Comments: Bishop Tim Thornton announced as new Bishop at Lambeth

What do we read into the fact that the Bishop who was heavily involved with the Green Report, the Talent Pool and the growth of the MBA culture has been 'kicked upstairs'?

The curious thing is that, for all his enthusiasm for business models, Tim Thornton has never worked in the 'real' world outside the Church, and has no first-hand experience of the commercial sector. That may be reflected in the fact that Truro Diocese is struggling. When he became our bishop in 2009, he promised much, but has been unable to deliver on much that he promised. Others may disagree.

Whatever the reasons for this move, I hope he has a robust tin helmet and a thick skin. The bullets will be coming from all directions - not least from those who are forbidden to bear arms!

Posted by Tom Marshall at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 3:42pm BST

I think we can read into that fact that this is a highly capable bishop who has been given a highly significant job.

I am weary of people who talk about the church not being the real world. When the church ceases to be part of the real world it ceases to be the church. Just because one of its clerics has not worked outside of the church does not negate their capacity as a force and agent for change.

I wish +Tim all the best in his new role. He will need all our prayers and not a thick skin but a thin skin to be able to be sensitive to the needs of the whole of the people of God and also to those who are seeking a place of hope and meaning in their lives.

God preserve us from more leaders with thick skins and helmets.

Posted by Tim S at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 10:33pm BST

Congratulations on your new appointment. I recall +Tim's predecessor + Bill (who came over very well in that TV series about the Scilly Isles - particularly when he went for a dip in the sea holding onto his shepherd's crook) writing an introduction to one edition of The Churchwarden's Diary when he told the tale about making excuses after a Confirmation Service on not being able to stay on for the bun fight as he had to be in London for a meeting early the next day. On hearing this the Cornish Churchwarden said "Mmmm! London, long way from anywhere is London!"
I do hope that the remoteness of Lambeth is no bar to Tim's enjoyment of his new role.
As for Tom's comment about Tim's inexperience of the mythical "real" world (I've yet to discover in an atlas exactly where this "real" world is actually located?). How many young ordinands in the 1970s and thereafter were "Not yet recommended" by ACCM to go away and get some experience of the "real" world before offering themselves again for selection. We are now reaping the reaping the harvest of that bad advice
with a severe shortage of clergy and the imminent retirement of 40% of the current batch of stipendiary clergy. After 40 years' service in the parochial ministry - well, if that isn't an encounter with the "real" world, then, I don't know what is!
As for the next Bishop at Lambeth having a thick or a thin skin - I'm not so sure about that but he will certainly need a sense of humour. Knowingly, I have only encountered Tim Thornton once and that was when he was Bishop of Sherborne. It was at the "putting in" of the new incumbent of Corfe Castle whose previous ministry had been in West Yorkshire and his former parishioners were well represented in the congregation. To make them feel at home in rural Dorset +Tim began his sermon with a bit of a riddle by asking the congregation if they knew the meaning of the phrase "Tin, Tin, Tin"? This, apparently is Yorkshire dialect for "It isn't in the tin!"
I wish the next Bishop at Lambeth every success in his new ministry as ++ Justin's right hand man.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 5:55am BST

This is disappointing. The last thing Lambeth needs at the moment in another Bishop-cum-Wannabe-Manager. I had started to think about another obvious candidate who has proven intellectual ability, and is theologically imaginative, who might take the rather dull and predictable edge off the Arhcbishop's pronouncements. With the exception of two (who probably wouldn't want to be in the firing line of someone recently depicted by Stephen Bates) I couldn't think of anyone. So, a sigh of resignation in Christ Church, Oxford; and a sigh of relief in London.

Posted by Will Richards at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 7:37am BST

Those of us from Cornwall will naturally wish Tim Thornton well in his new post. His is a genuinely nice person, even if he hasn't exactly set the place alight, as we were promised he would, or really understood Cornwall's distinctive identity. May be that's just the reality of being a bishop today? As far as Lambeth Palace is concerned, if the Archbishop is looking for a bureaucrat who is 'on message' he's got exactly the right man for the job. A win-win situation.

