Posted on the 2nd November 2020 in the category Statements

All Souls' Day 2020


A pastoral statement from The Society's Council of Bishops on the proposed suspension of public worship from 5 November


Dear Friends,


Our nation is facing a crisis of a scale and proportion unknown for over seventy years and as we write we are acutely aware of the desperate needs of those whose work is insecure, whose businesses face bankruptcy, whose education is being disrupted, whose mental health is being damaged by fear and anxiety and who can barely afford to feed their children.


We are equally aware of the extraordinary energy, agility and imagination that so many of you have demonstrated in recent months as you have risen to the task of meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the people you serve. The dedication you have shown has been profoundly moving to witness and we take great pride in the ministry you have offered.


But all that we do as God’s people flows from our worship. The Mass is and must always be the very heart and centre of our lives, our gravest duty, our sweetest joy. As we meet the Lord at his altar, we are inspired to serve and to witness. Without the Mass, ministry becomes meaningless and any acts of love and service are swiftly rendered unsustainable. We can never allow our worship to be seen as dispensable, nor can we collude with a culture that wishes to see it as one activity amongst others. The Mass is literally a matter of life and death. Without regular re-orientation towards the life of God in the Mass, we are lost, we are nothing.


That is why the decision that has been made by HM Government and which will be debated later this week in Parliament to suspend public worship for a second time this year is such a grave one, and we write above all with the assurance of our prayers as you lead your people through this wilderness. We are aware of a profound disappointment, bordering on anger, in many of our congregations, an expression of the deep longing of the people of England to gather for worship.


We are very grateful to Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop McMahon for the measured lead they have taken and the wise words they have spoken in recent days. Our experience is that the Mass has been offered in the parishes we serve with huge care and great attention to safety and so we too would ask for clear evidence of transmission of the virus within congregations before we felt able to support even a brief second suspension of public worship. We express our solidarity with the Cardinal and the Archbishop in asking HM Government to rethink this aspect of the Regulations which will be presented to Parliament later in the week.


Of course we acknowledge our duty as subjects of Her Majesty to play our part in overcoming this deadly danger to our national life. Should the Regulations be passed as they now stand, we look to our priests to act strictly within the law and suspend all public worship as they will have been directed to do.


However the sacraments of the Church are life-giving not just for us but for the nation and we cannot simply turn off the source of sacramental grace. We therefore urge our priests to use their imaginations once again in celebrating the Mass within the law as local context allows and, where possible, to live-stream the Mass to the faithful who can unite themselves with this offering through an act of spiritual communion.


We write on All Souls' Day, a day on which we are powerfully reminded of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ who, through his saving work, draws us from death to life. It is in the sure hope of that salvation that we face the weeks and days ahead, for the God who shares his life in Jesus Christ is always faithful.


Please be assured of our thanks and our prayers.




The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield,

Chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops


The Rt Revd Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley


The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley


The Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester


The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet


The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham


The Rt Revd Will Hazlewood, Bishop of Lewes 


The Rt Revd Norman Banks, Bishop of Richborough


Posted on the 9th October 2020 in the category Announcements

It has been announced that Dr Colin Podmore, Director of Forward in Faith from 2013 to 2020, is to be awarded an MBE. Bishop Tony Robinson, Chairman of Forward in Faith and Chairman of The Society's Council of Bishops, commented:

"I am delighted that Colin has been recognised in this way. He has served the Church of England and particularly its Catholic tradition with great distinction over many years. We wish Colin well in his retirement and are overjoyed that his faithful service to the Church has been marked by an honour."


