Thinking Anglicans

Appointment of Bishop of Birmingham

Press release from 10 Downing Street. Further coverage at Birmingham diocese and at Ridley. The new bishop will be consecrated on 30 November 2023.

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Michael Volland for election as Bishop of Birmingham.

Appointment of Bishop of Birmingham: 31 August 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Dr Michael Volland, Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, for election as Bishop of Birmingham, in succession to The Right Reverend David Urquhart, following his retirement.

Michael was educated at Northumbria University, King’s College London and Durham University and trained for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at Gloucester Cathedral and was ordained Priest in 2007.

In 2009, Michael was appointed Director of Mission at Cranmer Hall, Durham, and additionally served as Chaplain to Durham Army Cadet Force from 2012 and as Team Leader and Mission Priest for the East Durham Mission Project and also Area Dean of Easington from 2014. In 2015, Michael was appointed Director of Context-Based Training and Pastoral Tutor at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and in 2017 he took up his current role as Principal of Ridley Hall. Since then he has also served as President of the Cambridge Theological Federation and Chair of the Theological Education Institutions Principal’s Steering Group.

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Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
10 months ago

He will be the first Bishop of Birmingham since Ernest Barnes, who held the post from 1924 to 1953, to require consecration. Barnes’ successor had been consecrated in Hong Kong as Bishop of Singapore.

Credenhill
Credenhill
Reply to  Clifford Jones
10 months ago

His theology will be just a little bit different from that of Bishop Barnes …..

James
James
Reply to  Credenhill
10 months ago

Barnes had a theology?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
10 months ago

He doesn’t seem to stick at jobs …

Eaglet
Eaglet
Reply to  Fr Dean
10 months ago

That’s not how it reads to me – basically Director of Mission at Cranmer 2009-2015, and then roles at Ridley 2015-present. The Area Dean jobs etc were additional jobs he took on.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
10 months ago

Another officer who’s never been in the trenches. Not surprised. He may very well be a very nice guy. I’m sure he is: but he’s a nice guy who’s never done the job.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
10 months ago

Being a cathedral curate can be very much like being in the trenches! I was one, and don’t recommend the experience (though it was a parish church cathedral, and I did the parish bit).

Charles Read
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
10 months ago

As well as being mission director at Cranmer, Michael worked in a very deprived east Durham parish, pioneering ministry training in that context.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Charles Read
10 months ago

Did his ‘mission training’ is east Durham result in significant numerical growth? Can his entrepreneurial plan be translated elsewhere? Presumably the Durham parishes bucked the national trend in decline following Dr Volland’s training.

Helen King
Helen King
10 months ago

Interested, like others, in the new bishop’s parish experience, I tried to follow up this East Durham Mission Project and got as far as the ‘Cranmer Urban Track’ (CUT). But there’s very little about it online, beyond a few months’ attempt at a blog in 2014-15 (https://eastdurham.wordpress.com/). Does anyone know more? It sounds like a precursor of the various alternative ways of training priests (Peter, Caleb) which are now being used by St Mellitus. Did CUT – er – make the cut?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Helen King
10 months ago

It would be interesting to read any results of this project, in the parishes from which that well-known ballet dancer Billy Elliott emerged. One wonders for whom the project was intended. Was it to benefit some of Durham’s most deprived citizens? Or to help middle class evangelicals understand how the proles live? I assume the whole project must have been a roaring success. Otherwise the Team Leader wouldn’t have been promoted to be a bishop. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/11530317.training-vicars-coal-face-east-durham/

Father David
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

Apologies for a Tat related observation but I notice that in one of these photographs where the Bishop Designate of Birmingham is standing between the former Bishop of Jarrow and the current Bishop of Chester he is wearing a cassock containing 39 buttons. I wonder if this trivial observation has this any significance as he takes up the pastoral crozier of the Midland diocese whose first bishop was the great Charles Gore? Indeed a fine statue of Bishop Gore stands in the courtyard of Birmingham cathedral while inside there are some remarkably fine stained glass windows by Burne Jones.

Father David
10 months ago

Looks like a good appointment to.me. Time was that being a Principal of a Theological College was a dead cert to becoming a bishop.i think, for example, of A A K Graham Warden of Lincoln Theological College thereafter Bishop of Bedford and Newcastle. Pleased to see that the Bishop Designate has strong links with the diocese of Durham. Mind being Bishop of lanlocked Birmingham won’t offer many opportunities to engage with Christian Surfers.

