Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Two new bishops for the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales

Downing Street has today announced the appointment of two Area Bishops for the newly created Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales. The diocesan bishop Nick Baines has the details: Two new bishops.

The Revd Dr Toby Howarth, currently Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England will be the Bishop of Bradford.

The Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs, currently Rector of Heswall in the Diocese of Chester, will be the first ever Bishop of Huddersfield. This is a new bishopric covering the local authority areas of Calderdale and Kirklees and is one of five areas in the diocese, which each have their own bishop.

Here are the official announcements from Downing Street.

Suffragan Bishop of Huddersfield: Jonathan Robert Gibbs
Suffragan Bishop of Bradford: Toby Matthew Howarth

The diocesan website has: New Bishops announced for West Yorkshire and Dales.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 at 10:29am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Asking out of genuine curiosity: how many bishops in the C of E are married to priests, as Rev. Howarth is?

Posted by: Jesse on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 at 11:33am BST

Two more evangelical bishops!

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 at 5:06pm BST

Both married. To ladies.

Posted by: Roger Mortimer on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 at 5:18pm BST

In response to Jean and Roger (in so far as their comments merit a response): Hallelujah!

Posted by: David Lamming on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 at 7:25pm BST

Will future bishops in the C. of E. be required to wear moustaches? Or will that episcopal accoutrement be disallowed after the acceptance of women bishops?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 6:25am BST

Jean and Roger should take heart..all these bishops will ordain women and the evangelical reformed lobby will not care much for them. Here is an interesting and quite shocking specification for the promised evangelical conservative bishop...it should concern all you liberals...


Posted by: robert Ian williams on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 7:24am BST

The original of that spec. was at
though without the lovely graphic:-)

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 7:35am BST

When Robert sent me this spec earlier this week I thought it was him making up some outrageous mocking version of a Reform statement ......
At that time, I thought it rather crude and not in the best of taste, even if I smiled just a little.

Now I find it is real?
Surely this is still a joke?
Please, somebody tell me! This is just a bad joke ....

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 8:42am BST

The comments on Julian Mann's blog are equally priceless. I read his piece as his own pitch for the purple, but I'm surprised he didn't include refusal to wear mediaeval vestments in his list.

Fr Ron's post reminds me of an acid comment made by an Oxford tutor when the appointment of a distinctly conservative evangelical diocesan bishop was announced. "He was very low church, but when they made him a bishop he shaved off his moustache and became a Friend of Pusey House"

Posted by: cryptogram on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 10:50am BST

Two good appointments, but it must be regarded as disappointing for the new super Diocese that the prospect of it having a woman bishop remains a distant one. It would have been open for its diocesan to wait, although it is easy to see that the need to get on and complete the episcopal team was regarded as a priority. The average age of the new team is just short of 57 years, with the oldest being 64 at the end of 2014 (Ripon) and the youngest being 52 at the end of 2014 (Bradford). Translations notwithstanding, it could therefore be as long as six years before a woman joins the episcopal team, but maybe the succession planning is more optimistic than that. Dioceses of the size and scale of West Yorkshire and the Dales need to be factoring in the virtual certainty that women may be consecrated as from November 2014, hardly long to wait.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 10:25pm BST

Anthony, how would that work then, if West Yorkshire and the Dales was to have had the first woman bishop when the new Wakefield (formerly Pontefract) is currently one of the few remaining Traditionalist bishops? Doesn't sound to me like a good recipe for future collegiality, unless, of course, Leeds was to introduce something similar to the arrangement they have in London. How strong nowadays is what used to be known as the ""Barnsley Biretta Belt", I wonder?

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 28 August 2014 at 6:42am BST

Father David, would not an episcopal team which reflected diversity by containing both a woman and a traditionalist within it be a helpful place to model and discover what that could mean? The House of Bishops itself is quite large; within a smaller team the relationships and practical working out of the issues would need to be worked at well.

Posted by: Priscilla White on Thursday, 28 August 2014 at 10:06am BST

"Two more evangelical bishops" quips Jean Mayland (complete with explanation mark). Having allowed yet another illiberal 'liberal' reaction time to settle, I wonder if Jean would now agree that both bishops bring a combination of strategic professionalism, sustained experience matched by intellectual rigour, and provide Nick Baines with two episcopal colleagues of the quality he badly needs if he is going to make headway in shaking-up and re-shaping quite a bit of what he has inherited?

