic prejudice and violence, and resolving

“to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation.”

Cat Smith: I thank the right hon. Lady for her answer. She will be aware that many people feel called to ministry, including, naturally, many people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Although Church of England policies protect heterosexual couples if they are in a marriage by not taking their status into account when it comes to jobs within the Church, the same is not true for those who have entered same sex marriages. Is she aware of cases of written permission from Bishops placed on file, and of refusals to issue licences when new positions are sought, including even secular positions? Will she do her best to ensure that LGBT clergy are not discriminated against here in the Church of England?

Mrs Spelman: As I mentioned, the Anglican Communion is extremely diverse. What we must remember, living here in the liberal west, is that a typical Anglican communicant is in Africa and black, female and under 35; in many African nations there are also very strong views on this subject, and keeping the Communion together is a big challenge. It is open to Church of England clergy to enter into civil partnerships, and many do so. The Church of England in England is moving forward in its understanding with a shared conversation, three parts of which have already occurred. In July this year, the Synod will move forward with the shared conversation about sexuality—the nature of human sexuality. I reiterate the point that the whole Communion agreed unanimously that the Church should never, by its actions, give any impression other than that every human being is the same in God’s sight regardless of sexuality.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): The Dean of Lichfield cathedral, Adrian Dorber, is always telling me how short of money the cathedral is. May I just say that I live for the day when gay clergymen can be openly gay and there will be gay marriages, which will be paid for in Lichfield cathedral and all the other cathedrals in England and the rest of the United Kingdom, in a liberal nation.

Mrs Spelman: I look forward to visiting the Lichfield diocese. Indeed, the Government have been very generous in their funding for repairs to that beautiful cathedral. On the specific subject of human sexuality, I do not think that the Archbishop of Canterbury could have been clearer about his leadership in bringing the whole Anglican Communion together for the first time, united behind the doctrine that we should condemn homophobic prejudice and violence at home and abroad.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 6 May 2016 at 1:37pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on ACC-16

The Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on the recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka: ‘Holding together in diversity’ [also online here].

Tom Ferguson, the Crusty Old Dean responds: Justin Welby’s Doomsday Device: Or, Humpy Dumpty as Archbishop.

…In a desperate attempt to keep spinning what did or didn’t happen at the most recent Anglican Consultative Council. yesterday Archbishop Welby released his own fanciful interpretation, which can be found here, dropped on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend in England, weeks after the conclusion of the meeting itself. Let’s count the problems here…

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 1 May 2016 at 12:18pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Opinion - 30 April 2016

Bosco Peters Eastern Orthodox Easter

James Jones BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day

Andrew Lightbown ‘Fear not’ for the C of E

Stephen Cottrell ACC 16 - A full time report: Hope triumphs

Simon Butler “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”?

The Telegraph Photographer visits abandoned places of worship, in pictures — photographs by Matthias Haker

Elaine Graham presented this paper to the Modern Church Council in March: Modern Church Between a rock and a hard place: Negotiating religious voices in public places — with links to the full 7000 word paper and a two-page summary and reading list.

Kelvin Holdsworth Six things I have learned about anti-semitism and the church

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 11:00am BST
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Thursday, 28 April 2016

ACC-16 - ACNS reports

Updated

Since the close of this month’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council the Anglican Communion News Service has published a number of articles about its work, including these, all by Gavin Drake.

Reformation and unity in ACC’s ecumenical resolutions
Provinces urged to adopt Anglican Communion Sunday
Central Africa applied “embassy” protocol for ACC’s visiting female priests
Anglican Consultative Council adopts 45 resolutions by assent
Men and boys have role in fight for gender justice

Update

Before the ACC meeting, ACNS published this video: Gender justice and the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 28 April 2016 at 1:38pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Suffragan Bishops

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this very useful article: Suffragan bishops: from selection to ordination & consecration.

Prompted by the forthcoming translation of the Bishop of Sheffield to Oxford he has also written Bishops: from announcement to installation.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 28 April 2016 at 11:45am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England