Posted by Eric Hardy at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 8:27am BST

"He is chair of the Development and Appointments Group which oversees the leadership development work among senior clergy."

I am a cynic, aren't I?

Posted by Kate at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 8:58pm BST

I wish Bishop Tim, every good wish that anyone would want.As far as I am concerned, he has done a splendid job in Cornwall and the Diocese of Truro and I am sure, that many parishioners would join with me and wish him well for the future with a big thank you, for all he has done in the past 8 or9 years. May God Bless you and all that you do!!
Sincerely, dear Brother in Christ.
Fra Leslie. KGCT.

Posted by Leslie J Payne at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 11:46pm BST

I asked a retired bishop-friend of mine whether Tim Thornotn is a prefect or a prophet. I was not encouraged by the answer I received. I think we can expect, as Kate has hinted, something akin to a 'cabinet enforcer.'

Posted by David Hunter at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 7:40am BST

When Robert Runcie became Archbishop of Canterbury after his time at St. Albans his two Suffragan bishops became diocesans - Alex Graham to Newcastle and Peter Mumford to Truro - both dioceses being as far away as possible from Lambeth yet still remaining within the Church of England. It was a great pity that in Bishop Lightfoot's time Northumberland (and Lindisfarne especially)was lost to the diocese of Durham in 1882.Five years before that the diocese of Truro was detached from the diocese of Exeter and Edward White Benson became its first bishop. Leeds has led the way by becoming the first mega-diocese. Is it not time to follow that lead by amalgamating Newcastle with Durham and Truro with Exeter once more? It's not so very long ago that we heard that the Church of England in Cornwall might soon be following the Cornish tin mines into extinction and a massive increase in parish quotas was recommended. Failing amalgamation - then Truro needs a new diocesan. I wonder if there would have been the same fuss had Philip North been appointed to Truro rather than Sheffield. What a marvellous successor to Walter Frere he would have made. I'm sure that we would have had yet another long essay from the city of dreaming spires but I wonder if there would have been the same kerfuffle? It's not too late to right the absolute scandal caused by those who forced Bishop North to withdraw his acceptance of Sheffield by appointing him to Truro. Now, he really would be someone to "set the place alight"!

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 8:22am BST

'To make them feel at home in rural Dorset +Tim began his sermon with a bit of a riddle by asking the congregation if they knew the meaning of the phrase "Tin, Tin, Tin"? This, apparently is Yorkshire dialect for "It isn't in the tin!"'

I have lived and worked in West Yorks and now live in North Yorks, and have never heard of either the 'dialect phrase' or its translation!

Posted by Janet Fife at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 9:22am BST

It's good to have Fr David's recollection of one of Bishop Tim's anecdotes in a sermon. We've heard a lot of them over these past few years. He is good at anecdotes. Was it followed by any thorough engagement with Scripture, by any chance? He's no theologian; but he's certainly a fixer. If Justin Welby is looking for an ideas person, and there are other people who can effectively implement those ideas by bringing people with them, then the Archbishop has done well and got the right man for the job.

Posted by Paul Tomkins at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 12:12pm BST

The communications department at Church Central could do with someone with Eric Hardy's nuance of expression!

Posted by turbulent priest at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 1:44pm BST

What? No mention of hiking, baking, real ale or travel. How is he going to relate to the good folk at Lambeth Palace?

Posted by Stephen Griffiths at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 2:35pm BST

Fr David Your suggestions re Bishop North and Truro make clear you have not understood the concerns that led to his standing down from Sheffield. They would and should be concerns in Truro or any other diocese.

Posted by David Runcorn at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 6:55pm BST

How could you join Truro (Cornwall) with Exeter (England) without provoking an international war?

