Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Steven Croft to be next Bishop of Oxford

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Oxford: Steven John Lindsey Croft

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 12 April 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft as Her Majesty’s Bishop of Oxford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft, MA, PhD, Lord Bishop of Sheffield, in the Diocese of Sheffield for election as Bishop of Oxford in succession to the Right Reverend John Lawrence Pritchard, MA, MLitt, on his resignation on 31 October 2014.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft (aged 58) is from Halifax in West Yorkshire. He studied first at Worcester College, Oxford and then at St John’s College, Durham where he trained for ordination at Cranmer Hall. He served his title as Curate at St Andrew Enfield in London Diocese from 1983 to 1987. In 1987 he returned to Halifax to be Vicar of St George, Ovenden in the Diocese of Wakefield. From 1996 he moved to become Warden at Cranmer Hall, Durham, before taking up the role of Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions in 2004. Since 2009 he has been the Bishop of Sheffield.

At the heart of Bishop Steven’s ministry in Sheffield has been a desire to connect the Church across the Diocese more deeply together as one body with a common sense of mission and purpose and to enable the diocese to engage with mission in the wider community with confidence and hope. He has worked creatively with Anglicans of all traditions in a very diverse diocese as well as with civic and community leaders and the leaders of other churches and other faiths.

Bishop Steven became a member of the House of Lords in 2013. He is 1 of 2 bishops elected to serve on the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, and has been chair of the Ministry Council since 2012. In 2008 he was awarded the Cross of St. Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his work with fresh expressions. He is the author of a number of books on Christian life and ministry and a novel for children. He writes a regular blog.

Bishop Steven is married to Ann. They have 4 adult children and 1 grandchild. He is a keen cook and bakes his own bread.

Sheffield diocesan website: Current Bishop of Sheffield announced as the next Bishop for the Diocese of Oxford
and A Letter from Bishop Steven
Oxford diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is the new Bishop of Oxford

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 9:34am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Wonderful choice - an exceptionally bright and gracious person for a complex but highly strategic brief. Sad for Sheffield, though.

Posted by: Peter K+ on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 9:58am BST

The translation of Steven Croft is a far-sighted nomination for Oxford. Those who wanted to continue to have a diocesan in the Pritchard mould will be delighted, but so should the entire diocese, as here is a bishop who can connect right across the breadth of the Church. His work on discipleship and how to develop disciples is important and the move will give him a broader platform for his critical work as Chair of the Ministry Council.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 10:02am BST

At last. Another Evangelical is placed and further adds to the current and prevailing imbalance in the hierarchy of the Church of England between the two Catholic and Evangelical wings.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 10:39am BST

Interesting effect of the appointment is that one of the two bishops elected to the Archbishops' Council has Cambridge in his cure and the other will have Oxford.

Posted by: Mary H on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 11:21am BST

Fr David, since +Stephen will be leaving Sheffield I can't see how you have come to that conclusion. The number of evangelicals, catholics and any other stripes in the house of Bishops is precisely the same as it was yesterday.

Posted by: Peter K+ on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 11:52am BST

"At last. Another Evangelical is placed and further adds to the current and prevailing imbalance in the hierarchy of the Church of England between the two Catholic and Evangelical wings."

You cynicism is showing. It is a zero sum game as he is already a bishop - only when the next +Sheffield is appointed could you recalculate the imbalance on the bench of bishops! (I have a picture in my head now of a seesaw with bishops on - all the evangelical ones on one end and so resulting in the catholic ones being high in the air on the other end!

+Steven is an Oxford theology graduate who has a (Durham) PhD in Old Testament - on the Psalms, earned while an ordinand. He also lived in Oxford when he was Fresh Expressions supremo.

TA trivia: he has succeeded John Pritchard twice!

Posted by: Charles Read on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 12:57pm BST

Whatever the merits of this particular individual, it is evidence of the long waving goodbye to a liberal witness in the Church of England. The liberal aspect is now subsumed within other identities to lesser or tiny degrees.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 3:55pm BST

Doesn't that depend on who replaces him in Sheffield?