Posted on the 14th August 2020 in the category Announcements


Ordinations to the Diaconate, 2020






Matthew Austen

Chelmsford Cathedral

13 Sep, 1pm

St Thomas of Canterbury, Brentwood

David Povall

Southwark Cathedral

19 Sep, 11am

St Paul, Clapham

Josh Delia

St John the Divine, West Worthing

24 Sep, 7pm

St John the Divine, West Worthing and St Andrew, Worthing

Ross Brooks

Lichfield Cathedral

26 Sep, 1pm

Holy Trinity, Ettingshall and St Martin

& St Stephen, Wolverhampton

Glen Thomas

Lichfield Cathedral

26 Sep, 5pm

North Potteries Team Ministry, Stoke-on Trent

John Blackburne

St Andrew, Holborn

28 Sep, 7pm

All Saints with St Michael, Notting Hill

Ross Copley

All Saints, Lincoln

1 Oct, 3pm

All Saints, Lincoln







Ordinations to the Priesthood by Bishops of The Society, 2020






Angus Beattie 

Bishop of Fulham

St Andrew, Holborn

26 Sep, 11am

William Hamilton-Box

Bishop of Fulham

St Andrew, Holborn

26 Sep, 11am

Yaroslav Sky Walker 

Bishop of Fulham

St Andrew, Holborn

26 Sep, 11am

Michael Still 

Bishop of Fulham

St Andrew, Holborn

26 Sep, 11am

Simon Walker 

Bishop of Richborough

All Saints, Gravesend

27 Sep, 2pm

Thomas Crowley

Bishop of Lewes

St Saviour, Eastbourne

3 Oct, 3pm

Jason Lawrence Hewitt

Bishop of Wakefield

St Mary, Barnsley

3 Oct, 4pm

Dominik Chmielewski

Bishop of Lewes

St Nicholas, Arundel

4 Oct, 3pm

Thomas Fink-Jensen

Bishop of Lewes

St Michael, South Lancing

10 Oct, 3pm

Jamie Franklin

Bishop of Beverley

St George in the Meadows, Nottingham

5 Dec, 12pm

Aidan Bartlett

Bishop of Fulham

Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell

12 Dec, 12pm



Due to the variable nature of the public health regulations currently in place, please note that the arrangements set out for any of the ordinations listed are liable to change at short notice. At all ordinations, the numbers able to be physically present are strictly limited and so attendance in person is by invitation only.


Posted on the 15th July 2020 in the category Statements

On behalf of The Society's Council of Bishops, I am delighted to welcome Bishop Will Hazlewood to our number. On this the joyful day of his consecration, we pray for Bishop Will, his family and his ministry in the Diocese of Chichester.



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield

Chairman of The Society's Council of Bishops


A selection of photographs from the joyful day.




Posted on the 10th June 2020 in the category Statements

We are grateful that the Government has heard the increasing dissatisfaction of Christians, and people of other religious traditions, and announced their intention to allow places of worship to open for individual prayer and worship from 15 June. We hope that basic principles of religious freedom, and indeed equity with other groups in society, will continue to be borne in mind in the coming stages of easing the lockdown. We are also grateful to all those in the Church of England, in other churches and in other faith communities, for their continuing work on the Government’s Places of Worship Taskforce to find a safe way of enabling congregational worship to resume as soon as possible.  

We are acutely aware of the painful experience borne by the vast majority of lay people and some clergy in recent months, deprived of corporate worship and the sacraments, and many others who have been unable either to marry or pray for their deceased family and friends in church. We hope that all who wish to - and are able to do so - will make use of the restored freedom to enter Christian churches, where it is feasible for those churches to open safely, and will continue to make use of widely available resources and opportunities to support their faith as we await a further easing of the lockdown.

The influential Anglican priest and theologian Richard Hooker wrote these words in the sixteenth century, "Churches receive as everything else their chief perfection from the end whereunto they serve. Which end being the public worship of God, they are in this consideration houses of greater dignity than any provided for meaner purposes.” While our use of language has changed slightly in the intervening centuries, the essential truth of Hooker's statement remains: the worship of God through gathered, corporate worship, as well as private prayer, is intrinsic to that dignity in worship we seek as Christians. Hooker's writings go on to re-iterate the words of the Psalmist, "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

On this Eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi, we look forward to people being able to return to churches next week to offer their prayers before the Blessed Sacrament of the Lord. We also look forward to the time, over the coming months, when the Eucharist can be celebrated and shared among God's people. The Eucharist is not an optional liturgical extra or a contemporary lifestyle choice; it is the source and summit of the Church’s identity and forms an essential part of our Christian witness, as the historic formulae, the canons and the liturgies of the Church of England rightly recognise.


In this short devotional video on the theme of Corpus Christi (below), the Bishop of Fulham speaks powerfully of the vital role the Blessed Sacrament has in our spiritual lives. The film is a joint initiative between The Society and the Church Union and was made in accordance with the Government guidelines in place during the pandemic. It is the final film in a series of eight such films, covering the themes of Holy Week, Easter, Our Lady, Pentecost, praying for the dead and, now, Corpus Christi. The films are offered, with our prayers, as a resource to all those looking to reflect on these important Christian themes at home in this time of pandemic.








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