Thinking Anglicans

Appointment of Bishop of Peterborough

Press release from 10 Downing Street. Further coverage at Peterborough diocese and at Winchester.

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Deborah Sellin, Suffragan Bishop of Southampton, for election as Bishop of Peterborough.

Appointment of Bishop of Peterborough: 28 September 2023

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

62 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

This appointment should delight Martine Oborne and counter some of the arguments on the previous thread. Congratulations to Bishop Debbie. Will this create a vacancy at Southampton to be filled? Historically Southampton is the senior of the two Winchester suffragans.

I assume this will lead to a seat as a Lord Spiritual very shortly, if not immediately.

DBD
DBD
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

It will create a vacancy; the incoming Winchester will need to put a case to the Dioceses Commission for the See to be filled. These are invariably accepted. There are Lords seats coming up with the retirements of Exeter (end of September) and Coventry (November). Next in the queue are Truro (Winchester-designate — presumably it will be arranged so he takes the automatic Winchester seat without first taking one of the 21), Norwich and Hereford. It’s never been clear how the precise timings have to work* for a bishop to ‘skip’ the queue under the 2015 Act; but I would… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by DBD
Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
Reply to  DBD
6 months ago

Who cares?

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  DBD
6 months ago

Responsibility for and the care of people on the Channel Islands has been transferred from Winchester to Salisbury. Therefore, surely the question should now be asked ‘Should the See of Southampton be left vacant.’

DBD
DBD
Reply to  Philip Johanson
6 months ago

If we’re talking population, the diocese is at around 1.6 million; it lost about 170,000 when the Channel Islands were transferred, call it 10%. I wonder how likely it is anyone will decide to remove one of the three bishops on that basis, especially from Southampton (250,000).

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  DBD
6 months ago

Who knows how the Dioceses Commission decide on the appropriate number of bishops in a diocese. Obviously, it is not based on population alone. 

The latest population figures I could find from the Church of England relate to 2019. 

Winchester is listed as having 1.2 million with 3 bishops. Birmingham and Liverpool are listed as having 1.6 million with 2 bishops.  Rochester and Sheffield are listed as having 1.3 million with 2 bishops. 

Based on those population figures alone Winchester is over staffed with bishops!

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Philip Johanson
6 months ago

Is the geographic spread of a diocese a factor? It takes much longer to get round a rural or far-flung diocese; and visiting a parish church takes almost the same amount of time whether it’s attended by 10 people or 300.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Janet Fife
6 months ago

Janet, It’s good to think that the pastoral care of a bishop for their flock is so much better than when he had to reach Sennon from Exeter ( or similar distances in other dioceses) on horseback and couldn’t phone or text or zoom.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Philip Johanson
6 months ago

Relying on Wikipedia, these are the respective diocesan areas in square miles:

Birmingham 290
Liverpool 390
Rochester 540
Sheffield 610
Winchester 1,130

Most of the above are urban and densely populated. With the substantial exception of Southampton itself (as DBD points out) Winchester is neither. I don’t think any more needs to be said. Winchester is trying to recover from an unfortunate era in its long history. Much of this thread is only loosely related to + Debbie Sellin’s departure and her new appointment.

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

In response to your final point, I very much hope that + Debbie will be given the opportunity to settle into her role before getting a seat as a Lord Spiritual. I would think it reasonable to allow her to get a handle on her new diocese first, recognising that a diocesan role is different to that of a suffragen.

Unfortunately, the CofE at national level does not appear to think this way.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
6 months ago

I thought that hers would be the next (female) vacancy, but uncertain. The ‘system’, as I understand, certainly isn’t geared into any kind of ‘settling in’ period: it’s automatic as soon as eligible. Possibly that is what you mean in your second paragraph.

You are aware that she has been an acting diocesan (with the retired Bishop of Hereford as a kindly mentor) for two years?

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Yes, I am aware. However, acting diocesan is not the same as substantive. She has been keeping the show on the road since + Tim ‘stepped back’, but my understanding is that she was not going to make the changes a substantive diocesan would. She also, I understand, had no vote in the House of Bishops, because she was not substantive. My understanding of + Richard’s involvement was that he was there to support the people of the diocese, someone those affected by Tim Dakin’s could speak to openly. I do not recall + Richard ever being described as +… Read more »

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
6 months ago

Won’t the next Bishop of Peterborough automatically leapfrog over the queue of male diocesans and take the seat in the Lords recently vacated by the Bishop of Carlisle?

Peter Owen
Admin
Reply to  Father David
6 months ago

No. The person at the head of the queue on the day when the Bishop of Carlisle retired was the Bishop of Newcastle and she will in due course be introduced into the Lords.

