Church Times articles

Feb 2021

Feb 2021

Jul 2020

Oct 2018

Radio 4 Sunday

x 3 2020

On the Hub

Forum discussions

The Sheldon Community's "ProjectCDM" was started in 2017 in response to significant pastoral concerns around the effects of the Clergy Discipline Measure. We set ourselves the fourfold task of

  • Improving support for those going or been through CDM
  • Improving implementation of the existing Measure
  • Commissioning independent academic research into the workings of the Measure
  • Making evidence based recommendations for the repair or replacement of the Measure

Feb 21: Call for appointment of Lead Person to see through CDM replacement

With the forthcoming retirement of the Chair of the Lambeth Working Group the Rt Rev Tim Thornton Sheldon is urgently renewing its January 2020 call for the appointment of a Lead Person to see through the replacement of the CDM. The role should involve building consensus, shepherding legislation through General Synod, overseeing initial training and implementation, embedding feedback learning loops for safe future functioning and initiating restorative justice. 

Feb 21: Scope and Purpose of replacement to CDM

Sheldon remains very concerned that detailed proposals are being brought forward for the replacement of CDM without any published document on the Scope and Purpose of such a Measure. As no-one else appeared to have the appetite to produce one, Sheldon offers this document as a starting point

Link to Scope and Purpose

Jan 21: Lambeth Working Group and ELS Working Party

The working groups published their significantly different proposals for the replacement of CDM in December 2020.
Sheldon and CECA collaborated on a joint response to the ELS proposals, and separate ones for the Lambeth proposals.

Jul 20: Emerging academic research findings

In the autumn of 2019 the largest ever survey on CDM was undertaken among clergy across England. This was carried out by Sheldon in collaboration with Aston University. By July 2020 initial analysis of the research data gathered had been completed. The significant findings assisted the bishops in coming to the decision that the CDM should indeed be replaced.

Link to Research Findings

Jul 20: The decision to replace CDM

On 8th July the House of Bishops unanimously supported Bishop Tim Thornton's motion to work towards complete replacement of the CDM. This is a very significant milestone on the journey of restoring humanity to clergy discipline. We would like to extend our thanks to all the allies who have collaborated to achieve this result. Most especially we want to thank clergy who had been through CDM who took part in the research at significant personal cost - revisiting a highly traumatic experience in order that others might benefit.

The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 is a Church Measure, approved by Parliament and part of English law so there will now be a lengthy process to draft and legislate its replacement(s). There are pressures to achieve this quickly, but there are also significant risks of repeating the same mistakes if there is not a deep commitment to understand the cultural isues allowed such an abusive process to continue for so long. We also want to minimise the risks for the remaining clergy facing complaints under the old and now discredited system before it is finally consigned to the dustbin of history. 

Jul 20: The Sheldon/Aston University research project

In early 2019 we signed a £48,000 contract with Aston University to undertake independent academic research into the lived experience of CDM. No such research had ever been done before. At the time the subject was such a hot potato that we were only able to raise £5,000 in funding (St Boniface Trust - thank you) so our trustees underwrote the rest from Sheldon's own charity reserves. The research took the form of a highly detailed online survey which was distributed to Church of England clergy through every diocese in the autumn of 2019 gathering unprecendented data from 6,000 participants. Work had begun on assessing this in 2020 when the Covid-19 crisis hit. Under challenging circumstances the preliminary data analysis has been carried out and is presented in the link above. It has been described as a devastating critique of the structure and operation of CDM - all the more so for being based on such a wide-ranging survey.

In summer 2020 we withdrew from the Aston contract early. In the face of pandemic-related costs to Sheldon of over £100,000, and with the case for replacement having been successfully made, we felt that saving the final £15,000 of the contract was the best available option. We have since been continuing working on the following priorities

  1. To honour the trust of all who contributed to the research, especially those who have been injured by CDM
  2. To contribute our research findings and pastoral experience to the official process(es) of replacing the CDM
  3. Training for mitigating harms of CDMs active until the replacement(s) are legislated
  4. Supporting people going through CDM or living with the aftermath