Forward in Faith seeks a new Director

Posted on the 17th May 2019

In preparation for the retirement of the current Director, the Trustees are looking for an inspirational individual with successful experience in leadership to take up the key position of Director from January 2020.


It is an occupational requirement of this role that the post holder is a communicant member of the Church of England and is either a member of Forward in Faith or willing to join if appointed.


For an informal discussion about the role, please contact the Bishop of Wakefield on 01924 250781.



Further details are available to download at:


Closing date for applications: Monday 10 June at 12 noon.


Report on the Seal of the Confessional

Posted on the 8th May 2019

Forward in Faith welcomes the publication of the Report of the Seal of the Confessional Working Party. We welcome the recommendation that clergy should receive training about the sacramental ministry of reconciliation – something that we have long advocated. We are also grateful for the extensive quotations from our submission.


The Church of England affirms that the seal of the confessional is ‘an essential principle of Church doctrine’ (Act of Convocation, 1959). We welcome the fact that, having carefully considered the evidence set out in this report, ‘a clear majority [of the Working Party] concluded that the weight of evidence falls in favour of the seal being maintained’.


Now that the report has been published, we renew our call on the House of Bishops to re-affirm the Seal of the Confessional as an essential principle of the doctrine of the Universal Church, as received by the Church of England.


The Independent Reviewer's Report on Wakefield Cathedral

Posted on the 5th Mar 2019

Forward in Faith welcomes Sir William Fittall’s judicious report on Wakefield Cathedral.

We welcome particularly the Independent Reviewer’s ruling that ‘Even where the identity of the celebrant at a service is not routinely published in advance it should not be regarded as confidential information. It should, therefore, be supplied with a good grace to anyone who asks for it in advance so that they can make an informed choice over whether to attend a particular service in the light of their theological conviction in relation to gender and ministry.’

We are grateful for the sympathy and understanding that Sir William has shown to a faithful lay member of the Cathedral’s congregation in the situation in which he has been placed by a change of policy the ‘foreseeable effect’ of which, Sir William points out, ‘is precisely to increase the greater separation that the Dean says he wishes to avoid’.

As Sir William says, ‘The Church of England… has committed itself to enabling the minority to flourish within its life and structures. Denying brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ information which is not intrinsically confidential and which they need in order to act consistently with their theological conviction tends to undermine that commitment.’ 

A generous and Christ-like approach would be to go the extra mile and make such information available without waiting to be asked. That would help to make Wakefield Cathedral a truly inclusive church.



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson




Dr Lindsay Newcombe

Lay Vice-Chairman



The Revd Ian McCormack

Clerical Vice-Chairman


New Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith

Posted on the 17th Nov 2018

Fr Ian McCormack SSC is the new Clerical Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith. His election was announced to the National Assembly at its meeting in London today. He has been a member of the Council of Forward in Faith since 2014 and a member of the Executive Committee since 2017.


Fr McCormack was ordained in 2010. He is currently Vicar of Grimethorpe and Brierley (South Yorkshire) and was previously Assistant Curate in Horbury (West Yorkshire). He is to be licensed as Priest in Charge of St George in the Meadows, Nottingham, on 28 November. A church historian, he has lectured in Anglican Studies at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield.


As Clerical Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith, Fr McCormack succeeds Fr Ross Northing SSC. Having served as Secretary and then Vice-Chairman since 2011, Fr Northing decided not to seek re-election for a further four-year term in view of the fact that his parish is to receive the largest residential development in the UK, with at least some 6,800 houses. Fr Northing said, ‘I am absolutely delighted that Fr McCormack has been elected to succeed me. I should like to thank everyone who has supported me in my work as Vice-Chairman.’


Welcoming Fr McCormack’s election, the Chairman of Forward in Faith, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield, said, 'It is definitely good news for Forward in Faith that Fr Ian, one of our younger priests, has been elected as Vice Chairman. I look forward to Ian’s contributions to our future plans for Forward in Faith. We are indebted to Fr Ross for his wise counsel as Vice-Chairman in a period that has seen much change and development in the work of Forward in Faith.'


The Seal of the Confessional

Posted on the 17th Nov 2018

Meeting in London today, the Forward in Faith National Assembly has unanimously called on the House of Bishops to re-affirm the Seal of the Confessional as 'an essential principle of the doctrine of the Universal Church, as received by the Church of England'. The Assembly also called on priests of The Society to reassure the faithful that they will maintain absolute confidentiality with regard to what is confessed in sacramental confession.


Moving the motion, Fr Paul Benfield commented that the Seal 'is not some doctrine invented by high-church Anglicans'. He reminded the Assembly that in 1959 resolutions reafirming the Seal as 'an essential principle of Church doctrine' were passed by the Convocations of Canterbury and York without dissent. The motion simply called on the House of Bishops 'to reaffirm what was expressed in 1959 and has been an essential part of church doctrine of the Universal Church since before the Reformation'.


Fr Philip Barnes explained that he had heard 'many, many confessions' when ministering at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and as a parish priest. He commented that in an internet age in which 'secrets can be revealed at the click of a button... the Confessional is one of the few places left where a young person (or an older one for that matter) can have confidence that they will be heard without being exposed.' He added, 'It was never abusers who made a confession, ever. But I did have survivors who wanted to talk about what had happened to them... The loss of confidence that setting aside the seal of the confessional would create would risk us losing a means of grace for those who are survivors of abuse.'


The addresses given at the Assembly are published here.


Resources about the Seal of the Confessional are available here.







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