Comments: Proposal to revive the See of Islington

What I suspect is really happening here is that Sandy Millar has retired from the work he was doing since he retired as rector of HTB, and Richard Chartres finds he was doing useful work and wants someone to replace him.

I further suspect that the main usefulness is for someone who is part of the London college of bishops having overall oversight for the various HTB plants. If this bishop does not exist, the work will be done by someone based at HTB who is less answerable to Richard Chartres and wider Anglican structures.

Posted by Leon Clarke at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 11:53am GMT

Reminds me a bit of this:

Posted by Simon at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 12:42pm GMT

And I suppose the obvious question is how this non-territorial bishop will compare to the bishop of Fulham. Will the split of responsibilities between the territorial bishop and Islington be similar to the split of responsibilities with Fulham, or will it be different as this new bishop is doing a different kind of job?

Posted by Leon Clarke at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 2:38pm GMT

Leon, I thought the HTB clergy had taken oaths of canonical obedience to +London. And had made similar oaths at ordination.

Posted by Charles Read at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 4:10pm GMT

Simon on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 12:42pm GMT,

I am reminded of "I am the Monarch of the Sea" and The Captain's Song ("When I was a lad ..."), especially the last two verses of the latter, from HMS Pinafore. The parallels to navies and church hierarchies are instructive.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 6:00pm GMT

Yes, Charles, several people have thought that.

Posted by DBD at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 7:39pm GMT

I think that as long as planting of churches from the full breadth of the CofE traditions is supported, noone is likely to have an issue with this are they? But how likely is that to happen?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 9:16pm GMT

I guess this means that if your parish is wealthy enough to plant churches, you get a bishop of your own.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 9:50pm GMT

With this novel and innovative idea with regard to the oversight offered by the Church Planting Bishop of Islington, is this not further evidence that the present long serving Bishop of London is the greatest Archbishop of Canterbury we never had?

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 10:57pm GMT

I find it strange how sniffy some of these responses are. Shouldn't we be celebrating? It seems entirely sensible to base leadership structures on what God is doing in the present, rather than because we've always done it. Change and growth among God's people often results in new leadership structures - whether its Moses delegating his legal stuff after the report from Jethro Consultancies, or the first 'deacons'. So what's the problem?

Posted by David Keen at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 12:11am GMT

Planting of churches "from the full breadth of the CofE traditions" will happen when people in those traditions decide that planting a church is something they want to devote energy to, and join with others in their tradition to do it. Planting churches happens as a "bottom up" movement. Bishops don't tend to lead this sort of movement. They come along later.

Posted by John Sandeman at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 1:09am GMT

This could all be a desperate attempt to avoid new plant churches being abducted by A.M.i.E. At least, with their 'own' (flying?) bishop. they could still technically remain 'Anglican'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 9:31am GMT

I didn't want to suggest that there's a problem with HTB-related clergy not taking seriously their vows of canonical obedience.

What I meant was actually a largely positive thing, which I'll try to explain better:

Most plants in London are HTB ones, so if London does something to do with church plants, it's mostly about HTB.

HTB plants, quite naturally look to HTB as their mother church. If they were left to their own devices they'd organise into something rather like a diocese with HTB as the cathedral. The problem for the diocese of London is that, were they allowed to do this, rather a lot of wonderful things would happen. Therefore the diocese shouldn't stamp down on any such developments, but should allow some organisation to exist among the HTB plants.

Having done that (which they have in fact been doing for many years), they need to ensure that there is some alignment between what the diocese is doing and what the HTB churches are doing. Which means some communication between the organisational structures. I suspect that Sandy Millar's role as an assistant bishop in London was the mechanism by which this worked. He's now moved out of London so they need someone else.

Posted by Leon Clarke at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 9:39am GMT

Ron why call this 'desperate'? Looks like a positive and bold initiative - and if you we want to add 'shrewd' as well -yes fine.

Posted by David Runcorn at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 11:01am GMT

This is very much Chartres the Strategist at work. He may, given the choice, be chauffeured a million miles away from worshipping in places with power-points and pop groups; but he has consistently and persistently invested much in the Sandy Millar/Nicky Gumbell trajectory. It has meant (a)that HTB and its plants remain within the mainstream C of E and (b) the parish share from HTB and their plants has kept flowing into the London Diocesan Fund. The appointment of Paul Williams as Bishop of Kensington was, unquestionably, part of this strategy, much to the chagrin of the liberal catholic parishes in the Kensington Area. How the revival of the See of Islington relates to the retirement of Sandy Millar, the need for HTB's money and plans for the appointment of the next Bishop of Kensington, we will never fully know at this stage. The inscrutable prelate of London has his own unique modus operandi which keeps everyone guessing. But you can be sure that, may be this time next year, the pieces of the jigsaw will be in place and we will tell ourselves we saw it coming. By the way, any idea what the odds are on +Nicky Islington at William Hill?

