Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Vivienne Faull to be next Bishop of Bristol

Press release from Number 10

Queen appoints new Bishop of Bristol
The Queen has approved the appointment of a new Bishop of Bristol.

Published 15 May 2018
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Vivienne Frances Faull, MA, Dean of York, in the diocese of York, for election as Bishop of Bristol in succession to the Right Reverend Michael Arthur Hill, on his resignation on the 30th September 2017.

There are more details on the Bristol diocesan website: Very Revd Vivienne Faull announced as the next Bishop of Bristol.
Her consecration is scheduled for 3 July 2018.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 10:05am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

I wonder if the bells in the diocese of Bristol will be rung to welcome this news?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 10:49am BST

Now this is more like it. A person committed to full inclusivity, with oodles of ecclesial experience, who has sustained ministry in urban Liverpool, a Cambridge college, and four cathedrals, who has a theological imagination as well as being able to steer institutions through change. One thing is certain, Viv Faull's enthronement (or whatever you want to call it) sermon will not be an insipid disconnection from scripture- or society.

I know I shouldn't count my chickens and all that, but I am beginning to ask whether I should renew my faith in the CNC?

Posted by: Michael Mulhern on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 11:01am BST

Renew faith in the CNC ?

Perhaps a thought for those who campaigned long and hard to ensure we do NOT have to endure more of the same and FOR a diocesan more in tune with the way it is in these parts...

Posted by: Anon on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 11:48am BST

Bristol Cathedral has eight bells and is the fifth most rung tower in Bristol.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 11:50am BST

An excellent appointment - a priest of vision and of wide experience. This is good news for the diocese and the wider church.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 12:03pm BST

I think Fr David has sounded the right note.
The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull was responsible for the silence of the bells at York Minster for nearly a year, and a full programme of ringing has not yet been re-established. I think that there may be a special peal of bells at York to celebrate her departure!

Posted by: Paul Waddington. on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 12:57pm BST

David and Paul, what was Viv supposed to do when the bellringers refused to follow safeguarding guidelines?

At last we have a bishop who is really prepared to stick her neck out on safeguarding issues.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 2:34pm BST

Dean Faull "modernised" several volunteer groups at the Minster. Under her deanship, the flower arrangers and the broderers were also "reorganised."

Perhaps it depends on the financial circumstances of the institution being led. York Minster has been well funded since it began to charge admission. And as Jane Austen said, "The very rich can afford to give offence wherever they go."

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 2:40pm BST

Anon can be reassured that it will not be 'more of the same' with Viv Faull. Bristol has never been an Evangelical diocese, and the recent tenure of two evangelical bishops (both products of the Buckingham episcopal area) has not been an unqualified success: both in terms of morale and growth. When Barry Rogerson retired in 2002, the Diocese was in very good heart, and was confident in its identity as an exemplar of Via Media Anglicanism. Mike Hill arrived and, like all Evangelicals, was convinced he had the answer. When he retired, he was gracious and honest enough to acknowledge that he had presided over marked decline.

Viv Faull may have trained at St John's, Nottingham, but she has grown in a more Catholic spirituality. She is a formidable preacher, and she is not afraid to grasp nettles (bell-ringers who pose safeguarding risks included!). More to the point, I doubt you'll hear her making evasive statements about 'inclusiveness' that exclude LGBTI people. A statement on the York Minster web site, stating that those in same-sex relationships can expect welcome affirmation there, puts clear blue water between Viv and Bishop Mullally.

Yes, this is very good news. Experience of the church over many years, coupled to an intelligent and imaginative way of articulating the faith, means that the future is promising for Bristol. Well done Bristol and 'central' CNC members for getting it right. For once.

Posted by: Graham Hardy on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 3:09pm BST

I hope she manages to deal with people better than she managed at York.

