Thursday, 25 October 2012

Women Bishops - enough waiting

Hi - my name is Pete Broadbent, I’m Bishop of Willesden and a member of General Synod and I’m excited because we’re nearly there. We’ve got to the stage where in November we’re going to be voting on women bishops, and I’m hoping for a resounding ‘yes’ from the Synod which gets us the two thirds majority which we need.
Why am I so passionately committed? Because I work with women in the Church and in the community – I see their amazing gifts of leadership, I see what they bring and what they will bring to the Church as bishops. 
There is a logic to what we’re going to do anyway, because when we ordained women as priests, it was only right that we should then say that they should be bishops as well. We’ve been around the houses a long time trying to get this legislation right and I’ve been involved quite a lot in trying to make that happen.  I think we’ve got to the stage now where there is a consensus in the Church that this is the best possible way forward.
I know that there are people on both ends of the debate who are concerned about it and who think we are doing down those who are opposed or that we are demeaning women by what we’re doing. I think neither of those is true.  I think there is now in the Measure sufficient provision for those who are against, and there’s a real sense in which what we are doing is affirming women on equal terms with men. So I think the legislation is okay.  It’s not the best thing that everyone hoped for in many ways, but a vote against it now will be a vote which sets us back another five years and sends us around the houses again.
If you are thinking of voting against, can I urge you, if your objection is not completely principled against, to think again?  Because I believe it’s important we get a two thirds majority this time around and don’t look completely stupid in the eyes of society, in the eyes of the Church, and spend our time discussing this for another five or ten years.
If you are in favour but worried about the provisions, I think the House of Bishops will provide a Code of Practice which will work for those who are opposed. In the end the most important thing is to get women bishops in place, to see their ministry benefitting the Church, and for us to stay together as a Church as we do that. So please consider making sure that your vote goes in favour in November.  Thank you.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Women Bishops - what the House of Bishops amendments mean

There's a fair amount going round the Twittersphere analysing the House of Bishops' amendments to the Women Bishops Measure. The debate at the last Synod asked the House not to make substantial amendments to the Measure (but didn't rule out tweaking the Measure). I think we've been faithful to the remit Synod gave us.

The House rejected amendments to ensconce Mission Societies in the Measure. It also rejected changes that would have removed delegation from the Measure.

Two amendments were passed. 

The first is to Clause  5. It inserts one of the three principles that the House of Bishops enunciated  in December. It would require the Code of Practice to make sure that, when Bishops are drawing up Diocesan schemes, they delegate, not just to any old male bishop, but to a bishop who shares the theological principles of the parish that is asking for delegated ministry. Put simply, if a female Bishop of London asked me, as a male bishop, to look after a traditionalist catholic parish which is currently under the oversight of the Bishop of Fulham, it wouldn't work! My sacramental ministry isn't acceptable to them. That's how it is. I ordain and champion women in leadership as priests - and, pray God, I'll be participating in the ordination and consecration of women bishops. So we need the Code to take seriously the integrity of parishes who are submitting a letter of request. Any old male bishop won't do, and it's better that the Measure says so. Being explicit about this is honest.

The second amendment is to clause 8 (the notes at the end of the Measure) and makes clear that the authority of Bishops that they receive in delegation is distinct from the authority inherent in the Bishop's office and ordination. (Which is the daily reality that Area Bishops live in day by day). And it also says that delegation doesn't divest a diocesan bishop of his/her authority or functions, thus preserving the integrity of the ministry of women bishops.

So I think what we've done is send out a message to opponents that they're still part of the CofE, but without undermining the ministry of women bishops. Others are free to disagree. The important thing is to get this legislation through and get to the next stage.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Policy Framework for Missional Communities

This policy is under development. Comments from those with expertise and theological insights would be welcome...

Ordained Pioneer Ministry, Fresh Expressions & Missional Communities

In Policy Paper 1, we committed ourselves to a mixed economy of expressions of Church. Alongside the inherited model of parish church and chaplaincy, we are committed to Church Planting (see Policy Paper 2) and to the development of Fresh Expressions. One manifestation of Fresh Expressions is the Missional Community. As part of the Church of England’s strategy for producing leaders for these new forms of Church, a training route has been developed within the Church of England which trains priests as Ordained Pioneer Ministers. The aim of this paper is to set out the policy framework within which the Diocese of London understands these new manifestations of church and ministry, and how we will seek to develop them.

Fresh Expressions are defined as “a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.” We commend the web page of Fresh Expressions at  where there are useful resources, stories and ideas. The Diocese of London has not sought to badge or define fresh expressions. Parishes and others are free to develop their own innovative approaches to mission and discipling, and some fresh expressions are being funded through the Bishop of London’s Mission Fund

A helpful forthcoming paper from the Faith & Order Commission: Fresh Expressions and the Church: Mission and Communion provides a framework for evaluating the ecclesiological questions that arise from the burgeoning of fresh expressions within the Church of England.

Ordained Pioneer Ministers are usually identified and sponsored as such as part of the selection process for ordination training. Candidates are required inter alia to have:

·         a realistic and informed vocation to plant fresh expressions of church within contemporary culture

·         a clear vision of the place of their envisaged ministry within the wider church's response to God's mission to the world

·         demonstrable maturity and robustness to face the demands of pioneering mission and ministry

·         a demonstrable track record of innovation and initiative

·         the capacity to evangelise beyond the culture of the Church

Despite sponsoring candidates to train for OPM, the Diocese of London has not hitherto provided many places where those trained for this work can easily be deployed. We will need to explore how opportunities and funds can be released to develop this ministry – and that will depend partly on our strategy for missional communities.

