Thinking Anglicans

Steven Croft to be next Bishop of Oxford

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Oxford: Steven John Lindsey Croft

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 12 April 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft as Her Majesty’s Bishop of Oxford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft, MA, PhD, Lord Bishop of Sheffield, in the Diocese of Sheffield for election as Bishop of Oxford in succession to the Right Reverend John Lawrence Pritchard, MA, MLitt, on his resignation on 31 October 2014.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft (aged 58) is from Halifax in West Yorkshire. He studied first at Worcester College, Oxford and then at St John’s College, Durham where he trained for ordination at Cranmer Hall. He served his title as Curate at St Andrew Enfield in London Diocese from 1983 to 1987. In 1987 he returned to Halifax to be Vicar of St George, Ovenden in the Diocese of Wakefield. From 1996 he moved to become Warden at Cranmer Hall, Durham, before taking up the role of Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions in 2004. Since 2009 he has been the Bishop of Sheffield.

At the heart of Bishop Steven’s ministry in Sheffield has been a desire to connect the Church across the Diocese more deeply together as one body with a common sense of mission and purpose and to enable the diocese to engage with mission in the wider community with confidence and hope. He has worked creatively with Anglicans of all traditions in a very diverse diocese as well as with civic and community leaders and the leaders of other churches and other faiths.

Bishop Steven became a member of the House of Lords in 2013. He is 1 of 2 bishops elected to serve on the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, and has been chair of the Ministry Council since 2012. In 2008 he was awarded the Cross of St. Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his work with fresh expressions. He is the author of a number of books on Christian life and ministry and a novel for children. He writes a regular blog.

Bishop Steven is married to Ann. They have 4 adult children and 1 grandchild. He is a keen cook and bakes his own bread.

Sheffield diocesan website: Current Bishop of Sheffield announced as the next Bishop for the Diocese of Oxford
and A Letter from Bishop Steven
Oxford diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is the new Bishop of Oxford

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Peter K+
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Peter K+

Wonderful choice – an exceptionally bright and gracious person for a complex but highly strategic brief. Sad for Sheffield, though.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The translation of Steven Croft is a far-sighted nomination for Oxford. Those who wanted to continue to have a diocesan in the Pritchard mould will be delighted, but so should the entire diocese, as here is a bishop who can connect right across the breadth of the Church. His work on discipleship and how to develop disciples is important and the move will give him a broader platform for his critical work as Chair of the Ministry Council.

Father David
Guest
Father David

At last. Another Evangelical is placed and further adds to the current and prevailing imbalance in the hierarchy of the Church of England between the two Catholic and Evangelical wings.

Mary H
Guest
Mary H

Interesting effect of the appointment is that one of the two bishops elected to the Archbishops’ Council has Cambridge in his cure and the other will have Oxford.

Peter K+
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Peter K+

Fr David, since +Stephen will be leaving Sheffield I can’t see how you have come to that conclusion. The number of evangelicals, catholics and any other stripes in the house of Bishops is precisely the same as it was yesterday.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

“At last. Another Evangelical is placed and further adds to the current and prevailing imbalance in the hierarchy of the Church of England between the two Catholic and Evangelical wings.” You cynicism is showing. It is a zero sum game as he is already a bishop – only when the next +Sheffield is appointed could you recalculate the imbalance on the bench of bishops! (I have a picture in my head now of a seesaw with bishops on – all the evangelical ones on one end and so resulting in the catholic ones being high in the air on the… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Whatever the merits of this particular individual, it is evidence of the long waving goodbye to a liberal witness in the Church of England. The liberal aspect is now subsumed within other identities to lesser or tiny degrees.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Doesn’t that depend on who replaces him in Sheffield?

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Fr David – the days of lib/evang taking turns are over. We now live in the key performance indicator CofE

Richard
Guest
Richard

Steve, as he was then, was well – regarded across the spectrum when in Durham. He was very kind to the lonely traditionalists at John’s and has, from what I hear, been respected across Sheffield. I think it a very good choice. He is an evangelical but in no way a Party one.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I only know him through his book ‘Jesus’ People: What the Church Should Do Next’ which is based on the Beatitudes and is excellent

