Michael Ipgrave to be next Bishop of Lichfield

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Lichfield: Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 March 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave for election as Bishop of Lichfield.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave, OBE, MA, PhD, Area Bishop of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark, for election as Bishop of Lichfield in succession to the Right Reverend Jonathan Michael Gledhill, MA, on his resignation on 30 September 2015.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave (57) grew up in a small village in Northamptonshire, in the English Midlands. He studied mathematics at Oriel College, Oxford, and trained for the ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford after a year spent working as a labourer in a factory in Birmingham.

He was ordained Deacon in 1982 and Priest in 1983 in the Dicoese of Peterborough. After more than 20 years ministry in Leicestershire and Japan, he became Archdeacon of Southwark in 2004. He was also Canon Missioner at Southwark Cathedral from 2010 to 2012 and was Chair of the Southwark and London Diocesan Housing Association, and Anglican Borough Dean of Southwark. Prior to this he had been Inter Faith Relations Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary of the Churches’ Commission on Inter Faith Relations.

He was awarded the OBE in the new year’s honours list in 2011 for services to inter-faith relations in London. Since 2012 he has been Area Bishop of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark and is also diocesan Warden of Readers. He chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, and is Co-Chair of the Anglican-Lutheran Society and of the Church of England’s Mission Theology Advisory Group.

Bishop Michael has written extensively on inter-faith issues and on questions of religion and human rights. He has edited 6 volumes on Christian-Muslim relations, is the author of Trinity and Inter Faith Dialogue (Peter Lang, 2003), and has contributed about 30 journal articles and book chapters.

Bishop Michael is married to Dr Julia Ipgrave, who works at Roehampton University as a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Humanities. They have 3 grown up sons, 1 with a German and 1 with a Russian wife, and are looking forward to the imminent birth of their first grandchild in Germany. Michael and Julia are enthusiastic about things Japanese; they enjoy walking, and are looking forward to exploring Staffordshire and Shropshire on foot.

The Lichfield Diocesan website has this: 99th Bishop of Lichfield named.


  • Anthony Archer says:

    Good appointment. Real breadth of experience which he will bring in full to the House of Bishops.

  • Is this the first of these job announcements to give details of the pregnancy of the Bishop’s daughter in law?

  • So, after Ian Paul’s blog post the other day remarking on the translation of the evangelical Martyn Snow to previously liberal Leicester, we now have the centrist/liberal Michael Ipgrave translated to previously evangelical Lichfield. Perhaps it doesn’t pay to read too much into all this…

  • Father David says:

    Could well be the first of its kind re. daughter-in-law being with child. Lovely news as I know from experience that nothing beats being a Grandfather. Grandchild number 5 due in June.

  • Kate says:

    The press release is laudatory throughout… So what do we make of the final section revealing he is married, and explicitly married to a woman? To me that is suggesting his marital status is relevant to his election as a bishop? I find that uncomfortable reading.

  • Anthony Archer says:

    It wasn’t as if his biography needed padding out either!

  • Marian says:

    It feels rather sad (but perhaps unfortunately typical of the blinkered and narrow interests of the TA blog at the moment) that the comments about the announcement of the appointment of the latest bishop in the C of E have descended so rapidly into criticising the fact that the announcement of the appointment refers also to his wife. It is completely standard practice in such announcements in the C of E (check the previous two examples recently also posted on the TA site) to refer to the spouse of the person appointed by name and to say a little about them. NOT I think primarily to reassure the world and TA readers that the appointee is married, but somehow to acknowledge that the spouse is a person too … legitimate because whether one likes it or not they and their life are going to be affected by the appointee’s new role. If they are going to have to move home (and they are) … I think they jolly well deserve acknowledging by name. I write this as a clergy spouse myself. I would have been angry if when my husband moved jobs the news of his new role did not mention me who was trailing along from one city to another in his wake.

  • Nick Nawrockyi says:

    Isn’t it more likely that Dr Ipgrave prepared his own biography (or at least some notes) and rather than seeing conspiracies everywhere, we might simply think that he wanted his new diocese to know something more in depth about his life?

  • Garry says:

    Well, I wouldn’t marry a woman myself, but that’s a whole other story. Some men do, however, and I’m grateful that’s so because if it weren’t I wouldn’t be here to write this comment. Now, if I were married to another man (which would be accepted in the Anglican Church of Canada and legally possible everywhere in Canada), I’d be very pleased to have it known if I had children. I’m sure their grandparents would be too.

