Comments: Bishop of Gloucester to retire

Jeffrey John 4 Gloucester?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 12:04pm GMT

Who is next I wonder. Newcastle?

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 1:22pm GMT

This raises yet again the problem of the backlog in appointments to diocesan bishoprics. If the current schedule is right then it will be a year from the announcement of Bishop Michael's retirement before the vacancy is even considered by the CNC, and presumably this makes it unlikely that his sucessor will be in post much before September 2015.

I don't know who's ultimately in charge of this process, or what could be done, but it is hardly ideal and risks prolonged periods of uncertainty in a diocese, with the risk that key decisions and appointments will be delayed, as well as unsettling for the diocesan family.

Posted by Philip Hobday at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 2:45pm GMT

Parishes are fortunate if they can get away with an interregnum as short as a single year. Most dioceses have suffragans to ensure continuity. I have recently been reading about that great bishop Ian Ramsey. The diocese of Durham has but a single suffragan in the Bishop of Jarrow from 1965 to 1980 that position was held by Bishop Alec Hamilton who served with no less than three Diocesan Bishops and thus covered two episcopal interregnums. Of his three diocesans he wrote this- "To Maurice Harland I was a friend with whom it was a pleasure to work. To Ian Ramsey I was a colleague with whom the episcopal ministry in the diocese was to be shared. To John Habgood I was seen as a subordinate, though a valued and useful one."

Posted by Father David at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 4:44pm GMT

Jeffrey John 4 Gloucester?

No - wrong gender

Posted by Nigel LLoyd at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 5:42pm GMT

A former member of the CNC suggested in a comment here on TA that there should be enough people nominated to form two panels with some small crossover to give a sense of continuity.

Seems too sensible and simple to be taken up.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 5:46pm GMT

He will be a great loss.We are losing all our 'thinking bishops'.
I agree with 'Jeffrey 4 Gloucester' but can we speed up this process.Perhaps we need at least 2 Crown Nominations Committees - one for the Northern Province and one for the Southern.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 6:16pm GMT

@Philip Hobday: Maybe they're deliberately dragging their feet to ensure there will be a number of vacancies once they can start appointing women as bishop. ;-)

Posted by Nom de Plume at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 7:37pm GMT

"Parishes are fortunate if they can get away with an interregnum as short as a single year." Fr. David.
In TEC,especially in parishes where a priest has served for many years,it is generally believed that a long interim period with a priest trained for interim ministry is a good thing. It may last for two years or more, so that parishioners are not still mourning the loss of dear Fr. So-and-so, and saying, "We never did it that way before" (at least not as much!).

Posted by Old Father William at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 11:11pm GMT

Can anyone think of a good reason for not having two smaller panels, with some overlap, covering York and Canterbury? And might it be possible to do part of the work by Skype (if travelling times were removed it might be easier to find a time slot when all panel members were available)?

Posted by Savi Hensman at Monday, 3 February 2014 at 11:20pm GMT

Ah yes, thinking bishop. One of the less successful Gloucestershire cheeses.

Posted by rjb at Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 12:36am GMT

Two panels would require a change in standing orders and could not be introduced quickly, even if desirable. The easy answer is back-to-back meetings. That way the central members work a little harder but their diaries are easier to manage. A woman for Gloucester is a distinct possibility. The putative list of possible candidates is being put together.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 8:10am GMT

Yes and when women are rightly admitted to the Episcopate the Archbishops can feel self righteous as they continue to avoid giving justice to Jeffrey John. They are righting one wrong whilst perpetuating another. I say Jeffrey John for Europe. The advent of women in the House of Bishops of the C of E will close down ecumenical discussions for a decade with Rome, so why not do the right thing all round and appoint the Dean of St Albans to this See?

Posted by commentator at Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 5:45pm GMT

If one were being rational one would have provincial panels (with central overlap) but make the southern province smaller to reflect international duties of ABC. That would require a constitutional earthquake, or perhaps the active intervention of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. I don't think the Dioceses Commission has province boundaries in its sights?