In any case Bishop Sellin will only join the queue on the day that her election as Bishop of Peterborough is confirmd.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Peter Owen
6 months ago

Well,who is the next Bishop of Peterborough going to leap frog over then in order to secure her seat on the comfy red leather benches?

Peter Owen
Admin
Reply to  Father David
6 months ago

Top of the list is the Bishop of Truro, but he will be translated to Winchester when his election is confirmed on 10 October. This gives him an automatic seat in the Lords and takes him out of the queue.

The next two are Norwich and Hereford.

Coventry retires later this year. If this is before Peterborough’s election is confirmed then Norwich goes to the Lords and Peterborough goes to the top of the list ahead of Hereford. But if Coventry retires after the confirmation of Peterborough’s election then Peterborough goes to the Lords ahead of Norwich and Hereford.

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  Peter Owen
6 months ago

Exeter retired before Coventry

Peter Owen
Admin
Reply to  Philip Johanson
6 months ago

Sorry, I overlooked Exeter. His retirement is actually effective at the end of this month, so Truro will take his place for 10 days. But since the House of Lords is in recess it will not be possible for him to take his seat even if a writ of summons is issued.

Norwich will then be top of the list and will go to the Lords. The next two are then Hereford followed by Chester.

Nigel LLoyd
Nigel LLoyd
Reply to  Peter Owen
6 months ago

This ought to be marketed as a board game.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
6 months ago

I completely agree. Far too many diocesans spend too much time in the Lords. Bishop Ian Cundy – a fine and former Bishop of Peterborough – found the red leather banquettes very appealing! Let a bishop be a pastor, let them know, support and love the parishes into confidence and care.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
6 months ago

While we have a Government which seems inimical to many Christian values (care of the needy, stewardship of the environment, hospitality for strangers etc) I welcome as many Christian voices in the House of Lords as possible – howsoever that comes about.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
6 months ago

Jesus did speak of the attraction of places of honour (Mt 23?). 26 CofE bishops are part of the legislative infrastruture of the nation; I think that warrants their attendance and attention. Surely there are at least sufficient suffragans to attend to the pastoral and other needs of the diocese 😉 Eighteen diocesans are (were!) bishops-in-waiting for elevation to Lords Spiritual, including just the one woman- Debbie Sellin. Martine Oborne has a point. Despite legislation having been passed to enable faster ‘progress’ for woman bishops, gender equality has yet to be achieved.

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

It should indeed delight Martine Oborne, but following her article, people are keeping score. So +1 to the Female Diocesans team, and 5 to the Male Diocesans, with full-time in 2027.

Peter Harrison
Peter Harrison
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

One can despair.
Unless all the previous comments are a set of ‘in jokes’ the preoccupation with an inconsequential matters of supposed power and influence demonstrates where the interests of many in the Church of England lie.
As a churchgoer and retired Reader who now lives in Peterborough Diocese I and many others are much more interested in the views of Bishop Debbie, how and where she will want to lead us and her spiritual emphases.

Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Wow. Four comments so far and three of them concern the new bishop’s possible role in the House of Lords.

I’m not sure this aligns with the priorities of Jesus.

By the way, this is the diocese my mum has lived in since the mid-1990s, so I do take a personal interest in this.

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

I dunno, I think that gender equality is at least cognate to the priorities of Jesus!

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

It is great that the waiting is over. The videos on the diocesan website were filmed in one of our Oakham Team parishes – Hambleton. Most of that parish is under Rutland Water.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
6 months ago

Stephen, I thought about you and the Oakham team when I saw the announcement this morning. All Saints has always made Marci and me so welcome, I feel almost as if I’m getting a new bishop!

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

I don’t disagree but the official announcements never tell us anything about the particular beliefs of an appointee so it’s very difficult to comment on things like that.