  • Kevin says:

    At least the present author of press releases at 10 Downing Street no longer makes the mistake of calling them “Her Majesty’s Bishop of …”

  • As a former Coventrian, I found the linked video of Bishop Michael to be a total joy. To hear that Midland (Brummy) accent, in the enthusiastic description of his early provenance, I found quite captivating. AND, despite his Oxford University education, no plummy Old Boys Club suggestion of superiority in the usual H.o.B. style. +Michael’s obvious experience of the ethos of the working classes – together with his experience of other cultural situations should stand him in good stead in his new ministry.

    Also, his insistence on ‘breadth and variety’ in the Anglican Tradition sounds very promising. The Church of England needs more like him/her.

  • Richard says:

    Kate: Note that the info regarding spouse is in the “notes for editors” section, not in the official bit about the Queen’s approval for nomination. Marital status is of interest to a general reader, and that’s what editors are looking for. We’ve reached the point where much of the population would have no interest at all in the next bishop of wherever. A bit of personal info makes for better better fodder the public.

  • Father David says:

    “Is this the first of these job announcements to give details of the” nationalities of Bishop Michael and Mrs. Ipgrave’s daughters-in-law? If so, jolly good! The announcement makes mention of Germany, Russia and Japan as well as Inter-Faith issues and interests. The new bishop seems to have world-wide interests to bring as gifts to both land-locked Staffs and Salop.

  • Father David says:

    Jonathan Gledhill retired on 30th September 2015 and the name of his successor was appropriately announced yesterday on St. Cedd’s Day, a mere five months after the last incumbent laid down his crozier and headed off to Dunprayin. John Pritchard retired on 31st October 2014 and the See of Oxford is still vacant sixteen months later. Is there a problem?

  • Neil Patterson says:

    Father David, as reported somewhere below, the first CNC to appoint an +Oxford could not agree, the replacement one is meeting presently.

    Re. all the comments about Mrs Ipgrave etc, yes, it is human interest, but the contrast is with new bishops widely known to be gay (some recently, including those apparently in relationships) there is simply a conspicuous silence.

  • Father David says:

    P. S. For Cedd read his brother Chad.

  • Turbulent Priest says:

    Father David : evidently there is.

    As for the other comments. All that personal stuff reads very uncomfortably in what is an official announcement. As so often, comms can’t get the tone right. Much better to have a simple standard format–the appointee can put out their own personal thing later.

  • Father David says:

    P. S. For Cedd read his brother Chad.

  • Chris Routledge says:

    “Also, his insistence on ‘breadth and variety’ in the Anglican Tradition sounds very promising. The Church of England needs more like him/her.”

    Fr. Ron – I could not agree more. Serving in Lichfield Diocese myself, I am delighted that Bishop Michael has been appointed. From everything I have heard so far (both in that video and from those who have spoken about him), I think our Diocese is going to be well-blessed through his ministry.

  • Kate says:

    The Bible is clear that while marriage is permissible, it is preferable to be celibate. Including marriage details within such a press release (even if in notes to editors) gives the impression the church sees marriage in more positive terms than the Bible does. That’s a problem.

    Does anybody seriously believe the press release would have said, “Michael is celibate”? If we don’t, then marriage should not be mentioned either.

  • Simon Butler says:

    Thinking Anglicans – the only website where comments routinely look for the bad news in the good.

  • Anthony Archer says:

    The Oxford CNC has been a problem (see TA 14 May 2015). The commission met again on 4 February and is due to meet next week, 7-8 March, when (it must be assumed) it will conduct fresh interviews with new candidates. The General Synod has been promised a report by the CNC in 2016, although no-one is holding their breath. Ironically, the introduction of interviews (something I lobbied for) has caused problems. In the days when I was a central member, all the world was a candidate (provided they were ordained Anglicans and of sound mind). On that basis, if the commission struggled to find favour with any particular candidate or candidates, there was always someone else to unite around, even if most members of the commission didn’t know them. The ‘candidates’ had little or usually no idea they were candidates. Today, the commission usually invites four candidates for interview. How does it decide who to invite? That matters hugely, because the declared process is now that the commission will nominate from among the shortlisted candidates for interview. If it cannot agree, there is a problem, unless they revert to the status quo ante and agree on a candidate not so interviewed (unlikely). Members of CNCs can be quite inscrutable until the last minute. They might permit a candidate to attend for interview, but privately not want them and thereby take the risk that they will not garner enough votes at the final stage. That is just messing with peoples’ lives. The CNC must find a way of deciding that, absent of an unexpected eventuality, they will nominate one of the four invited for interview. It may be that there are problems with the voting process. The Oxford CNC was clearly deadlocked on all candidates. Securing 10 votes out of 14 (two-thirds rounded up) is quite a high bar, especially when the diocesan group has six of the votes (too many). Add into the mix a diocesan group which is thought not to want a woman (aided by some central members) and the scenario is doubly difficult. My judgement is that the problem is not with the candidates, but with the composition of the Oxford CNC. It certainly needs our prayers.