Posted by James A at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 11:18am GMT

It's worth pointing out that HTB, although the largest, aren't the only game in town (or the Metropolis) - there's also the Co-Mission churches and a few others (does 'Moot' count as a church plant?)

The Co-Mission churches have found it easier to relate to London diocese rather than Southwark, so perhaps a 'flying' church-planting bishop would help bring those South-of-the-river churches more under the C of E umbrella.

Posted by Peter K at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 12:04pm GMT

The proposal, which we have been working up for some time, has to be approved by the Dioceses Commission. It's about a bishop for church planting, not merely in the Diocese of London, but across the piste. And no, not every church plant in London is HTB in origin. Much work is being done to remind catholics that planting was their prerogative in the C19, and to equip them for the same. We have a commitment to start 100 new churches in London before 2020. And to plant resource churches across the country at the invitation of the respective Bishops. +Islington will be part of the episcopal team in London. It would be great if we could consecrate the new Bishops of Edmonton, Kensington & Islington together later this year - and that's what we are working towards.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 5:39pm GMT

"Ron why call this 'desperate'? Looks like a positive and bold initiative - and if you we want to add 'shrewd' as well -yes fine." - David Runcorn -

Perhaps my word 'desperate' is a little forced. However, until A./M./i.E. is exposed by the Church of england to be what it actually is - a plant on home territory by the GAFCON - such a measure as 'special oversight' of Church plants might be a necessary step for +London to take.

When will the Church of England stand up and admit that the GAFCON trespass on C. of E. jurisdiction is unacceptable - if GAFCON want to remain as an entity within the Anglican Communion? The real question may be, does A.M.i.E/GAFCON still consider itself part of the Anglican Family?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 8:20pm GMT

The Bishop of Willesden clarifies the situation concerning the future role of a resurrected Bishopric of Islington. Good to see the Church of England being proactive for once. What he describes looks very much to me like an alternative version of the Third Province which FiF sought but for very different reasons. If this comes to pass would Christ Church, Salisbury conform and submit to the oversight of the Bishop of Islington rather than continue to shelter under the GAFCON umbrella?
Also the good bishop looks forward to the three new Area Bishops being consecrated together later this year. That rather assumes that the new Edmonton would not be consecrated under the special arrangements that so successfully applied when the Bishop of Burnley was consecrated earlier this year in York Minster. Or would the Archbishop of Canterbury exercise gracious restraint and allow the Bishop of London to be the Chief Consecrator of the next Edmonton, or even consecrate all three of his new Area Bishops, thus making the Third Province model even more of a reality? A further added complication is that the present Bishop of London does not ordain anyone to the priesthood but does he usually join in the holy scrum when male bishops are consecrated? Would + Richard consider being the Chief Consecrator of a bishop or bishops when he doesn't himself ordain either men or women to the lower order of priesthood? He was one of the two bishops who presented Father Philip North to be consecrated by the Bishop of Chichester, would he go one step further and take on the role of Chief Consecrator? If the special arrangements for the trinitarian consecration of the new bishops to serve Londinium are brought into play again, could there not be a fourth bishop consecrated at the same time - the next Conservative Evangelical Bishop of Maidstone, who could well be regarded as a leader of the Fourth Province! Just a thought! How we do make things complicated for ourselves in our beloved Church of England.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 13 March 2015 at 5:31am GMT

Third Province? Is the assumption that all church plants are now and forever shall be conservative on the same issues that unite them all?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 13 March 2015 at 1:15pm GMT

I'm grateful for Pete Broadbent's timely reminder of the catholic pioneers who church-planted in Victorian England (Dr Hook's Leeds Parish church and the satellite parishes which surrounded it being a prime example). They did this, of course, both in obedience to, and sometimes in the teeth of opposition from, the existing hierarchical structures. In that sense, very little has changed. The notion of Episcope 'across the piste' may make sense in terms of resourcing and inspiring a particular (congregational) constituency; but it contributes to the further ecclesiological fragmentation of the Church of England's distinctive mission to its wider societal context (in other words, sorry if this word now offends, its parish). David Runcorn is right to describe this development as shrewd; but the shrewdness will be evidenced by the degree of catholicity (as opposed to congregationalism) inherent in the model of episcope that emerges. Given Richard Chartres' recent propensity to make overtures towards ACNA-affiliated churches in Europe, a residual uncertainty pervades my take on this development, despite its seemingly attractive potential.