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  Father David
10 months ago

‘Time was that being a Principal of a Theological College was a dead cert to becoming a bishop’ I think not. Plenty of casualties along the way: Sydney Evans, Eric Abbott, Leslie Houlden, Harold Wilson, Derek Allen ……. and more recent ones, I suspect.

Father David
Reply to  peter kettle
10 months ago

Fair point but I wonder how many in your list turned down the offer to be consecrated to the episcopacy?
Humphrey Southern did it in reverse – Bishop of Repton prior to becoming Principal of Cuddesdon. Two of his Cuddesdon predecessors – John Garton became Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth and David Wilcox became Suffragan Bishop of Dorking.

Father David
Reply to  Father David
10 months ago

Mark Sowerby also did it in reverse – Bishop of Horsham in the Chichester diocese and now Principal at the College of the Resurrection at Mirfield with its past association with those two great Anglicans Charles Gore and Walter Frere. Prior to his consecration Sowerby was incumbent at St. Wilfrid’s, Harrogate – Temple Moore’s great architectural Masterpiece

Nathaniel Grant
Nathaniel Grant
Reply to  Father David
7 months ago

Correct, and a splendid Principal Bishop Mark is at ‘the Res’ in Mirfield. This year I had the pleasure of spending Holy Week and, a few days more, under his pastoral guidance with guests for Mirfield’s inimitable way of celebrating Easter.

Sound chap.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Father David
10 months ago

Geoffrey Allen (1902-1982) was Bishop in Egypt from 1947 to 1952 and Bishop of Derby from 1959 to 1969. Between episcopal posts he was Principal of Ripon Hall.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  peter kettle
10 months ago

Two Principals of the College of the Resurrection Mirfield became bishops. One was Timothy Rees, who became Bishop of Llandaff in 1931. The other was Thomas Hannay, who became Bishop of Argyll and the Isles in 1940.

DBD
DBD
Reply to  peter kettle
10 months ago

Volland will join a former Principal of Westcott and a former head of Cranmer already in the House.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
10 months ago

There have been a lot of comments elsewhere on TA about where are the theologian bishops. Well you have one now! Michael has a fine mind which is not just based around contextual and incarnational mission. He has a broad ecclesiology and a very warm and pastoral heart. I think he will be a fine pastor to the pastors. He has stuck at jobs… he has been in Cambridge for nine years, and was in Durham for six. Lucky Birmingham, I say!

David Smith
David Smith
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
10 months ago

I agree, I think, although “theologian bishops” and “academic bishops” are not necessarily the same thing. Going by Crockfords, it will however mean a bishop, a suffragan, and an archdeacon leading the diocese, with a grand total of 5 years incumbency experience between them . . . .

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  David Smith
10 months ago

He had six years as a youth worker on two parishes which exposed hom to some aspects of parish life.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
10 months ago

What were his degrees in?

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Janet Fife
10 months ago

He did an Arts Foundation course and studied sculpture at Northumbria University ( Newcastle Polytechnic in person old money).

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Bravery
10 months ago

Interesting.

Dr John Wallace
Dr John Wallace
Reply to  Simon Bravery
10 months ago

His doctorate is the Durham Doctor of Theology and Ministry (with the emphasis on Practical Theology) His thesis titla was ‘An Entrepreneurial Approach to Priestly Ministry in the Parish: Insights From a Research Study in the Diocese of Durham.’

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Janet Fife
10 months ago

He also holds a PhD from Durham, on a thesis entitled “An Entrepreneurial Approach to Priestly Ministry in the Parish: Insights from a Research Study in the Diocese of Durham”, and an MA from KCL in Youth Ministry and Theological Education, presumably from back when KCL did theology at pre-doctoral level

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
10 months ago

Another Ridley episcopal appointment ….presumably evangelical?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Struggling Anglican
10 months ago

Perhaps you might comment when someone who is NOT an evangelical is appointed. . Then I’ll share your sense of overwhelming shock.

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

Not so much shock as ennui.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Struggling Anglican
10 months ago

That took a while! I was wondering whether you were well.

