Response to the Sheffield Review

Posted on the 15th Sep 2017

Forward in Faith welcomes the report on the nomination to the See of Sheffield and related concerns by the Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, and his recommendations. As the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said, the report is ‘detailed, thoughtful and authoritative’. Like them, we shall read it carefully. We look forward to the more detailed response that the Archbishops promise.


We welcome Sir Philip’s statement that ‘there is no doubt that Bishop North’s nomination was consistent with the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles’ (para. 130).


Sir Philip finds that ‘not nearly enough’ has been done to inform and educate clergy and laity about the 2014 Settlement (190). We welcome his recommendation that the House of Bishops provide resources to help dioceses, deaneries, parishes and training institutions to engage in further consideration of the issues and to ensure that ‘mutual flourishing’ is achieved (191).


We note that Sir Philip does not believe that Professor Percy’s ‘view of what constitutes “mutual flourishing” is consistent with what the House and the Synod had in mind in espousing the Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles’ (167). He comments, ‘The challenge posed by Professor Percy and some others… is in effect a fundamental challenge to the 2014 Settlement’ (132). We welcome Sir Philip’s recommendation that the House of Bishops give further attention to this theological challenge to the Settlement (198). It is the House of Bishops’ Declaration, so the House of Bishops needs to defend it.


As Sir Philip says, the Settlement was a package. We note that the Measure and Canon which permit the ordination of women to the episcopate form part of that package. As Sir Philip comments: ‘Try to unpick the package and the basis for the settlement is immediately called into question’ (16b).


In his conclusion, Sir Philip comments starkly, ‘The choice for the Church is whether to continue wrestling with the issues I have identified, for the sake of the Gospel, or whether to abandon the Settlement. If those who take the majority view in the Church are to retain credibility with the minority, there is only one choice which I believe they can make’ (206). We must now await the House of Bishops’ response to that challenge.


In the last three years – and indeed for some time before that – no priest who publicly espouses the traditional catholic position on holy orders has been appointed as an archdeacon, dean, or residentiary canon in the Church of England. The Bishop of Burnley is the only such priest to have been appointed as a bishop in the three years since the 2014 Settlement was concluded. A positive response to Sir Philip’s challenge will only be credible if the House of Bishops and its individual members successfully address this deficit.


Much of Forward in Faith’s work over the last three years has been directed towards building up The Society as a structure offering those who cannot receive the sacramental ministry of women as bishops and priests both sacramental assurance and a context of full communion. This has been done not from a desire for separation, but in order to enable us to engage with confidence, from a position of security and support, in the wider life of the Church of England. Many examples, from a range of dioceses, could be given of good relationships and co-operation across the divide of theological conviction.


As a leaflet published by The Society in 2015 emphasizes,

‘The Five Guiding Principles challenge us to identify the highest degree of communion that principle and conscience allow, and to express this by sharing in the life of the diocese, making a positive contribution to mission and growth. Our communion with other members of the Church of England must be characterized by the love (charity) that arises from our common life in Christ.’


In response to Sir Philip’s report, we are happy to reaffirm our full commitment to the corporate life of the Church of England and to the flourishing of all within it.



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield 


Dr Lindsay Newcombe
Lay Vice-Chairman



The Revd Ross Northing

Clerical Vice-Chairman


God's Church in the World: The Gift of Catholic Mission

Posted on the 4th Jul 2017

Forward in Faith and Anglican Catholic Future are delighted to announce a major conference in September 2018 to promote, renew and deepen catholic mission in the world. 


As a commitment to the mutual flourishing of the different integrities of the catholic tradition within the Church of England, the executive committees of both Forward in Faith and Anglican Catholic Future have jointly planned a major conference in September 2018. The conference will be called ‘God’s Church in the World: The Gift of Catholic Mission’. In working together we are demonstrating that mission and evangelism are priorities for the future growth and wellbeing of the Church. We see the Church primarily as a gift from God to the world in every possible area of life. As priests and pastors of God's people, our duty and our joy is to demonstrate and prove our engagement to our communities. ​


We believe that we have much to learn and share in our common approach to catholic mission in the Church of England and as such we are delighted to bring together a wide range of scholars, practitioners and thinkers to enable us to deepen and renew our part in the growth of God's Church in this country.


Confirmed speakers include Bishop Rowan Williams, the Revd Dr Alison Milbank, the Ven Luke Miller, Bishop Philip North, the Revd Canon Dr Robin Ward, and the Revd Canon Anna Matthews, amongst others.

We invite all those in the ordained ministry, members of religious communities and ordinands to join us in London for three ground-breaking days in September 2018.


+Tony Wakefield, Chairman, Forward in Faith

Alan Moses, Chair of the Executive of Anglican Catholic Future


The Council of Bishops of The Society has expressed its support for the conference.


Director of Forward in Faith Receives an Award from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted on the 13th Jun 2017


On Friday 9 June 2017, in a ceremony at Lambeth Palace, Dr Colin Podmore, Director of Forward in Faith received the Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship from the Archbishop of Canterbury.


In the citation for the award Archbishop Justin Welby first acknowledged the way in which Colin's scholarship and extensive writing have served both the Church of England and the wider Church during the period when Colin worked at Church House, Westminster.  However the Archbishop also went on to recognise:

"As Director of Forward in Faith, scholar and author he continues to make a distinguished contribution to the wellbeing of the whole of the Church of England."

Forward in Faith's Chaiman, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, speaking on behalf of the Council, said:

"We are delighted that Dr Colin Podmore has been awarded the Lanfranc (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1070 to 1089) Award for Education and Scholarship by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his service to the Church of England and his scholarship and authorship of many publications and reports."



(Photo credit Lambeth Palace)


Funeral of Bishop David Thomas

Posted on the 19th May 2017

The Funeral Mass of Bishop David Thomas will be held on Monday 5 June, at 11am in St Mary's Priory Church, Abergavenny. The Principal Celebrant will be the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

Bishop David's family wishes that the Mass be celebrated in white and has invited a small number of priests to concelebrate. All other bishops and clergy are warmly invited to robe, should they wish. Vesture for bishops will be convocation dress; for priests and deacons it will be choir dress.

To assist with organization, all clergy who wish to robe are asked to indicate their intention by emailing


Bishop David Thomas RIP

Posted on the 12th May 2017

Responding to the news of the death of Bishop David Thomas, Provincial Assistant Bishop of the Church in Wales, 1996-2008, Bishop Tony Robinson, Chairman of Forward in Faith said:


It is a great sadness to report the news of the death of Bishop David Thomas. He will be remember by many as a kind and pastoral bishop with great wisdom. Our prayers for Rosemary and his family at this time.







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