Sunday, 19 June 2016

Referendum - a Disaster on Legs

The EU Referendum Campaign has been a disaster on legs, for a number of reasons.

First, because it was called for all the wrong reasons. David Cameron,seeking to deal with a split in the Conservative Party, made a pledge in the manifesto to hold an in/out referendum by the end of 2017. "We will legislate in the first session of the next Parliament for an in-out referendum to be held on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017. We will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in the EU. And then we will ask the British people whether they want to stay in on this basis, or leave. We will honour the result of the referendum, whatever the outcome." He's fulfilled that pledge - which is why we are where we are. Personally, I don't believe that a referendum is consonant with our understanding of Parliamentary democracy. We elect a government to govern. Referenda inevitably ask simplistic questions about issues that are not susceptible of yes/no answers without a huge amount of explanation of the complexity of the question. They are no way for a society to make decisions.

Two consequences follow.

(1) The bald promise to hold a referendum set out above has been implemented with no real thinking through of the consequences if there is a vote to leave. Cameron made a promise - but there is no plan for what happens on 24th June if we vote to leave.

(2) The referendum has lit the blue touchpaper on a "debate" which is almost entirely undefined in its scope. As we have seen over the past weeks, everything and anything can be dragged into the campaign - which has been used by many as a proxy for every grievance they might have about politics and the political process.

So, we have been in a game with no game plan and no rules of conduct.

What has happened is detrimental to politics and the political process. Both sides have used misleading figures and information to conduct an argument that has been more like a childish spat in the playground than a measured examination of the issues. The electorate have been fed with ever more cooked statistics and exaggeration. It's virtually impossible for the average voter to discover some facts. There are a few places one can go:

Professor Michael Dougan from Liverpool University on the legal position (though he is probably a little too calm in skating over the position and accountability of the EU Commissioners).

On the figures that are traded with puzzling discrepancy, the BBC's excellent More or Less is available as a podcast here:

And Full Fact website also has some helpful disentangling

I'd recommend a good look at any of this stuff before you make up your mind which way to vote.

There's a rather worrying implication for all of us from the experience of the debate thus far. It strikes at the heart of our democratic institutions. Parliament seems not to realise how much most people distrust politicians at Westminster. They still haven't got that, although there my be a theoretical commitment to Parliamentary democracy among the populace at large, people's experience of it as expressed in the Westminster Village is that they find it puerile (PMQs), out of touch, and nowhere near the experience of their real lives.

This is brought into relief in the sadness and shock expressed at the murder of Jo Cox MP. Note the almost universal expressions of affection, respect, and admiration for a woman who was deeply committed to justice and campaigning for a better world, and was, by all accounts, a superb constituency MP. And there's the rub. People value greatly the experience they have of their individual local MPs. I can't speak too highly of those from both Conservative and Labour Parties who serve my Episcopal Area here in NW London. But the collective voice and the antics of the House of Commons is something else. It's not liked, it's not respected, and it does itself no favours. In the midst of that deep distrust of our democratic institutions, we lob a time bomb - a referendum which allows all that distrust to be expressed, exacerbated by a free-for-all without rules in the social media and in the press. Result - a campaign where fear, misrepresentation, and paranoia become the currency of public discourse.

There are only a few days to go before we vote. I'm completely unconvinced by the Leave Campaign and will be voting to Remain. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Leave is based on a romantic attachment to a UK that is long gone. We made our decision back in 1975 to throw in our lot with Europe (I voted against at the time), but having made that commitment, our economic and social future is inextricably bound into the interdependence we have with our neighbours and friends. The Leave Campaign seeks to evoke a "Britain is great on its own" approach which simply isn't real.

2. The EU, though it is still in need of serious reform (and David Cameron's "renegotiation" achieved very little in this regard) is important for progressive and liberal political values. Leave is backed by too many people whose approach is retrograde and reactionary - and who would seek to take our society backwards, not forwards. As an example of the issues that Brexit would divert us away from, have a look at the website of the Global Justice Forum.

3. Of course, I'm a Christian. Christians find themselves on both sides of this debate. But my Christian faith leads me to be internationalist and not nationalistic, progressive and not reactionary, worshipping and following a God of the future. It also predisposes me to want justice for the refugee, the orphan and the deprived, and makes me deeply suspicious of the motives and policies of those who (for example) want us to leave in order to control immigration (which has been used disproportionately as a fear factor in this referendum).