Posted by: Simon D on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 3:19pm BST

I wish the diocese and the bishop-to-be well. I’m genuinely puzzled as to why such announcements often make so much of local connexions—“my grandparents lived here”, or “I spent my holidays there”, and such and such. Does this really matter? Is it an important factor in CNC deliberations, and if so, why? After all, people are people, their joys and sorrows much the same here as there. I find it a bit cringeworthy—not as much as football allegiances, in-jokes and exclamation marks, just vaguely patronizing. Do diocesan PR officers think we’re stupid, or is it part of the infantilizing strategy that the C of E is so good at?

Posted by: Stanley Monkhouse on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 4:23pm BST

So the evangelical takeover is on hold, then?

Posted by: tbl on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 4:25pm BST

Janet Fife. The York bellringers did not refuse to follow safeguarding measures. They did query what they perceived to be an unfair decision but procedures were followed.

Posted by: Simon D on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 4:50pm BST

Rev. Janet Fife:
We agree on much, so I'm sorry to have to put this strongly. However, the reputations of 30 other people are at stake.
The Minster has never been able to substantiate that accusation, so unless you have personal knowledge of any "disregard" I would suggest that you please correct your characterization of the facts.
I'm not a canon lawyer, but I personally believe that a libel of 30 people would qualify as "conduct unbecoming or inappropriate" under the CDM.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 5:22pm BST

Living within shouting distance of York Minster, I have always found Dean Faull to be an intelligent preacher, someone with her pulse on the life of the city of York, and who is not afraid to face people down when she believes change is required.

Yes, I've heard one or two people saying (in the spirit of Ken Clarke) that she can be a 'bl**dy difficult woman'; but you don't lead a large institution into the future by pleasing everyone all of the time - especially not the flower ladies! I think her determination to weed-out people trying to hide behind safeguarding processes was, frankly, admirable - and showed her tenacity in the face of an ill-informed social media campaign. If the bell ringers of York Minster think it's all going to go back to what it was, I get the impression that they may be seriously mistaken.

So, yes, the appointments process has worked well in this case. More like this in the future, please.

Posted by: Bill Broadhead on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 5:24pm BST

It was said in the comments about the Bishop of London that Sarah had been selected because she could be easily managed. I don't know about that, but certainly we often criticise bishops here for being unwilling to speak out. I think Vivienne has proven that she is cut from very different cloth and will fight and speak out for what she believes to be right. Is she as polished and smooth as most bishops? No. But I would rather have a fighter than another oleaginous bishop. I wish her well.

But why, oh why, do dioceses still think it is more important to tell us about where someone's grandparents live than about their theological views? It's a strange sense of priorities.

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 5:36pm BST

The bells will certainly ring in York.....

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 5:43pm BST

Janet Fife. The York bellringers did not refuse to follow safeguarding measures. They did query what they perceived to be an unfair decision but procedures were followed.

Posted by: Simon D on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 6:12pm BST

Jeremy, I would not want to falsely accuse anyone, and am happy to post a link to a Church Times account of the case.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 6:21pm BST

Janet, if you examine the Church Times article of October 19 closely, you will find it contains no facts of that kind whatsoever.

You might also recall that in another case, Lord Carlile has accused the Church of England of a safeguarding "oversteer" in the exact same month, October 2015.

Think of what that (deceased) person's niece, Barbara Whitley, has gone through. And then multiply that by 30 living people and their families.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 8:09pm BST

As a member of a Forward in Faith church in Coventry in the 90s, Viv co-prepared me for confirmation by the then Bishop of Ebbsfleet. I continue to be a traditionalist and continue to think her a very fine person and pray very much for her personally and for the diocese she will lead as Ordinary. I don't really understand why she wasn't made a bishop earlier.

Posted by: Richard on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 8:46pm BST

This Friday, May 18th, is St Dunstan's Day. Dunstan is patron saint of bellringers, and with Mafeking on Thursday, the Royal Wedding on Saturday and Whitsun on Sunday, what a joyful week this is turning out to be.

Posted by: T Pott on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 8:48pm BST

"The reputations of 30 other people are at stake" @ Jeremy. Really? I was under the clear impression that many of the former bell ringers at York had been re-recruited, precisely because they had agreed to follow the safeguarding procedures. As for 'oversteer': what would he prefer? 'Understeer' a la Chichester in the 1990s?

