Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Durham to leave diocese

Updated twice on Wednesday

from the Diocese of Durham website

BISHOP OF DURHAM TO LEAVE DIOCESE

27/04/2010

The Bishop of Durham, Dr N. T. Wright, has announced that he will be retiring from the See of Durham on August 31.

Dr Wright, who will be 62 this autumn, is returning to the academic world, in which he spent the first twenty years of his career, and will take up a new appointment as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Announcing his move, Bishop Tom said, ‘This has been the hardest decision of my life. It has been an indescribable privilege to be Bishop of the ancient Diocese of Durham, to work with a superb team of colleagues, to take part in the work of God’s kingdom here in the north-east, and to represent the region and its churches in the House of Lords and in General Synod. I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work. But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster, for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop. I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear.’

Among the initiatives Bishop Tom has pioneered has been the ‘Big Read’ programme, which has got people across the North-East, and across all Christian churches, reading the Bible together in Lent. This programme will expand to a national level next year, with Bishop Tom’s forthcoming ‘Lent for Everyone – Matthew’ being the basic text.

As Bishop of Durham, Dr Wright has spoken in the House of Lords on numerous occasions and issues. Most recently he has championed the cause of new underground technology for the clean use of coal from the region’s still massive coalfields. He has also taken a lead in debating issues surrounding constitutional reform. Within the wider Anglican world he was a member of the Commission that produced the Windsor Report (2004) on the future of the Anglican Communion, and was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special representative at the Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops in 2008. Together with Maggie, his wife, he has developed a close relationship with HMS Bulwark, which is twinned with County Durham, culminating in a seminar on board which brought together leading theologians and military personnel to discuss issues of war, peace and faith. He has worked hard to develop friendships and partnerships with Christians of all denominations. He has spoken frequently on radio and TV, including writing and presenting a series of radio meditations and music and television programmes on the resurrection and on the problem of evil.

As a writer, Bishop Tom has been working on three series of books – Christian Origins and the Question of God (at a scholarly level), The New Testament for Everyone (at a popular level) and a sequence of studies to introduce the Christian faith, Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope and most recently Virtue Reborn (US Title After You Believe). He hopes now to be able to complete these collections, and other ongoing research, while teaching (particularly graduate students) in the Faculty of Divinity at St Andrews. He has also been approached to head up various broadcasting projects to bring the results of good biblical scholarship to a wider audience.

Bishop Tom and Maggie have four adult children and three grandchildren.

And from the University of St Andrews:

Update

From the Lambeth Palace website: Archbishop – Bishop of Durham ‘will be greatly missed’

Ruth Gledhill The Times Archbishop loses key aid[e] in unity fight as Bishop of Durham retires and Tom Wright to step down early as Bishop of Durham

From the website of The Tablet Bishop of Durham stands down complaining of red tape:

…Dr Wright, 61, one of the most senior figures in the Church of England, told The Tablet today that diocesan bishops in the Church of England were weighed down by bureaucracy. “It’s something the Church shares with other professions, the feeling of being hamstrung by petty legislation and regulation,” he said…

Andrew Brown has written about it at Cif belief see News of God’s world

The bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, has announced his resignation. He is going to take up a chair at St Andrews. He is a prolific author, and the leading evangelical scholar in the Church of England. As Bishop of Durham he has been distinguished for his implacable hostility to anyone who would accept gays within the church, especially American liberals. On the other hand, he has not gone off with Gafcon and the global south in their schism.

He has always seemed to be to a first class prefect at a minor public school – exactly the sort of person I got myself expelled to get away from. On the notoriously scientific Brown two axis scale of clergy measurement he scores high on the “Would you trust him with a secret?” question, but only moderately on “Would you trust him with your pension?”

(The scale is calibrated with reference to Rowan Williams, who scores 95% on the pastoral axis, and 5% on the practical one). But add in the third axis – would I take his advice on a personal problem? – and Wright scores about 20%. Were I gay, that figure would be 2%. This is a drawback in anyone dealing with the clergy of the Church of England.

So who will be his successor? Traditionally, the bishop of Durham has been a scholarly figure, who would score like Rowan Williams on the pastoral/practical axis. Williams himself would have made an excellent bishop there, in the tradition of Michael Ramsay, a man so splendidly unworldly that he threw his unwanted diplomatic presents into the Wear. But this tradition came rather unglued in the 80s with the appointment of David Jenkins, (90/50/80 on the three axis scale) who became a liberal hate-figure to the evangelicals. It is not an exaggeration to say that the overwhelming aim of evangelical appointments since then has been to ensure that there will never be another bishop like Jenkins in the post. Hence Tom Wright, who has claimed that a video camera could have captured the resurrection. Is it now time for a scholarly bishop less identified with one party?.