4. Finally, as is well known, I am no supporter of the Conservative Party. But I see among those who are arguing for us to Vote Leave a collection of right-wing neo-liberals who, if they take power in place of David Cameron will take us further into the policies of free-market experimental economic and social policies that are already damaging our country - and particularly the poor and vulnerable. Unfettered and unmediated by the more socially cohesive members of the Conservative Party, and in fief to UKIP, they will march us down an isolationist road from which there will be no turning back.

The only way to prevent this nightmare scenario is to vote Remain.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Election Address for General Synod

General Synod: House of Bishops Southern Suffragan Election

(Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury)
Election Address from Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden

It might be thought that I’ve had too much of General Synod (and vice-versa!). I was first elected in 1985 and served as a Proctor in Convocation for London from then till 2001, when debarred by episcopacy. You were kind enough to elect me to the House of Bishops in 2004. I would love to continue to serve the Church in this way. Previously I served on the GS Standing Committee and the Archbishops’ Council. I now represent you on the House of Bishops Standing Committee. The fuller details of my Synodical involvement are listed overleaf.

In Synod
The crucial issue for the Church is how we re-engage with a society where the tide of Christendom has gone out – and what we can do, by the grace of God, to re-evangelise England. Planting new churches and missional communities and resourcing existing ones better is fundamental to making this happen. In this regard, the Reform and Renewal Programme has a significant part to play. The five strands are:

·         Resourcing the Future – a proper distribution of Church Commissioners’ resources
·         Resourcing Ministerial Education – giving us a new and flexible approach to the training of clergy and laity, cutting away bureaucracy and enabling diocesan choices about training pathways
·         Leadership Development – providing a new framework for the identification and training of senior leaders (which many of us will know has been sorely needed!)
·         Developing Discipleship – as a motif of our understanding of the Church we are called to be in the Church and in the world
·         Simplification – cutting away rules and regulations in Measures, Canons and Instruments that hinder the mission of the Church

These are not in themselves going to make mission happen, but they are the engine under the bonnet that will enable the institutional and cultural change we need. I have been chairing the Simplification Group – and would hope to continue to do so if re-elected.

This will also be the Synod of the Shared Conversations. It’s not easy to be optimistic about outcomes, but we will need to invest energy in trying to make them work. I’m not convinced that “good disagreement” is a place to end up in – though it’s certainly a means of travel!

Within the House of Bishops
§  I have been a strong advocate for suffragan bishops and their role within the College – and have sought to represent you in the House. We still have work to do in moving away from two-tier episcopacy to a proper collegiality and mutual trust. The welcome situation where we no longer have to speak of “women bishops”, but just bishops, means that we have a real opportunity to forge a new culture within the House and the College – and prayerfully to seek better ways of working.
§  I’m a strong advocate for the Transformations and Turning up the Volume agendas, both at Diocesan level and nationally. Our Church must with real resolution address how we ensure that women and BAME leaders are properly represented at Senior Leadership levels, as well as within incumbencies and lay leadership.

In the public realm
§  The need for the Bishops to engage with the major political issues never diminishes. We can expect hostility and misrepresentation, but the pre-election Pastoral Letter was asking the right questions of government. Speaking truth to power (as for example on the “right to die” legislation or the plight of the poor) must continue to be on our agenda.

§  We need to help each other in articulating the faith in a society that is both paradoxically full of faith and increasingly secular. The context of London (Willesden is one of the most multi-cultural and multi-religious patches in the country) forces those issues upon us. My hope is that part of our training and mutual support will include encouraging each other in how we proclaim Jesus Christ and his Kingdom in this exciting and challenging context.

Previous Form (which can be held against me!)

General Synod (Proctor in Convocation, London)                                        1985 – 2001
Dioceses Commission                                                                                    1989 – 92
Diocesan Representative on Crown Appointments Commission                  1990, 1995.
Panel of Chairs, General Synod                                                                     1990 – 92, 2009 – 14
Central Board of Finance                                                                               1991 – 95, 1996 – 98
CBF Executive Committee                                                                             1991 – 95            
Standing Orders Committee of General Synod                                              1991 – 95
Chair, Vacancy in See Committees Regulation Working Party                     1991 – 93
General Synod Standing Committee                                                               1992 – 98
General Synod Appointments Sub Committee                                               1992 – 95
Member of Archbishops' Advisory Group                                                      1993 – 98
Chair, General Synod Business Sub Committee                                             1996 – 98
Chair, General Synod Elections Review Group                                              1996 – 2000
Steering Committee for National Institutions Measure                                   1997
Member of Archbishops' Council                                                                    1999 – 2000
Chair, Business Committee                                                                              1999 – 2000
Chair, Simplification Task Group                                                                    2014 –
Standing Committee of the House of Bishops                                                 2014 –

I hope that you’ll consider giving me your first preference vote, please. Do be in contact if you have any questions about anything I’ve written here.
Telephone: 020 8451 0189 or 07950 299 685

Thank you for reading all this!                   