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Now that Oxford is settled, what about appointing Dean Jeffrey John to Sheffield? That would help to even up the current trend towards Con/Evo leadership in the House of Bishops.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Thanks to all my friends who have kindly pointed out my inability to fathom out basic Mathematics when it comes to the division between Catholic and Evangelical bishops in the Church of England. I very much like the see-saw analogy and with this most recent announcement and the vast majority of recent episcopal appointments the see-saw is now very definitely weighted heavily on the side of the Evangelicals with the Catholics left high and dry, up in the air. When this appointment was at long last announced my thoughts went back to the days when Bishop Kirk was the chief… Read more »

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

The “translation” (odd word, like, among many others, “propitiation”, which the general public, let alone the average person in the pew surely cannot be expected to understand) of +Steven to Oxford, raises the interesting question of how often, in recent years, an existing diocesan bishop has been appointed to a different see. The three that immediately come to mind are +Graham Leonard (Truro to London in 1981), +John Waine (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich to Chelmsford in 1986) and, most recently, +Paul Butler from Southwell & Nottingham to Durham in 2014. No doubt Peter Owen, who keeps these kind of statistics,… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

While the balance between Catholic and Evangelical bishops is a very legitimate concern, with the location of Oxford Cathedral at the heart of Oxford University an evangelical,who might appeal to more students than an Anglo-Catholic, might be a sensible choice.

My personal disappointment is that this is another married bishop.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Father Ron: I doubt very much whether most of these evangelicals who have recently been appointed would fit the category of ‘Conservative Evangelical’.

Father David: perhaps it’s time to stop thinking in these binary ‘evangelical/Anglo-Catholic’ categories. Very few Anglicans I know fit neatly into one or the other, especially those who are elected as bishops.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Further to my last post, the following appeared in my Facebook news feed this morning from the Mennonite news site ‘Third Way’:

“Playing social checkers is dangerous and deadly. We easily place people in the wrong box. Our labels often flow from myth rather than fact. Even if a stereotype is partly true, it may not fit a particular person. Boxing not only injures others, it restrains our behavior. Jesus plays a new game of social checkers. He models creative ways of penetrating boxes. He walks over borders and social barricades.” (Donald Kraybill, ‘The Upside Down Kingdom’, Herald Press, p. 196)

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Well Liverpool has had a definite Evangelical since the diocese was founded, until the present incumbent. I doubt if +Paul Bayes would align himself with any party, and he has clearly got many evangelical sympathies, but if any label could stick I would call him an ecumenical charismatic catholic. He and others who know him better might disagree of course, but it suggests that party labels are becoming irrelevant.

Peter Owen
Guest

I don’t have a comprehensive list of translated diocesan bishops, but to the ones that David Lamming mentions I can add John Gladwin who went from Guildford to Chelmsford in 2004.

And it’s a long time since an Archbishop wasn’t translated from another diocesan see.

Philip Hobday
Guest
Philip Hobday

A good appointment. A minor niggle, this dreadful phrase “Her Majesty’s Bishop of X” is a recent, odd, and regrettable invention (or mistake?). I know Cathedrals are formally referred to as “Her Majesty’s Cathedral Church of …”, and I’m rather a fan of the monarch/y, but naming Bishops in that way seems to blur the line somewhat. Any ideas where it came from?

Malcolm
Guest
Malcolm

Nigel McCulloch Ripon to Manchester, David Hope Wakefield to London

Peter S
Guest
Peter S

So at last the endless years of long vacancies and a neverending round of CNC meetings ends and everyone can draw breath as a far more manageable list of vacancies emerges in the next year. Is there a review planned? Are there lessons to be learned?

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Wakefield to Manchester (+Nigel)

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Whilst this appointment is, of course, excellent news, I do think that some mention ought to be made of Colin Fletcher who (as bishop of Dorchester) has been acting as diocesan throughout this protracted vacancy and has – it seems to me – done a really excellent job, in addition to covering his own extensive area. He appears to have continued in much the same vein as John Pritchard, with a friendly, sympathetic and unfussy style of leadership. I have hoped that Bishop Colin might become a diocesan in his own right or at any rate receive some other meaningful… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Our labels often flow from myth rather than fact.”
– Tim Chesterton –

And would that also be true, Tim, for the title ‘Mennonite’ ?