  • Kate says:

    “Thinking Anglicans – the only website where comments routinely look for the bad news in the good.”

    There are three quite separate questions.

    1) Is Michael a good choice? I don’t know but suspect possibly he is, although personally I have reservations about someone with such a strong inter-faith background.

    2) Since the press release material strays into issues such as marriage, the press release causes us to ask if it good for diversity or equality that another white, older, straight, married man has been promoted? I think not. In equality terms, for example, the gender mix of the House of Bishops is still radically different to the overall membership. In diversity terms, why not a Bishop in her twenties?

    3) Given Scripture and the fundamentalist line taken in the Primates communiqué should a press release present marriage as a good thing? At the least the church should surely be consistent in its response to clerical marriages in the context of Scripture?

    I agree with the Turbulent Priest that the personal stuff sits oddly. It shouldn’t be in there. But by including it, comments on marriage are made relevant.

  • john (not mccain) says:

    “the only website where comments routinely look for the bad news in the good.”

    New to the internet? Welcome!

  • Erika Baker says:

    It seems that way, Simon Butler!

  • Like Marian, I think it’s great that a whole clergy family is acknowledged.

    Like Neil Patterson, I think that out of respect for gay couples, the spouses or partners of gay bishops should be given equal acknowledgment.

    Anything less is discrimination.

    Having said that, it sounds to me that Michael could be a very good bishop. Indeed, on an equally positive note, most of the bishops I have met (with the possible exception of one former bishop of Winchester) have come across to me as really decent people (and that includes my cousin, for whom I have really high regard).

    With the niceties out of the way, I still think it’s relevant to engage in critical discourse wherever LGBT Christians get marginalised or erased. Erasure is such a common phenomenon when it comes to LGBT experience.

    Take a look at the majority of diocesan websites if you want to see erasure in action.

    In many of them, LGBT people may as well not exist.

  • Father David says:

    “why not a Bishop in her twenties” am I correct in thinking that the youngest age a person can become a bishop is 30?
    “My judgement is that the problem is not with the candidates, but with the composition of the Oxford CNC.”
    If there is stalemate again after next week’s CNC meeting would it not be possible to choose new selectors from the diocese of Oxford to serve on the CNC?

  • “John Pritchard retired on 31st October 2014 and the See of Oxford is still vacant sixteen months later. Is there a problem?

    Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 3 March

    Hold your breath, Fr. David. It may not be beyond the realms of possibility that one Dean Jeffrey John could be being considered. After all, he did once agree to become a Suffragan Bishop of the Oxford Diocese (but was set aside by the ABC. at the time – because of pressure from GAFCON). Perhaps, under Archbishop Justin (Justice?), he might be considered for the See of Oxford!

  • Father David says:

    I think the Dean of St. Albans would make an admirable 43rd Bishop of Oxford and would bring much needed gravitas to the Bench of Bishops as a very rare Scholar Bishop – just what Oxford needs. However I fear if it came to a vote he would not receive the approval of certain representatives on the CNC from the Oxford diocese who were instrumental in assisting in depriving him of the See of Reading in the first place. Hence my suggestion as to whether or not it would be possible to select new Diocesan representatives if they reach stalemate at their meeting next week. The cork in the bottle must surely eventually be removed after a 16 month vacancy in See.
    Alternatively they could seek out another Dean (not withstanding that it is very rare for Very Reverends to leave their Deaneries in order to become Right Reverends) and look on their own doorstep to the Dean of Christ Church. Granted that would mean a considerable drop in stipend for Dean Percy but if the call came he would also make an admirable Scholar Bishop. However I fear it would perhaps not be the Oxford Diocesan representatives exercising their veto in this instance but quite possibly the ABC himself as Oxford’s Dean is already a considerable thorn in Cantuar’s flesh.