Posted by: David Emmott on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 4:21pm BST

Fr David - the days of lib/evang taking turns are over. We now live in the key performance indicator CofE

Posted by: S Cooper on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 4:36pm BST

Steve, as he was then, was well - regarded across the spectrum when in Durham. He was very kind to the lonely traditionalists at John's and has, from what I hear, been respected across Sheffield. I think it a very good choice. He is an evangelical but in no way a Party one.

Posted by: Richard on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 4:59pm BST

I only know him through his book 'Jesus' People: What the Church Should Do Next' which is based on the Beatitudes and is excellent

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 9:58pm BST

Now that Oxford is settled, what about appointing Dean Jeffrey John to Sheffield? That would help to even up the current trend towards Con/Evo leadership in the House of Bishops.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 10:17pm BST

Thanks to all my friends who have kindly pointed out my inability to fathom out basic Mathematics when it comes to the division between Catholic and Evangelical bishops in the Church of England. I very much like the see-saw analogy and with this most recent announcement and the vast majority of recent episcopal appointments the see-saw is now very definitely weighted heavily on the side of the Evangelicals with the Catholics left high and dry, up in the air. When this appointment was at long last announced my thoughts went back to the days when Bishop Kirk was the chief pastor of the diocese which gave its name to the Oxford Movement. So we now wait to see who is appointed to Sheffield and on which side of the see-saw they will sit?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 7:10am BST

The "translation" (odd word, like, among many others, "propitiation", which the general public, let alone the average person in the pew surely cannot be expected to understand) of +Steven to Oxford, raises the interesting question of how often, in recent years, an existing diocesan bishop has been appointed to a different see. The three that immediately come to mind are +Graham Leonard (Truro to London in 1981), +John Waine (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich to Chelmsford in 1986) and, most recently, +Paul Butler from Southwell & Nottingham to Durham in 2014. No doubt Peter Owen, who keeps these kind of statistics, can provide us with a comprehensive list.

Posted by: David Lamming on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 12:05pm BST

While the balance between Catholic and Evangelical bishops is a very legitimate concern, with the location of Oxford Cathedral at the heart of Oxford University an evangelical,who might appeal to more students than an Anglo-Catholic, might be a sensible choice.

My personal disappointment is that this is another married bishop.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 12:25pm BST

Father Ron: I doubt very much whether most of these evangelicals who have recently been appointed would fit the category of 'Conservative Evangelical'.

Father David: perhaps it's time to stop thinking in these binary 'evangelical/Anglo-Catholic' categories. Very few Anglicans I know fit neatly into one or the other, especially those who are elected as bishops.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 3:15pm BST

Further to my last post, the following appeared in my Facebook news feed this morning from the Mennonite news site 'Third Way':

"Playing social checkers is dangerous and deadly. We easily place people in the wrong box. Our labels often flow from myth rather than fact. Even if a stereotype is partly true, it may not fit a particular person. Boxing not only injures others, it restrains our behavior. Jesus plays a new game of social checkers. He models creative ways of penetrating boxes. He walks over borders and social barricades." (Donald Kraybill, 'The Upside Down Kingdom', Herald Press, p. 196)

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 3:17pm BST

Well Liverpool has had a definite Evangelical since the diocese was founded, until the present incumbent. I doubt if +Paul Bayes would align himself with any party, and he has clearly got many evangelical sympathies, but if any label could stick I would call him an ecumenical charismatic catholic. He and others who know him better might disagree of course, but it suggests that party labels are becoming irrelevant.

Posted by: David Emmott on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 4:17pm BST

I don't have a comprehensive list of translated diocesan bishops, but to the ones that David Lamming mentions I can add John Gladwin who went from Guildford to Chelmsford in 2004.

