Saturday, 1 August 2015


The Bishop of Stepney’s sermon at the consecration of Rachel Treweek and Sarah Mullally

Robert Chalmers Newsweek Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Interview: ‘I Have No Right to Be Here’

Eleanor Course Christ, comic books and popular culture

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticum: Of Martyrs and Mice

Giles Fraser The Guardian I believe in an authority greater than David Cameron’s. Am I an extremist?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 1 August 2015 at 11:33am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

'He was saying out loud and publicly what so many of us have been saying for a very long time and we thank him for it BUT, reflecting on it later, I did wonder why there is the expectation that it should now be the women bishops who "will disturb us...challenge the conventions of the CofE which continues to be led by people like me...white male, middle-aged professionals". Isn't this something the all-male bishops should have been doing for themselves (and us) years ago. Why wait for women to mop up the mess?'
Comments of Sally Barnes on a previous thread.

To which I would add caution against easy asides when referring to 'too many people like me - white, male, middle-aged professionals'. We all know what he means, but there are also occasions when outstanding people of calibre are not appointed simply on account of being part of such a constituency. I'm thinking for example of the Speaker of the House of Commons appointing a Chaplain and making a virtue out of refusing to countenance a white middle-aged man. Such behaviour brought shame on him and left a hint of tarnish around Andrew Tremlett, who, in spite of being a WMAM is first class.

Posted by: Neil on Saturday, 1 August 2015 at 2:52pm BST

Justin: The challenge, he believes, "is to acknowledge diversity and continue – as Christ instructed – to love one another".

The challenge, I believe, "is to celebrate and affirm and include diversity".

At every level of the Church, and in the communities we serve - as Christ instructed - to love one another.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 1 August 2015 at 3:57pm BST

A good sermon by the Bishop of Stepney, worth reading by all bishops, clergy and laity. It might be worth thinking, however, about the drawbacks of the 'jester' model of ministry. The jester, historically, didn't actually subvert power structures to the extent of changing them. Rather than encouraging one or two to be licensed outsiders who are permitted 'at court' to be challenging within certain boundaries, the Church should seek to become a place where all can flourish as themselves.

Posted by: Chris Griffiths on Saturday, 1 August 2015 at 7:09pm BST

A good follow on read from the Bishop of Stepney's excellent sermon would be "The Feast of Fools" by Harvey Cox which is subtitled "A Theological Essay on Festivity and Fantasy". The chapter on "Christ the Harlequin" may be particularly helpful, relevant and pertinent.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 2 August 2015 at 4:59am BST

On the contrary Justin. The appointment of Chaplain to the Speaker was a brilliant one chosen for her gifts and ability that did much to enhance his respect not diminish it. it was the behaviour of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster on her appointment that caused considerable anger. MPs and others who work in the House consistently speak highly(and in their debates that are recorded in Hansard) and with much affection for her ministry and wisdom. .

Posted by: Sally Barnes on Sunday, 2 August 2015 at 9:58am BST

I entirely agree with Sally.Rose is a super Chaplain and would make a splendid bishop of whom I am sure the Bishop of Stepney would well approve.She was very badly treated by the Dean of Westminster Abbey.

Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Sunday, 2 August 2015 at 5:24pm BST

Correct me if I am wrong but I wish to leap to the defence of the admirable Dean of Westminster. If my memory is correct Canon Andrew Tremlett was appointed as a Canon of Westminster and incumbent of St. Margaret's. These two posts are usually combined with that of Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. My understanding is that Speaker Bercow desired to appoint his own Chaplain and chose Rose Hudson-Wilkin. I am pleased to read on the Abbey website that "Canon Tremlett works closely with the Rev'd Rose Hudson-Wilkin".

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 2 August 2015 at 7:44pm BST

The point I wished to raise was about there still being a number of first class high calibre white middle-aged males around, and that people need to be careful when excited about the new not to rubbish the old.
1. The Bishop of Stepney has been consistent in that he has appointed a very young black Archdeacon of Hackney. We shall never know who was passed over of course, in the same way we shall never know how well the first class and excellent Andrew Tremlett would have fared in Rose's job. If the Bishop of Stepney thinks as little as he does of white male middle-aged professionals, then he should be careful to decline any offer of a Diocese for himself, and put forward instead a female socialiser and subverter.
2. Rose is indeed popular as Chaplain, and as Sally Barnes says, her pastoral homely feminine wisdom is very much appreciated and needed. The appointment was good in PR terms and her profile is huge. However, we shall never know how a WMMAP would have fared - because the Speaker revealed he would never appoint one. I'm surprised the process was not challenged at the time. It seems a high intellectual calibre was not part of the spec, and nor need it necessarily be, given the make-up of Parliament.