I think if Jeremy talks to cathedrals other than his former place of employ, he will find that York's current policy is fairly standard for many other English cathedrals. He might also take into account that, compared with every other member of the EU, Great Britain is currently on safeguarding oversteer precisely for the reasons that are being aired in the IICSA. You can still get an organist's job in Belgium without any sort of checks, for example.

Posted by: Alan Howarth on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 8:08am BST

To move away from bells - I wonder what words will grace the front cover of Bishop Faull's Order of Service when she is "put in" at Bristol? Her predecessor in his Farewell Address (which was - like the curate's egg - "good in parts") referred to the time when he was "inaugurated into this cathedral". Surely "Installation" and "Inauguration" are both prosaic and lack the dignity of "Enthronement"

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 8:24am BST

Jeremy, the CT article I tried to link to, but which didn't appear, gave both sides of the controversy. There was an issue over safeguarding; the facts were presented very differently by each side. The fact that a number of bellringers were re-appointed makes it clear that they were not personally considered safeguarding risks; and also that they had now agreed to follow the guidelines. I note that the new tower captain (I've forgotten the exact title they use at the Minster) is one of the former ringers and also a primary school head with a keen appreciation of the importance of safeguarding.

As an incumbent I once had to tell our head of children's work that she could no longer serve in that capacity, due to a serious safeguarding issue (not a sexual one). This was partly for her own protection, since it made her vulnerable to other accusations. A Sunday School teacher resigned in her support and we could ill spare either of them, but I had no choice. Nor could I explain my decision to anyone without revealing confidential information. It's a lonely position to be in, but leadership sometimes requires us to make lonely decisions.

I note with some irony that it's apparently OK to make accusations against Vivienne Faull.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 8:57am BST

Re. the references to Dean Faull's family connections in Bristol, I think the purpose of that is to help Bristol people to relate to her. If they're stuck for something to say to the new bishop, they can always ask more about her family, and perhaps discover that their grandparents went to the same school as her grandparents, or something similar. It's a bridge-builder, it helps make connections.

Re. enthronements, the word hardly seems consistent with Jesus instructions not to lord it over people. 'Installation' may be prosaic but it's clear and factual and doesn't put on airs. I was 'collated' into one parish - try explaining that! Some people expected me to be a cold meal. I thought maybe I was going to be separated into slices and rearranged. Which turned out to be nearer the truth!

Posted by: Janet Fife on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 9:04am BST

Alan Howarth, there are at least 4 errors in your post.
The ones that matter are that you perpetuate the slander that a procedure wasn't followed in the first place, and you accept the premise that in order to get safeguarding right, the Church should be allowed to defame the living and the dead.
No other organisation needs to act so lawlessly. Why does the Church?

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 9:33am BST

The whole point of the Curate's Egg joke is that the whole egg was wholly bad.

Posted by: John Roch on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 10:06am BST

I am with Alan and Janet re. the bellringing issue.

These boards have been filled on occasions with people complaining (often rightly) that the Church of England has been lax in reporting and dealing with safeguarding issues. If Viv Faull had done nothing or less than she did, she would have been added to the list of senior clergy routinely called out here for safeguarding errors / complacency. She seems damned if she does and damned if she does not.

As to the parallel with Bishop Bell, this seems to me bogus. Bell is dead, has been accused of something where he can't defend himself and the evidence is questionable. In York, the issue was about following procedures designed to safeguard children and others (including the ringers by the way as safeguarding stuff is meant to reduce the chances of false allegations being made). No-one was actually name as an individual in public as having committed an offence and since all or most of the tower team are alive they can defend themselves. The fact that some of them are back ringing at the Minster shows that the situation could be resolved without reducing the safeguarding provisions.

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 12:17pm BST

Has anyone else noticed the bare minimum details of this appointment as announced in the No. 10 press release? Has the writer been reading comments on this blog relating to announcements of previous episcopal appointments, I wonder?