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Church Planting

The London Policy Papers belie the oddly misinformed critique that those of us who are behind the Reform & Renewal programme are only interested in perpetuating old church, done in a certain way. In point of fact, the London policy is about letting 1000 flowers bloom. We are committed to planting 100 new churches and ecclesial communities by 2020, and the church planting policy paper which is set out below provides the framework for this.

Church Planting


The Diocese of London is committed to the parish system of inherited Church and to the planting of new churches. Capital Vision 2020 further commits us to develop our Church Planting Strategy as part of our desire to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with 21st century London. Church planting is not new in the Church of England. Daughter Churches are a familiar sight, and there are also Chapels of Ease, Conventional Districts and Mission Churches, each with their legal status. Church planting is an effective expression of mission that seeks to reach as many people as possible with the gospel.

From a certain perspective every church is the result of a planting programme. At some point in history a conscious effort has been made to establish a congregation, to raise a building, to develop local ministry and mission and to encourage Christian life and discipleship to flourish.

The oversight of Mission and Ministry is entrusted to the Bishop as a sign of the Church’s catholicity.  This oversight is shared with the college of priests throughout the Diocese. A strategy for planting is part of an overall strategy for Mission and Ministry.  This document recognises that the Church of England is still organised into geographical parishes as our way of ministering to all people in the land and as an expression of its duty to present the claims of Christ to everyone. It further recognises that many parish Churches are flourishing and have the strength and resourcefulness to plant within their own buildings and boundaries. The Diocese is committed to Church Partnerships as a major expression of Church Planting.

We need, though, a broader understanding of the potential and opportunity for Church Planting than this. The ways in which people make, seek and join communities is now far more fluid than a century ago. There is a need to plant in the non-institutional, networked lives of today’s population through new and experimental ways of being Church and of incarnating the power of God’s love.


Planning and co-operation are very important at every stage, and this is reflected in the procedures below.  Whatever the procedure followed, the Mission & Pastoral Measure 2011

should be observed and used creatively.  The Measure seeks to provide a “light touch” enabling of mission initiatives and, in particular, introduces the concept of “Bishop’s Mission Orders” (BMOs).  The bishop has oversight of mission and ministry in the Church and the responsibility of encouraging trust and understanding.  The bishop is a focus of unity in the Church and will encourage the development of the right conditions for the planting to take place.  The Measure sees the bishop as ‘broker’, who will consult closely and widely, as the Measure requires, but is empowered to override local opposition if it is right to do so.  The BMO will particularly offer the opportunity to establish church or Christian communities as “Fresh Expressions” (not a terminology that is in currency in the Diocese of London, though we are glad to acknowledge the contribution that the Fresh Expressions movement has made to the Church of England over the past years). 


In developing Church Planting as a form of mission, we will

·         Encourage healthy churches to consider Church Planting as part of their mission strategy

·         Review struggling churches, especially at the key moment of a vacancy

·         Examine the need to plant into unchurched localities, including new housing areas

·         Take the opportunities afforded by the entrepreneurialism of planters


  • A healthy church is one which
    • Is growing spiritually, numerically and financially.
    • Owns a vision.
    • Encourages all its members to play their part and use their gifts.
    • Enjoys worship and prayerfully seeks God’s purpose and direction.
    • Is willing to take risks.
    • Has different opportunities to share faith and study together.
    • Has effective and respected leadership.
    • Is engaged with the society it serves.
    • Is involved in the life of the deanery and wider Church.


  • A struggling church is one which
    • Is static or declining in numbers.
    • Has no vision for its mission.
    • Has little lay ministry and does little to encourage it.
    • Is focused on maintaining the status quo.
    • Does little to encourage growth in Christian discipleship and understanding.
    • Has uninspiring and inefficient leadership.
    • Shows little interest in cooperation with the wider Church.
    • Shows little interest in serving the wider community


  • A struggling church which is not adjudged to be a “potentially going concern” will have some or all of these additional features:
    • A poorly placed or badly maintained church building
    • A long history of non-engagement with its local community
    • A very low level of numerical, spiritual or financial resources


Note: These definitions should be used alongside the material in the Healthy Churches Handbook

including the seven marks of a healthy church




For the purposes of developing church planting within the framework of Capital Vision 2020, we have identified ten basic models of planting. The classifications are about the models, not the style nor the locality.