Posted by David Emmott at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 9:44pm BST

'To make them feel at home in rural Dorset +Tim began his sermon with a bit of a riddle by asking the congregation if they knew the meaning of the phrase "Tin, Tin, Tin"? This, apparently is Yorkshire dialect for "It isn't in the tin!"'

I have lived and worked in West Yorks and now live in North Yorks, and have never heard of either the 'dialect phrase' or its translation!

Posted by: Janet Fife on Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 9:22am BST

It's not dialect obviously but an attempt at phonetic spelling. Seems authentic enough to me, a Keighley lad.

Posted by David Emmott at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 9:46pm BST

"[Bishop Tim] is good at anecdotes. Was [his anecdote] followed by any thorough engagement with Scripture, by any chance?"

Sorry, but this comment cuts no ice today. Those offering themselves for ordination are expected to pepper their homilies with inane "jokes", and will be criticised by assessors if they do not. To approach preaching with gravity and careful thought is decidedly out of favour with Church of England plc, especially with those who are determined to abolish extended and residential priestly formation.

Posted by Barry at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 10:00pm BST

Well said, @Barry. I have grown up in Truro Diocese, and we are in no doubt what our soon-to-be-former-Bishop thinks about residential formation. The consequence is that (to use R.S. Thomas's description of Wales) we have become 'sick with inbreeding.' Very little new blood has been brought in from outside to invigorate the Diocese at a strategic level, and the senior staff team is almost entirely home-grown. We would certainly welcome someone of Philip North's depth and wider catholicity here. He would have a firmer grasp of the Diocese's unique identity, as well being able to envision its future as part of the Church Universal.

Posted by Tim Newns at Friday, 7 April 2017 at 7:42am BST

I have similar experience to Barry of insistence on preaching "lite" in the CofE e.g. curates being asked, "What commentary do you use?" i.e. singular, and possibly for all books of the Bible. I have heard curates say they write the sermon according to their own opinions and then maybe take a look at a commentary after drafting it, if they have time.

There is a mania for demanding to know how long it takes to plan and write a sermon, as though the incubation process should be obviously quantifiable. What of the ideas that come to us in the shower? or on waking up after a good night's sleep? or even after (traditionalist alert) praying about the needs of the congregation? I have heard of people being told the whole thing should take a couple of hours from start to finish; not just that one should be prepared to attempt a sermon with a morning's notice if a colleague is ill, but that the congregation is only entitled to a couple of hours' of one's precious time on a regular basis to expose the word of God (or perhaps the latest Guardian opinion section) to them.

Where I might part company with Barry is the question of "extended and residential priestly formation," which in my opinion may be irretrievably broken already, and for very similar reasons to the epidemic of waffle after the gospel.

Posted by ClericalError at Friday, 7 April 2017 at 10:13am BST

The role of Bishop at Lambeth was originally a Chief of Staff type post. Now Lambeth has a CoS and plenty of other 'senior' managers. Surely this is an unnecessary appointment?

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 7 April 2017 at 10:54am BST

Ahem, Barry. Are you prejudices showing? Since I teach Reader candidates and ordinands perhaps I can set the record straight. We would mark down a sermon with no Biblical / theological content (and we do) and we would also mark down a very erudite sermon that did not actually communicate. On our part residential course, all our students are studying in the context of local church ministry and mission and usually secular employment too. That seems like a good context out of which to preach.

Posted by Charles Read at Friday, 7 April 2017 at 12:28pm BST

Barry I don't need to be a DDO and recent theological tutor to know this is complete nonsense.

Posted by David Runcorn at Friday, 7 April 2017 at 2:13pm BST

David Runcorn: Please give your concrete evidence that what I have said is "complete nonsense." I am speaking from meeting with those prospective ordinands who have been criticised for not using "humour" in their homilies.

Charles Read: please do not assume that I have prejudices. A "context of local church ministry and mission and usually secular employment" is excellent, but the content of the Faith has still to be taught. The preacher must preach to the people where they are, but that does not mean that their approach to preaching must not be serious and require serious listening. My complaint is against anything which trivialises one of the most important aspects of priestly ministry.