Posted by: David Lamming on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 1:17pm BST

Thank you Janet for your comment on the press release.

With every announcement we get comments on here about the relevance of family, hobbies, local interests and connections. And I swear at the screen every time when I see them.

The press releases are not aimed at us: they are written for the papers and local radio stations to use, with little or no editing, to give the general public some background information that a local reporter would have been expected to ask about.

Posted by: John Roch on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 1:30pm BST

Janet, you are doing it again--implying that 30 people refused to follow safeguarding "guidelines," without any factual basis for that implication. When will you stop?

The Minster has re-engaged some ringers--but did the Minster ever publicly apologise to them, thus clearing their reputations? No. This failure leaves them open to implications such as yours. Perhaps the new Dean will apologise, though Dean Faull will not.

You mention the new head ringer. Did some of the sacked ringers also have safeguarding as part of their day jobs? Yes. Were some of them teachers, and of course parents? Yes. The Church needs to be extremely careful, when it levels safeguarding accusations against one person, much less 30. Such care was scarce in October 2015--the Church was looking for scapegoats.

"Lonely decisions?" Don't try to wrap this up in the loneliness of virtue. Of course someone will find herself lonely if she promotes her own career at the expense of the reputations of 30 church volunteers.

As for "accusations against Vivienne Faull," she isn't even a bishop yet. Is public criticism already verboten? That was fast.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 1:32pm BST

Isn't the 'throne' in Enthronement the chair of a pastor and teacher rather than a monarch? 'Enthronement' might convey secular pomp and glory, but installation is what you do to a washing machine or a fridge. 'Enchairing' should be a word.

Posted by: David Emmott on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 3:49pm BST

Some things should be made clear about the York bell ringers:
Firstly, the bell ringers were locked out of the tower without notice.
Secondly, when an explanation was sought, the reason given was Health & Safety. The safeguarding issue was introduced at a later date by the Archbishop.
Thirdly, it has never been claimed that there was any breach of safeguarding procedure.
Fourthly, so far as has been reported publicly, no member of the bell ringing team has refused to comply with any safeguarding condition.

It soon became apparent that Health & Safety had nothing to do with the matter, and most people concluded that safeguarding was nothing to do with it either. I do not want to be offensive, so will let readers draw their own conclusion as to what the issue really was. Anyway, the problem will soon be moving on.

Posted by: Paul Waddington on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 5:47pm BST

I appreciate Janet Fife's perspective here. My knee-jerk reaction is generally to support musicians, but I found the Church Times article convincing in that some action was appropriate and wise. I'm glad to hear that some of the ringers were re-appointed and that it's because they agreed to the safeguarding requirements. That is very telling.

She sounds like she'll be a great bishop. I hope I get to meet her sometime. Our experience with Bishop Lee of Swindon was very positive, we met him on the day of the Aurora movie shooting back home in Colorado, some of my friends' music students were impacted. He was very pastoral. We weren't Bishop Mike's cup of tea. I certainly love the rhetoric of Bishop-to-be Vivienne, she seems just right for a city that seems very progressive (but we lived in Clifton Village, which could be a "bubble").

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 6:43pm BST

Cynthia says, "Some action was appropriate and wise." Perhaps that may have been the action that the Minster took in April 2015, of banning one person from its grounds. (That person, by the way, was later awarded costs against the North Yorkshire Police.) But here I am speaking here of the Minster's treatment of 30 other people.

Cynthia then says some ringers were allowed to ring again because "they agreed to the safeguarding procedures." Here again, someone is falling for the Minster's line--which is not substantiated anywhere in the Church Times article. Again, what evidence is there that any of the 30 ringers did not agree, at any time, to any safeguarding procedure the Minster required? None. As I keep saying, the Minster has never substantiated that charge. Nor of course has the Minster, under Dean Faull's "lonely" leadership, seen fit to withdraw it.

