Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Vacant sees

John Ford, the suffragan Bishop of Plymouth in the diocese of Exeter announced on Sunday that he was to resign in order to become the Bishop of The Murray in Australia. The Exeter website has this news article today: Bishop of Plymouth elected as Bishop in Australia.

That makes eleven suffragan sees (including one PEV) currently vacant, or shortly to become vacant.

Lewes (Chichester)
Whitby (York)
Grimsby (Lincoln)
Dunwich (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
Ebbsfleet (PEV, Canterbury)
Tewkesbury (Gloucester)
Colchester (Chelmsford)
Selby (York)
Grantham (Lincoln)
Dudley (Worcester)
Plymouth (Exeter)

But there are also ten diocesan sees vacant, or becoming vacant before the end of the year.

Blackburn (Julian Henderson to be consecrated on 10 October 2013)
Manchester (David Walker to be translated later this year)
Durham (CNC met in May and June - announcement expected soon)
Bath & Wells (CNC to meet 18 July and 3/4 Oct 2013)
Exeter (CNC to meet 18 Oct and 6/7 Nov 2013)
Hereford (CNC to meet 22 Jan and 25/26 Feb 2014)
Liverpool (CNC to meet 6 Mar and 1/2 Apr 2014)
Europe
Guildford
St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Later dates in 2014 have been provisionally set (see here)

25 June and 21/22 July
11 Sept and 15/16 Oct
3 Nov and 2/3 Dec

with this note “Dates for other vacancies will be confirmed once dates are in place for the Vacancy in the See of Gibraltar in Europe.” Although Gibraltar in Europe is not a crown appointment, it is considered by the CNC. The final decision is made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and a bishop nominated by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, acting jointly.

Some dioceses will have to wait a long time for their new bishop.

If the reorganisation of dioceses in Yorkshire is accepted by General Synod next Monday then Leeds can be added to the list of vacant sees. Provisional CNC dates have been set as 12 Nov 2013 and 9/10 Jan 2014.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 9:46am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Giving his presidential address at the June Diocesan Synod the Bishop of Chelmsford floated the suggestion that his seven recently increased number of "Missional Archdeacons" may "in time" become suffragan sees. Now that's what I call thinking outside the box.

Posted by: Father david on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:01am BST

The suffragan bishop of Plymouth announced his appointment to the Australian diocese of the Murray on Sunday (30th June)so this post will also be vacant very soon.

Posted by: Tim Newcombe on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:03am BST

No more episcopal appointments should be made until the women bishops issue has been resolved.

Posted by: sally Barnes on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:06am BST

If it is of any interest, it has just been agreed that my Confirmation of Election will be on 7th October and my Enthronement on 30th November.

Posted by: David Walker on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 1:29pm BST

But Tim, the Plymouth vacancy is already listed above.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 6:51pm BST

The process for nominating diocesans has always taken far too long in my opinion and now with each vacancy consuming three days and with constraints on the Archbishops' diaries it is like painting the Forth Bridge. There is no reason why the backlog can't be reduced by organising 'double-headers'; it would make better use of the central members' time. The first meeting would be a full two days to consider two vacancies with the second meeting also of two days. That ought to 'save' one day per vacancy. I would expect ++Welby to drive the meetings for the Canterbury province vacancies very effectively with no loss of discernment or prayerful reflection. I have more sympathy with St Eds & Ips who really need a recently retired diocesan for up to 18 months. As to the suffragans, most should either be suspended sine die or combined with archdeaconries (vis. Ludlow) or with parishes. They are hardly driven off their feet with confirmations.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 7:42pm BST

Vacant suffragan sees do not have to be filled; the need to do so should be assessed on a case by case basis, by the relevant diocese, each time one becomes vacant.

Posted by: Hannah on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 8:00pm BST

The editor notes above that some dioceses will wait a long time for their bishop.

Can someone explain to me then what this means, it was part of the press release covering the new appointment of a Bishop at Lambeth:

"However in consultation with the Bishop’s Council there will be an appointment of a bishop with full delegated powers to cover the vacancy and an announcement about that will be made shortly."