Posted by: Simon R on Thursday, 28 August 2014 at 12:25pm BST

Would it not be a good idea to delay the selection of both diocesan and suffragan bishops until the first women have been consecrated? This might then ensure a more equitable episcopate - than might otherwise have been established beforehand? Or is there a plan to get in early?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 28 August 2014 at 10:06pm BST

I wrote to ++Cantuar and ++Ebor on the subject of what to do in these now intervening three months between Final Approval and Promulgation, suggesting a moratorium on fresh suffragan appointments, given that the diocesan bishop controls the timetable. I have also strongly encouraged my own bishop to wait until both female and male candidates can be considered for +Hertford, although he is not bound to do so on my say so! The abps were hardly likely to agree to a moratorium, as the needs of each diocese are different. However, the closer we get to November the less credible male only shortlists become. The position regarding diocesan bishops is different. Their meetings are set and an individual CNC will only be able to consider women if each of its meetings take place after the Measure becomes law. That is why there is so much comment about whether Gloucester, Oxford, or now Newcastle, might have one or more of the first women diocesans. Guildford must be done, St Eds and Ips is due in Sept and Oct, and the Southwell and Nottingham CNC meetings will straddle the November General Synod. Left to me I would wait before appointing any more suffragans. Even after the announcement of +Bradford and +Huddersfield, there are still some 10 vacancies. There is no easy way of commissioning the research, but my own instincts are that diocesan bishops are choosing to wait (for obvious reasons). Do share relevant intelligence here, unless confidentiality precludes it.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 28 August 2014 at 11:12pm BST

I don't know if confidentiality precludes this or not, Anthony; but the informed gossip in the hallowed halls of Church House, Westminster, (from sources close to the Wash House) is that Southwell & Nottingham and St Eds and Ips are being "reserved" as the first Diocesan Sees for women as they are considered 'easy' dioceses to manage and there is a determination from 'the top' that the first female episcopates are a success. I've already had a flutter at William Hill. See you in Barbados!

Posted by: James A on Friday, 29 August 2014 at 11:11am BST

One delaying tactic for diocesan appintments would be for participants to disagree at CNC and thus need more time (see Hereford recently - though I do not know whether CNC disagreement was the reason for that delay)

Posted by: peter kettle on Friday, 29 August 2014 at 11:22am BST

Concerning the recent Hereford fiasco, this was discussed in the Guardian Diary column recently, though not by name, see


There is a sense of marking time in the appointments process. One recent diocesan vacancy took several meetings to find a suitable male candidate – people dropping out, people falling ill, limited choice – and things got so fraught when the diocese’s representatives refused to accept the hierarchy’s favoured candidate that a senior churchman angrily refused the archbishop of Canterbury’s request that he should close the meeting with prayers. Not terribly Christian of him.

I think it is safe to say that there was disagreement within the CNC...

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 August 2014 at 12:21pm BST

Such tittle-tattle and gossip Simon. Where do you get your information from when those on the CNC are sworn to absolute secrecy?
I think that quite possibly Eds & Ips may well be the first diocese to be given a woman bishop considering the high proportion of women priests in that remote rural diocese and the fact that they already have a considerable woman Dean. I'm sure that the last bishop of that East Anglian diocese has the ear of the ABC serving, as he now does, as Bishop at Lambeth.
Personally, as it is now inevitable, I think +Lucy Oxon has a certain ring to it! That would be far more courageous and imaginative than preferring one of our many formidable deanissimas or one from the ever growing ranks of venerable female Archdeacons.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 29 August 2014 at 2:24pm BST

My view on the position regarding current diocesan vacancies is my own. However, as a former central member of the CNC (albeit before interviewing was the norm) I think it would be odd to interview a woman candidate, vote on a nomination and then (assuming the preferred finalist candidate was a woman) have to wait until the law was changed before any announcement could be made. No doubt the lawyers have been asked to opine on this. Actually it only really concerns St Eds and Ips, as Southwell and Nottingham would have its second meeting (with the interviews) after it became law. It would be good if some sort of clarity could be brought to all this. If the CNC has agreed a protocol it should be published. I am not aware any question was put down on this at the recent York Group of Sessions. As to Hereford, it is not difficult for the CNC to find it hard to agree on a candidate. The bar is set at 10 votes out of 14, so a diocesan six can always prevent a nomination and only secure one if they can persuade at least four central members to join them (assuming that is that they vote en bloc, which is not necessarily the case). There can be frequent rounds of voting and if a pair of voters make opposite changes (or all stubbornly refuse to change their vote) the show goes on!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Friday, 29 August 2014 at 4:36pm BST

From the suffragans biogs it looks a very European leaning diocese (with Baines) they could probably have staff meetings in German!