For the ringers' side of the story, see here: https://www.yorkminsterbells.org.uk/?p=529 Their account includes this:
"YMSCR have always complied with the Minster’s safeguarding policies. Indeed, in February 2016, our Ringing Master received an email from the retiring Minster Safeguarding Officer in which she concluded by thanking him “for co-operating so willingly with me over the past few years as we all strove to give child protection the important profile it demands”. Chapter decided to temporarily exclude an individual from ringing activities in April 2015, and we have complied with that decision at all times. Chapter informed us on 4th August 2016 that their decision to exclude the individual on a temporary basis had been changed to a permanent exclusion.
"The remaining members of YMSCR. It is important to be clear that there is no possible ground for questioning the standing of the remaining members in terms of safeguarding. Twenty members of the band were DBS holders, and several had safeguarding training as part of their employment. These members of the band are as committed to safeguarding as any other volunteer at the Minster. That they have been summarily dismissed from the Minster after, in some cases, decades of loyal service, is deeply distressing for them. For there to be an implied questioning of their suitability to safeguard young ringers has caused untold hurt to them and their families."

Many of the comments on this board are good evidence of the harmful reputational effect, on perfectly innocent people, that the Church's October 2015 "oversteer" indeed has had. Charles Read seems to think that it's ok for the Church to publicly identify people as safeguarding risks _because_ those people are alive and can defend themselves. Thus is the law of slander turned on its head!

In this case and the Bishop Bell case, the Church seems to be saying, "We can publicly label people as safeguarding risks or worse, despite the absence of any conviction or caution, because we are the Church and can't hold ourselves to the standards everyone else is held to."

The logic and law are bad enough. The theology is worse.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 9:42pm BST

FWIW, Jeremy, at my parish no one can hold a key to the church if they haven't taken the "Safeguarding God's Children" training. So having bell ringers sign on to safeguarding practices seems perfectly reasonable. It looks as if the bell ringer leadership may have been stubborn (weren't some related to each other, creating a potential conflict of interest?). Given the seriousness, sacking the program and then bringing back the ones who sign on may have been the only way to achieve safeguarding compliance. There are probably details that we'll never know. But that's my speculation. We had a case in our diocese where a musician had come under investigation for a safeguarding thing elsewhere. The church was willing to let the musician keep the church job as long as he complied with reasonable safeguarding steps. Sure enough, he didn't comply and he was sacked. Unfortunately for this fellow, his other matter was in the newspapers, and so every member of the church understood why he was sacked. Had it not been for the newspapers, there probably would have been an outcry in favor of him because he was popular.

It seems like the bell ringing situation needed a "reset." Whether or not it could have been done better is something we're not likely to know. It seems peaceably resolved amongst those who sign onto the safeguarding. I doubt that most people would think ill of those bell ringers who were simply caught up in the matter.

There's no one who is involved in church who doesn't eventually get caught up in conflict. At some point, everyone has to review their call and commitment and re-discern their role in the Body of Christ as it is in this moment.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 10:03pm BST

Canons, both Honorary and Residentiary, and Deans are 'installed' to occupy a fixed stall in the cathedral. The bishop doesn't have a stall - his or her seat is a chair. A throne is a chair by another name!

Posted by: Rowland Wateridge on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 11:53pm BST

If it's true humility we are seeking in order to emphasise the servant ministry of the chief pastor in each diocese then why not place a small stool in front of the bishop's throne in every cathedral? In the North East of England, a small stool is also known as a cracket. Thereafter at the "putting in" of the new Diocesan s/he could then be Enstooled or Encracketted (in the dioceses of Durham and Newcastle). Problem solved.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 8:49am BST

So is a chair a throne by any other name?

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 9:34am BST

@Jeremy says there are four factual errors in my last post. One of which he addresses, but doesn't actually disprove. What are the other three?

In the meantime, I have always valued Robert Runcie's dictum that, after leaving a sphere of ministry, 'spitting on the deck' devalues both the ship and the person doing the spitting. Lot's wife and all that...

Posted by: Alan Howarth on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 9:44am BST

Jeremy, I feel at a disadvantage here since you know who I am (and possibly know me personally), and since you don't give your surname I don't know who you are. Judging by the passion behind your posts, I'm guessing you have some personal links to the bellringers, or possibly some history with Vivienne Faull.

