Thinking Anglicans

Acting Bishop of Lincoln

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, is to be Acting Bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln, following the retirement of Bishop Christopher Lowson in December 2021. Bishop Stephen will spend half of his time in Lincoln and half in Ely, and the arrangement is for an initial period of one year. In a letter to the diocese of Lincoln, the Archbishop writes:

You will be aware that we have started the process for the appointment of your next bishop and thank you to those of you who have shared your hopes and prayers for the Gospel and for the witness of the Church of England across Lincolnshire through the various listening exercises.
Following a meeting with Bishop Christopher Lowson and a subsequent meeting with the Bishop’s Staff team, I have asked Bishop Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, to be the Acting Bishop of Lincoln from the 1st January 2022. Stephen will be spending half of his time in Lincoln and the arrangement will be reviewed at the end of the year. This will mean a longer vacancy period than we had originally planned but we hope that a pause in the appointment process will provide some space and time to reflect on the longer term needs of the diocese.

The full text of the announcement is on the Lincoln diocesan website and copied below the fold. The announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury is here, and a letter from Bishop Stephen Conway to the diocese of Ely is here.

The Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway is to be Acting Bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln, following the retirement of Bishop Christopher Lowson in December 2021.

The Archbishop of Canterbury today wrote to people across the diocese saying: “you will be aware that we have started the process for the appointment of your next bishop and thank you to those of you who have shared your hopes and prayers for the Gospel and for the witness of the Church of England across Lincolnshire through the various listening exercises.

“Following a meeting with Bishop Christopher Lowson and a subsequent meeting with the Bishop’s Staff team, I have asked Bishop Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely to be the Acting Bishop of Lincoln from the 1st January 2022.

“Bishop Stephen is a wise and experienced senior bishop who will provide pastoral and spiritual leadership during this crucial time for discerning your future and the leadership that God will provide.

“I hope that Stephen will be able to come alongside you, to support and listen and to work with you to explore what the ministry of the next bishop might be and how this will enhance the calling of the diocese in the next chapter of its life.”

You can read the full text of the Archbishop’s letter at www.lincoln.anglican.org

Bishop Stephen will spend half of his time in Lincoln and the other in Ely.

The Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, said:

“It is an honour to be asked to be Acting Bishop in the Lincoln Diocese, and I am looking forward enormously to forging new friendships and partnerships together in the Gospel.

“In doing so, I hope to work closely with Bishops David and Nicholas, who will continue to provide a lead in key areas, as well as the many other lay and clergy leaders whose ministry blesses the diocese of Lincoln.

“Lincoln is blessed with a great number of talented leaders at both parish and diocesan level, and I am looking forward to working and praying with you in the months ahead and the implementation of A Time to Change Together – Resourcing Sustainable Church.”

The arrangement will be initially for a period of one year after which it will be reviewed. Stephen Conway has been Bishop of Ely since 2011, having previously served as Archdeacon of Durham and Canon Treasurer of the Cathedral, and later as Bishop of Ramsbury in the Diocese of Salisbury.

Since he was a curate, Bishop Stephen has been mentor and friend to clergy and lay people helping them to deepen their personal spirituality, with a strong focus on formation, prayer and worship. Bishop Stephen was introduced to the House of Lords in 2014, and later served as the House of Bishops’ lead for Education, and Chair of the National Society Council. He also led work on the leadership development and formation of senior clergy on behalf of the House of Bishops.

Bishop Stephen is a keen walker and enjoys watching rugby and cricket, as well as going to the cinema. He is interested in the connection between faith and film. He reads theology, history and biography at any time, and thrillers at the end of the day. He likes to travel and enjoys travel literature, and both offering and receiving hospitality.

David Court, Suffragan Bishop of Grimsby, and Nicholas Chamberlain, Suffragan Bishop of Grantham, said: “tremendous progress has been made in addressing challenges faced by the diocese of Lincoln and we welcome Bishop Stephen’s wisdom, experience and pastoral care that will help us to build for the future.”