Posted by: robert on Friday, 29 August 2014 at 9:10pm BST

No doubt on Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Friday, 29 August 2014 at 10:21pm BST

The so-called "informed gossip" above concerning St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, on the one hand and Southwell and Nottingham on the other, cannot be wholly accurate. It would be clearly illegal to "reserve" any vacancy, episcopal or otherwise, on the grounds of gender. The most that can be done in general is the procedure described in this news report:

However, there is a specific question about whether the timing of the CNC meetings for these two dioceses permits women candidates to be considered, and it would be helpful to have this point clarified by the CofE officially. The meeting dates are:

St Eds and Ips 11 Sept 2014 and 15/16 Oct 2014

Southwell & Notts 3 Nov 2014 and 2/3 Dec 2014

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 August 2014 at 12:03pm BST

The legal underpinnings of the CNC are somewhat flimsy and are contained in SO 122 of the Standing Orders of the General Synod. During my time, as a matter of practice (not part of the SOs), each member of the CNC was permitted to mandate one name. In addition SO 122(5)(f) states that the CNC shall not proceed to a decision to select a name for submission to the Prime Minister unless the person presiding at the meeting is satisfied that the discussions held by the Commission have paid due regard to the views of the diocesan members and to the requirements of the mission of the Church of England as a whole. If the St Eds and Ips or Southwell and Nottingham diocesan members of their respective CNC wanted to be able to consider women candidates (or indeed a central member) they could mandate a woman candidate for consideration. If that request could not be met (there might be a number of reasons for that) and assuming the meetings went ahead at a time when the consecration of women was not yet permitted, then the diocesan members could withhold their consent to the process. That of course would be a considerable waste of time. The better course would be to reschedule the meetings until after the Measure becomes law.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Saturday, 30 August 2014 at 9:42pm BST

"the informed gossip in the hallowed halls of Church House, Westminster, (from sources close to the Wash House) is that Southwell & Nottingham and St Eds and Ips are being "reserved" as the first Diocesan Sees for women as they are considered 'easy' dioceses to manage" James A.


Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Saturday, 30 August 2014 at 10:47pm BST

Decorum please on the TA site. Shall we just say ROTFLMHO?

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 10:47am BST

My ROTFLMAO, your comment takes me back in time. It's a long time since I heard about an "easy" diocese. I think I last heard the phrase "a bishopric of ease" when Cyril Garbett was translated from Southwark to Winchester having worn himself ragged in South London. He became Bishop of Winchester in order to recharge his batteries and regain his strength before moving North for his mighty ministry as Archbishop of York.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 12:11pm BST

Southwell & Nottingham "easy to manage"? Try telling Richard Inwood.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 1:21pm BST

So, if Richard Inwood in his acting capacity is finding Southwell & Nottingham far from easy, that just leaves Eds & Ips as the most likely diocese to receive the first diocesan woman bishop. Although there are plenty of current diocesan bishops only too willing to get to the winning post first by appointing a female suffragan thus beating sleepy Suffolk in the race to be number one.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 3:56pm BST

ROTFLMAO or ROTFLMHO regardless. My sources are very well placed and while Simon's point about 'reservation' of a See being illegal is quite correct, it doesn't mean it cannot happen under one ruse or another. There is 'method in the madness' of Richard Inwood's 15-month stint at Southwell and Nottingham; and, as has been pointed out in relation to Hereford, a lack of agreement at St Edmundsbury can easily be employed to require a further, post-November Synod CNC meeting. When I post here after the appointments to these two dioceses are announced, I'll let you know what my winnings are and then who will be ROTFLM[whatever]O?!

Posted by: James A on Tuesday, 2 September 2014 at 9:43pm BST

What on earth does ROTFLMAO or ROTFLMHO stand for? Is it something similar to SWALK or even KOARWIGH? I think, for those not in on the know, we should be told!
James A "good point, well made" re possible failure to agree on a suitable candidate for Ebs and Ips (similar to the Hereford ploy) could well be used so that the Church of England is Suffolk is the first diocese to be given a woman bishop. I'm off now post haste to Joe Coral's emporium to lay down a shilling wager.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 7:20am BST

ROTFLMHO = Rolling on the floor laughing my head off. The A-version is left as an exercise for the reader.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 11:21am BST

Thank you for that clarification, Simon, I'd never have worked that out by myself unaided. Sometimes I feel as the the world is passing me by.

Fr. D

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 12:49pm BST
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