Posted by: Fr Alan-Bury on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:16pm BST

It means that there will be an *interim* bishop appointed, by the archbishop, not via a formal CNC process, most likely a recently retired diocesan, to be in charge of the diocese during the (long) waiting period.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:18pm BST

Hannah, for suffragan bishoprics, it is now necessary for the diocese to *also* convince the Dioceses Commission of the need for a new appointment.
This is why the Archbishop of York said recently, in relation to the See of Whitby, that the making of any further nomination after the chosen and approved candidate had unexpectedly withdrawn, was not under his control, but depended upon the Dioceses Commission.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:22pm BST

Thank you, Simon, you are of course right! My point was more that it is not automatic that vacant suffragan sees have to be filled.

Posted by: Hannah on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:29pm BST

What is happening in the diocese of Lincoln with both suffragans - Grimsby and. Grantham - leaving at the same time? They are hardly of pensionable age with both being born in 1953 (same year as the diocesan bishop). To lose one suffragan, Bishop Christopher, may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness .

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:33pm BST

I see, thanks.
No reason then for this temporary arrangement to be made for all those diocese with a long wait. Or is there?

Is there any reason the Church of England has not adopted the possibility of coadjutor bishops?

Posted by: Fr Alan-Bury on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 7:57am BST

Father David - I think the general assumption about the Diocese of Lincoln is that the Bishop of Lincoln has manouvered both his suffragans out quite deliberately.

Posted by: Sui Juris on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 8:31am BST

Sui Juris - Oh dear, I am sorry to read your intimation! Yet more unpleasantness for the diocese of Lincoln!? It isn't all that long ago that we had that ruckus when Brandon Jackson was dean and Mrs. Thatcher predicted that there would be "Blood on the carpet" at Lincoln. It would seem from what you report that the flow has yet to be staunched!

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 9:01am BST

Is hear-say, innuendo and tittle-tattle really appropriate for TA, editors ?

Posted by: Laurence on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 10:36am BST

The different situation in St Edmundsbury and Ipswich is that there is at present no suffragan bishop in office, to take over on a temporary basis.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 11:22am BST

Presumably all these posts are being held open to be filled by women.

Posted by: Jonno on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 12:31pm BST

I agree with Mr Archer about the unsatisfactory length of time it takes for a diocesan appointment. It must be possible to reduce the lag, which can mean delays of well over a year between the announcement of a bishop's stepping down and a successor being in harness. A bit of fallow time may well be good for a diocese, and indeed an incoming bishop needs time to leave their current post, move house, go on retreat, settle in etc. But vacancies are currently far too long, particularly as in many case key decisions / appointments will need to be put off until the new bishop is in situ.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 3:04pm BST

'Some dioceses may have to wait a long time for their new bishop.'

I can't help but see this as a good thing. Most dioceses can run perfectly well without a diocesan for a long time ... and as for the suffragan Sees, well the Church of England is awash with bishops, all of whom are of course very busy with crowded diaries.

No other corporate body would allow such a top heavy management structure and would quickly make some serious upper level reductions.

In the the C of E, priests' positions are being shed at an alarming rate. Take the Diocese of Southwark as but one example with 30 clergy to go ... but are there ever any reductions in the number of expensive bishops, not to the best of my knowledge?

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 4:10pm BST

Why are the PEV bishoprics being filled? If option 1 of the new proposals is passed they will be redundant anyway.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 6:48pm BST

Richard Ashby,

because it's currently the law - they have to be filled under current legislation. If for whatever reason the new legislation doesn't pass until post 2015 you can't just ignore the Act of Synod for a couple of years, the clue is in both parts of its name (Act, and Synod). GRAS of course are appealing for it to be repealed, but until that time there are to be PEVs - the legislation currently in force requires it. New legislation is yet to be in force.

Activities of various countryside organisations notwithstanding, I'm not sure we're in the business of ignoring laws we don't agree with - agitate to change them certainly, but not just opt out.

Posted by: primroseleague on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 7:30pm BST

'Some dioceses may have to wait a long time for their new bishop.'

I can't help but see this as a good thing. Most dioceses can run perfectly well without a diocesan for a long time ... and as for the suffragan Sees, well the Church of England is awash with bishops, all of whom are of course very busy with crowded diaries.

No other corporate body would allow such a top heavy management structure and would quickly make some serious upper level reductions.

In the the C of E, priests' positions are being shed at an alarming rate. Take the Diocese of Southwark as but one example with 30 clergy to go ... but are there ever any reductions in the number of expensive bishops, not to the best of my knowledge?

