Thinking Anglicans

Rod Thomas to be Bishop of Maidstone

Press release from the Number 10 website.

Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone: Roderick Charles Howell Thomas

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 5 May 2015
Part of: Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of Roderick Charles Howell Thomas to the Suffragan See of Maidstone in the Diocese of Canterbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Charles Howell Thomas, BSc (Econ), Vicar of Elburton, to the Suffragan See of Maidstone, in the Diocese of Canterbury. He will succeed the Right Reverend Graham Cray who became leader of the Archbishops’ Fresh Expressions Team in 2009. The See has been vacant since then. In December 2014, the Dioceses Commission agreed to a proposal from the Archbishops to fill the See in order to provide a bishop who takes the conservative evangelical view on male headship.

Notes to editors

The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995.

From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.

Prebendary Roderick Thomas is married to Lesley and they have 3 children. Prebendary Roderick Thomas has chaired Reform, a network for conservative evangelicals in the Church of England, since 2007. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.

There is also a press release from Lambeth Palace, copied below the fold.

Press release from Lambeth Palace

Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone announced
Tuesday 5th May 2015

The Revd Prebendary Roderick Thomas will be the next Bishop of Maidstone.

Downing Street has today announced that the next Bishop of Maidstone will be the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, currently Vicar of Elburton in the Diocese of Exeter.

The appointment of Rod Thomas follows a meeting of the Dioceses Commission in December at which unanimous agreement was given to a proposal from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the see, which has been vacant since 2009, with a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.

This flowed from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013- GS Misc 1079). In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see, the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.

The See of Maidstone is in the Diocese of Canterbury and Rod Thomas will be available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral. However, given his potentially wide geographical remit, he will not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.

Rod Thomas’s specific duties as Bishop of Maidstone will include: fostering vocations from those taking a conservative evangelical position on headship; undertaking episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and being available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.

The date of Rod Thomas’s consecration is yet to be confirmed. He succeeds the Rt Revd Graham Cray, who was Bishop of Maidstone from 2001 to 2009 and Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions from 2009 to 2014.

Welcoming the news, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I am personally delighted that Rod Thomas has agreed to take up the post of Bishop of Maidstone. Rod has served the church tirelessly, both as a parish priest and as a member of the General Synod, and engaged constructively and graciously with those of differing theological views. It is my hope and prayer that Rod’s distinctive ministry as Bishop of Maidstone will enable those with a conservative evangelical view of headship to flourish and to be assured that the Church of England has a respected place for them.”

The Reverend Prebendary Rod Thomas said: “It is both a privilege and a challenge to be asked to become a Bishop in the Church of England. The prospect of serving as the Bishop of Maidstone is similarly both exciting and daunting, and so I ask for prayer that God will give me the necessary strength and wisdom. My hope for the Bishop of Maidstone’s new role is that it will help to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ; encourage church members in their faith and witness; and generate widespread confidence in our commitment, as a church, to mutual flourishing.”

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, said: “In arriving at the arrangements which have now led to three women being nominated as bishops, it was clear that the voice of those taking a conservative position on male headship also needed to be honoured. This was in the context of the five guiding principles which seek to make space within the Church of England for those of differing theological convictions to continue to flourish. It was this concern which led to the identification of the See of Maidstone for a bishop who holds to that conservative position.

“Having chaired the Steering Committee which produced the legislation and accompanying arrangements, I am very pleased that Rod Thomas has been nominated for this appointment. Rod was himself a member of that Committee; he played a very full and constructive part in our discussions, and spoke generously about the outcome in the crucial General Synod debate in July 2014. I look forward to working with Rod again, this time within the fellowship of the College of Bishops.”

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “Wherever possible, and so that our divisions may not get in the way of the world seeing and receiving Christ, the church needs to learn a new spirit of generosity where different views on some issues are able to live alongside each other in as much communion as possible. I therefore welcome the appointment of Rod Thomas as the new Bishop of Maidstone and look forward to working with him in the Chelmsford diocese where I hope he will serve as an Assistant Bishop. His presence and ministry will give confidence to many in the church and show that it is possible to disagree well.”

