Comments: Suffragan Bishop of Hertford

Very good! Two Westcott ordinations (kind of) to the episcopate on Ascension Day, Martin Seeley (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) and Michael Beasley (Hertford), although they trained at Cranmer Hall and Ripon Cuddesdon respectively.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 10:35am GMT

Seems an fascinating gentleman with an unusual career to date. I'm sure that some will be a little disappointed a woman hasn't been chosen, but his career fits in with a couple of main themes in St Albans diocese for the past few years - an overarching missional direction, combined with a developing capability in theology and science.

Posted by Peter K at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 10:39am GMT

I know nothing of Canon Beasley, but it does look like non-church qualifications and experiences are now be valued at higher levels. Thanks be to God!

Posted by Susan Cooper at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 10:54am GMT

I don't know anything about him, but it does seem like a missed opportunity to appoint another woman suffragan after +Stockport. The diocese still has no women in senior diocesan positions. The Southern province still has no women bishops.

Posted by Anne P at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 11:09am GMT

If pre-ordination experience is important, then how important is parochial experience, and that in a multiparish benefice?

Posted by Fr William at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 11:29am GMT

May Saint Valentine pray for him.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 11:30am GMT

Yes, Anne is correct in that St. Albans does not even have a single female Archdeacon unlike neighbouring Oxford where I was surprised to discover that no less that three out of the four Archdeaconries are held by women. However, the Oxford diocese is currently vacant, I had wondered if the Rector of St. James, Piccadilly might possibly fill the vacant See or if they require a scholar at Oxford then the Dean of St. Albans would be the perfect choice. What a delicious irony that would be - forced to resign as Bishop Designate of Reading but then becoming + Jeffrey Oxon. Then I noticed that Dr. Philip Giddings was on the Vacancy in See Committee as a Diocesan representative and I was brought back to earth with a bump.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 12:59pm GMT

Crikey! They ran out of women suitable for appointment as Bishops pretty quickly.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 1:09pm GMT

The longer it takes to appoint women to such posts, the longer it will take to reach the 30% necessary in the College of Bishops to effect culture change that will benefit men, women and the wider Church. Appoint on merit, yes, and also search really, really hard for a woman who merits.

Posted by Hilary Cotton at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 1:49pm GMT

He's a very good and gifted person. Congratulations.

Posted by ExRevd at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 3:45pm GMT

Scientists make good priests- the priest who brought me into PECUSA was also a pathologist. An epidemiologist/priest sounds like quite a good combination.

Is there still an informal block on supporters of equal marriage getting episcopal appointments that could land them in the House of Lords? That could severely limit opportunities for women priests to become bishops in the CoE.

Posted by Whit Johnstone at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 8:21pm GMT

Since the retirement of the Revd Dr. John Polkinghorne we have lacked a someone in Holy Orders who is also a highly significant and well respected scientist. Let us hope that the next Bishop of Hertford is able to fill the vacuum and bring to his ministry a greater understanding and a broader unity between the two worlds of Religion and Science

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 11:39pm GMT

Father David - Let me introduce you to the Revd Prof Michael Reiss -

Posted by Jenny Petersen at Friday, 6 March 2015 at 8:49am GMT

Pleased to meet you, Professor Reiss, although until Jenny kindly made the introduction I can't say that I had come across your name before, so not quite as high profile as John Polkinghorne. The ever informative Wikipedia says of Professor Reiss "From 2006 to 2008 he was Director of Education at the Royal Society, a position he resigned on 16 September 2008, following protests about his views on tackling creationism when teaching evolution in schools which the Royal Society said 'was open to misinterpretation.' "
What was that all about then?

Posted by Father David at Friday, 6 March 2015 at 9:40am GMT

Father David

There's an excellent article he wrote for the Guardian at:

explaining his views, which I think displays a great deal of common sense.

The Royal Society ended up with egg on its face:

Posted by Stevie Gamble at Friday, 6 March 2015 at 9:36pm GMT

Certainly no requirement for a scholar at Oxford. This is about mission and +Pritchard put that back on the map. When +Harries arrived in about 1988 the dons noted that he had a DD, 'but it wasn't from Oxford!'

Posted by Anthony Archer at Friday, 6 March 2015 at 9:55pm GMT

Perhaps Peter Owen could tell us how many Area/Suffragan bishoprics are vacant?

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 6 March 2015 at 10:27pm GMT

My list is here:

If I have counted correctly there are 11 suffragan sees where the bishop has left or announced his intention to leave, but no successor has yet been announced.

In addition the Church Times reports today that the Bishop of London is seeking to revive the see of Islington which has been vacant since 1923.