1.       Parish intra-congregational plant: developing a new service for a new clientele within the existing parish church. This is, of course, nothing new. All parish priests will be looking to innovate in order to reach new groups of people. Examples might include After School Clubs, Saturday Night Mass, Messy Church, CafĂ© Church.


2.       Church plant by parish into their own parish This is the time-honoured approach of seeking to develop a new worship centre in unreached parts of the parish, in a church or community building (see Policy & Legal Framework [PLF] 1 below)


3.       Parish graft: a leader and a congregation "graft" into an existing congregation with a view to infusing the church with new DNA and fresh energy. This is more of a partnership between old and new, but with the understanding of change being welcomed. This can include a cross tradition plant where an existing tradition is supplemented with a different tradition, this offering two styles rather than one in a single location. (e.g. St John West Ealing plant into St Mellitus Hanwell – PLF 3 below)


4.       Parish plant: a leader and congregation are invited to "plant" into a church building that is either closed, faces closure or needs so much help to survive that a different approach is needed and agreed. This model "restarts" parish ministry. (e.g. St Paul’s Shadwell, planted from Holy Trinity Brompton – PLF 3 or 4 below)


5.       Network church: a leader and a congregation start a new church in a new space that draws in people through their network of relationships. This is not a parish church but exists autonomously within someone else's parish. This will use a Bishop's Mission Order. (e.g. King’s Cross Church, planted from St Mary’s Bryanston Square; Grace Church, Hackney, planted from St Helen’s Bishopsgate; Oak Tree Anglican Fellowship, planted from St Barnabas Kensington – PLF 2 below)


6.       Third space church: “Third space” is understood in the ways defined in community building theory – “first place” is our home; “second place” is our workplace; third place or third space is a place of community relationships, characterised by being

·         a neutral ground

·         a leveller – a place of commonality among its occupants

·         a place of conversation

·         a place of accessibility and accommodation

·         a place of playfulness

·         a home away from home

A leader and a congregation start a church in a non-sacred space with a view to inviting neighbours and contacts in. This kind of church might start as a missional community that intentionally grows itself beyond a small group. Third places include schools, cafes, or pubs. Third space church may include church planting with a partner: a leader with or without a congregation, partners with a specialist ministry, such as Eden Network or XLP, to reach a particular group or sub-culture in that place. (e.g. All Hallows’ Bow who partnered with Eden Network, who have settled on the Lincoln Estate that surrounds the church building). Such partnerships may well transcend denominational boundaries – and there may be an ecumenical or pan-denominational dimension that will need to be considered and factored into the legalities. Each space has different potential for reaching different social groups. (PLF 1, 2 & 5 below)


7.       Missional Communities: these are understood as communities constituted by a specific missional purpose in relation to a network or a place. They are not parish churches or places of conventional worship. Policy Paper 5 spells out in more detail what is entailed in committing the Church to the development of missional communities.


8.       Second Place Church: To take seriously our commitment to discipleship in the workplace is to entertain the possibility of church in that context. In our current culture, where religious observance is not actively encouraged in a workplace setting, this is not an easy option, but may be a possibility.


9.       International & Ethnic Congregations: Policy Paper 6 spells out in detail our understanding of our calling to develop communities of worship and mission in partnership with the great diversity of ethnic and national groups in the World City that is London. These will include opportunities to worship in the culture and mother tongues of groups for whom English is not their first language


10.    Churches in existing unreached communities and new developments: London’s rapid growth and expansion means that much new residential development is being planned without places of worship or community spaces. Our planting strategy necessitates engagement with developers and local authorities in order to explore the possibilities of ensuring a Christian presence in these localities. Our calling is also to engage with those communities that are being “left behind” and which have possibly been untouched by the existing parochial provision.


Policy & Legal Framework

These various models require a proper framework. Some of the considerations are listed below:


1.      Planting from the parish church within the existing parish’s boundaries

This requires:

·         Agreement of Incumbent, PCC, Bishop

·         Authorised leader (licence or commission)

·         CofE worship framework



2.      Planting a focussed congregation within another parish

This requires:

·       Agreement of Incumbents, PCCs, Bishop

·       If there are objections, these can be overruled, using a Bishop’s Mission Order

·       Authorised leader (licence or commission)

·       CofE worship framework


3.      Developing a struggling church by transferring people from another church

This requires:

·         Discussion with struggling church and deanery

·         Invitation to transfer

·         Transfer with sensitivity to existing traditions


4.      Planting into an existing parish church

This requires:

·         Agreement of Bishop, Patron, PCC – can be facilitated by Bishop’s Mission Order.