Posted by Simon R at Friday, 13 March 2015 at 4:50pm GMT

Simon R, I wonder what the Victorian Oxford Movement Anglo-Catholic church planting pioneers would make of the present day HTB church plants?

Posted by Father David at Friday, 13 March 2015 at 5:29pm GMT

There is a madness that overtakes this set of Boards every once in a while. And also a deafness. Nobody has linked +Islington to GAFCON, AMIE or any other sectarian group. It's all in your imaginations. The 30 or so plants in London are all led by priests who hold the respective licence of the relevant Area Bishop. They are normal CoFE, the both-and of parish and new experimental ecclesial Communities. I was teaching 6 more clergy yesterday who are already planting or about to plant under the authority of their Diocesan/Area Bishops. It's entirely catholic (though not obsessively monoepiscopal). The other running fantasy is about the "pedigree" of the next Bishop of Edmonton when I hand over to him ("her" is unlikely!). Assumptions are being made, and we haven't even shortlisted...

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Friday, 13 March 2015 at 6:03pm GMT

I can't think that words like "madness", "deafness" and "fantasy" are particularly helpful when discussing a new concept such as a Flying Bishop for Church Plants. I don't recall this novel idea or proposal being discussed by the General Synod, should this not be high on their agenda, especially as the implications of the creation of such a new post stretch far beyond the boundaries of the diocese of London, even as far as St. Swithin's in Lincoln but not, so it seems, Christ Church, Salisbury?

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 14 March 2015 at 6:13am GMT

I don't think I was directly linking the Islington appointment with sectarianism per se; I was simply pointing out the Bishop of London's propensity to make common cause with some of these groups outside his own jurisdiction. This, not unreasonably, causes me to wonder what his understanding of a catholic expression of episcope actually is.

The case I cited can be found at scroll half-way down the page.

Was the Bishop in Europe consulted about this visit to an ACNA- affiliated 'plant' before it took place, for example, or given an opportunity to say what the implications for this visit might be, not least in its impact on the CofE's relationship with TEC on the European mainland?

Posted by Simon R at Saturday, 14 March 2015 at 10:07am GMT

A question from a far outpost of the Anglican world, where such propositions as 'special episcope' for select groups would be first raised in the general Synod of our Church: Is this process, proposed by +London, yet been discussed by the General Synod of the local Church? And if not, why not?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 14 March 2015 at 10:14am GMT

Since ECUSA have no place in Europe anyway, their attitude is irrelevant. They should abandon their imperialist presence there before they start worrying about border-crossing (!) Pot. Kettle. Black. [There's a lot of pious nonsense talked about border-crossing by those who have historically practised it themselves]

More seriously, +Richard does ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox and Reformed in Europe. That's his role. So that's why he was there.

As to Ron Smith - the way this works is that the Dioceses Commission is the place where these things are scrutinised. They are a standing commission of General Synod.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 15 March 2015 at 12:47pm GMT

"+Richard does ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox and Reformed in Europe. That's his role. So that's why he was there" @ Pete Broadbent. So where does that leave the Bishop in Europe (a Diocesan Bishop of the Church of England)? And it still doesn't explain why he was making overtures to an ACNA-affiliated 'plant' in someone else's diocese.

Pete Broadbent's take on TEC's place in Europe is refreshingly direct and I find it hard to disagree with his analysis. Nonetheless, given that it is there, and that the CofE is in full communion with TEC, we cannot simply behave as if they don't matter... unless we're content to slip back in to the mode of "I'm for Apollos and I'm for Paul"?

Posted by Simon R at Monday, 16 March 2015 at 9:25am GMT

Yes, Simon R, quite right. And more to the point, the Church of England is NOT in communion with ACNA! It would be interesting to know what the Council for Christian Unity has to say about this and similar perambulations around Europe by the Lord Prelate of London.

Posted by Tom Marshall at Monday, 16 March 2015 at 11:10am GMT

re Tom Marshall's observation that the C.of E. is not in Communion with ACNA; those of us in other Communion Provinces would quite like an official statement from the ABC that this, indeed, is the reality. One wonders whether the judicial silence on tis matter might just segue in some sort of de facto reationship between C.of E. and ACNA?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 18 March 2015 at 3:57am GMT
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