The House of Bishops met on the afternoon of Monday 17 May and the morning of Tuesday 18 May remotely via Zoom.
The Chief Operating Officer of the National Church Institutions gave a brief update regarding the new national Register of Clergy which went live last week. This was followed by a brief discussion covering issues raised during the roll out.
The House then discussed updated proposals relating to the Clergy Conduct Measure which were shared with the House in December. The proposals were discussed in an opening plenary session (introduced by the Bishop at Lambeth), followed by breakout groups and a final plenary discussion in advance of wider Synodical engagement in July. Amongst the issues discussed were the wider work needed to develop an appropriate ‘framework’ for ordained ministry in the Church of England, covering such areas as fitness to practise, ‘supervision’, ministerial development review, grievance procedures, and capability procedures. The House agreed to support in principle the outline of the proposed Clergy Conduct Measure as presented to the House.
The Bishop of London then addressed the House in her capacity as the Chair of the Next Steps Group. The House discussed engagement with the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) processes to date across dioceses. The House heard encouraging reports of good engagement and, in break out groups, considered how further engagement with LLF can be strengthened. The House discussed additional working groups related to the LLF process and agreed in principle to the formation of a working group on gender identity and transition under the auspices of the LLF Next Steps Group, details of which will be announced in due course.
The afternoon session of the House of Bishop’s then closed in prayer before reconvening the following morning.
At the Tuesday morning session, the Bishop of Sheffield addressed the House in his capacity as Chair of the Mutuality in Finances Group. The Bishop requested the House’s endorsement for the Group’s proposal for a July 2021 General Synod motion. The motion will enable a more equitable sharing of historic assets and give dioceses more freedom to be generous with these assets to other dioceses. The House endorsed the proposal for the July 2021 General Synod, which will be moved by the Bishop of Sheffield on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council.
The Archbishop of York then addressed the House with an update on progress of the Vision and Strategy workstream, including the proposed approach for developing the Vision and Strategy work through to the end of December 2021. An overall framework was presented and following breakout in groups, the House considered a range of strategic priorities, outcomes and actions to be taken. The House agreed to take note of the progress to date and identify key actions to assist the Vision and Strategy workstream.
The Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich then addressed the House in his capacity as episcopal lead for the Transforming Effectiveness workstream for the National Church Institutions. He gave an update on current plans to streamline and simplify the NCIs with the House agreeing to take note of progress and planning to date.
The Bishop of London, in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group, updated the House with the latest developments regarding places of worship and the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The House congratulated Archbishop Hosam on becoming the Archbishop of Jerusalem. The House also supported the statement made by Bishop Christopher the Bishop of Southwark, who was present at the installation.
The House prayed for peace and justice across the Middle East and noted with sadness the hostilities taking place at present.
Archbishop Hosam has asked for support for the Al Ahli Hospital, an Anglican project, which serves all who are sick and are brought to their doors and is in desperate need of funds. The Jerusalem and the Middle East Church Association has set up a fundraising page.
The House noted with real concern incidents of antisemitism in this country and condemns all such incidents and prays for building communities in the nation.
The meeting concluded with a blessing given by the Archbishop of York.