Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Ely to become Bishop of Lincoln

It has been announced from Downing Street this morning that Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, has been nominated to be the next Bishop of Lincoln. In a letter to the diocese of Ely, Bishop Stephen writes that he expects to be installed as Bishop of Lincoln in the autumn, and to remain there for the five years before he retires.

The press release from Downing Street is here.

Coverage on the Ely website, including the bishop’s letter is here. And Lincoln here.

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely and Acting Bishop of Lincoln, for election as Bishop of Lincoln, in succession to The Right Reverend Christopher Lowson following his retirement.

Appointment of Bishop of Lincoln: 24 May 2023

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 24 May 2023

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely and Acting Bishop of Lincoln, for election as Bishop of Lincoln, in succession to The Right Reverend Christopher Lowson following his retirement.

Background

Stephen was educated at Keble College, Oxford, and trained for ordained ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his title at St Mary, Heworth, in the Diocese of Durham, and was ordained priest in 1987. Stephen served as Director of Ordinands from 1990 and, in 1994, he was appointed Priest in Charge, later Vicar, of St Mary, Cockerton.

From 1998, Stephen served as Bishop’s Senior Chaplain, Press Officer and Diocesan Communications Officer and, in 2002, he was appointed Archdeacon of Durham and Residentiary Canon of Durham Cathedral.

In 2006, Stephen was appointed Area Bishop of Ramsbury, in the Diocese of Salisbury and, in 2010, he took up his current role as Bishop of Ely. Additionally, Stephen was Acting Bishop of Lincoln from the beginning of 2022 until Easter 2023.

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James
James
8 months ago

The previous Bishop of Lincoln was suspended for 20 months over a charge of mishandling a single safeguarding issue. Utterly unconscionable.
But why did Welby take action against him but not against John Sentamu?
Was not Sentamu’s failure to act in an actual criminal case much worse?

David James
David James
Reply to  James
8 months ago

Even worse that +Christopher was publicly denounced as being ‘a danger’. A remark which was ill-advised and for which, I hope, apologies have since been offered. +Ely has had the opportunity to have a good look around and clearly feels he can face the challenge. The folk who “need the break’ are the ordinary church going folk in Lincolnshire who must have looked on in despair as the events of the last few years have lurched from one crisis to another. If Bishop Stephen’s years in Lincoln can begin to instil and build confidence this is a good appointment

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  James
8 months ago

Well, how to get rid of a bishop who is widely believed (perhaps unfairly?) not to have made the grade? Bishops supposedly have a freehold, so they cannot be sacked for mere incompetence; they have to have committed, or be alleged to have committed some act of malfeasance under the CDM. Under Bishop Lowson’s tenure the DBF’s operating deficit grew to more than £4m. Quite a trivial amount, of course, relative to the Church Commissioners’ assets (the Commissioners own a lot of land in the vicinity of Lincoln, BTW). The DBF had been attempting to plug the gap by reducing… Read more »

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
8 months ago

+Stephen is a fine, wise, experienced and good man . Seems a sensible and pragmatic appointment. Can we just rejoice in a good person going to a good place who needs him?

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
8 months ago

However, as he is 65/66 (born 1957) this is not a long term appointment.

Father David
Father David
8 months ago

Seems like a good appointment to me. After all the upheaval of recent years what the diocese of Lincoln needs is a steady hand on the tiller. I recall that when he was appointed one of Bishop Lowson’s offspring was reported to have said that they were pleased that Dad was going to be Bishop of a “proper” cathedral. With this latest appointment it would seem that for the next 5 years Lincoln will be blessed with a “proper” bishop.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
8 months ago

Not strange, just par for the course with Downing Street, which has had to correct such announcements in the past. No doubt Rishi Sunak was too busy preparing for PMQs or giving an off the record rebuke to Suella Braverman for her attempt to conceal her speeding offence to check the announcement. Expect a correction tomorrow (though I doubt that there will be any apology for the error to the King, Bishop Stephen, or the Bishop of Grimsby.)

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
8 months ago

It may be that the King approved the nomination before Bp Stephen stepped back from being Acting Bishop of Lincoln…

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
8 months ago

Since he has already been acting bishop of Lincoln while Bishop of Ely why not simply merge the two dioceses?

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Sam Jones
8 months ago

Have you seen the surface area and road networks? If you did that, a Bishop would face a 3 hour journey home after a confirmation or Diocesan meeting? Its bonkers to keep saying that to merge dioceses is the answer. It isn’t!

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
8 months ago

But bishops coped with considerably more extensive dioceses when they travelled on horseback.

Cheryl Collins
Cheryl Collins
Reply to  Sam Jones
8 months ago

They are two of the largest dioceses in the country. I imagine a lot of Ely work was being picked up by the Bishop of Huntingdon. It sounds like Lincoln needs a Bishop who can really concentrate on it and in that case Ely would be shortchanged or the Bishop of Huntingdon worked entirely into the ground. Let’s hope the new Bishop of Ely is an appointment we can all feel positive about.