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

I am not sure what you mean

Tim Chesterton
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Struggling Anglican
10 months ago

I have many colleagues here in Edmonton who studied at Wycliffe College in Toronto, which is reputed to be an evangelical establishment. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that everyone who comes out of Wycliffe is an evangelical or takes an evangelical view on every issue. I notice that the Wycliffe grads seem to span the theological spectrum and many of them, especially those who were converts to Anglicanism before or during their Wycliffe days, actually seem to be quite high church. Most of them are also affirming of LGBTQI+ people, including marriage and ordination. I also note… Read more »

Geoff McL.
Geoff McL.
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
10 months ago

To be fair, under Victoria Matthews, all Wycliffe ordinands (except for the ones who could get into Yale) went to Wycliffe, though they did tend to serve their placements in Anglo-Catholic parishes.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Geoff McL.
10 months ago

Hi Geoff. Sorry, not quite sure what point you are making when you say that under Victoria ‘all Wycliffe ordinands went to Wycliffe…’

Geoff McL.
Geoff McL.
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
10 months ago

Ha, not sure how that first “Wycliffe” got in there. What I meant was that as almost all clergy ordained in the diocese of Edmonton during her tenure went to Wycliffe whether they would have chosen to or not, they constitute a bit of a special case. Don’t get me wrong, I do take your point about the increased theological diversity among the Wycliffe student body in recent decades. Notably, I know that parishioners from nearby “Smokey Tom’s” tended to be steered there under the previous rector, who was an alumnus. But I think it’s fair to say that the… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Geoff McL.
10 months ago

Well, since I know all the people in question, I think it’s also fair to question the assumption that all the people Victoria sent to seminary were Anglo-Catholic.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
10 months ago

There is a difference between being trained at a particular institution and being, as in this case, head of it. Nonetheless, when a college has a particular character, it will attract particular ordinands, and tend to form them in a particular way. Hence if there is a preponderance of appointments hailing from that college, a slant towards that aspect of the church can be reasonably assumed.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Jo B
10 months ago

I’m sure that’s true, but I’m commenting on the tendency among some commenters on TA to assume that everyone trained at institution A will automatically conform to every aspect of the theology of institution A.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
10 months ago

And that none of them will change their views in the intervening years. I was a conservative evangelical, a member of Church Society, and a charismatic when I began training at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Fifteen years later I was terming myself post-evangelical and post-charismatic. Another twenty years on and I really wouldn’t know how to classify myself in terms of churchmanship or theology. Nor do I feel the need to.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Janet Fife
10 months ago

Exactly.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
10 months ago

Donald Coggan was on the teaching staff of Wycliffe for about seven years.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Clifford Jones
10 months ago

Yes, I remember that from his biography. Also, one of the professorships at Wycliffe is named after Donald and Jean.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
10 months ago

Is Trinity Toronto still training ordinands Tim?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Perry Butler
10 months ago

Yes.

Geoff McL.
Geoff McL.
Reply to  Perry Butler
10 months ago

Very much so. A few years back it even rolled out free tuition for all ordination-track MDiv students.

Rev Colin C Coward
10 months ago

Dr Michael Volland is not someone I’ve come across before. He seems to have an attitude to LGBTQIA+ people that is in marked contrast to one of his predecessors at Ridley, Bishop Keith Sutton, who was Principal when I was at Westcott, and then later my Bishop, at Kingston. The comments already posted here are in sharp contrast to those posted elsewhere: “Dark times ahead for Birmingham. Prayers offered for all of you who serve there. What an awful and appalling appointment.” “It is a direct attack on a Diocese that has been LGBT+ friendly. God help Birmingham.” “The man… Read more »

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
10 months ago

And where have you gleaned these comments from?

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

Church of England LGBTQIA+ networks and individuals.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
10 months ago

And you will be reporting there some of the very positive comments you have read on this site?

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

Why?

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

Why would he? If LGBT+ clergy and ordinands fear that they have a bishop who is likely to be ‘against’ them, then the ‘niceness’ of the bloke is irrelevant. From those same sources has come the disturbing intelligence that Volland is very careful not to say anything public about sexuality, as a way of providing deniability should he choose a discriminatory pastoral option in any particular circumstance. This is, if true, a very sinister form of Anglican passive aggression. I think it would be helpful if he were questioned closely about what he believes and what he will do in… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
10 months ago

The CNC should have asked about all this, and his referees should also have commented, and if they didn’t there should have been follow up questions to them. Maybe all that has happened.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Anthony Archer
10 months ago

Personally, I know absolutely nothing about the gentleman – indeed until last week I’d never even heard of him. Seems best to me, as I live in the Birmingham diocese and serve in a CofE church, to wait and see what happens when he arrives.

Right now, we’ve got more practical and pressing worries in Brum!

DBD
DBD
Reply to  John Davies
10 months ago

“Wait and see” whether their new bishop is an HBTphobe? Wait and see whether they’ll be mistreated? Sounds like a recipe for very severe mental health implications.

Dr R K Lewis
Dr R K Lewis
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

This is simply not true. Sadly your comments are deeply unkind, slanderous and full of hearsay. Come out from behind your keyboard and meet Dr Volland in person.