Missional Communities are defined as communities constituted by a specific missional purpose in relation to a network or a place. These will normally be communities without buildings, defined by relationship, meeting inter alia in homes, cafes and pubs; designed to be places where those who would be highly unlikely to join institutional church might find faith and be discipled. Missional Communities will normally operate under a Bishop’s Mission Order, and may inhabit a number of localities.

The exploration of missional communities is at an early stage in the Diocese of London. There are key questions about ecclesiology, sacramental life, word and prayer, and discipleship which will need to be worked out as we develop missional communities. One practitioner has set out the process of developing such communities as a six stage process:

1.       Prayerful listening for God's lead to whom and where a group are being sent

2.       Loving service amongst that community

3.       Building relationships amongst the host community and seeking to hear, see and respond to what God is already doing in them and modelling discipleship

4.       Exploring discipleship

5.       Church forming

6.       Doing it all over again!

In order to develop missional communities, we will need to address issues of

·         strategic location (where might missional communities develop?)

·         leadership (usually by an OPM);

·         resources (should finance and housing be made available for the OPM, and from what source?)

·         oversight, accountability and relationship to the Bishop(s);

·         relationship to inherited Church in the localities in which missional communities are situated. 

More specifically, this will require us to ask questions similar to those set out in the Church Planting Policy in Strategy Paper 2, including:

1.       What is your strategy? Please produce a written statement.

2.       What is your desired location or network for the missional community?

3.       Has there been adequate investment in prayer in relation to the initiative?

4.       Where does your strategy fit within the London Challenge?

5.       What are the objectives of this particular missional community?

6.       Who will be involved? (Leadership, lay members of the community, etc.)

7.       When will you be ready to go? Timescale, critical path analysis

8.       How are you proposing to fund and resource the missional community?

9.       What preliminary consultation is needed with existing Church of England parishes and structures? Bishop; Archdeacon; Deanery; parishes; Area Council.

10.    What legalities will be required?

o   Bishop’s Mission Order

o   Licences and Lay Commissions

o   Charitable status

11.    What support do you need from the Diocese to help you achieve your objectives?  (These may not be deliverable, but we want expectations to be clear on both sides.)

In developing the missional community policy, we wish to operate in partnership with other agencies that also see the priority of this form of ministry as a way of reaching the non-churched in our society. We intend to explore working with:
[under negotiation]

We will aim for synergies with these and other agencies, which are likely to include:

1.       Sources of expertise on the development of such communities, drawing on experience in other parts of the world

2.       Exploration of funding proposals to enable housing for missional communities

3.       Enabling short-term involvement from those who wish to explore life in community (for example, developing the existing Lee Abbey vision in a number of London locations)

4.       Intentional discipleship training in situ (including a facility for the training of OPMs)

5.       Exploration of whether missional communities in London might be constituted into an Order of Mission

[Discussions with partner organisations are just beginning, and this paper will be refined during the process as decisions are taken about partnerships]

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

 A policy paper on lay ministries and how we handle them...



This is restricted to a particular parish and is for specific function/s.  The person needs the support of his/her parish priest and PCC, who recommend to the Bishop.  The Bishop’s agreement is required.  Permissions are renewable every three years at the initiation of the Bishop’s office.

There is a range of possible permissions: to distribute Holy Communion; to preach and lead worship; to take communion to the sick/housebound; to lead services of extended communion; to take funerals.  All these permissions, and particularly the authorisation of lay people to take funerals, require specific approval from the Bishop and an agreed training framework.


This is restricted to a particular parish/chaplaincy.  The person needs the support of his/her parish priest and PCC or Chaplain, and then goes through a screening process by the Warden for Commissioned Ministers (which may or may not require completion of a training course e.g. for pastoral assistants). The Warden recommends to the Bishop.  The Bishop’s agreement is required.

A Commission is specific to the parish (e.g. pastoral assistant, youth leader) and to a bishop.  It is time limited for as long as the Bishop thinks fit (usually up to five years). Commissioned Ministers are part of the biennial Lay Ministerial Development Review scheme, and the outcomes and recommendations from the review will be a major factor in decisions about Recommissioning.

A Commission has specific Permissions attached to it (see above), according to the job description and work agreement agreed between the PCC and the Bishop.

Lay Hospital Chaplains also hold Bishop’s Commissions.


This is held by Accredited Lay Ministers and Readers.

Accredited Lay Ministers:  The licence is legal, nationally recognised and transferable.  The person needs the support of his/her parish priest and PCC and then goes through the national selection process for training of the Ministry Division of the Archbishop’s Council.  There is no time limit for holding the licence.  The licence ceases by resignation, retirement or licence being removed for inappropriate behaviour.  There is periodic ministerial review. The office of ALM is likely to be discontinued by the House of Bishops in the near future.

Readers/Licensed Lay Ministers:  The licence is legal, nationally recognised and transferable.  The person needs the support of his/her parish priest and PCC and then goes through a Diocesan selection process for training.  Usually the licence is issued for up to five years and must be submitted for renewal prior to the Quinquennial Re-licensing of Readers. There are Diocesan Regulations for Reader Ministry. Readers are part of the biennial Lay Ministerial Development Review scheme, and the outcomes and recommendations from the review will be a major factor in decisions about Relicensing.