Father David
Guest
Father David

With regard to Translations – the current Cantuar was briefly Durham before Canterbury and the current Ebor was Birmingham before York, Previously to that the most recent Archbishops before they were preferred to Canterbury were Williams – Monmouth Carey – Bath and Wells Runcie – St. Albans Coggan – Bradford & York Ramsey – Durham & York Fisher – Chester & London Temple – Manchester & York Lang – York Davidson – Winchester Temple – Exeter & London Benson – Truro Tait – London That’s enough Archbishops! But as Peter Owen states – you have to go back a long… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Translations of diocesans (other than to Canterbury or York) since 1990 appear to be as follows:

1994 Michael Turnbull (Rochester to Durham)
1998 Tom Butler (Leicester to Southwark)
2001 John Hind (Europe to Chichester)
2002 Nigel McCulloch (Wakefield to Manchester)
2003 John Gladwin (Guildford to Chelmsford)
2014 Paul Butler (Southwell and Nottingham to Durham)
2016 Steven Croft (Sheffield to Oxford)

There might be others. Answers on a postcard please!

Chris Bracegirdle
Guest
Chris Bracegirdle

Don’t forget Nigel McCulloch moving from Wakefield to Manchester in 2002

Simon W
Guest
Simon W

Diocesan bishops translated to another See: To that list we could add Donald Coggan, Colin James, Roy Williamson, David Hope, Tom Butler, John Hind, John Sentamu ….

Philip Hobday
Guest
Philip Hobday

Didn’t Lang go straight from Stepney toYork, thus being the most recent person to become an Archbishop who was not a Diocesan?

I think Tillotson in 1691 was the last person to go to Canterbury who was not already a bishop.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Yes Lang did indeed go straight from the Suffragan See of Stepney to the Archbishoprick of York. It was said of him that he was too young when he went to York and too old when he went to Canterbury. One of the great if onlys and might have beens is what would have happened if George Bell had succeeded William Temple at Canterbury rather than Geoffrey Fisher? I’m sure that Archbishop Bell would certainly not have devoted his time to revising Canon Law as Fisher did. So the 1950s prohibition restricting those born out of wedlock might still be… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

The revised list since 1990 (excluding translations to Canterbury and York) now looks like this:

1991 Roy Williamson (Bradford to Southwark)
1991 David Hope (Wakefield to London)
1994 Michael Turnbull (Rochester to Durham)
1998 Tom Butler (Leicester to Southwark)
2001 John Hind (Europe to Chichester)
2002 Nigel McCulloch (Wakefield to Manchester)
2003 John Gladwin (Guildford to Chelmsford)
2014 Paul Butler (Southwell and Nottingham to Durham)
2016 Steven Croft (Sheffield to Oxford)

Good spot re Cosmo Lang going straight to York from a suffragan see!

Tony Phelan
Guest
Tony Phelan

Charming though Kate’s thought of the attractiveness of Evangelical preaching in the Bishop’s Cathedral is, I somehow can’t see OICCU or the denizens of St Aldate’s over the road flocking to hear him …

Peter K+
Guest
Peter K+

Tony, I don’t know about St Ebbe’s, but I’d be very surprised if +Steven didn’t receive a warm welcome at St Aldates.

I remember +Richard Harries, very much a liberal of course, preaching there about 10 years ago. It was admittedly a confirmation service, so I can’t guarantee he would have been invited in the more normal course of events, but the vicar did dust down his dog collar for the occasion and recommend +Richard’s latest book!

rjb
Guest
rjb

Dear me, I am enjoying this unexpected bounty of TA episcopal trivia. I am lamentably ignorant about the mysterious movements of bishops, though I am naturally concerned that + Stephen’s translation from Sheffield to Oxford appears to violate the longstanding tradition that bishops should move only in diagonal lines.

Feria
Guest
Feria

Kate, As far as (quasi-)episcopal supervision of the students is concerned, the Ordinary of the Archiepiscopal Peculiar of the University of Oxford is, and remains, not merely an Anglo-Catholic but an actual Roman Catholic: Lord Patten of Barnes. The Cathedral is at the heart of the University only in the geographical sense, not in the ecclesiological sense. One of the quirks +Steven will have to get used to is having a seat that is outside his own jurisdiction, because not only is the University of Oxford an archiepiscopal peculiar, but Christ Church is also an episcopal peculiar in its own… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Guest
Simon Bravery

One nugget from the Church Times. His son is a minister at Soul Survivor Church in Watford. ++ Ebor’s daughter is or was a curate in Watford.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Thank you Feria