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 2 August 2015 at 8:51pm BST


I really don't think the Bishop of Stepney should be criticised for appointing a young black archdeacon of Hackney.

Firstly, as we all know, Hackney has a large black community, so it is really as unsurprising to appoint a black archdeacon to Hackney as it would be to appoint a Nigerian to be bishop of Lagos.

Secondly, it is factually true that there is not enough ethnic diversity in promoted posts in the Church of England.

Thirdly, given the decline in young people going to Church, I see nothing wrong with 'skipping a generation' and actually getting younger people into some of the promoted posts.

Finally, the simple truth is that the Church of England IS populated by older white people - and the leadership really is white, middle-aged (or older), and predominantly middle-class or posher.

So I would like to think that the Bishop of Stepney is like a breath of fresh air, because appointments should be founded on various criteria. No-one likes a person to be 'overlooked', but the priority is surely the needs of the Church (not personal vainglory) and I challenge anyone to say that there is not a crying need for diverse ethnic groups to be more represented in senior posts in the Church.#

The leadership of the Church really has been a "club" for white, middle-class, older males. That is changing, but there is far more to do.

The Bishop of Stepney is a prayerful, genuinely decent man. His sermon was well-pitched and well-received. We need people who desire more subversion in the Church, because the status quo needs changing. He is admittedly art of the status quo in demographic terms, but I think he is well conscious of that.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 3 August 2015 at 10:46am BST

Susannah - I agree with a lot of what you say, and indeed wrote that we all know what +Adrian means. I'm not criticising the appointment of a young woman as Archdeacon either for reasons you eloquently put. I'm sure from your comments that you too understand the point(s) I am making.

On a wider front there are similar issues that faced post-apartheid South Africa. Many first class/talented white people left for Europe, and I know that those who did not will never become heads of department in academic or many other fields in spite of being well beyond those who have been appointed (for understandable reasons). Really eminent people who just happened to be part of a generation when the injustices of the past needed to be addressed.

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 3 August 2015 at 3:06pm BST

I really don't think the Bishop of Stepney should be criticised for appointing a young black archdeacon of Hackney.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the appointment of the Archdeacon of Hackney be in the gift of the Bishop of London as Diocesan?

Posted by: ian on Monday, 3 August 2015 at 4:03pm BST

I think that Rose could reasonably have expected to be Vicar of St Margaret's and Canon of Westminster Abbey as have all chaplains been before her.I believe there was deep hurt but she never made an open fuss

Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Monday, 3 August 2015 at 5:17pm BST

Nay, surely the convention has been that all Canons of Westminster who have also been Incumbents of St. Margaret's have by long tradition been Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, rather than the other way round? I suppose it all boils down to who is responsible for choosing members of the Chapter of Westminster Abbey? I presume that the Dean has more sway in that direction than Speaker Bercow but surely the Abbey, being a a Royal Peculiar, Her Majesty the Queen is probably ultimately responsible. However, I am sure that our Gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth cannot be accused of creating the current division of roles which according to the previous correspondent has caused such "deep hurt".

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 4 August 2015 at 8:01am BST

Excellent sermon by +Stepney. Perhaps the single most important comment was contained herein:

"It’s hard to escape the fact that Jesus chose the outsiders of his world to share his life with, those whose very existence was disturbing and disruptive to the accepted norms of belief and behaviour. He lived and preached a gospel of radical inclusion, and it upset the apple-cart of conventional religion."

So, when will the Anglican hierarchy get serious about embracing the 'outsiders' among the LGBT community.'Conversations are important, but only insomuch as they lead to positive action along these lines.