·         If there are objections, these can be overruled, using a Bishop’s Mission Order

·         Authorised leader (licence or commission)

·         CofE worship framework


5.      Planting into a new housing area or development

This requires:

·         Agreement of Incumbents, PCCs, Bishop

·         If there are objections, these can be overruled, using a Bishop’s Mission Order

·         Authorised leader (licence or commission)

·         CofE worship framework

Our policy is to keep all such opportunities under constant review within the context of our overall Mission & Ministry strategy, and proactively to seek opportunities for planting.

Oversight of the policy and strategy rests with the Bishops of the Diocese as leaders in mission, with the Area Councils, and with the Diocesan Strategic Policy Committee.


Framework for Planning and Decision-Making


We therefore welcome proposals for planting, and, in order to facilitate the process, set out the following framework document to guide the conversation between Bishop/Archdeacon, Diocesan staff and prospective planters. We aim for clarity and a capacity to bring together

·         the intentions of church planters

·         the process by which churches become available for planting

·         co-ordination of planting efforts


  1. Questions for Church Planters


Questions to be asked if you are contemplating a plant:

  1. What is your strategy for church planting? Please produce a written statement – your Mission Action Plan or strategy document will inform the process.
  2. What is your desired area for planting? Locality, network, ethnicity/people group will all be considerations here.

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

  1. Where does your strategy fit within the Diocese of London Church Planting policy and Capital Vision 2020?
  2. What are the objectives of this particular planting proposal?
  3. Who will be involved in the plant? (Leadership, numbers of people committed to the project, etc.)
  4. When will you be ready to plant? Timescale, critical path analysis.
  5. How are you proposing to fund and resource the plant?
    • Capital costs of building (if any)
    • Running costs
    • Stipends/salaries and oncosts
    • Housing
    • Expenses
  6. How do you plan to develop leadership from within the community in which you wish to plant?
  7. What preliminary consultation is needed with existing Church of England parishes and structures?
    • Bishop
    • Archdeacon
    • Area Dean and Deanery
    • Neighbouring Parishes
    • Area Council
  8. What legalities will be required? [this will probably involve you in a detailed conversation with Bishop/Archdeacon)
    • Pastoral Scheme or Pastoral Order
    • Bishop’s Mission Order
    • Licences and Lay Commissions
    • Charitable status
    • Governance structure (including questions such as PCC and Churchwarden equivalents)
    • Synodical representation
  9. What do you consider to be the probability of your being ready to plant in the coming year?  In coming 5 years?  Is your likelihood of being able to plant as intended increasing or decreasing?
  10. 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.)



  1. Processes for making churches available for planting


Church buildings will become available either because a particular congregation/parish has been identified by the Area Bishop or because a church previously surplus to requirements (usually, but not always, closed for regular Anglican public worship) becomes potentially available.


Heritage issues may well be involved in the process of making a building available, particularly if there are proposals to use procedures under the Mission & Pastoral Measure 2011. The Archdeacon will be able to advise on this. In the case of a planting opportunity with a “live” parish, the Bishop, Archdeacon and Area Council will work up a proposal to make the church available for a graft or transplant and approach potential planters.


In the case of a building not used for Anglican worship becoming available, the Diocesan Strategic Policy Committee will consider whether the building should be released for planting. Factors to be considered will include suitability of location, existing use (especially where the building is being used by another Christian denomination), and proximity to other churches. If the building is released, consultation with the relevant Area Council may be needed. The Bishop may then make an approach to potential planters.


Some opportunities for planting will be subject to competitive bids from a number of prospective planters. In this context, you may need to discuss with the Bishop/Archdeacon and the Diocesan Strategic Policy Committee how the proposal you are making fits with

·         Local Context

·         Diocesan Context

·         Economic practicalities and opportunity costs


  1. Co-ordination of Planting Efforts


Church Planting across the Diocese will be regularly reviewed at DSPC, JOT and the College of Bishops. It also needs to be an item on the agendas of Area Councils and Deaneries.

Training and Development for Church Planting

The Bishop of London has appointed an Adviser for Church Planting, Ric Thorpe. He has a remit to encourage and support church planting across deaneries and diocese. The College of Bishops is also committed to work across the spectrum, in co-operation with St Mellitus College, to encourage and train catholic, middle of the road and evangelical parishes towards more outward focus and exploration of planting. 

 List of documents and resources

Breaking New Ground: Church Planting in the Church of England (Church House Publishing, 1994) Bishops’ Mission Orders: a beginner’s guide (Church House Publishing, 2008)

This paper is issued by the London College of Bishops as part of a series of Policy Papers on Mission and Ministry issues.