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

In response to Feria, the Queen is the Visitor of Christ Church, and the Dean is the Ordinary. So it is indeed the only cathedral in the Church of England – and perhaps the wider Anglican and Ecumenical world (?) – where the diocesan bishop does not have any sort of jurisdiction. So Christ Church is something of an Ecclesiastical Peculiar. That said, relations between Dean and Bishop have always warm and cordial here, and so we look forward to welcoming +Steven in the autumn. – Martyn Percy

Feria
Guest
Feria

Martyn, There is some evidence in support of your view. Certainly, the college statutes name the Queen (or rather, the Crown) as “Visitor”, in the academic and managerial senses of the word. Also, there’s an article in the Spectator from July 1925 that claims Christ Church is a royal peculiar, as (in passing) does a 2013 book on ecclesiastical history by C. J. Walker. And a royal peculiar would be the default anglicanization of the college’s pre-reformation papal peculiar status. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that the ecclesiastical visitor will be the same person as the academic-managerial visitor… Read more »

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

FWIW along with Feria I’d always understood that it’s the Bishop of Lincoln who does the ecclesiastical visiting of Christ Church Cathedral.

Where I knew this from I don’t know, but it’s one of those Oxford things… I’ve lived in the diocese for a decade now and must have picked it up somewhere.

Father David
Guest
Father David

The Diocese of Lincoln used to stretch from the Humber to the Thames I know that Buckinghamshire (having served there twice) didn’t become part of the Oxford Diocese until sometime in the 1800s (before my time). Isn’t the Bishop of Lincoln (who was a Durham Ordinand at the same time as me but has climbed further up the Ecclesiastical Ladder than me) also Visitor to Eton College and as it was once in his diocese still carries out Confirmations at the College which is just North of the Thames opposite to Windsor.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Back on speculation as to the welcome Bishop Steven will find from the beacon evangelical parishes in Oxford, I should be most surprised if he is not welcomed by them all. Charlie Cleverly of St Aldate’s was part of the entourage spending the day with the new bishop as he toured the diocese. Bishop Steven and his wife Anne were married at St Ebbe’s, I assume by David Fletcher, in 1978. St Andrew’s is now vacant, but is the most open evangelical of the three. As for OICCU I have no knowledge, but the organisation would have to be seriously… Read more »

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

In answer to rjb’s post on 15th April, and as the person responsible for starting what he calls “this unexpected bounty of TA episcopal trivia”, having drawn the moves on a map of England and Wales, none was directly north/south or east/west, and the nearest to 45 degrees (cf a bishop’s diagonal move on a chess board) were John Waine’s and John Gladwin’s moves to Chelmsford in, respectively, 1986 and 2003. A true diagonal move would be, say, Bristol to Coventry, or Gloucester to Lincoln (or vice versa).

Feria
Guest
Feria

Father David: Isn’t the Bishop of Lincoln… also Visitor to Eton College?

No, Eton is (from Barber) definitely a royal peculiar, i.e. the visitor is the Queen. The ordinary is the former cabinet minister Lord Waldegrave.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

This use of ‘peculiar’ as a noun and not an adjective or an adverb is very ‘peculiar’ to people who speak modern English!

But then, we are members of the Anglican Communion, which has New Testament Greek letters on its international flag! Anglicanism: smarter than all the rest since 1549…

Father David
Guest
Father David

Not being an OE myself, unlike the ABC, the PM and half the cabinet, I couldn’t possibly say.
As for the peculiar word “peculiar”, in Essex and parts of East Anglia at one time they had a peculiar Christian Sect called “The Peculiar People”.

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

Peculiar is also a peculiar adjective for people who speak modern English:

Let every creature rise and bring
peculiar honours to our King.

Peter Owen
Guest

The reference in the press release to “Her Majesty’s Bishop of Oxford” has been amended, so that it now reads “The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft for election as Bishop of Oxford.”

The announcement on 2 September 2015 of Christine Hardman’s nomination as Bishop of Newcastle has been similarly amended.

[h/t David Pocklington]

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I just asked my administrative assistant, who is an educated woman who has been an Anglican all her life, what she would understand by the phrase ‘a royal peculiar’ as pertaining to a church or an institution. She had no idea that the world ‘peculiar’ had any other meaning than ‘strange’.

We really have to start speaking a language ‘understanded of the people’. Wasn’t that one of the reasons we had a reformation?