And it's a long time since an Archbishop wasn't translated from another diocesan see.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 8:19pm BST

A good appointment. A minor niggle, this dreadful phrase "Her Majesty's Bishop of X" is a recent, odd, and regrettable invention (or mistake?). I know Cathedrals are formally referred to as "Her Majesty's Cathedral Church of ...", and I'm rather a fan of the monarch/y, but naming Bishops in that way seems to blur the line somewhat. Any ideas where it came from?

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 8:19pm BST

Nigel McCulloch Ripon to Manchester, David Hope Wakefield to London

Posted by: Malcolm on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 10:46pm BST

So at last the endless years of long vacancies and a neverending round of CNC meetings ends and everyone can draw breath as a far more manageable list of vacancies emerges in the next year. Is there a review planned? Are there lessons to be learned?

Posted by: Peter S on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 10:54pm BST

Wakefield to Manchester (+Nigel)

Posted by: Charles Read on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 12:04am BST

Whilst this appointment is, of course, excellent news, I do think that some mention ought to be made of Colin Fletcher who (as bishop of Dorchester) has been acting as diocesan throughout this protracted vacancy and has - it seems to me - done a really excellent job, in addition to covering his own extensive area. He appears to have continued in much the same vein as John Pritchard, with a friendly, sympathetic and unfussy style of leadership.

I have hoped that Bishop Colin might become a diocesan in his own right or at any rate receive some other meaningful form of recognition and thanks from the central authorities of the Church of England.

Posted by: Froghole on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 12:20am BST

"Our labels often flow from myth rather than fact."
- Tim Chesterton -

And would that also be true, Tim, for the title 'Mennonite' ?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 1:33am BST

With regard to Translations - the current Cantuar was briefly Durham before Canterbury and the current Ebor was Birmingham before York, Previously to that the most recent Archbishops before they were preferred to Canterbury were
Williams - Monmouth
Carey - Bath and Wells
Runcie - St. Albans
Coggan - Bradford & York
Ramsey - Durham & York
Fisher - Chester & London
Temple - Manchester & York
Lang - York
Davidson - Winchester
Temple - Exeter & London
Benson - Truro
Tait - London
That's enough Archbishops! But as Peter Owen states - you have to go back a long way before you find an Archbishop who wasn't translated from another See. The current Cantuar may well presently have his hands full at Lusaka but as Peter Hitchens points out Justin has not yet responded in writing to the letter and the detailed document produced by the George Bell Group. If it wasn't for Churchill's veto then surely George Bell would have been included in the above list where Fisher's name now stands
Bell - Chichester to Canterbury.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 6:07am BST

Translations of diocesans (other than to Canterbury or York) since 1990 appear to be as follows:

1994 Michael Turnbull (Rochester to Durham)
1998 Tom Butler (Leicester to Southwark)
2001 John Hind (Europe to Chichester)
2002 Nigel McCulloch (Wakefield to Manchester)
2003 John Gladwin (Guildford to Chelmsford)
2014 Paul Butler (Southwell and Nottingham to Durham)
2016 Steven Croft (Sheffield to Oxford)

There might be others. Answers on a postcard please!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 8:24am BST

Don't forget Nigel McCulloch moving from Wakefield to Manchester in 2002

Posted by: Chris Bracegirdle on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 8:43am BST

Diocesan bishops translated to another See: To that list we could add Donald Coggan, Colin James, Roy Williamson, David Hope, Tom Butler, John Hind, John Sentamu ....

Posted by: Simon W on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 10:03am BST

Didn't Lang go straight from Stepney toYork, thus being the most recent person to become an Archbishop who was not a Diocesan?