  • Simon Butler says:

    Not new to the internet John McCain but I have avoided it for Lent. Perhaps that’s why I find it depressing to read this thread. But also, as an out gay priest – indeed a former Chair of the House of Clergy in Michael’s current diocese – I cannot but observe that this site’s commentators are obsessed with lgbt issues and seem to want to make everything about that one issue. There doesn’t seem to be much actual thinking going on at the Thinking Anglicans website these days. It’s as predictable and inward-looking as comments on Virtue Online, Anglican Mainstream; as diverse as a Reform Conference. Can’t progressives do better than this?

  • Anthony Archer says:

    The standing orders which govern the workings of a CNC are somewhat flimsy. They do not allow for the diocesan group to be changed, although I suppose in the eventuality of death or disability of any member a way could be found for the vacancy-in-see committee to elect a replacement. It is possible to deputise for a central member (I have done so), but only before a particular CNC starts. No, they have got to come to their senses and get on with it, aided by the Holy Spirit and undergirded with prayer!

  • Frank Nichols says:

    What a depressing thread! I need to remind myself that it is God Who calls people to a share in priestly ministry, and the preoccupations of an increasingly career minded Church miss the mark. Words of Fr Herbert Kelly SSM need to be revisited in the Church. “Choose for yourself the lowest place, not because of modesty but because it is most fit for you”. “You may not choose your work….you may prefer, however, that which is most dangerous, least notable, least popular. There will generally be room for you here.” So let us hope that the so-called talent pool are sent to the most deprived and tough parishes in urban environments. “If you have given your whole life to God why should you prefer to lose it in this way rather than in that” “If you want to know and learn something usefully, love to be unknown and to be accounted for nothing.” PLEASE stop going on (and on)about whom God calls to High Office – let Him do His work.

  • Andrew Lightbown says:

    Good to see a centrist bishop appointed to a major see. Looks like he won’t be coming to Oxford however!

  • Kate says:

    Frank Nichols

    Thank you for your insightful comment. Certainly something to which I can relate.


    I find the criticism of Thinking Anglicans misplaced. It is the opposite of my experience of TA. Yes, some issues do come up a lot, but what issues! They go to the heart of how we understand Scripture. Should it be read literally or purposefully? LGBT issues, the role of women in the church and the sacrament of marriage allow us to discuss our response to the nature of Scripture in the context of actual, concrete issues rather than just in abstract or theoretical terms. What a blessing!

  • Cynthia says:

    The negativity is simply a build up of frustration that LGBTQI people are completely shut out. With few options to be heard, it’s going to be a focus on TA, one of the only places where people can give voice to their aspirations and frustrations.

    I bet that Michael will be a fine bishop. But the pain of exclusion grows. It has grown further from the shenanigans of the primates meeting and that “walking together” nonsense. I deeply wish that we were walking together…

    Injustice will never be healed by silence, diversion, lies, etc. CoE apparently has no prophet/moral leader of the stature of MLK or Desmond Tutu. Without a moral leader, it leaves little but political machinations and ranting about the political machinations.

    Every appointment is going to accentuate the exclusion, whether the appointment is a “good one” on not. You will have to live with this exclusion for a long time, even if CoE grows a moral conscience and a spine tomorrow. It is inherently painful, and your leadership doesn’t have healing words for it. I have a great deal of compassion for the situation, not so much for the leadership that allows this to continue.

  • “What a depressing thread! I need to remind myself that it is God Who calls people to a share in priestly ministry, and the preoccupations of an increasingly career minded Church miss the mark”.
    – Frank Nichols –

    Having been a visitor to Kelham when Fr. Kelly was still alive, I can echo your respect for his ideas about fitness for ministry. However, when you say, in effect: “Leave it to God to do His work”, God only has human beings through whom His will can be done. If they do not hear God’s voice, we human beings may still miss out on what: “The Spirit is saying to the Church”. Human beings can still thwart the purposes of God.

  • Kate says:

    That’s right Father Ron but I think the nub of Frank’s point is that although we see bishops as important that doesn’t mean the Lord does.

  • Perry Butler says:

    What are the odds for a woman bishop in Woolwich?

  • Father David says:

    That John Robinson’s next successor will in all probability be female, I’d call that a “dead cert”. But what odds for a woman Bishop of Woolwich who is either black or Asian? “Honest to God”, who would have thought of that?