 

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Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
24 days ago

Hardly a vote of confidence in the 2 suffragans , the longer serving of whom would reasonably have expected to be acting Diocesan. Rather a burden on Stephen Conway too. Lincoln is one of the largest dioceses geographically in England. It will be a tall order to look after Ely as well.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
24 days ago

Thank you Simon. I will stop worrying about Bishop Stephen’s workload and start worrying about Bishop Dagmar’s!

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  Simon Bravery
16 days ago

The letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury hides more than it says. It encourages questions, speculation, and rumours.  Why ask the Bishop of Ely who has one suffragan bishop to be acting bishop of Lincoln in a diocese which has two suffragan bishops? One of those bishops, namely the Bishop of Grimsby was the acting bishop of Lincoln during the period of suspension of the current diocesan bishop. Does it suggest he didn’t do a very good job or that he and the bishop of Grimsby did not want to hold the fort during the vacancy? The bishop of Ely has… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Simon Sarmiento(@simon-sarmiento)
Admin
Reply to  Philip Johanson
16 days ago

I think you mean “…he and the bishop of Grantham…”

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
16 days ago

Yes I should have said the bishop of Grantham. Not sure how to change my text.

Stanley Monkhouse
24 days ago

For “an initial period of one year” hints at an extension. It looks increasingly likely that before long (https://www.nationalworld.com/news/uk-news/this-map-by-climate-scientists-shows-which-parts-of-the-country-could-be-underwater-in-the-next-decade-3275961) a substantial part of the land area of the dioceses in east and south will be inundated, thus creating a long, thin sliver with a few lumps. A great many churches will be gone including such wonders as Sutterton, Algarkirk, Walpole, Gedney, the Terringtons (or are they in Norwich?), Holbeach, Heckington, Wisbech, West Walton, Spalding, Sleaford and Boston, so that would do away with maintenance of a few limiting factors. I doubt the roads and railways between Ely and Lincoln would… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
23 days ago

Query whether this may portend the reversal of Richard de Clare’s 1105-09 scheme to carve Ely from Lincoln. Of course, Huntingdonshire was an archdeaconry of Lincoln pars australis until 1837, and the chief seat of the bishops of Lincoln was not Lincoln itself but Buckden. Of course, the man who has perhaps really been running Lincoln diocese is Mr Sleight. The diocese is in the process of grading all of its churches from 1 (full provision) to 5 (closure). The vast majority, it seems to me, will fall into grades 4 or 5 (indeed, one benefice near Louth has posted… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
23 days ago

The submersion of Spalding would, I fear, not save much as the parish is blessed with independent funding.

John Bennett
Reply to  Jo B
13 days ago

Hooray for the Spalding Rectory Feoffees, who, I trust, will provide a boat

Lincoln and Ely are roughly the same distance from Spalding, so it doesn’t make much difference here. Peterborough is our nearest cathedral.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
23 days ago

Gracious, all those Fenland towns and villages being swallowed up by the cruel sea, including Boston where I was a curate from 1977 to 1980. During that time the River Witham broke its banks and flooded the Stump, but that was nothing compared with the predicted deluge if COP26 doesn’t come up trumps! I quite see now why we need a “Save the Parish” campaign!

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
23 days ago

Many thanks indeed for this: it is really good to have illustrations! Coincidentally, it was Prof. Monkhouse who drew my attention to this projection in a recent exchange of emails. What is puzzling about the Climate Central maps, is that although they project extensive flooding in eastern England, they do not do so with respect to the Somerset Levels, parts of the Severn valley, Amounderness or West Derby. Yet, as Michael Williams noted in ‘The Draining of the Somerset Levels’ (1970), at 9-11, there have long been persistent risks of a high spring tide (forming part of the Severn ‘bore’)… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Froghole
23 days ago

If you switch from sea level only to sea level + annual flooding you get a clearer picture of the risk in the Somerset levels.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
23 days ago

Since clergy are often given oversight of multiple parishes, I see no reason why bishops shouldn’t be in charge of a couple of dioceses to keep them occupied. Boris Johnson is Prime Minister of four UK countries. Two CofE dioceses in comparison is hardly being stretched.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  FrDavidH
23 days ago

Indeed, and as in Ireland for centuries.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Froghole
23 days ago

… and it is confirmed that the sees based at present in Limerick and Tuam will be combined when the current occupants retire next year. One bishop for the ancient dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh, Emly, Tuam, Killala, and Achonry.

