THINKING ANGLICANS

Bishop of Newcastle announces his retirement.

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Martin Wharton, has announced his forthcoming retirement. There are these two items on the diocesan website.

Bishop of Newcastle to retire
Announcement from the Bishop of Newcastle

The announcement does not give the exact date of the bishop’s retirement, but the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975 requires him to vacate his office on his 70th birthday, which is on 6 August 2014.

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Father DavidJean MaylandJohnTurbulent priestTim Chesterton Recent comment authors
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Father David
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Father David

This offers the perfect opportunity to return the diocese of Newcastle to its rightful and true mother Durham cathedral, thus further reducing the number of dioceses in the Northern Province, following the example of the new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. With the strong possibility of Scottish independence later this year and with Newcastle restored to Durham we shall probably have to resurrect the title of Prince Bishop for the new Dunelm and once more give to the fourth highest prelate in the land a standing army and his own Mint. Doesn’t the legend on Prebends Bridge describe… Read more »

rjb
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rjb

It may be time to revisit the age limits for ecclesiastical offices. Much as we all like young, fresh-faced and energetic bishops (well, some of them anyway), there’s something to be said for the view – as expressed in the Book of Proverbs – that “a hoary head is a crown of glory.” And in a culture increasingly dismissive of the elderly as an irrelevance or an inconvenience, surely the Church should insist on the active and important role that older people have in leadership. Not only that but our churches are themselves full of old people (despite the fashionable… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Well written rjb and may the same be said to apply to Vicars and Rectors. Let us have more bishops in office like the late great Dr. Kemp of Chichester to bring back more resurrection joy to the Church.

Charles Read
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Charles Read

I’ve a lot of sympathy with rjb. Maybe we increase the retirement age to 75 – clergy can retire earlier if they wish.

We have had a rule (In Norwich diocese) that Readrs become Emeritus / emerita at age 70 which meant no-one entered training after the age of 60. While we do want to encourage younger vocations we sometimes found someone aged 60+ who was clearly called to Reader ministry – so we have bent the rule occasionally. It’s about being open to whom the Spirit is calling -and indeed when she calls!

Peter
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Peter

We should remember that the principle that Bishops should retire at 70 was brought in by Eric Kemp, who stayed in post until his mid 80s. It was a rule he thought should be applied to other people, but not to him.

Erasmus
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Erasmus

There is a lot to be said for increasing the Ecclesiastical retirement age to 80. Many people in their 70s still have much to contribute – and it would ease the pressure on the church’s pension funds.

Graham W
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Graham W

We’re expecting quite a few retirements this year, which is a shame.

Probably +Peter Wheatley (Bishop of Edmonton) will announce his retirement towards the end of the year.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

I think that our retirement age in TEC is 72.

Tim Chesterton
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rjb – Amen to that!

David Keen
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David Keen

I can understand the argument,but alongside it would also want to see more free flowing traffic between Bishops and parish ministry. Some people have had/done enough when they get to 70, and there are numerous local parish examples of people who stayed on because it was best for them, not for the parish or the church. You don’t want the same thing happening with a Diocese. How to guard against that, if it’s entirely down to the individual and whether they want to carry on or not?

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Diocesans can go on for up to a further year after their 70th birthday if the archbishop is in agreement. Think +McCulloch did a bit more, but he had ongoing NCI responsibilities at the time. No, the CofE has such a flat structure that allowing bishops to go on goes against, as they say, inter-generational fairness. Most are burned out at 65, quite apart from 70. And frankly the church needs fresh leadership, which means more +Baines’ and +Butlers etc. It also badly needs women in episcopal leadership, so letting the grey haired men continue is no recipe for all… Read more »

ExRevd
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ExRevd

Worth adding to this thread that Bishop Martin will be greatly missed in that diocese.

Turbulent priest
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Turbulent priest

One answer to the “job blocker” issue is to have fixed-term appointments, not a retirement age. For people in employment, a retirement age has to be “clearly justified”: see https://www.gov.uk/retirement-age. If there were a ten year fixed term for bishops (say) then the posts could be open to much younger candidates without the “risk” they would sit in it for decades. And an older candidate could negotiate for a shorter fixed term. At the moment the appointment system encourages potential age discrimination in both directions: against 40 year olds because they would serve 30 years, and against 67 year olds… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

I agree with Turbulent’s second paragraph but must take issue with his opening remark with regard to fixed-term appointments. Thanks to Dave Cameron we now have “fixed-term parliaments with the consequence that in year five, which we shall soon be entering into, the Coalition Government has run out of legislation and has nothing to do but worry about the rise and rise of Nigel Farage and his UKIP party. Similarly bishops on fixed-terms would become the lamest of lame ducks as they reach the final year of their “fixed- term”. Thinking about clergy who should be retired, does anyone know… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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The two “bans” are not directly comparable.