  • Marian says:

    Having followed the later comments on this thread – on which I myself made an early comment, in support of the inclusion of details relating to Bishop Michael Ipgrave’s wife in the press release, I think I probably have come to the conclusion that at the moment TA does seem to specialise in trying to find bad news in the good (Good remark by another commentator). It just feels a rather sad place at the moment – each time I visit it for some reason or other, I come away feeling that too many of those who post regularly have too many chips on their shoulders, and that it has become a waste of a lot of people’s time.

    However I cannot resist pointing out that in the information pages about TA
    http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/000086.html it lists the six founders (all men! Tut, tut!) and as well as their interests goes on to state that four of them are married (to women!!!). It also tells us that the married founders have children. Admittedly it does not tell us about their grand children – but it does state that David Walker (one of the founders) has two cats and three ferrets. Personally I think that the existence of a grandchild, potential or actual, is probably more worthy of mention than a ferret.

  • Father David says:

    Where does the Bishop of Manchester keep his ferrets?

  • Erika Baker says:

    Thank you Marian!

    I must say, I also miss the thoughtful conversations and the intelligent engagement with people who disagree with us that used to happen on Thinking Anglicans.
    Maybe we’re all too battle weary and no longer have the patience… but it’s a real loss.

  • Kate says:

    Marian, how sad.

    When I first came to Thinking Anglicans a few months ago, my view was that the Bible was clearly against same-sex sex. I listened. I went away and checked things. I changed my mind. It has helped me to understand the Bible better.

    So personally I see TA much more positively than you. It remains a valuable place for those prepared to listen.

  • Sadly I’m with you Marian. Though I continue to value TA as a valuable source of information I find myself staying away from the comment threads more often than not these days.

  • Cynthia says:

    I’m sorry that Marian and David Runcorn feel that way. I’m wondering if “the problem” is what’s happening in the world? Three Jeremy’s are being persecuted for getting legally married. The primates meeting was billed hopefully as a means of getting along in difference and instead it turned out to be a charade, with TEC getting censured for difference. There’s an appearance that this had a chilling effect on Canada. The human rights violations being perpetrated upon our LGBTI brothers and sisters in some of the Anglican Communion, without “consequences,” is pretty nasty.

    We aren’t talking about “chips on shoulders.” Both of our countries have a terrible rate of LGBTI teen suicide, also homelessness – kids being cast out of their religious homes. The homeless kids are often subject to sexual abuse and trafficking. As adults, many of us face discrimination and assaults on our spirits, or even on our persons. That isn’t a “chip.”

    The stones are crying out for justice and your leadership is deaf. It is hurtful and depressing to those who want justice. Sorry if that’s a “downer,” but we have learned (especially during the AIDS crisis) that silence = death.

    I’m sure +Michael is going to be great, but it is one more appointment that doesn’t seem likely to move the church towards compassion and justice for minorities. It’s getting old.

  • Cynthia I don’t think it is down to this one issue. Quite a variety topics are debated on TA.

  • Cynthia says:

    I get that there are many topics here on TA, David. The disappointment voiced was about the response to the appointment of Michael. There are multiple issues, including the representation of evangelicals vs. ACs. But one mustn’t underestimate the malaise as a manifestation of oppression, exclusion, and injustice. The persecution of the three Jeremy’s has everyone wondering “how long, dear Lord…” The primates meeting, and the apparent crowing by Justin about how the current bench of bishops are the most orthodox ever… It’s quite shocking.

  • Cynthia my point is not about what or why. It is about how.

  • Cynthia says:

    I hear you, David. “How” things are addressed matters. But I would also say that there’s a heap of pain. One can’t dictate how that needs to be expressed, especially in a climate of repression.

    I can’t speak for others. I can only speak as a gay person who has been dreadfully hurt by the church, but finally know liberation and redemption in my church. My church is very democratic and gives the impression of listening to diverse voices. CoE feels like a heartless, hierarchical machine that answers to no one, not even the Jesus of the gospels. That doesn’t invite mutual respect and understanding.

  • Cynthia The CofE is my home. I love it and seek to serve Christ in and through it. It is very far from perfect, I often struggle with it – but not as much as I struggle with your sweeping dismissal of it here. And not for the first time. You believe the church where I worship and minister is heartless, Christ-less and answerable to no-one. Well I can only say you will not find me entering into such public judgment on your church. Partly because I don’t feel qualified too, but mainly because I believe the Jesus of the gospels teaches us not to.

  • Hardev Grewal says:

    Congratulations, Michael. Utterly delighted for you. Hardev

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