Jocelyn Sanders
Jocelyn Sanders
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
23 days ago

Limerick and Tuam were united as the United Diocese of Tuam, Limerick and Killaloe on 1 November this year, on the simultaneous retirement of the bishops of the two former dioceses.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Jocelyn Sanders
23 days ago

Thank you. My antennae obviously need cleaning. The new bishop will need stamina and support. A huge area.

Last edited 23 days ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  FrDavidH
23 days ago

Bishop Stephen has considerable experience as a bishop and has had to slash clergy posts in Ely to try and balance the books. I think I’m right in saying that Lincoln’s finances are also in a parlous state; I suspect that the Archbishop is looking for urgent action from Bishop Stephen.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
23 days ago

So no NDAs in Ely? Budgeting for a certain number does not necessarily mean that there were that many in post.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dean
23 days ago

NDAs? Explanation for the outsider, please?

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
23 days ago

Wishing everyone involved well. I confess to being pleased to see a start being made on the review of boundaries, roles, numbers of ‘senior clergy’. I add here some words I have posted on the thread regarding the appointment of a new Bishop of Loughborough Regarding ‘process’ however I confess to being disappointed, though not surprised to see nothing on the Dioceses Commission website. Indeed the latest ‘news’ I could see there was the Dioceses Commission Annual Report, signed [On behalf of the Commission] PAUL BENFIELD (Acting Chair) 16 March 2020 AIUI the current Chair, Dame Caroline Spelman was appointed… Read more »

mark
mark
Reply to  God 'elp us all
23 days ago

what has to happen i think is lots of local ecumenical partnerships.as all denominations are essentially doing the same trying to reduce the number of churches for financial reasons. Everyone seems to be in favour of working ecumenically unless it involves them 🙂

Kate
Kate
23 days ago

It might be sensible for diocesan bishops generally to cover two sees as a preliminary step to reducing the number of sees.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Kate
23 days ago

This reverts to the topic debated on at least one previous thread: what are Bishops for and how should they spend their time? I have no doubt they have full diaries and work hard. How much of their work could be done by others? How much of it needs to be done at all?

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
23 days ago

Interesting, will be interesting to see how it works out. Still plenty of bishops to go around between the two diocese it seems, although only one can lead both dioceses the Archbishop has decided. Makes you wonder what suffragans are for in times like these.

mikethecanon
mikethecanon
23 days ago

What a nice little commute. What could possibly go wrong? Probably not by private jet though.

Lottie E Allen
23 days ago

The institution of the CofE is too heavy. We need to challenge the cuts in clergy posts. We need to see those proposals counter balanced with significant cuts in the number of Bishops and so called senior staff.

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
22 days ago

It is very popular in the parishes – you know, ‘Let’s slim down the centre’. Well, perhaps, though most of our slimming down here would be unnecessary if we were even mid-way in the diocesan giving league table. Rather like the modus operandi of Taxpayers’ Alliance, alleging/suggesting incompetence and waste in Them gets Us off the hook. However, so much of the work done by senior/central staff has to go somewhere because it’s a legal requirement that it is carried out, or, by letting people who know what they’re doing with more technical matters get on with it, they significantly… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Rowett
22 days ago

It was not my intention to be uncharitable to Mr Sleight. He has done excellent work in Lincoln and Chichester dioceses. When in Chichester he found admirable solutions for a number of church buildings. There is nothing of the Père Joseph about him. I do, however, have significant issues with the grading programme that is currently in train: the problem of the buildings could be quite easily solved by vesting them in a national agency, partially disendowing the Commissioners to pay for it, and giving the Church a perpetual free right of use (as I have noted, tediously, many times):… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Froghole
Steven Hawkins
Steven Hawkins
Reply to  David Rowett
22 days ago

Hi David. I would like to know what ‘legal requirements’ dioceses are obliged to perform.