Last edited 6 months ago by Kate Keates
Nicholas Henshall
Nicholas Henshall
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Stephen Cottrell, my old boss, made the comment a week before he was to enter the House of Lords that he would “enjoy it too much”. Stephen was and is a remarkable advocate for faith in the public square in that context. A different positive example would be John Packer, who I also worked for and who for me ranks among the saints of God. In the Lords, Bishop John fought tirelessly for the vulnerable, the poor and the excluded and even stayed on after his official retirement date to ensure that crucial legislation was appropriately championed. All that is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Possibly you haven’t followed the previous and vigorous discussions on TA of the disparity in the appointment of women bishops and that so few are Lords Spiritual. It has even been suggested by one frequent TA correspondent that the ten-years ‘leapfrogging’ provision for women bishops (introduced and promoted by Archbishop Rowan Williams) should be extended by a further ten years (I personally disagree), but the fact of the disparity remains. I can quite understand that this may seem esoteric, even irrelevant, to overseas readers, but it is a significant matter here for those who uphold gender equality, support the appointment… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Thanks for your comment, Rowland. Yes, I have followed all those discussions. I understand that having moved from the UK to Canada in 1975, and having never worked in an ‘established’ church, I might not have the same sense of personal connection to the rather anachronistic situation of one Christian denomination having representatives in the House of Lords. However, I have heard the same concerns raised on this site by people in England – concerns based not on where we live in the world, but on our ecclesiology and our sense of how Christian leadership should reflect the teaching and… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Tim- Abolition? Why? The Lords Spiritual serve God’s purposes well when speaking for and to the nation and its development of thought and legislation. IIRC the National Secular Society (https://www.secularism.org.uk/) has been campaigning for a long time for disestablishment (and for the abolition of what it refers to as ‘faith schools’), and seeks to demonstrate the malign influence of the Lords Spiritual. If anything it rather shows the relative ineffectiveness of their inputs, thus perhaps supporting a view that they should be selected (nominated?) for their prophetic voice and powers of persuasion, maybe zeal. Why vacate that valuable and vital… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  God 'elp us all
6 months ago

Well, I’ve been admonished to keep my mouth shut on this question, since I don’t live in the UK.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

I really fail to see how people outside the UK can have any meaningful objection to the Lords Spiritual. I recall in this context a TA commenter from USA making unfavourable comparison with the US Senate! But I accept that there is also widespread ignorance and misunderstanding of the House of Lords in this country. I have said this all before, and won’t repeat it any further!

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

I am inside this country & I object to the Lords as a whole, not just Lords spiritual. With an elected second house the bishops would still be free to comment on any matters moral & ethical, and they might well be listened to with a lot more respect once outside the gilded cage of the Lords.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Right. We always come back to that, don’t we?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

And my response is that you always expect to have the final word! Nowhere have I said that you are to keep your mouth shut, nor do I write in that style. How discourteous to even infer this.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Strange how on TA when one tries to provide a comment which is merely factual, an avalanche of critical responses results, some of which are clearly outside the knowledge of its writers. I used to watch House of Lords debates regularly (no longer able) and the idea that the C of E Bishops’ bench is full every day (and that the bishops are there almost on a continuous ‘jolly’) is a total myth. Yes, Opening of Parliament or for a major ethical debate one expects, and some of us would hope, that an authoritative Christian presence would be heard. The… Read more »

Peter Owen
Admin
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

It is possible that some bishops are in the building, but not in the chamber.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Peter Owen
6 months ago

I’m sure a log is kept. I remember a former Lord Speaker admonishing and naming a (non-Church) HL member for ‘booking in’ to get the daily attendance fee without being in the Chamber. Of course there is at least one duty bishop for prayers each day.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Rowland, by my count there are four ‘critical’ responses, which hardly counts as an avalanche. Meanwhile, there are about three times as many either focusing on the bishop’s role in the house of Lords, or pushing back against the critical responses.

I think if you use the term ‘avalanche’ to describe four critical comments, you won’t have a word left to use when you encounter a real avalanche.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

In spite of your admonition, there are now 32 comments on this thread, some of them critical in one way or another. I haven’t seen many expressions of welcome or generosity. I suspect that few people have troubled to read the announcements from Peterborough and Winchester (admittedly I think the links were added later), and especially interesting in the Peterborough announcement is the description of Bishop Debbie’s first visit to her new Diocese, the places she went and people she met. I’m sure that Stanley Monkhouse would be/ is delighted that they included a gym!

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Then let me be clear that (a) I’m delighted that Bishop Debbie’s welcome video was filmed just a couple of miles’ walk from my Mum’s front door, and (b) she sounds like a breath of fresh air on the video, and I’m happy that she’ll be the bishop of Peterborough. As I said to Stephen Griffiths above, I’ve been warmly welcomed to All Saints’ Oakham many times since my mum and dad moved there in the mid-1990s, so I have a very real sense of personal connection to this new appointment.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Thankful for our fellowship Tim, and your recent visit.