I think Tillotson in 1691 was the last person to go to Canterbury who was not already a bishop.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 11:00am BST

Yes Lang did indeed go straight from the Suffragan See of Stepney to the Archbishoprick of York. It was said of him that he was too young when he went to York and too old when he went to Canterbury.
One of the great if onlys and might have beens is what would have happened if George Bell had succeeded William Temple at Canterbury rather than Geoffrey Fisher? I'm sure that Archbishop Bell would certainly not have devoted his time to revising Canon Law as Fisher did. So the 1950s prohibition restricting those born out of wedlock might still be in place and the Church of England would currently be in a state of crisis.
However, whenever I think of crises I always recall the great impressionist Mike Yarwood's imitation of Prime Minister Harold Wilson saying in that strong Yorkshire accent - "Don't worry about this week's crisis, I've got another one coming for you next week!"

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 12:00pm BST

The revised list since 1990 (excluding translations to Canterbury and York) now looks like this:

1991 Roy Williamson (Bradford to Southwark)
1991 David Hope (Wakefield to London)
1994 Michael Turnbull (Rochester to Durham)
1998 Tom Butler (Leicester to Southwark)
2001 John Hind (Europe to Chichester)
2002 Nigel McCulloch (Wakefield to Manchester)
2003 John Gladwin (Guildford to Chelmsford)
2014 Paul Butler (Southwell and Nottingham to Durham)
2016 Steven Croft (Sheffield to Oxford)

Good spot re Cosmo Lang going straight to York from a suffragan see!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 12:26pm BST

Charming though Kate's thought of the attractiveness of Evangelical preaching in the Bishop's Cathedral is, I somehow can't see OICCU or the denizens of St Aldate's over the road flocking to hear him ...

Posted by: Tony Phelan on Thursday, 14 April 2016 at 6:31pm BST

Tony, I don't know about St Ebbe's, but I'd be very surprised if +Steven didn't receive a warm welcome at St Aldates.

I remember +Richard Harries, very much a liberal of course, preaching there about 10 years ago. It was admittedly a confirmation service, so I can't guarantee he would have been invited in the more normal course of events, but the vicar did dust down his dog collar for the occasion and recommend +Richard's latest book!

Posted by: Peter K+ on Friday, 15 April 2016 at 9:35am BST

Dear me, I am enjoying this unexpected bounty of TA episcopal trivia. I am lamentably ignorant about the mysterious movements of bishops, though I am naturally concerned that + Stephen's translation from Sheffield to Oxford appears to violate the longstanding tradition that bishops should move only in diagonal lines.

Posted by: rjb on Friday, 15 April 2016 at 10:34am BST

Kate,

As far as (quasi-)episcopal supervision of the students is concerned, the Ordinary of the Archiepiscopal Peculiar of the University of Oxford is, and remains, not merely an Anglo-Catholic but an actual Roman Catholic: Lord Patten of Barnes.

The Cathedral is at the heart of the University only in the geographical sense, not in the ecclesiological sense. One of the quirks +Steven will have to get used to is having a seat that is outside his own jurisdiction, because not only is the University of Oxford an archiepiscopal peculiar, but Christ Church is also an episcopal peculiar in its own right (Barber, 1995, _Eccles. Law J._ *3*(16):299-312). I'm _fairly_ sure the ecclesiastical visitor of the Episcopal Peculiar of Christ Church is the Bishop of Lincoln, not the Bishop of Oxford, since at the date of issue (1532) of the letters patent for the refoundation of the college, there was no such diocese as Oxford. (I concluded that the letters patent must be the source of the episcopal peculiar status identified by Barber, because there's no Act of Parliament or Order in Council that does it, and the status must have changed around that time, because pre-reformation, the college was a papal peculiar.)

Posted by: Feria on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 1:06am BST

One nugget from the Church Times. His son is a minister at Soul Survivor Church in Watford. ++ Ebor's daughter is or was a curate in Watford.