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  Sam Jones
8 months ago

More pertinently, the diocese more or less between the two of them – Peterborough – is currently vacant.

But I think we know that arranging diocesan marriages is pie in the sky.

Froghole
Froghole
8 months ago

I will be blunt. After Martin Warner started to rehabilitate the diocese of Chichester, the palm for the worst diocese in England passed to Lincoln. I have visited every parish in the diocese, many multiple times, and have attended services at all but about 40 of those churches which still hold services. Moreover, I have been able to compare the diocese with the 35 or so other dioceses I have toured regularly (I have attended services in the overwhelming majority of parishes within the bounds of the pre-Reformation diocese, including Ely, which was once a part of it). As such,… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

And you have been able to recognise this all the way from Kent !!!
Rural parishes are totally beyond the understanding of the current boys club of Archbishops and Bishops – a considerable number of my friends have found their retirement spent preventing the extinction of their parish churches.
Please continue being blunt!!

Sue Slater
Sue Slater
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Froghole is of course entitled to draw his or her own conclusions, while choosing not to disclose their name. I have lived and worshipped in the diocese of Lincoln for 36 years, and am currently a lay member of General Synod, elected to Bishop’s Council, Deanery lay chair, and a Reader with PTO. I served on the recent CNC as one of the diocesan six. To quote another bishop, the A1 is the bypass to Lincoln Diocese, and we have no motorways and very few dual carriageways. Road journeys are measured in terms of the likelihood of tractors, lorries and… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Sue Slater
8 months ago

Many thanks, and apologies for my impetuous remarks. I don’t deny that Bishop Conway is an excellent bishop, and I have heard warm things about him in Salisbury, as in Ely dioceses. I just think that TTCT (which is, in many ways not without its merits), is having a deeply regrettable impact upon the presence of the Church across much of Lincolnshire. The problems are, of course, of very long standing. Lincoln pars boreal was always significantly less affluent than pars austral. Parts of the diocese had been struggling severely after the 1870s after returns to agriculture collapsed. There was… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Sorry, Edward King.

Peter Debenham
Peter Debenham
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

One member of deanery synod told me recently that “people need to learn to get in their cars.” And it would need to be “cars” because the Sunday public transport in Lincolnshire is as non-existent as it is in rural Cambridgeshire where I live. So if you can’t drive or don’t have a car then bye-bye church. Even if people can drive it is goodbye to a local visible Christian community. I’m definitely with Froghole that these consolidation plans, in Lincoln and Ely, are only a short step away from disaster. PS. Having just completed a period of over six… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Peter Debenham
8 months ago

Many thanks and I hope you make a rapid recovery. The implications of TTCT may also prove regressive in some places. If the Church abandons many local communities and retreats into its ‘gathered’ kraals, then it is effectively de-Christianising large tracts of country. Despite the usually well-kept appearances of much of the county, I am constantly told that ‘this is a poor area’ or ‘there are many poor people in this community’. If they have to do a decent round trip to get to church will they actually bother? Again, the experience of the Methodist Church should be an awful… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Froghole
David Rowett
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

The synapses not being what once they were (and even then never very much to write home about) it has taken time for a connection to be made – I suspect Mr Froghole and I may have met in a parish church not far from the River Ancholme the other week…. Or then again, perhaps not!

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Rowett
8 months ago

We did indeed meet at Worlaby recently, and also at Barton. Since we last met I have been informed that you have an additional sideline in Syriac, which I imagine might help account for the impressive references to patristic literature I have heard in your sermons. If that is the case, I suspect that you are an exceptional, and valuable rarity (if you will forgive my impertinence). Though I cannot pretend to have made much progress, I’ve got a Payne Smith and some bits and pieces by Brock, Wright, etc., but also note that this is forthcoming imminently: https://yalebooks.co.uk/page/detail/the-syriac-world/?k=9780300253535 I… Read more »

David Rowett
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Oh, that looks to be a splendid book, and will be published conveniently closely to my birthday…! I wonder who it was who let drop my (woefully corroded) acquaintance with Syriac…. Trying to find affordable copies of Syriac texts is problematic, but I have at least found a Peshitta psalter on the interweb thingy. It would be good to think that Ephrem and his fellow-travellers are being reassessed in such a way as to enable their emergence from the shadows. No impertinence on your part, sir, but I fear you mistake my upcycling of fragments retrieved from The Ladybird Book… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  David Rowett
8 months ago

You should have challenged the person! Seeing a new face at our 11am and engaging in a brief conversation ( having been an avid follower of Froghole on here) I said “You must be Froghole” Anf indeed the person admitted they were!! I sincerely hope Froghole’s researches will be deposited in Lambeth Palace Library. They will be a valuable resource to future historians.

David Rowett
Reply to  Perry Butler
8 months ago

Regrettably I suffer from prosopoagnosia, and have enough trouble recognising regular members of my congregation!

Nevertheless to have said (after the manner of 1960’s newspaper publicity campaigns), ‘You are Froghole, and I claim my copy of the Bazaar of Heracleides’ would have been entertaining, if entirely perplexing to the rest of the congregation….

