Updated twice on Wednesday
from the Diocese of Durham website
The Bishop of Durham, Dr N. T. Wright, has announced that he will be retiring from the See of Durham on August 31.
Dr Wright, who will be 62 this autumn, is returning to the academic world, in which he spent the first twenty years of his career, and will take up a new appointment as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
Announcing his move, Bishop Tom said, ‘This has been the hardest decision of my life. It has been an indescribable privilege to be Bishop of the ancient Diocese of Durham, to work with a superb team of colleagues, to take part in the work of God’s kingdom here in the north-east, and to represent the region and its churches in the House of Lords and in General Synod. I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work. But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster, for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop. I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear.’
Among the initiatives Bishop Tom has pioneered has been the ‘Big Read’ programme, which has got people across the North-East, and across all Christian churches, reading the Bible together in Lent. This programme will expand to a national level next year, with Bishop Tom’s forthcoming ‘Lent for Everyone – Matthew’ being the basic text.
As Bishop of Durham, Dr Wright has spoken in the House of Lords on numerous occasions and issues. Most recently he has championed the cause of new underground technology for the clean use of coal from the region’s still massive coalfields. He has also taken a lead in debating issues surrounding constitutional reform. Within the wider Anglican world he was a member of the Commission that produced the Windsor Report (2004) on the future of the Anglican Communion, and was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special representative at the Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops in 2008. Together with Maggie, his wife, he has developed a close relationship with HMS Bulwark, which is twinned with County Durham, culminating in a seminar on board which brought together leading theologians and military personnel to discuss issues of war, peace and faith. He has worked hard to develop friendships and partnerships with Christians of all denominations. He has spoken frequently on radio and TV, including writing and presenting a series of radio meditations and music and television programmes on the resurrection and on the problem of evil.
As a writer, Bishop Tom has been working on three series of books – Christian Origins and the Question of God (at a scholarly level), The New Testament for Everyone (at a popular level) and a sequence of studies to introduce the Christian faith, Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope and most recently Virtue Reborn (US Title After You Believe). He hopes now to be able to complete these collections, and other ongoing research, while teaching (particularly graduate students) in the Faculty of Divinity at St Andrews. He has also been approached to head up various broadcasting projects to bring the results of good biblical scholarship to a wider audience.
Bishop Tom and Maggie have four adult children and three grandchildren.
And from the University of St Andrews:
From the Lambeth Palace website: Archbishop – Bishop of Durham ‘will be greatly missed’
From the website of The Tablet Bishop of Durham stands down complaining of red tape:
…Dr Wright, 61, one of the most senior figures in the Church of England, told The Tablet today that diocesan bishops in the Church of England were weighed down by bureaucracy. “It’s something the Church shares with other professions, the feeling of being hamstrung by petty legislation and regulation,” he said…
Andrew Brown has written about it at Cif belief see News of God’s world
The bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, has announced his resignation. He is going to take up a chair at St Andrews. He is a prolific author, and the leading evangelical scholar in the Church of England. As Bishop of Durham he has been distinguished for his implacable hostility to anyone who would accept gays within the church, especially American liberals. On the other hand, he has not gone off with Gafcon and the global south in their schism.
He has always seemed to be to a first class prefect at a minor public school – exactly the sort of person I got myself expelled to get away from. On the notoriously scientific Brown two axis scale of clergy measurement he scores high on the “Would you trust him with a secret?” question, but only moderately on “Would you trust him with your pension?”
(The scale is calibrated with reference to Rowan Williams, who scores 95% on the pastoral axis, and 5% on the practical one). But add in the third axis – would I take his advice on a personal problem? – and Wright scores about 20%. Were I gay, that figure would be 2%. This is a drawback in anyone dealing with the clergy of the Church of England.
So who will be his successor? Traditionally, the bishop of Durham has been a scholarly figure, who would score like Rowan Williams on the pastoral/practical axis. Williams himself would have made an excellent bishop there, in the tradition of Michael Ramsay, a man so splendidly unworldly that he threw his unwanted diplomatic presents into the Wear. But this tradition came rather unglued in the 80s with the appointment of David Jenkins, (90/50/80 on the three axis scale) who became a liberal hate-figure to the evangelicals. It is not an exaggeration to say that the overwhelming aim of evangelical appointments since then has been to ensure that there will never be another bishop like Jenkins in the post. Hence Tom Wright, who has claimed that a video camera could have captured the resurrection. Is it now time for a scholarly bishop less identified with one party?.