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
10 months ago

Volland’s PhD thesis is available online (no, I haven’t read it!)

http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/8462/1/DThM_Thesis_Michael_Volland_.pdf?DDD8+

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
10 months ago

I don’t know Michael Volland. I suppose I might have wished for the nomination to have been of a person with a minority ethnic background, given the diocese, and would have argued strongly at least for experience in the public square, gained from a distinctive urban ministry. The diocese of Birmingham has never really had the profile it should have had in Church of England terms, it being the second-largest city in England. As for the House of Bishops and the national Church, and the experience available to it, I suppose one way of looking at the nomination is to say that… Read more »

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Anthony Archer
10 months ago

Somehow ‘I will make you entrepreneurs of men ‘ doesn’t quite have the same ring ……

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Anthony Archer
10 months ago

Someone with a minority ethnic background was certainly what we were expecting. Rumour among clergy here is that it was offered to such a candidate, but it was turned down.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

Well, that would be unusual, but clearly your new bishop needs to have bought into the Transforming Church stuff, which is a part of the prospectus candidates would have examined most closely. Too late to change it, so if you don’t want to run with it, you aren’t the next bishop.

Mr Mark Cooper
Mr Mark Cooper
10 months ago

How do people who become deans or bishops get paid before they start their roles I get they have to serve notice in their current role but then there is a large gap between their consecration as a bishop and the installation in their new role so just wondering how they cope in the interim, it could be off putting for some people in applying for the roles. I get they have moves paid for etc.

Mr Mark Cooper
Mr Mark Cooper
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
10 months ago

thank you

Mr Mark Cooper
Mr Mark Cooper
10 months ago

I understand that this applies for all ministry posts I was just thinking of those with the biggest Gaps

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Mr Mark Cooper
10 months ago

Bill Ind said he received his stipend at the Diocesan’ s rate from the point when he did homage to the Queen. I think this is because the temporalities revert to the Crown In a vacancy and are conferred on the Bishop on doing homage. The spiritualities revert to the Archbishop and are conferred on confirmation of election
.

The temporalities used to consist of the revenue from the see’s estates. Now they are the Diocesan’ bishop’s stipend.

Charles Read
Reply to  Simon Bravery
10 months ago

The See’s estates! In Oxford the diocese owns (or used to) vast tracts of prime farmland. In Manchester, we only had two scrapyards in Bury.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Charles Read
10 months ago

*Two* scrapyards?! Luxury! In Argyll & the Isles we have… um…

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

A more superficial observation is that, after the sell off of so many castles and palaces around the country in the last two decades, Dr Volland will be moving into what is possibly the Church of England’s grandest episcopal residence.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

Hmm … 18th century and listed Grade 2. Very fine and impressive, certainly, but of the ones I know hardly in the same league as Durham, York, Winchester, Wells and Chichester, but maybe these, or some of them, are among the casualties you mention. In Winchester, the Deanery (still occupied) is a match for many, and partly Grade 1.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

[Un]fortunately, the bishops of Durham quit Auckland Castle in 2014 (the bishop’s residence is now in Etherley Lane in the same town). It was the Commissioners’ [opportunistic?] desire to realise the asset which led to this: https://aucklandproject.org/venues/auckland-castle/, thanks to the fund manager, Jonathan Ruffer (who had apparently intended the bishops would remain in the castle). Prior to the Reformation, they had seats at Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Bishop Middleham, Darlington, Durham, Easington, Evenwood, Stockton on Tees and Wolsingham in Co. Durham; Howden and Riccall in the East Riding; Crayke and Northallerton in the North Riding (in peculiar jurisdictions of the… Read more »

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

The palace at Wells has not been the bishop’s residence since 2013. Hartlebury castle (Worcester) and Rose Castle (Carlisle) have both been sold in the last decade. I don’t know the current situation at Chichester or Wells. There does not seem to have been any talk of selling Bishops Croft so far. One of the most shortsighted disposals of assets here was the sale of the Provosts House about fifty years ago. This was a four storey building opposite the cathedral which housed the chapter house, song room and other cathedral facilities as well as the provost’s residence on the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

No offence intended to Birmingham where I used to be a regular visitor and had a particular affection for the Cathedral and always attended services while there. As to Chichester, I think I might have confused things by thinking of the Deanery.

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

Ooh, no! Both deanery and palace are not exactly modest residences, though I think the aesthetics of the palace are much more pleasing than the deanery, even if the latter is praised (as in Pevsner) architecturally.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  peter kettle
10 months ago

Well, I am a disciple of Pevsner! I have a vivid mental picture of the Deanery – hence the personal recollection. I will check out the palace at an early opportunity.

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