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Ren Aguila
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Ren Aguila

I wish Bishop Tom well.

JPM
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JPM

Perhaps now the good people of Durham can have a bishop again.

john
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john

By chance (but obviously it wasn’t), TW held a ‘meet the men of the diocese’ do at St Nick’s, Durham, yesterday evening, which I attended. Good crowd, mostly middle-aged or more. First half consisted of ‘Desert Island Disks’ format, compered by Area Dean. Amiable enough, obviously encomiastic in format and execution. Not toe-curling. Then refreshments (Bishop’s Finger, Stinking Bishop cheese, and Durham brewery special, Tom’s Tipple [pretty good]) and question and answer session (questions written on little forms and handed in). As ever, TW was quick and fluent. My question was: ‘Do you believe that the phenomenon of homosexuality is… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Let’s hope the next +Durham will spend a bit more time in the Bishop’s Castle, and upon the work of caring for the clergy of the Diocese. I think the transfer from Church to Academe will benefit both arenas.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“His resignation must be a plus for ‘progressive forces’. “

But it will leave him all the more free to poke his nose into TEC and other places. Not that his episcopal duties kept him from earning frequent flyer points by flying to the USA to meddle.

Bill Moorhead
Guest

I have been very disturbed in recent years by Bishop Wright’s stance on a number of issues (yes, especially That One — I find his exegesis of Romans 1 singularly unconvincing), and what I perceive as hostility toward the American Episcopal Church (from whom he’s made a lot of book sales money). Nevertheless he has been an outstanding and challenging New Testament scholar, and I think the Church will be very well served by his return to academia. I am particularly looking forward to the publication of the next volume of Christian Origins and the Question of God — a… Read more »

Rev. Kurt Huber
Guest

This seems like a short tenure for a bishop. Is it?

Wilf
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Wilf

Blimey. That will leave a serious hole in the College of Bishops. I can’t think of any obvious candidates to succeed him.

toby forward
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Any chance of Cantuar following this good example?

Rev Laurence Roberts
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Rev Laurence Roberts

What a wonderful man and a hard act to follow.

Will we see his like again ?

Joe Rawls
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I’m glad to hear this because I want him to finish Christian Origins and the Question of God before either of us dies.

JCF
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JCF

“Bishop of Durham to leave diocese”

Wouldn’t have been, um, NEWS, if it were “Bishop (Wright) of Durham to stay IN diocese”?

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

> Any chance of Cantuar following this good example?

Oh, don’t wish another one of them on us in Scotland.

john
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john

I think Pluralist is right and TW has realised that he’s not going any higher within the C of E. Surely, then, his influence/capacity for harm will diminish?

Fr John
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Fr John

One question in my mind. Is he a trojan horse set in the midst of the Episcopal Church in Scotland to cause trouble. It is to be remembered the filial links between the Scottish Episcopal Church, and its offspring the American Episcopal Church. The support the Scottish Episcopal Church has given its American brothers in their move to be a truly inclusive church. The Bishop’s track record in the USA, apart from selling his books, does not bode well.

What position, and/or influence will he have when he ventures north of the border to the Scottish Episcopal Church?

Fr John (Scotland)

Cornelius
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Cornelius

“”Bishop of Durham to leave diocese” Wouldn’t have been, um, NEWS, if it were “Bishop (Wright) of Durham to stay IN diocese”?” … unlike, say, the Primate of TEC who doesn’t even have a diocese so messes around with all of them? “Perhaps now the good people of Durham can have a bishop again.” Sorry – think this is unworthy. The only time I can recall when there wasn’t a bona fide +Dunelm was c. 1984-94, when a self-confessed non-believer occupied the palace at Bishop Auckland. He, like Rowan Williams, is a theologian and a good one, in general; unlike… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

It will be good to have a change of churchpersonship in the diocese too.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

A sad end to (what many thought) a promising begining (back when NT was just plain Tom ;=)