I did try to post a link to an article giving both sides, but the link didn't appear and I now can't find the piece. I'm not sure it would have helped much anyway, since my previous effort to say that it's clear most of the bellringers are under no suspicion prompted another strong reaction from you.

I don't want to upset you further, or to be unfair to the bellringers. But nor do I want to be unfair to Viv Faull who has received a lot of criticism for her stand on this issue. Safeguarding is, as you may know, an issue close to my heart; and, as others have pointed out, the Church has a terrible track record on it and is now in a 'damned if you do, damned, if you don't' scenario.

Viv is, like myself, one of the first women to have been ordained; she was also a pioneer on inclusive language (you may have seen her and Di Jones' 1980s Grove booklet on the subject). I first met Viv, as I recall, less than a year after we had both been ordained deacon in 1987 and have bumped into each other now and again over the years. Her mother did my ministry reviews in Chester diocese. We are both of the generation which found it to be true that 'a man shows strong leadership; a woman is bossy: a man takes tough decisions; a. woman is a tyrant; a man has an independent mind; a woman is difficult.'

I have given you this background so you can see where I am coming from in reacting to the rather snide comments about Viv and the bellringers at the top of the comments page. Perhaps I was wrong to detect a misogynist streak to them and some subsequent comments,but I felt it only fair to put a different side.

I would like us to be able to understand each other rather than having a shouting match on TA, so if you feel able to give your name and a bit about why you feel so strongly on this issue, I would welcome that. Otherwise, I'd like to draw this exchange to a close.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 12:40pm BST

"They answered and said unto him 'If He were not a malefactor we would not have delivered Him up unto thee'" - John 18v30

The chief priests of Jerusalem were shocked that Pilate asked for evidence. The mere fact that the chief priests wanted Jesus eliminated was proof enough, in itself, that Jesus must have been a malefactor.

That attitude thrives on in the Church of England. If the bellringers were not malefactors the chief priests of York would not have eliminated them. If the Reverend X Y Z had been a malefactor the chief priests of Sussex would have eliminated him.

But Jesus was not a malefactor.He was eliminated because the chief priests saw Him as a challenge. Beyond doubt the carillon player of York was eliminated for the same reason Our Lord was, challenging the chief priests, not by disobedience but merely by expressing dissent. Perhaps the same goes for all the bellringers and broiderers.

The Church seems divided between those with a blind faith that priests can do no wrong and those who, like Pilate, demand transparency, evidence and due process.

It is never true for a priest to say they have no choice. There is always a choice. "Are we for the chief priests or are we for Pontius Pilate?" is the question facing the Church. Oh, and perhaps Moses' "Who is on the Lord's side?" should not be entirely overlooked.

Posted by: T Pott on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 12:45pm BST

'Enkathedrization' is clearly the word to use. In comparison with the Enkathedrization of Bristol the Defenestration of Prague sounds quite Anglicanly bland and inoffensive.
This thread is really sorting the gnats from the camels.

Posted by: cryptogram on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 2:00pm BST

"As for 'oversteer': what would he prefer? 'Understeer' a la Chichester in the 1990s?"

This is a case where the metaphors lead one astray. To quote the current head of trackside operations at Ferrari, who has engineered multiple world champions and knows a thing or two about cars, "Understeer is when they hit the Armco with the front of the car; oversteer, on the other hand, is when they hit the Armco with the rear of the car." Neither is good.

But the reason why the metaphor confuses is because they are both about the behaviour of what is being steered, not the steering being done. In both cases, you have applied more steering input than the car has grip, and although the consequences (and the corrective actions) are different, the fundamental error is the same: at that speed, on that surface, in that car, you can't turn as sharply as you want.

Chichester didn't "understeer"; that would imply their actions were too robust for the diocese, and the institution's inertia caused it to plough on to disaster while the driver tugged helplessly at the steering wheel. But what actually happened is that Chichester never turned the steering wheel in the first place.