Posted by Mark Bennet at Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 9:53pm GMT

Now that the Government makes public appointments through proper process, give the whole thing back to the Crown (ie the Prime Minister, ie the process used for other public appointments)? The Church's appointment process isn't working, on all sorts of levels. We have a pile up of unfilled vacancies, and continuing rumblings about transparency, equality, etc. It isn't exactly difficult to conceive of a system which would appoint people to fill vacancies in time to ensure an immediate succession to anyone who retires at reasonable notice.

And if there is an interregnum, is it really fair to ask an unfortunate suffragan to "stand in"?

Posted by Turbulent priest at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 8:41am GMT

Mark – IIRC provincial boundaries are within DioComm's remit, but they're not showing any signs of considering them. Which is strange, because the southern province, whose metropolitan is generally regarded as being somewhat busier, is twice the number of dioceses of the northern. Birmingham would make a very sensible third province for starters.

Posted by Dan BD at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 9:22am GMT

Assuming no woman may be considered for an episcopal post until the canons are actually changed (which seems like a safe assumption, I think) – and assuming the legislation receives final approval in November (though we must suppose much could still go awry) – then this see would be the first diocesan see to which a priest-who-happens-to-be-a-woman could be nominated. How exciting!

Posted by Dan BD at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 9:35am GMT

Although, actually that depends on whether CNCs are arranged in order of announcement or in order of vacation – because +Newcastle, as it stands, will vacate in August, before Gloucester...

Posted by Dan BD at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 9:37am GMT

re provincial boundaries and dividing the southern province, there is a precedent for this. The see of Lichfield was archiepiscopal and metropolitan for a short while, admittedly rather a long time ago. But even then, midlanders did not see themselves as either southerners beholden to Canterbury and London or northerners under the sway of York.

There is also the scheme suggested in an article in the Church Times a few years ago, in which there were half a dozen provinces (roughly corresponding to the regions, I think), and many more dioceses, roughly each archdeaconry. In that sketch, these dioceses would have shared provincial admin and offices, rather than every diocese having its own.

The ecclesiology of this scheme does seem to me to be considerably sounder than that being created in West Yorkshire and the Dales, and in a few other large dioceses (where diocesan bishops 'pretend' to be archbishops with their own suite of suffragan / area bishops under them -- not at all the tradition which has been handed down to us).

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 10:42am GMT

Simon K: this one?

Posted by Dan BD at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 11:06am GMT

Dan DB -- yes that's the one. People will have different views on a lot of the details in that proposal, but there has failed to be a thorough and deep discussion about the broad principles -- while the Dioceses Commission tinker and change things in ecclesiologically novel directions.

What, for example, do the dioceses think of these alternate views of the future (or a third alternative of the status quo)? What might deaneries and parishes think? Nobody has asked them.

When I tried to get my General Synod reps to ask such questions in the debate last summer on the West Yorkshire (etc) proposals, the answer seems to have been that this debate has already happened. I must have blinked.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 11:22am GMT

Gareth Miller's paper on the restructuring and renewal of the Church of England is both radical and exciting, much more adventurous than the current tinkering presently going on in West Yorkshire and the Dales. As a plan it has much to commend it. An alternative radical plan is currently underway in the diocese of Chelmsford where four Archdeacons have been increased to seven. Bishop Stephen's vision is that these seven Archdeacons eventually become seven Suffragan bishops. Perhaps we shall have to wait until he becomes the next Archbishop of York before something equally radical can take place in the Northern Province.

Posted by father David at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 2:33pm GMT

Turbulent Priest's idea is brilliant. As they are Crown appointments, the Crown should appoint them the same way as (in theory) it does all other public appointments, with due regard to the Equality Act and proper procedure. (Of course that is idealised, see current news about replacing quango chiefs, but...)

Faced with the inevitable response that it is none of the state's business, the state can then reply: "Ah, so you do want disestablishment after all. Fine, we can arrange that".

Posted by iain mclean at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 3:12pm GMT

Yes, they are Crown appointments. And my people love to have it so.

Posted by Jamie Wood at Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 6:07pm GMT

Actually asking an "unfortunate suffragan" to stand in mirrors what often happens in other organisations, where people are seconded to "acting" posts before being appointed to substantive posts of their own. It is one of the limited options the CofE has for developing the skills and experience of its emerging leaders.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 6 February 2014 at 7:37am GMT
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