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“Wouldn’t have been, um, NEWS, if it were “Bishop (Wright) of Durham to stay IN diocese”?” … unlike, say, the Primate of TEC who doesn’t even have a diocese so messes around with all of them?” I believe the last Presiding Bishop who remained as Diocesan while serving ended his PBship in 1948. TEC is geographically far too large for a sitting diocesan to also serve as PB. She doesn’t ‘mess around’ with the dioceses, but fulfills her duties as PB. I’m sure if you go to TEC’s web site, you can find the relevant Canons. Unlike Bp Wright, she… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Cornelius: I think that describing David Jenkins as “a self-confessed non-believer” is more of a slur than stating the obvious fact that Tom W has been, by all accounts, a notably poor diocesan bishop. And to then accuse the Primate of TEC (who, unlike any English bishop, has at least been elected to her role) of messing around in other people’s dioceses is a bit rich, in the light of current border-incursions. I wonder whether the broader question of the current model of the episcopate in the C of E needs to be addressed here, though. Appointing divisive figures with… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Well he has been a Dean, a Canon of Westminster and a diocesan bishop and before that an academic in Oxford, Cambridge and Canada,,,one feels he must be the sort of person who gets itchy feet if he stays anywhere too long..Cant see him getting on well with Professor David Brown who also moved from Durham to St Andrews, a quintessential liberal catholic, a prodigious scholar and one blessed with far more imagination than NT Wright… and Anne Loades another ex-durham professor and feminist theologian, now also living in St Andrews..

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

‘The only time I can recall when there wasn’t a bona fide +Dunelm was c. 1984-94, when a self-confessed non-believer occupied the palace at Bishop Auckland.’

Talk about unworthy !

‘Self-confessed non-believer’ – please don’t be quite so economical with the truth.

Charlotte
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Charlotte

I wonder how Bishop Wright is going to do in a university setting, given the open debate and give-and-take that characterizes such places. He won’t be laying down the law from the episcopal palace any longer. This could be difficult for him. I find it hard to imagine he won’t be challenged by students in the St. Andrews LGBT organization, for example. He may have to forge working relationships with his openly gay or lesbian colleagues, and he’ll have to do so on terms of equality and respect. He certainly won’t be able to shut them down or have them… Read more »

David | Dah•veed |
Guest
David | Dah•veed |

Prayers ascending for +David, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and ordinary of Saint Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, into shose back yard +Wright is moving.

“…unlike, say, the Primate of TEC who doesn’t even have a diocese so messes around with all of them?”
A canonical obligation as chief pastor of TEC, and like unto her brother primate to the north, +Canada.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

” Dr Wright, 61, one of the most senior figures in the Church of England, told The Tablet today that diocesan bishops in the Church of England were weighed down by bureaucracy. “It’s something the Church shares with other professions, the feeling of being hamstrung by petty legislation and regulation,” he said.” – ‘The Tablet’ – It’s interesting that Bishop Tom chose to reveal this little snippet to the Roman Catholic press (see ‘The Tablet’ 28 April) If this is the real reason for the Bishop of Durham’s departure, then he must realise that he has been part of the… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

“….. sufficient pastoral & theological stature to stand alongside ……. Winchester”? Say what, now?

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘I wonder how Bishop Wright is going to do in a university setting, given the open debate and give-and-take that characterizes such places.’

It’s hardly the first time he’s worked in a university setting, Charlotte!

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“I find it hard to imagine he won’t be challenged by students in the St. Andrews LGBT organization, for example. He may have to forge working relationships with his openly gay or lesbian colleagues, and he’ll have to do so on terms of equality and respect. He certainly won’t be able to shut them down or have them fired.”

Perhaps he will come to know his LGBT students and colleagues and thereby let his heart and mind be changed. It’s been known to happen!

Fr Mark
Guest

Cynthia G: Tom W had a lot of gay/lesbian colleagues and students around him when he was at Oxford (I was one of them), and they were mostly very unhappily surprised at his lurch into bcoming the episcopal mouthpiece for homophobia in the C of E after his appointment to Durham.

He is extremely uncomfortable and evasive when challenged 1:1 on the topic by any of us (I’ve tried it).

Rev Laurence Roberts
Guest
Rev Laurence Roberts

I do not care what Tom Wright opines. At least back at college he will have less scope for mischief-making.

And as an employee of a university he WILL be bound by the laws that regulate all public bodies and their workers.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“And as an employee of a university he WILL be bound by the laws that regulate all public bodies and their workers. – Rev Laurence Roberts –

Wot? No discrimination allowed?

john
Guest
john

‘He is extremely uncomfortable and evasive when challenged 1:1 on the topic by any of us (I’ve tried it).’ Thus Fr Mark. ‘Evasive’ happened to be the word I used about his response to my question on Tuesday. There is a deep falsity here. So too with his book ‘The Justice of God’ (or whatever the title is). No consideration whatsoever of cosmology, physics, chemistry, evolution (either biological or physical). How on earth (or in heaven) can one nowadays write a serious theodicy without considering these things? Is he stupid or dishonest? Those are the alternatives. Since he’s not stupid,… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Universities are regulated by the Law of the land.