Posted by: Simon Bravery on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 9:45am BST

Thank you Feria

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 2:32pm BST

In response to Feria, the Queen is the Visitor of Christ Church, and the Dean is the Ordinary. So it is indeed the only cathedral in the Church of England - and perhaps the wider Anglican and Ecumenical world (?) - where the diocesan bishop does not have any sort of jurisdiction. So Christ Church is something of an Ecclesiastical Peculiar. That said, relations between Dean and Bishop have always warm and cordial here, and so we look forward to welcoming +Steven in the autumn. - Martyn Percy

Posted by: Martyn Percy on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 2:57pm BST

Martyn,

There is some evidence in support of your view. Certainly, the college statutes name the Queen (or rather, the Crown) as "Visitor", in the academic and managerial senses of the word. Also, there's an article in the Spectator from July 1925 that claims Christ Church is a royal peculiar, as (in passing) does a 2013 book on ecclesiastical history by C. J. Walker. And a royal peculiar would be the default anglicanization of the college's pre-reformation papal peculiar status.

On the other hand, there's no guarantee that the ecclesiastical visitor will be the same person as the academic-managerial visitor (just as, in modern times, it's pretty rare for the "proctors" who represent the university at General Synod to be the same people as the "Proctors" who lead the enforcement of secular university discipline, our own Dr. Maltby having been an honourable exception). And the paper by Barber is in a peer-reviewed law journal, and is very clear in its claim that the ecclesiastical visitor is a bishop.

Anyone in possession of any evidence that can eliminate the doubt?

Posted by: Feria on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 10:38pm BST

FWIW along with Feria I'd always understood that it's the Bishop of Lincoln who does the ecclesiastical visiting of Christ Church Cathedral.

Where I knew this from I don't know, but it's one of those Oxford things... I've lived in the diocese for a decade now and must have picked it up somewhere.

Posted by: primroseleague on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 9:18am BST

The Diocese of Lincoln used to stretch from the Humber to the Thames I know that Buckinghamshire (having served there twice) didn't become part of the Oxford Diocese until sometime in the 1800s (before my time). Isn't the Bishop of Lincoln (who was a Durham Ordinand at the same time as me but has climbed further up the Ecclesiastical Ladder than me) also Visitor to Eton College and as it was once in his diocese still carries out Confirmations at the College which is just North of the Thames opposite to Windsor.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 5:25pm BST

Back on speculation as to the welcome Bishop Steven will find from the beacon evangelical parishes in Oxford, I should be most surprised if he is not welcomed by them all. Charlie Cleverly of St Aldate's was part of the entourage spending the day with the new bishop as he toured the diocese. Bishop Steven and his wife Anne were married at St Ebbe's, I assume by David Fletcher, in 1978. St Andrew's is now vacant, but is the most open evangelical of the three. As for OICCU I have no knowledge, but the organisation would have to be seriously off the rails not to welcome him too! What's not to like?

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 9:09pm BST

In answer to rjb's post on 15th April, and as the person responsible for starting what he calls "this unexpected bounty of TA episcopal trivia", having drawn the moves on a map of England and Wales, none was directly north/south or east/west, and the nearest to 45 degrees (cf a bishop's diagonal move on a chess board) were John Waine's and John Gladwin's moves to Chelmsford in, respectively, 1986 and 2003. A true diagonal move would be, say, Bristol to Coventry, or Gloucester to Lincoln (or vice versa).

Posted by: David Lamming on Monday, 18 April 2016 at 2:21pm BST

Father David: Isn't the Bishop of Lincoln... also Visitor to Eton College?

No, Eton is (from Barber) definitely a royal peculiar, i.e. the visitor is the Queen. The ordinary is the former cabinet minister Lord Waldegrave.

Posted by: Feria on Monday, 18 April 2016 at 6:41pm BST

This use of 'peculiar' as a noun and not an adjective or an adverb is very 'peculiar' to people who speak modern English!

But then, we are members of the Anglican Communion, which has New Testament Greek letters on its international flag! Anglicanism: smarter than all the rest since 1549...