The BNP ban involves a specific amendment to a Church of England Measure, by the General Synod.

The same-sex marriage ban is pastoral guidance approved only by the House of Bishops, and in itself has no legal effect.

As Philip Jones has pointed out, it would be perfectly possible, in theory, to amend ecclesiastical legislation in a directly comparable manner to the BNP ban, but there is some doubt as to whether Parliament would agree to confirm such a change.
http://ecclesiasticallaw.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/clergy-discipline-and-same-sex-marriage-inappropriate-conduct/

Father David
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Father David

I publish the “bans” of marriage between…. or rather, I don’t! As ever, Simon, thank you for your clarification in pointing out that we in the Church of England have First and Second Class “bans”. The ban against membership of the BNP being first Class, having been approved by the General Synod. The ban against clergy entering into same sex marriage being Second Class, as it is merely pastoral guidance issued by the House of Bishops (or rather some of them!) and awaits discussion and approval by the General Synod before it can become a First Class Ban. Thereafter, if… Read more »

John
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John

Nice to see a measure of harmony between ‘liberals’ and ‘traditionalists’. I think the C of E needs neither a bunch of superannuated bishops nor a slew of eager young evangelical bishops with nothing very much inside their brains. On the other hand, I also think very strongly that Con-Evos should have SOME representation (on the Lyndon Johnson principle regarding J Edgar Hoover: ‘better to have him inside the tent p—–g out than outside the tent p—–g in’).

David Keen
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David Keen

“I also think very strongly that Con-Evos should have SOME representation” They could just be represented because they’re part of the CofE, rather than because it’s good politics. Or we could even take the radical step of picking the best candidates, regardless of which wing of the church they came from. Now there’s a radical thought.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

I am on record as saying that there is a case for a ConEvo flying bishop, even in a newly created see, but the CNC will not nominate a ConEvo to a diocesan bishopric now, unless they are clearly willing to ordain women as priests and will work collaboratively with women in the episcopate, and therefore their senior staff team. The expected passing of the Measure in July will represent the settled mind of the church on the matter and it will therefore be unacceptable for the diocesan to be a non-ordainer and it would be a brave diocesan to… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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‘a slew of eager young evangelical bishops with nothing very much inside their brains’

I would respectfully suggest that brainlessness, if it exists, is not limited to eager young evangelicals.

Turbulent priest
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Turbulent priest

Father David Thanks for your comment. You slightly misunderstood me but that is my fault for not being clearer. Fixed term employment contracts aren’t like fixed term parliaments; they mean that the employment won’t continue beyond the end of the term, but the employee can still go earlier if they wish (and give proper notice). Cameron’s and Clegg’s commitment was to a full term parliament with no earlier dissolution. That wasn’t what I had in mind! I am amused or bemused by John’s ageist suggestion that 40 year olds are necessarily “eager evangelicals with nothing very much inside their brains”… Read more »

John
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John

I write from experience, being pretty old myself.

I don’t think trying to ensure a ‘spread’ of episcopal representation is ‘just politics’: it profoundly affects the overall health and harmony of the whole ‘body politic’ of the church. Self-evidently, I am not personally keen on ConEvos: but they need – and deserve – more representation.

Jean Mayland
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Jean Mayland

Father David does not appreciate the vast tracts of countryside in Newcastle and Durham Dioceses. Newcastle goes right up to the Scottish border- beyond the Wall. We are much better as two and differ in characteristics as well. Up here we could actually be the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, but the Roman Catholics cleverly revived that name. Bishop Martin’s Farewell Service is on September 21st. All these vacancies leave room for the excellent women we have to be made Bishops

Father David
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Father David

As Father David was born and brought up in the Land of the Prince Bishops I think he knows a fair bit about the North East of England. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the Roman Catholic diocese of Hexham and Newcastle include both County Durham and Northumberland stretching as far North as Berwick upon Tweed and right up to the Scottish Border? As indeed did the Anglican diocese of Durham until the time of the great Bishop Lightfoot when the diocese of Newcastle was created. The Anglican diocese of Chelmsford and the Roman Catholic diocese of Brentwood are… Read more »