David Rowett
Reply to  Peter Debenham
8 months ago

I seem to remember that ‘Mission Shaped Church’ acknowledged that the net effect of its proposals would be to disenfranchise/ unchurch the non-driver, the poor etc etc, but that it was a price worth paying. Hmmm…..

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

‘One member of deanery synod told me recently that “people need to learn to get in their cars.”’ I am wondering who these rural worshippers are who use their cars for employment, shopping and leisure, but refuse to do so for church. Your proposal for a national agency is a sensible one (although as I have said before need to be implemented by the church itself not the government), but this will not in itself rescue the church from the demographic collapse you have witnessed. The bottom line is that in most places it will not be remotely realistic to… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Sam Jones
8 months ago

Many thanks. I suspect that you may well be right, and I have been tilting at windmills. The comparison with shopping and leisure activities is apt, and is often made (as it has been frequently to defend the Radical Action Plan in Scotland), although I note that there is a local atavism at work in many places which applies to churches, social clubs, certain sports and some other recreations, but not other quotidian activities. What I would add is that the problem is not only confined to rural areas, but also to many suburban and urban districts also. Take counties… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Froghole
Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

The question whether we continue comprehensive provision as the Church of England or settle for being another gathered church in England is surely the heart of the matter. But given the nature of the C of E a clear direction one way or the other is next to impossible, or at least seems to be. Inevitably a lot of rural anglicanism will collapse in the next ten years simply because of demographic factors, which raises inevitably the question of buildings. How many stipendiary clergy will there be in ten years time and how many will the church be able to… Read more »

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Sue Slater
8 months ago

But you can still have ‘fun, fun, fun, fun, fun on the A1111’.

David Rowett
Reply to  Sue Slater
8 months ago

Hang on, Sue! The diocese has the M180 and a whole 2 miles of M181. (admittedly largely populated by frozen fish lorries, fuel bowsers and car transporters). (I think there’s a fragment of A1 (M) in the far SW, too….) More seriously, Local Government reorganisation didn’t do us many favours either: the two Unitary Authorities in the N are easily overlooked, for there’s an assumption that ‘Diocese of Lincoln’ and ‘Lincolnshire County Council’ are coterminous. And the road network is dismal except for Lincoln- A1 and Grimsby-Doncaster. Not the most theological of contributions, but there you go… And I’m pleased… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
8 months ago

Excluding Canterbury and York, this is the first conventional translation of a diocesan since Steven Croft moved from Sheffield to Oxford in 2016, the dysfunctional first Oxford CNC having failed to nominate earlier. Paul Butler had moved from Southwell and Nottingham to Durham in 2015. Nick Baines from Bradford to West Yorkshire and the Dales (now Leeds) was more recent, but not in the conventional mould, given the creation of the new diocese. You have to go back further for other examples. Tom Butler was translated from Leicester to Southwark in 1998. John Gladwin went from Guildford to Chelmsford in… Read more »

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Anthony Archer
8 months ago

Going even further back Maurice Harland was translated from Lincoln to Durham in 1956 after Michael Ramsey moved from Durham to York. I must admit that until now I’ve never actually heard of TTCT but I’m left wondering if Pastoral Reorganisation will ever come to an end as it seems to have been haunting the Church of England for an awfully long time. Was it during Kenneth Riches time at Lincoln that he wanted to amalgamate a coastal parish with the next door inland neighbouring parish. His advisors cautioned the good bishop against such a move. When Bishop Riches asked… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Father David
8 months ago

Nomination to any of the other big five, London, Durham, and Winchester is still probably regarded as promotion, although less significant than in the past. There have been 11 bishops of London in post since 1900, eight of whom were translated from another diocesan see, one of whom (Fisher – who had been at Chester) went on to Canterbury, and as noted above David Hope (ex Wakefield) to York; there have been 13 bishops of Durham, only four of whom were translated from a diocesan see, Henson, Harland, Turnbull and Butler. However, four others were academics. Translations from Durham have… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Anthony Archer
8 months ago

The first Bishop of Wakefield, William Walsham How, turned down Durham when he was offered it by Lord Salisbury in 1890. Five years earlier when he was a Suffragan Bishop in London (with title Bishop of Bedford) he turned down Manchester.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Clifford Jones
8 months ago

It seems that Wakefield was the stepping stone diocese. Can I add Colin James Wakefield to Winchester. Pity really that the last diocesan bishop of Wakefield ended up being made redundant!

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Anthony Archer
8 months ago

I can think of a translation from Newcastle to Ely (Noel Hudson, 1957). Guy Warman went from Truro to Chelmsford in 1923 and from Truro to Manchester in 1929. Patrick Rodger went from Manchester to Oxford in 1978.Most remarkably, a Bishop of Truro became Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane. For two years in between (1891-1893) he was in Cape Town, where he did some episcopal work. His name was George Wilkinson. He flourished in Scotland, and became Primus.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Clifford Jones
8 months ago

George Wilkinson was a formidable vicar of my home parish of Seaham in the diocese of Durham. Lady Londonderry was furious when he upped sticks and moved on to higher things.

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