About the Revered Prebendary Roderick Thomas

The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.

Rod Thomas is married to Lesley and they have three children. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.

Notes to Editors

  • Part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see.
  • Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but the See of Maidstone was left vacant following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon.
  • This conservative evangelical view on headship is summarised on pp 149-151 of Women Bishops in the Church of England? The Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women In the Episcopate 2004 [GS 1557]. View the report here.
  • The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests of 19 May 2014 [GS Misc 1076], which includes the five guiding principles can be read in full here.

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Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

I am rather surprised to see that someone who appears to be on the Executive Committee of the Anglican Mission in England has been appointed as a bishop. AMiE’s focus includes ‘Providing support for God’s people standing for the Christian faith in their diocese, especially where many within the institution have abandoned biblical and revealed truth’ and ‘Providing faithful leadership to God’s people in promoting and defending the Christian faith, especially where bishops who preside over doctrinal disorder lose the confidence of orthodox clergy and congregations.’ However if he is willing to pledge loyalty to the Church of England and… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

So the mantle of Wallace falls upon Rod.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Lest anyone doubt the AMiE connection it is on this page

https://anglicanmissioninengland.org/about/executive-committee

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Another nail in the coffin of the Church of England’s credibility. I am ashamed to belong to a Church which embraces such ludicrous notions as male headship which adds to us being a laughing-stock.

DBD
Guest

We do see a lot of ‘typical church madness’, but this is so far beyond that. Unless Rod intends to renounce AMiE/GAFCON?

James A
Guest
James A

Can we, therefore, assume that in his desire to make the declarations of canonical obedience in good faith, Rod Thomas will be resigning all links with AMiE – and be made to do so by the Archbishop of Canterbury? Otherwise, we can only infer that AMiE is being afforded full legitimacy from the top.

By the way (and at the risk of speaking too soon), things are very quiet in the Bishopthorpe direction these days. Any idea why? It is rather unsettling – even if it is welcome.

Jonathan Jennings
Guest
Jonathan Jennings

What?!

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

“…given his potentially wide geographical remit, he will not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.” Well, there’s a surprise! I couldn’t see Rod Thomas and +Trevor Dover being easy bed-fellows – let alone wide acceptance for his views among the majority of parishes in the Diocese. This is not like Burnley, where the Diocese of Blackburn actively petitioned for a traditionalist suffragan.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Maybe it is an attempt to get AMiE back on board the good ship C of E and the Anglican Communion’s flotilla?

Father David
Guest
Father David

Maybe it is an attempt to get AMiE back on board the good ship C of E and the Anglican Communion’s flotilla?

iain mclean
Guest
iain mclean

might this actually be a subtle move, forcing him and his friends to choose? Just speculating.

Richard
Guest
Richard

Many prayers for him and his parish as he prepares for ordination and consecration as a bishop in the Church of God.

Ronald Collinson
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Ronald Collinson

FrDavidH: male headship is hardly an implausible interpretation of several New Testament passages. If you don’t find the New Testament ‘ludicrous’, then surely you shouldn’t think of male headship as ludicrous (even if you do think that it’s incorrect and causes unnecessary offence).