David Richards
David Richards
6 months ago

So – taking the need to make the case to the Dioceses Commission as a given – isn’t it now time Winchester had a pastorally-rooted, mission-minded Catholic as one of its three bishops? I would go so far as to say that the ideal candidate would be the excellent Dr Peter Rouch, a former archdeacon in the Diocese who was a model of loyalty to the former diocesan bishop at (I’m guessing) some considerable personal cost. Not only would he return to the Diocese with experience of heading up the Church Army, he would also know what mines and booby… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  David Richards
6 months ago

I think that Lucy Winkett would make an excellent bishop but she seems to have been overlooked.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Fr Dean
6 months ago

Or perhaps she doesn’t want to be a bishop?

Richenda
Richenda
Reply to  Perry Butler
6 months ago

My thought exactly. She is so impressive I can’t believe she hasn’t been offered a bishopric – but it isn’t what everyone chooses.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Richenda
6 months ago

Canon Peter Green (1871-1961) turned down four offers of bishoprics. His entry in ‘Who’s Who’ stated ‘Offered Bishopric of Lincoln 1919, and refused’. William Temple would have liked him to be the first Bishop of Blackburn.

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  David Richards
6 months ago

As I understand it, Peter Rouch was ‘eased out’ (i.e. told to find a new job) by + Tim. I presume this is because he was seen seen as a threat by the previous bishop i.e. brighter, better organised, and more popular.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
6 months ago

The poor clergy and laity of that Archdeaconry will certainly (and very quickly) feel the difference from the excellent Dr Rouch, under the current regime, and not in a good way, from what I hear from the frozen North…

Alastair (living in Scotland)
Alastair (living in Scotland)
Reply to  Realist
6 months ago

Do please give the new Archdeacon a chance. She has barely arrived and had time to become acquainted with the Archdeaconry!

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  David Richards
6 months ago

I imagine loyalty to the previous diocesan of Winchester might be regarded as a disqualifier, in the circumstances.

David Richards
David Richards
Reply to  Janet Fife
6 months ago

When I said ‘loyalty’, Janet, what I was getting at (and didn’t explain myself very well) was that he refrained from making his views public while also offering excellent pastoral care to the clergy of his archdeaconry in increasingly tense circumstances. And yes, in response to another post, of course TD saw him as a threat. His intellectual capacity, not to say his understanding of the Church, is far more generous and wide-ranging than the robotic counsel of despair that was the Dakin formula.

pastoralevang
pastoralevang
Reply to  David Richards
6 months ago

Peter Rouch’s departure from Winchester was abrupt, and I am given to understand from one who knows that his relationship with Tim D had sunk to exchanging solicitors’ letters. No farewell, no thank you from the bishop, and he had vacated his house before the announcement was made. One of a long list of casualties….

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
6 months ago

Is this list of comments ecclesiastical train spotting or am I missing something?

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Struggling Anglican
6 months ago

No! you are missing nothing! You are absolutely right! With no offence to people who have commented on here, most of them are of irrelevant questions of preference into the house of Lords! I mean for goodness sake. The Diocese of Peterborough, like nearly all, are facing financial and numerical implosion. The ship is sinking. As for +Debbie, she seems, well.. mediocre but has managed to chart the challenges of being chosen by the previous Machiavellian Bishop, and then had to chart a way through of loyalty and cohesion to try and hold the whole thing together. I salute her… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
6 months ago

I have just returned from a week away in Northumberland and the Borders and have visited Lindisfarne and walked to the bottom of Kirk Hill at the top of which St Æbbe built her Dual House where St Etheldreda/Audrey/Æthelthryth of Ely took her nun’s vows. Coming back to catch up on this week’s posts has shattered my bubble of the early saints bringing Christianity to the island. The survivors of clerical abuse have written to the A.C. presumably to deafening silence and hardly any responses on the thread. Women continue to be discriminated against for promotion ( no change there… Read more »

Peter Kettle
Peter Kettle
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
6 months ago

Why is Peterborough a poisoned chalice?

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Peter Kettle
6 months ago

If Homeless Anglican (above) is correct that there is an expectation on the new Diocesan bishop
( regardless of gender) to lead Peterborough back into financial profit and ‘flourishing’ how can it be much else?
Maybe being overly suspicious I wondered why a female was offered this appointment which in turn lead to my querying whether the job can be done – as only offering them impossible tasks is another very good way of keeping women down.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
6 months ago

Something so far the commentators have not commented on, is first the situation of the City of Peterborough itself, although the Church has been present in this City for Centuries over the year the Muslim Population of Peterborough has grown and there have been more Mosques built in Peterborough, when my late father Canon Khalil Jamal was Rector of Fletton, a Suburb of Peterborough, yet in the Diocese of Ely, he told me there was a House Mosque in Peterborough in Cromwell Road, now when you come by Rail into Peterborough, one of the things you see is at least… Read more »

62
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x