A driver might try to blame the car or the engineer if they turn in and the car goes straight on to the scene of the accident. A driver can't blame anyone but himself if he never turned in.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 2:25pm BST

Given the legal hornets' nest that beckons, I'll say only this: as I said at the time, I was appalled by the treatment of the York bellringers, and remain so; and this latest appointment reaffirms all my views about the majority of English bishops and their means of selection.

On the general issue of "safeguarding," there's a world of difference between an organization covering up known abuse and shielding known abusers, and an organization casting aside the presumption of innocence and treating mere suspicion as guilt. Both are deeply wrong, and both have the same root cause: valuing reputation over people.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 3:57pm BST

Someone mentioned that Bristol is not an evangelical diocese: the Statement of Needs produced stated that Bristol is "a diocese with an increasingly confident and generous evangelical culture". We also need to look at the greater diocese, that which is beyond the Church of England. The statement of needs also outlined the need for a bishop "who is incisive, articulate and engaging, both theologically and in public affairs". Viv has not been appointed for one or two churches but for the whole region. People with and without faith, with and without a church connection. Her experience, coupled with that of Bishop Lee is going to make for an exciting new chapter.

The bishop's throne is called the "cathedra" which means "chair" in Latin and "seat" in Greek. So I guess everyone is right?

Posted by: Sarah on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 5:03pm BST

Janet, Cynthia, Alan et al: As the former ringing master I'm restricted to what I can say on a public forum such as this but if you wish to contact me I can try to help your understanding of what happened. There are some important aspects which you have misunderstood. I hope I would be able to persuade you to change at least some of your views. peter@hopgrove.uk

Posted by: Peter Sanderson on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 5:38pm BST

Obviously most of us outsiders aren't privy to enough information to really make a fully-informed assessment of whether the administrative decisions of the Dean and Chapter regarding the bell-ringers were reasonable and proper. It would be easy to get caught up in such a discussion, but I'll resist the temptation!

However, what did surprise me exceedingly at the time was the authorities' unwillingness to ever offer any real olive branch. It would have been very easy for them to say "We still think that the steps we took were appropriate, but perhaps we took those steps in a tactless manner and we are sorry for that. We can understand why the bellringers felt hurt and we would like to meet with them in person to express our apologies and try to make things up."

Whatever the merits of the underlying question, there clearly seems to have been a missed opportunity of demonstrating irenic humility; something which I'm not aware that any of the authorities have ever acknowledged. Perhaps someday one of them will be brave enough to say so.

Posted by: R on Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 9:15pm BST

I have been in touch with Peter Sanderson and am happy to withdraw my statement that 'the bellringers refused to follow safeguarding guidelines'. I offer my apologies to Peter and the other bellringers concerned.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Friday, 18 May 2018 at 12:51pm BST

I am grateful to Sarah for pointing out that the Bristol statement of needs included the sentence "a diocese with an increasingly confident and generous evangelical culture" because that wasn't in the 2002 statement of needs - and says something about the direction of travel under Mike Hill.

However, I am mightily relieved by Sarah's point about the Bishop serving the Diocese as a whole, rather than offering episcopal oversight to the 'members' of gathered congregations. It has been noticeable how all the missional energy has been turned inwards under Mike Hill. The emphasis has been on putting bums on seats (which hasn't worked) instead of engaging more deeply and intelligently with the communities we are called to serve. In that sense, I was glad to read Bill Broadhead's comment that Dean Faull has 'her thumb on the pulse of the city of York.'

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the York bell ringers, I am just one of many people who is absolutely delighted that our new Bishop will not be banging the 'growth' drum in a predictable and off-putting way, that is all about personal salvation and very little about the Church's transforming potential as part of wider society. I am also glad that she is not afraid to affirm LGBT+ people - many of whom have found the culture of Bristol Diocese thoroughly unwelcome for a long time.

Posted by: Ed Johnston on Friday, 18 May 2018 at 2:23pm BST

Thank you, Janet.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 27 May 2018 at 1:01am BST
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