A good start is being made with the inclusion of women among the leadership. What, now, about positive recognition of those among us who are intrinsically LGBTI or Q? Enough talking!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 4 August 2015 at 9:15am BST

The churches to which I am privileged to minister contain all sorts of outsiders, of whom I am pleased to be one. People say "I'm not coming to church:l it's full of oddballs." I say "yes, isn't it wonderful that we fell at home somewhere." I feel a bit sorry for bishops (only a bit sorry, they could say no) who find themselves locked into an exclusive and secretive club (only a bit sorry, they could nake a noise about this) and who, if their experience is anything like mine, know that many chuches are full of outsiders. This is another illustration of the fact that bishops are simply not on the radar. Who listens to them anymore except a few groupies like some clergy? I am blessed here with an area bishop who looks after clergy and makes few if any pronouncements. A diocesan is irrelevant.

Posted by: Fr William on Tuesday, 4 August 2015 at 10:46am BST

Anyone reading this would think that the posts of Rector of St Margaret's and Chaplain to the Speaker have been linked since time immemorial.

To wit Fr David: "These two posts are usually combined with that of Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons."; "surely the convention has been that all Canons of Westminster who have also been Incumbents of St. Margaret's have by long tradition been Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons" and Neil: "I'm surprised the process was not challenged at the time."

But a little investigation reveals this simply not to be correct. From the CofE itself:

"From 1972-2010, the Speaker's Chaplain w a s also the Rector of St Margaret's Church situated next to Westminster Abbey" (

A mere 38 years...

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Tuesday, 4 August 2015 at 2:04pm BST

Alastair - I'm surprised it is allowed in employment law for the Speaker to exclude WMMAProfessionals from the job and to say so. That is what I meant by the process.

Posted by: Neil on Wednesday, 5 August 2015 at 5:37am BST

Alastair, a little research into Chaplains to the Speaker of the House of Commons in the 20th century alone will reveal that this post has been combined with being a member of the Westminster Abbey Chapter and the living of St. Margaret's for a lot longer than "A mere 38 years". All these Speaker's Chaplains of the last century were also Canons of Westminster
Alan Don
Michael Stancliffe
David Edwards
John Baker
Trevor Beeson
Robert Wright
Alan Don was Speaker's Chaplain from 1936 to 1946. In 1941 he also became a Canon of Westminster and parish priest of St. Margaret's. He went on to become Dean of Westminster, a post he held at the time of the present Queen's Coronation. Of his five listed successors three went on to become cathedral Deans (Stancliffe - Winchester, Edwards - Southwark & Norwich, Beeson - Winchester) and only one to a bishopric (Baker - Salisbury). Rather than being given a pointy hat, on past form, it looks like a Deanery is the more favoured future preferred route for Chaplains to the Speaker. I believe that at the end of September there will be a vacancy at Durham. If Rose doesn't mind moving North, a very commodious Deanery goes with the job. Being Dean of Durham ("The finest cathedral on planet earth, bar none") would more than compensate for not being a Canon of Westminster.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 5 August 2015 at 8:05am BST

Fr David,

Edwards, Baker, Beeson, [Gray], and Wright all fall within my "mere 38 years" so their mention does nothing to change my assertion. It is only for that "mere 38 years" that the posts seem to have been contiguous.

As to Don and Stancliffe, Don was Chaplain to the Speaker from 1936 (to 1946) and then subsequently became a canon of Westminster and Rector of St Margaret's (in 1941). Don's elevation to Dean of Westminster meant he ceased to be Speaker's Chaplain, the role appearing to lie unoccupied until Stancliffe. I have no idea if he continued to be Rector of St Margaret's during this time (and Crockford's is of no help).

Stancliffe was the other way round in that he was initially a canon of Westminster and Rector of St Margaret's (1957-1969) and subsequently became Speaker's Chaplain (in 1961).

So there is certainly no precedent that the person chosen to be Rector of St Margaret's automatically becomes Speaker's Chaplain. In fact, with Don the order of appointment was the other way around.

So, I don't think that to argue for a mere "38 years" on that basis is totally unreasonable. On the basis of Don the positions could be argued to have been linked (but not contiguous) since 1941, so 74 years.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 5 August 2015 at 12:05pm BST

In which case, Alistair, why was there such a hue and cry about Rose Hudson-Wilkin not being appointed a Residentiary Canon of Westminster Abbey and incumbent of St. Margaret's?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 5 August 2015 at 2:36pm BST

Touche. I have absolutely no idea.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 5 August 2015 at 3:33pm BST
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