Philip Hobday
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Philip Hobday

Those of us who believed, on theological and scriptural grounds, that the exercise of ministry at all levels should include women and men have got what we longed for and prayed for. This has been done (despite the 2012 difficulties) in a way which preserved a remarkable degree of unity. There is still of course a way to go, particularly in encouraging and preparing the right people of both genders to consider senior posts. But to achieve the twin goal of an gender-open episcopate and the greatest degree of unity possible, the presence of 4 out of 110-odd bishops who… Read more »

@mellowdramatic
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@mellowdramatic

Rod Thomas’s specific duties as Bishop of Maidstone will include: fostering vocations from those taking a conservative evangelical position on headship; undertaking episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and being available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses. I honestly don’t understand how this helps anyone. The ConEvos’ (as I understand it) objection is to any woman occupying a position of leadership over men. A bishop presumably exercises leadership over their… Read more »

r.primrose
Guest
r.primrose

One human owning another human as property is also “hardly an implausible interpretation of several New Testament passages” (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:21, Eph. 6:5, Col. 3:22, Tit. 2:9, 1 Pet. 2:18). If one doesn’t “find the New Testament ‘ludicrous,'” does that mean that “surely [one] shouldn’t think of [slavery] as ludicrous” as well? But I really can’t imagine any Christian today justifying slavery as acceptable under Christian doctrine today. But as recently as 150 years ago, books were published justifying slavery on those grounds, even arguing that slavery was a good, even mandatory, institution under Biblical interpretation. Why is one… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

The statement by the Chairman of AMiE, Justin Mote, elsewhere on Thinking Anglicans is not reassuring. This states that ‘AMiE exists to promote gospel growth by supporting Anglican churches and individuals both within and outside present Church of England structures. No one is more committed to that task than Rod Thomas.’ This seems to point to a ministry based on the notion that ‘Anglicans’ in England should be free to disregard their own diocesan bishops, deny the legitimacy of clergy and congregations with more inclusive views and set up alternative structures if others do not bow to their will. This… Read more »

DBD
Guest

What’s quite interesting is to observe the body language in the two photos I’ve seen of Justin and Rod (on the Lambeth Palace PR and the Telegraph article). Says a lot more than words.

Richard
Guest
Richard

“Maybe it is an attempt to get AMiE back on board the good ship C of E and the Anglican Communion’s flotilla?”

It does rather depend on whether the new ship is joining the flotilla or firing on it…

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Thank you, r.primrose!!! As I understand recent changes to British law on royal succession, at some future point, a woman could become Queen of England, without waiting for the men ahead of her to die off, be defenestrated, abdicate, etc. She can simply step into the role. The English monarchy has been in existence, more or less, for 1,000 years or so. If the people of England, through their representatives, chucked male headship overboard for the monarchy, why is it still fit for the CofE to even consider? It’s positively medieval. I don’t think preserving Middle Ages cathedrals means we… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

This is an expected appointment and, although many might wish that it had not been necessary, it does honour the arrangements and is consonant with the Bishops’ Declaration et al so far as this part of the Church is concerned. Having ConEvos in the tent is much to be preferred. Unity, of the CofE kind, matters. However, the issue going forward now is not ‘headship’ but how the Church might respond to the outcome of the Shared Conversations. The status quo (in terms of the Church’s understanding of issues in sexuality) is unlikely to prevail for more than a few… Read more »

ExRevd
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ExRevd

Well pointed out DBD. ABC looks somewhat unchuffed.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

As a non-conservative evangelical, I do wish people would stop using the phrase ‘ConEvos’.

Jo
Guest
Jo

I’m inclined to say that preserving unity with the members of the CofE who despair at these repeated endorsements of misogyny and homophobia is more important than preserving unity with the bigots. The former won’t flounce out in the same way as the latter, but the CofE will be greatly harmed as people slowly drift away. You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns female leadership. You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns equal marriage.

Father David
Guest
Father David

I’m wondering what exactly DBD is reading into the body language of the ABC and the Bishop designate of Maidstone. I find the setting of the Press Conference announcing the appointment in the Telegraph photograph to be most intriguing as it resembles nothing more than a prison cell.
Presumably the new bishop will have to pay homage to Her Majesty the Queen as she has for the past 63 years been a superb Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, by Law Established.
What does that have to say to us about Headship?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns female leadership. You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns equal marriage.”

Well said, and it bears repeating.

Conservatives are fighting a rearguard action.