Lottie E Allen
Reply to  David Rowett
21 days ago

What is the Anglican Church without the Parish? If it’s reactionary to speak the truth about a top heavy institution so be it. If we are going to talk about cutting posts then let’s see proposals to cut 50% of the Bishops and their staff. As has been astutely noted elsewhere let’s take out 42 layers of middle management Diocesan posts and centralise everything that requires the meeting of statutory requirements. There are genuine questions to be asked about how the Archbishops are squandering our fiscal resources in so called strategic projects. We would also benefit from a national clergy… Read more »

Father David
Father David
23 days ago

Whatever next? Following the revelations concerning Sir Geoffrey Cox and the time he spends in the Virgin Islands in addition to his duties in the House of Commons. we now have the prospect of another Parliamentarian, this time from the House of Lords, taking on two jobs, as Bishop Stephen Conway takes on oversight of the large diocese of Lincoln in addition to his current duties as Bishop of Ely – in future, he is to be known as “Two Cathedrals Conway”. Other correspondents are anxious about this increased workload but fear not as a previous Bishop of Lincoln once… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Father David
23 days ago

He’s hardly the first Anglican Bishop in these islands to have two cathedrals – Argyll & the Isles has had two for just over a century.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Jo B
22 days ago

From 1836 to 1897 there was a Diocese of Gloucester and Bristol. Both cathedrals were in use.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
22 days ago

I don’t think I knew that there had ever been a bishopric of Westminster. Now that you have reminded the world of its existence, I’m sure there will soon be a move to revive it…

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
22 days ago

Indeed: Nicholas Ridley was bishop of ‘London and Westminster’ (1550-53), and then the restored Edmund Bonner (1553-56), when the community was restored at Westminster under John Feckenham (until 1559) and St Peter’s lost its cathedral status forever. The Westminster diocese was a blunder: it comprised the archdeaconry of Middlesex less the City and the parish of Fulham (so that the bishops of London could continue the pretence that they were resident within their own diocese). It did not even cover the tiny 20 parish archdeaconry of St Albans, which had been an archdeaconry of the Abbey and continued in its… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Froghole
22 days ago

‘ayes, ‘illingdon, huxbridge, ‘eston, ‘ounslow, ‘arrow. What fun!

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Froghole
22 days ago

Extending the discussion to the Anglican Communion, Melbourne has St Paul’s Cathedral and St James Old Cathedral. St James Cathedral served the first four Bishops of Melbourne. By the time Melbourne became an archbishopric in 1905, St Paul’s Cathedral was in use. St James Old Cathedral, which was taken apart and relocated in 1914, continues as a city church. Wellington NZ also has both a current cathedral and an earlier one, known respectively as St Paul’s and Old St. Paul’s.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Jo B
22 days ago

St. Colomba’s cathedral in Oban has a pleasant enough setting on the bay and is on the way to beautiful Iona but it can hardly be compared with the glories of either Lincoln or Ely.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Father David
22 days ago

St Columba’s is Catholic. SEC is St John’s in town – a fascinating building.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Father David
22 days ago

Father David Having been into St John’s Cathedral in Oban several times en-route to Cumbrae I cannot help feeling it is a Cathedral put up in a hurry when money was short and the unattractive feature inside is those metal Girders by the pillars! If ever money was available they could pull this Cathedral down and build a new Cathedral in an attractive style that Episcopalians could be proud of for centuries, some beautiful modern architecture at its best. It would need a lot of careful thought and would need to blend in well with the street the present Cathedral… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
22 days ago

PS Father David a Howler here !I should have said en route to Iona!
Jonathan

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
22 days ago

The history of St John’s is fascinating, and a salutary reminder that grand schemes have been succumbing to reality in the church for a long time. Personally I rather like the huge iron buttresses, and the slightly messy juxtaposition of the original, modest church with the half-finished, grander rebuild.

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
20 days ago

I agree. I thought part of the Forth Bridge had been imported into St. John’s!