Posted by Barry at Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 12:47am BST

Goodness, who would have thought that three little words "TIN, TIN, TIN" would produce such a backlash on homiletics? Still, makes a nice change from the usual TA subject!
As for the fairly recent appointment of Bishop at Lambeth this was an innovation introduced by Robert Runcie (makes you wonder how the poor dears managed without one before then?)in 1984. Tim Thornton being the sixth such in line of succession. His predecessors include three former
Diocesans (Portsmouth, Gloucester and Eds & Ips) and two former Suffragans (Stockport and Dover)
Ronald Gordon 1984-1991
John Yates 1992-1994
Frank Sargeant 1994-1999
Richard Llewellin 1999-2004
Vacant
Nigel Stock 2013-2017
Tim Thornton 2017
It would seem that Rowan did not see the need for such assistance but the post has been reinstated by Archbishop Welby, who seems to favour former diocesans in the post rather than former Suffragans.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 6:29am BST

I'm still agog to know what 'Tin, tin, tin' and 'It's not in the tin' mean? Can someone please explain and I'll add them to my list of dialect words and phrases! If 'tin, tin, tin' is phonetic (for what?) it might sit happily alongside 'put wood in tole'. (Bradford: translation 'shut the door'; lit. 'put the wood in the hole').

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 8:35am BST

Charles, reflecting again on your comment in the clear light of day, I realise I must do what I did not do in my rather irritable initial response and acknowledge that you are in a far better position to know the facts than I am. Thank you for correcting me. I hope we would agree on the vital need in the Church for preaching which is rooted in the lives of congregations, while having solid doctrinal teaching and the potential (by the Grace of God) to be inspiring and challenging.

Posted by Barry at Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 10:01am BST

It isn't in the tin, Janet.

"'T in't in t' tin."

Hope this helps. Not that this Scottish lass knows much about Yorkshire expressions!

Quite what it has to do with Christianity I have no clue whatsoever.

Probably as much as Labradors, which Tim assures us elsewhere are gorgeous, lovable creatures, but which in my experience tend to be slobbery, plodding and slightly stupid... at least compared to cats.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 10:05am BST

Barry encouraging the use of humour in public preaching is hardly the same as being told to 'pepper their homilies with inane "jokes"'.
Nor does the advice to sue humour mean 'preaching with gravity and careful thought is decidedly out of favour with Church of England plc.'
Nor does the use of humour mean anything is being trivialised.
Jesus himself used it.

Posted by David Runcorn at Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 7:27pm BST

Barry I did reply but it didn't appear.

Humour is an essential (if difficult) skill in preaching - as in any public speaking. I expect it to be part of good preaching training. And if an ordinand's sermon is dry and dull then encouraging them to use humour is good feedback - not least if you want anyone in the congregation to actually listen.
But you appear to assume two things from this. That the' CofE plc' (plc?? - sound of axes grinding in the background here) expects clergy, as official policy, to 'pepper their homilies with inane "jokes"' and will criticise them if they don't. That is still nonsense.
And secondly that the use of humour will mean a lack of gravitas. So much for Jesus's teaching then. But this is not true either - any more than seriousness is a guarantee a sermon has depth.

Posted by David Runcorn at Monday, 10 April 2017 at 7:12pm BST

Tin tin, tin - thank you Susannah! Still wondering what 'it isn't in the tin' means, google is no help....

I agree with you about labradors. Also, they shed a lot. I prefer terriers, probably because I can be rather terrier-like myself!

Posted by Janet Fife at Tuesday, 11 April 2017 at 4:37pm BST

Tin tin tin is one of those examples of Yorkshire dialect that you (usually) find in books aimed at tourists.

It isn't in the tin
't in't int' tin
tin tin tin

Posted by John Roch at Wednesday, 12 April 2017 at 12:37pm BST
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