Ronald Collinson
Guest
Ronald Collinson

None of the passages you cite mandate or commend slavery; they merely acknowledge that the institution existed, and that even under these conditions slaves should be striving to commend themselves to God. If they have an opportunity to free themselves, they should take it, but otherwise they are not to be troubled by their slave status (1 Corinthians 7:21). Why? Because ‘the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.’ (1 Corinthians 7:22). It is far better to be a… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“It is far better to be a Christian slave than it is to be a non-Christian at liberty.”

St. Paul could be really silly at times.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Ronald Collinson, New Testament writers did not have to “mandate or commend” slavery. NT writers accepted slavery, patriarchy, and other social arrangements as normative. As a marginal social group all they did was massage the variables with piety. Slaves obey your masters, wives be subject to your husbands etc. The scripture may be helpful to us to the extent that one is able to distill from the social and cultural context of antiquity values, such as justice, that allow us to bridge the Christian view with that of other people of good will; but if one is looking to… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Ronald Collinson’s view on Headship is similar to that which pertains in Saudi Arabia where women are oppressed under Wahhabism. This is also claimed to be God’s Word. Although, as Jeremy states, St Paul can be really silly, he was probably correct to state there is no “male or female in Christ”. To claim, as Mr Collinson does, that the culture of the First Century must apply to women today is utterly ludicrous.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

“None of the passages you cite mandate or commend slavery; they merely acknowledge that the institution existed.” Really? Let’s see if the actual texts support that interpretation: 1 Cor. 7:21 & 24: “Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it.…In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.” Eph. 6:5: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling.” Col. 3:22: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.” Tit. 2:9-10: “Tell slaves to be submissive to… Read more »

John-Francis Friendship
Guest
John-Francis Friendship

This decision simply reinforces the Church’s irrelevance for most people. That the Church of England is prepared to consecrate misogyny and homophobia makes me ashamed.

J Gibbs
Guest
J Gibbs

What a hypocrite!
How can anyone who, we’re told, seriously and genuinely believes in Headship agree to being any kind of minister in a church whose Supreme Governor is a woman.
By their fruits…

Simon Bravery
Guest
Simon Bravery

Fr David

Only Diocesans do homage

Father David
Guest
Father David

Nevertheless, Simon Bravery, as J Gibbs points out, Rod Thomas will be a bishop in an Established Church with a female Head of State, a female Defender of the Faith and a female Supreme Governor of the Church of England. You can’t really top that as far as Headship is concerned. No escaping the fact that the Lord’s Anointed is a woman, homage or nay,

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Nevertheless, Simon Bravery, as J Gibbs points out, Rod Thomas will be a bishop in an Established Church with a female Head of State, a female Defender of the Faith and a female Supreme Governor of the Church of England. You can’t really top that as far as Headship is concerned. No escaping the fact that the Lord’s Anointed is a woman, homage or nay”. – Father David – And there you are, chaps. That’s how the Church gets around that problem; by making ‘Reform’s’ Rod Thomas a ‘suffragan’ – not a diocesan bishop – thereby bypassing the need to… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

Whilst respecting the positive comments about Rod Thomas made by my good and holy bishop, James Roffen, I too feel that it is wholly unacceptable that he should become a member of the College of Bishops whilst remaining in the senior leadership of AMiE. The fact that no mention has been made of this in the announcements is deeply worrying, and reinforces my fear that our Abps are going to break the Church of England on the wheel of trying to satisfy the GAFCON primates.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Father Ron, I think we need to bear in mind the distinction between paying homage and swearing allegiance to H.M. The Queen. Personally I had not appreciated that only Diocesan and not Suffragan Bishops pay homage on appointment but all clergy of the Established Church swear allegiance to Elizabeth II, Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor. So the Bishop Designate of Maidstone in swearing allegiance to the Queen will in reality be acknowledging Her Majesty”s Headship, under Christ, over the National Church.