Posted by Peter Owen at Friday, 6 March 2015 at 11:32pm GMT

A peripatetic Bishop of Islington to oversee Church Plants would, I feel sure, receive the approval of the Flower Arrangers, that gallant band of worthy people who so devotedly adorn the churches of this land with foliage and flowers each and every Sunday except in Lent and Advent. An inspired idea.
Well, in recognition of his exceptional ministry they made Sandy Miller a Ugandan Bishop, now retired in sedate Aldeburgh, in the St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocese (still awaiting a new Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich - so I expect that Bishop Sandy's services are being well utilised during the episcopal interregnum).
As to the next Bishop of Islington, surely the most obvious candidate would be the present incumbent of HTB and Creator of the Alpha course, none other than the Reverend Nicky Gumbel. + Nicky Islington has a certain ring to it and is very much in keeping with the growing band of bishops who, rather trendily, like to shorten their Christian names (e.g. Bishops Mike, Tom, Nick etc. mercifully we don't yet have a Bishop Dave or a Bishop Dick).
While we are at it shouldn't there also be a Bishop to oversee Church Plants in the Northern Province? Could I suggest that we revive theBishopric of Barrow-in-Furness, a Suffrgan See which has been in abeyance since 1944 when the independently minded Bishop Pelham retired. His story is told in that most readable volume - "Mitred Men of Cumbria" - available in all good Bookshops.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 7 March 2015 at 6:45am GMT

re the reference to the Bishop of London's call for the revival of the see of Islington (under his diocesan episcope) in order to provide a leadership role for Church growth; the real surprise - to me at least - is the fact that Richard Chartres is actually promoting the Alpha model as his well-spring for the new Church-planting initiative. This is certainly different from the former Anglo-Catholic model.

Mind you, this plan might provide for some measure of (Anglican) control over the possibility of the infant churches moving towards the A.M.i.E. - the foster-child of the GAFCON Provinces.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 7 March 2015 at 9:25am GMT

Peter Owen - I notice that your list doesn't have Brian Castle, Bishop of Tonbridge on it. He has announced his retirement as of 31st October:

Posted by Chris Routledge at Saturday, 7 March 2015 at 9:47am GMT

Fr. Ron is correct in pointing us towards the AMIE initiative and it looks a little as though the Bishop of London is locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. I'm thinking especially of Christ Church in Salisbury which is causing the bishop of that diocese significant concern as to the involvement and role of the Bishop of Paraguay in commissioning this new church and ministry. Bishop Richard professes that he does not wish to harness the Holy Spirit, similarly, was it Sydney Carter who in one of his worship songs proclaimed that you simply cannot cage the bird of Heaven. I'm not sure what the Lord Bishop of Salisbury can do other than huff and puff as the Paraclete takes wings.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 7 March 2015 at 2:25pm GMT

Bishop of Dorking Announces Retirement
Peter Owen can add another retiring suffragan to the list. This was announced on 12 Feb: The Rt Revd Ian Brackley has announced that he will retire this autumn after nearly 20 years at Bishop of Dorking. There will be a farewell service at 3pm on Sunday 6 September at Guildford Cathedral to which everyone is invited. Bishop Ian will officially retire on September 30 after which he and his wife Penny will move to Petersfield in the Diocese of Portsmouth. More information will be made available in due course.

Posted by Rev Peter at Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 8:52am GMT

'Certainly no requirement for a scholar at Oxford. This is about mission...' @Anthony Archer. Kyrie eleison. I would have thought that this is a prime opportunity to appoint a scholar to compensate for the dearth of professional scholars in the House of Bishops. Good mission arises from strong theological foundations. We have more mission/evangelism 'experts' than we know what to do with at the moment - and few of them are well-equipped theologically. Theologians are becoming an endangered species and we are already reaping an abundant harvest of superficiality.

Posted by Tom Marshall at Monday, 9 March 2015 at 3:44pm GMT

I don't disagree with Tom Marshall in some ways. ++Rowan was also exercised about how to get the likes of +Sykes (RIP), +Selby and +Wright into the House of Bishops in the future when CNCs come with a clear agenda to lead their dioceses into growth to arrest decline in attendance and reverse declining stewardship. The answer is that the HoB needs to do theology in different ways. There are theological consultants in many areas. Maybe bring the Doctrine Commission out of mothballs. But while we all want good mission, the theological bar to enabling that to happen is hardly high. A spot of teaching on the Great Commission does not need a PhD. Shock horror, even a lay person without a degree in theology could do it!!

Posted by Anthony Archer at Monday, 16 March 2015 at 2:09pm GMT
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