Jean Maxwell
Jean Maxwell
Reply to  Jo B
22 days ago

Ahem, there may be two cathedrals but the ‘Isles’ part is a rather cushy number seeing there are hardly any SEC congregations in the inner isles and exactly one in the outer isles.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Jean Maxwell
22 days ago

The diocesan website lists four in Eilean Siar, and eleven across the other islands, out of something like 35 across the whole diocese (plus those of us who are on other islands with too few to sustain a congregation). Not so cushy when you recall that there are only a handful of stipendiary clergy and a central diocesan staff comprising one part time secretary.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Jo B
20 days ago

I seem to recall that the number of worshipping Christians in the 6 dioceses of the Church in Wales number 20,000. Do we know what the equivalent figure is in the entire Scorrish Episcopal Church? A former parishioner of mine has moved North of the Border to Girvan in the diocese of Glasgow and Galloway only to discover that the SEC in that town closed in 2008. To attend church in future will involve travelling quite a considerable distance, there and back again.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father David
20 days ago

Fr. David: In a population of 5.5m, the SEC has communicant members of 18,753 based on the latest annual report for 2020, but the real level of attendance is likely to be rather lower than that (it was about 12,000 in 2017). There are 139 serving clergy and 36 support staff. Please see pp. 61-68 here (which includes a breakdown by diocese, one of which has 594 communicant members): https://www.scotland.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/38th-Annual-Report-Final.pdf. My experience of the SEC is very slight, as I attend Church of Scotland services when in Scotland, but I daresay that the membership of the SEC is as top-heavy… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Froghole
Dave
Dave
19 days ago

“It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, is to be Acting Bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln, following the retirement of Bishop Christopher Lowson in December 2021”

Who makes this decision, given bishops are appointed by the crown, and presumably the crown are expected to act within a certain time? (This is a simple question – nothing behind it).

Gordon
Gordon
18 days ago

Is this the first time a serving diocesan has covered a second diocese? In some ways with Bishop Dagmar covering Ely you could argue it’s similar to situations where a suffragan steps up within the diocese, but it does seem to be novel. Ely and Lincoln wouldn’t necessarily seem like obvious dioceses to pair long-term – one in the East and one in the East Midlands, which wouldn’t make relationships with other organisations simple.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Gordon
18 days ago

“Is this the first time a serving diocesan has covered a second diocese?” It is not. Thomas, Card. Wolsey was archbishop of York, 1514-30. During that time he was also bishop, in commendam, of Bath & Wells (1518-22), Durham (1523-29) and Winchester (1529-30). As if that were not enough, he was commendatory abbot of St Albans (the premier Benedictine house) from 1521-30, and lord chancellor (de facto chief minister) from 1514-29. Note that the three sees he held in commendam were among the most lucrative in England. An earlier instance of this was Wulfstan/Lupus, who was archbishop of York (1002-23)… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Gordon
18 days ago

I should add that Stephen Conway is only administering Lincoln during the vacancy in see. During the middle ages the see of Rochester was in a state of almost complete dependency on Canterbury (the archbishops controlled 32 parishes within Rochester as part of their peculiar deanery of Shoreham, leaving the bishops with a trifling 91 parishes plus their own peculiars at Haddenham (Buckinghamshire), Freckenham (Suffolk) and neighbouring Isleham (Cambridgeshire)). When Canterbury was vacant, or when the archbishops were absent or indisposed, the bishops of Rochester acted as suffragans and, on occasion, as administrators. When sees within the province of Canterbury… Read more »

Gordon
Gordon
Reply to  Froghole
12 days ago

I should have caveated ‘in modern times’ – but thank you for taking the time to explain!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Gordon
18 days ago

I cannot personally recall such a case. Historically, Lincoln is the most northern diocese of the Southern Province, with the (later) dioceses of Sheffield and Southwell and Nottingham immediately to its west being in the Northern Province along with a clutch of other dioceses further west extending to Chester all in the Northern Province but geographically at a lower latitude to Lincoln’s northern boundary with York. Of the three Southern Province Dioceses contiguous to Lincoln, Leicester, Derby and Ely, Ely has the longest border but is the furthest distance from Lincoln. I guess the thinking is the perceived similarity of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
17 days ago

Apologies: Correction, for Derby, read Peterborough as one of the three dioceses directly adjacent to Lincoln.

Derby is in the Southern Province but bordered wholly on its eastern boundary and partly on its western one by Northern Province dioceses!

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