House of Bishops meeting, 21 May

The Church of England has issued the following informative summary of the meeting of the House of Bishops which took place on 21 May 2020.

House of Bishops


A meeting of the House of Bishops took place today on Thursday, the 21st of May 2020 (by Zoom).

The meeting was a resumption of the previous meeting of the House of 19 May which was adjourned by the Chair due to technical issues.

Amongst the issues discussed by the House:

An update on the Church’s activity on COVID-19 with reflections and insights given by three Diocesan bishops as well as insights from Brendan McCarthy, Medical Ethics Health and Social Care Policy adviser, and continuing preparations for the gradual reopening of churches for prayer and worship, led by Bishop Sarah Mullally.

Updates from groups of bishops looking at coronavirus and its implications for the future of the Church of England were given, with a series of breakout groups further looking at issues including political and economic change, shifts in technology as well as the impact of demographic change.

The Archbishop of Canterbury led a Vote of Thanks on behalf of the House, to the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu for his dedicated ministry and service.

The next meeting will be held on 9 June 2020.


In summaries of meetings of the House of Bishops which are issued on the day of the meeting, there is clearly less scope for detail than in the  documents prepared for General Synod such as GS Misc 1238 in February. Nevertheless, the report on the meeting on 21 May is a welcome development from earlier summaries.

Following the response by Andrew Selous, Second Church Estates Commissioner, to a question from Peter Gibson (Darlington) (Con) on the review of the clergy discipline process, it was mistakenly suggested that the House of Bishops would be voting on whether to abolish the CDM and work towards replacing with an independent professional standards body. The Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent commented

“That’s not in the HoB power. But we can (and I hope will) agree that it should be replaced as not fit for purpose. Being discussed on Thursday now.”

The reform/replacement of the Clergy Discipline Measure is clearly on the agenda of the House of Bishops, and we look forward to reading the report of its next meeting on 9 June.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "House of Bishops meeting, 21 May" in Law & Religion UK, 22 May 2020,


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