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Monday, 18 April 2016 at 9:56pm BST

Not being an OE myself, unlike the ABC, the PM and half the cabinet, I couldn't possibly say.
As for the peculiar word "peculiar", in Essex and parts of East Anglia at one time they had a peculiar Christian Sect called "The Peculiar People".

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 11:00am BST

Peculiar is also a peculiar adjective for people who speak modern English:

Let every creature rise and bring
peculiar honours to our King.

Posted by: John Roch on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 11:16am BST

The reference in the press release to "Her Majesty’s Bishop of Oxford" has been amended, so that it now reads "The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft for election as Bishop of Oxford."

The announcement on 2 September 2015 of Christine Hardman's nomination as Bishop of Newcastle has been similarly amended.

[h/t David Pocklington]

Posted by: Peter Owen on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 12:17pm BST

I just asked my administrative assistant, who is an educated woman who has been an Anglican all her life, what she would understand by the phrase 'a royal peculiar' as pertaining to a church or an institution. She had no idea that the world 'peculiar' had any other meaning than 'strange'.

We really have to start speaking a language 'understanded of the people'. Wasn't that one of the reasons we had a reformation?

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 5:20pm BST

Tim,

Well, "a language understanded of the people" was always construed having regard to the demographics of the local congregation - if a bunch of classical scholars were sitting down to dinner, no-one objected to grace being said in Latin. In that sense, I think, on TA, the use of the noun "peculiar" is unproblematic.

However, you're right that, if we ever intend to talk about this stuff on the letters pages of popular newspapers, we'd probably do better to use some phrase such as "place outside the jurisdiction of the bishops" or "group of people outside the jurisdiction of the bishops", as appropriate. (Although the phrase "royal peculiar" did get a very wide public airing in _The da Vinci code_, and the many genealogy buffs around England will be familiar with looking up probabte records from the peculiar courts.)

What equivalent phrases we'd use for "ordinary" and "visitor", I have no idea. It does, however, occur to me that, if we could adopted a name for the ordinary of a royal peculiar that included the word "primate", we might be able to press for them to get seats at the AC Primates' Meeting, whose political balance I think most of us on here would like to change. There are somewhere between fourteen and fifty-one royal peculiars in England (plus one in the US, but that would presumably be excluded from meetings for the time being, along with the rest of TEC) - if the number is towards the upper end of the range, then they could even hold an overall majority at the Primates' Meeting.

Father David,

A bit of a web search reveals that "The Peculiar People" still exist, although they changed their name to "The Union of Evangelical Churches" in 1956 - curiously, shortly after they got a mention in Agatha Christie's _A murder is announced_.

Posted by: Feria on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 at 12:00am BST

"We really have to start speaking a language 'understanded of the people'."

Do we really? How often does a royal peculiar come up in conversation? I wouldn't expect the average person to know what it means, and neither would I particularly care about that. Any more, as an ex naval officer, than I would expect a non naval type to understand more than about one word in every seven spoken by one of my sailors (famously, the Royal Navy actually has its own dictionary...).

Even as a believer, I set quite a bit of store by Bagehot's famous view on the monarchy and apply it equally to the CofE - frankly you can do damage by letting to much light in on the magic.

Posted by: primroseleague on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 at 8:31am BST

Thank you Feria for that information. I think I prefer the original name of the denomination based on I Peter 2: 9. Isn't it peculiar that the UEC, formerly the Peculiar People didn't venture much further than beyond the boundaries of the country of Essex. TOWIE Rules.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 at 12:22pm BST

To me, other than the sense of weird and strange and unusual, the term 'peculiar' has always meant a specific and particular attribute of something - 'it is a peculiar quality of Susannah that she tends to be long-winded'... 'the poem has a certain stylistic quality, peculiar to the poet Yeats'... 'it is the peculiar quality of Uranus that it rotates in a different direction' etc.

So in that sense, I see the noun 'Peculiar' as emerging from a specific and particular church visitor/overseer, attributed/attached to a specific church/institution - as opposed to the overseer ordinarily watching over a group of local churches.