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 9:59am BST

Perhaps the time has finally come to allow priests to confirm as in some Lutheran churches or at least delegate confirmation to area/rural deans. I am sure someone will point out a 'deep theological reason' why this can't happen - sigh....

Posted by: Fr Paul on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 10:51am BST

Actually re PEVs they are not enshrined in law, if you mean the Measure to ordain women as priests. The Act of Synod is separate and in any case makes provision for bishops to care for 'opposing' parishes. PEVs are one way of doing this, but not all such parishes look to a PEV - London Plan anyone?

It would be quite possible to leave a PEV post vacant. However, they are technically suffragans of Canterbury or York....

Posted by: Charles Read on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 12:02pm BST

'Most dioceses can run perfectly well without a diocesan for a long time'. It's a thought, but do you have any actual evidence for this claim CA? What or who does the 'running' at such times then? And what corporate body anywhere would be content to run for a long time without a managing director in charge? Or does our theory work for any large businesses too? There is plenty of evidence of dioceses that have been cutting their central/executive structures very hard in recent years.

Posted by: David on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 12:18pm BST

A great opportunity for Justin Welby and the CNC to reshape the leadership of the Church of England. His most important job in the next couple of years might be to spot and deploy the leadership talent which can bring about the spiritual and numerical growth of the church.


Posted by: David Keen on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 8:14pm BST

"Most dioceses can run perfectly well without a diocesan for a long time ..."
Some, perhaps most dioceses, take this attitude towards incumbents - parishes need 'time to grieve' or 'this is an opportunity for growth among the laity' are the usual offerings rather than the more obvious that DBFs budget for vacancies. I would suggest that most parishes suffer with a long interregnum and it may take years to recover and this would apply equally to Dioceses without Diocesans. I mean no disrespect to 'caretaker' Bishops or the many outstanding clergy and laity that hold the fort.

Posted by: Fr Paul on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 9:52pm BST

I'm not so sure that all parishes grieve for their vicar.
I do rather like the idea of a longish interregnum. It gives parishes time to take over, to assess carefully what the previous priest had achieved, what was required now, what kind of person might be able to provide that.
The alternative could too easily be a gut response that could deliver too many John Majors after a Margaret Thatcher.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 5 July 2013 at 9:23pm BST

Erika There is sound long term statistical evidence that shows that churches tend to decline through a policy of long interregnums. in recent years this has led to a policy change in appointment processes in most dioceses. Long inters were more often a way of saving money while, rather patronisingly, claiming this was 'good' for congregations. Evidence is it generally isn't. Why we should assume a diocese will fare any better with long interregnums is at least questionable.

Posted by: David on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 12:29pm BST

A great opportunity for Justin Welby and the CNC to reshape the leadership of the Church of England. His most important job in the next couple of years might be to spot and deploy the leadership talent which can bring about the spiritual and numerical growth of the church.

Posted by: David Keen on Thursday, 4 July 2013.

Dream on !

This will not happen.

Without justice nothing much of note, is possible.

Let right be done.

Posted by: Laurence on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 6:04pm BST

David,
I did not know those statistics, thank you.
I was only talking from my own limited experience.
Do we know in what respect parishes fare less well in a long interregnum?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 8:44pm BST

Erika This may be deemed off thread except that the suggestion was made dioceses too could manage well without a bishop.
There is already a very careful and guided process by which parishes evaluate what has gone before and plan for what leadership they seek for the next stage of their life. Parishes do not 'take over' when a vicar leaves. They have to 'manage without'. The interregnum itself is very hard work for the committed core. It relies heavily on volunteers. Those with time and enthusiasm may not be those you would choose. The wisest people often don't have time to give. Bluntly, the wrong people can get unhelpfully dug in at such times. They then take a lot of prising out when the new leader arrives.
During a long interregnum churches nearly always decline numerically - often more than 10%. The worrying research shows that in the first years of the new vicar barely 2% of them return. Long interregnums actually undermine the missionary fruit and momentum of the previous era.

Posted by: David on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 8:48am BST

I would like to congratulate Bishop John Ford and his family for coming to the Murray Diocese and to the Riverland we look forward to having a Bishop again may you travel well on your ongoing journey as you pack and leave your family to come to our beautiful country

Posted by: Sylvia Holder on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 8:35am BST
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