The word doesn't just mean weirdly strange. As as been said above, I think we should treasure our deep and rich language, with all the connotations and insinuations it has attracted in its long history. I remember my old Professor at St Andrews, whose academic reputation was based on his work on the nautical terms used by Shakespeare, from which he deduced that Shakespeare may have travelled by sea and maybe even worked at sea.

Our language is fabulous. My favourite is the word 'blow' from the Old English 'blawan' for the time when flowers bloom. "I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows..." etc.

Language is deep with resonance and hinted meaning. Our access to it is more intuitive then we realise. Sometimes we 'feel' our way to accessing a word that carries specific mood or association.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 at 3:01pm BST

One way for the Church of England to show its real - rather than notional - regard for the LGBTQI clergy in the Church would be to appoint only 'Queers' to those livings entitled 'Peculiar'. (tongue removed from cheek)

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 21 April 2016 at 12:12pm BST

It's a fair point, that I gladly concede, that there is specialist language used in inside groups that are 'in the know'. Personally, I still prefer not to use that language, because I don't like to let myself get into the habit, which I can then find myself falling into in circles where I ought to know better.

I work as an evangelist and I'm always concerned that we don't get used to using phrases that mean nothing to those on the outside. That's my frame of reference, and it comes from the many, many times I've used words and assumed 'everyone knows what that means', only to discover that they don't - and the meaning is rather important.

Latin liturgies may well have done a good job in conveying 'mystery', but it's important to remember that in Greek 'mysterion' did not mean what we now call 'mystery' - it meant a secret that has now been revealed.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 21 April 2016 at 4:14pm BST

I agree with you, Tim, about the awkwardness of using religious terms when speaking to people who are unfamiliar with them.

One of the classic examples I can remember from long ago, was when people sang about being "washed in the blood of the Lamb" which sounded vaguely disgusting, and frankly bizarre.

May God bless you with grace, kindness, compassion and good words as you come alongside people who are trying to make sense of their lives.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 22 April 2016 at 12:47pm BST

Just a final note on the Visitor of Christ Church debate, and to confirm what I said earlier, namely that it is the reigning monarch, and not the Bishop of Oxford - or Limcoln. The latter has never held any visitorial rights at Christ Church - but does indeed do so at a few other Oxford Colleges, as does the Bishop of Winchester. The loyal toast at the end of feasts and dinners at Christ Church is always "the Queen, Visitor of Christ Church". As a footnote, readers might be interested to note that the Deanery at Christ Church is still listed by the monarchy website as a royal palace - and a flagpole at the Deanery to bear the Royal standard remains, and is kept in good order.

Posted by: Martyn Percy on Friday, 22 April 2016 at 6:29pm BST

Tim: 'Personally, I still prefer not to use that language, because I don't like to let myself get into the habit, which I can then find myself falling into in circles where I ought to know better.'

Indeed: a trap into which I, too, have fallen quite frequently.

Susannah: 'One of the classic examples I can remember from long ago, was when people sang about being "washed in the blood of the Lamb" which sounded vaguely disgusting, and frankly bizarre.'

Yes it does, although I'm not sure how much of that is down to the language and how much down to its underlying theology of the cross. As I understand it, that theology of the cross remains extremely popular, and was not wholly ruled out by the CofE Doctrine Commission in _The Mystery of Salvation_.

Posted by: Feria on Friday, 22 April 2016 at 11:37pm BST

Alas, for the days of Bishop Strong at Oxford. At his installation he asked that his clergy did not bother him and he would not bother them. He was as good as his word and the diocese flourished as never before or since.
As regards Christchurch is is a most unsuitable location for a cathedral.If one wishes to visit to prayer one has to face questioning by the custodians of the college who usually make it plain that they do not believe you. Hardly a situation which creates a bond between the mother church and the people of the diocese.

Posted by: Paul Hornby on Tuesday, 5 July 2016 at 10:54am BST
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