Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Lincoln announces his retirement

Press release from Diocese of Lincoln

To the people of the Diocese of Lincoln:

I am writing during the season of Easter, as we look forward to the celebration of Ascension Day and to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Whitsunday, the first Christian Pentecost, to announce my retirement as Bishop of Lincoln on the 31st December 2021 – more than ten years after I took up the post on the 19th September 2011 and as I approach my 69th birthday.

This will be preceded by a period of study leave during October to December in which I will reflect on the last ten years of ministry. I will do this by attending a retreat and undertaking guided study.

Of course, there will be time later for me to give thanks and for others to reflect on all that has happened in the Diocese during these ten years – to mark what has gone well and what has not gone so well; more of that later.

I hope my farewell service will be in Lincoln Cathedral on Sunday 21st November at Evensong at 3.45pm – COVID19 permitting.

I have not made this decision lightly, but after careful thought and prayer and after consultation with people of wisdom inside and outside the Diocese…

The press release goes on to explain the reasoning behind this timing.

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Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
1 month ago

Who can really be surprised? His suspension appears to have been appallingly handled (he was not initially even told the reason for it) and it must leave a sour taste for him and his wife despite his reinstatement. Not a happy way for his ministry to draw to a close. But I am sure he will be very relieved to be clear of the whole shabang. I hope they both have a very peaceful and happy retirement.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Canon Dr Michael Blyth
1 month ago

Agreed. It is surprising he came back at all; most in his position would have walked away.

This will be the 5th diocese to become vacant this year and +Newcastle will be 70 shortly. I hope the CNC can move quickly with new appointments or perhaps its time for a cull of dioceses?

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Sam Jones
1 month ago

You think that could happen quickly? I think culling dioceses will only add months to any proceeding!

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

Dozens of months, at least.

Neil Patterson
Neil Patterson
1 month ago

It is perhaps unfortunate that in the full statement on the diocesan website he appears to liken himself to the risen and ascended Jesus

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Neil Patterson
1 month ago

I would also add that ‘stepping out in faith’ and the Ascension of the Risen Lord are obviously very different things.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Neil Patterson
1 month ago

I do not agree with you.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

None of us can imagine what +Christopher has been through over these past couple of years and what scars he bears from the attempts to sacrifice him on the altar of institutional reputation. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that he’s simply had enough and, for his own health and well-being, needs to walk away from the slowly imploding Church of England. Lambeth even managed to make a complete dog’s dinner of his resumption of ministry, even extending his suspension long after it was necessary to do so, while they awaited the verdict on the half-baked charges against one… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

I admit to having had uncharitable feelings of “what goes around comes around” when I first learnt of the suspension from duty of the Bishop of Lincoln. A few years earlier, his subordinate hand-delivered the Bishop’s letter to my husband, at home, during our honeymoon, rebuking him for marrying me – a highly unpleasant experience and one which Lowson didn’t have the decency to do in person. I laughed bitterly at your mention of ‘scars’ and ‘sacrifice’ as I have witnessed those at first hand – and it wasn’t Christopher Lowson who experienced them. However, two wrongs don’t make a… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Laurence Cunnington
Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
1 month ago

Obviously, I don’t know the circumstance of your marriage, or whether it is required of the diocesan to send such a letter. In the event that he is obliged to send it I would think that the only acceptable way to do so would to be arrive at your house, by appointment, with a bottle of something cheering, and a wedding present, and to deliver the letter by hand in an apologetic manner.

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
Reply to  Toby Forward
1 month ago

Our marriage and the legal consequences of it were reported widely in the press and online at the time. If you are interested, Google “Jeremy Pemberton tribunal”.

Last edited 1 month ago by Laurence Cunnington
Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
1 month ago

I know about that, but I would never assume that what I read in the newspapers or online is the truth, especially when it is a matter of human relationships. I wish you both well and every happiness.

Robert Ellis
Robert Ellis
Reply to  Toby Forward
1 month ago

That would have been very gracious indeed and sensible Toby….I agree with you. You can still keep the letter of the law and at the same time show what a load of b…….ks it is. Christopher Lowson arrived in the Diocese with great promises none of which have been met……..but I’m prejudiced and the clue is in my surname.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
1 month ago

As mentioned below, there is real doubt that the suspension was even lawfully made. People tried to justify it by comparison with ‘civilian’ disciplinary procedures, particularly in Education, but those were red herrings in the face of the Church’s own statutory and very specific CDM provisions which should have been followed to the letter – and ostensibly weren’t.

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

The duration of the suspension substantially exceeded what I would consider to be necessary or legitimate in a ‘civilian’ disciplinary context, never mind the question of its legality in Lowson’s case.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
1 month ago

Laurence is my memory correct that Jeremy said (possibly in this forum) that one bishop he had to deal with at the time told him that officially he was obliged to terminate his licence but that privately he wished you both every blessing? It may not have been this particular bishop but I recall at the time thinking that it didn’t reflect well on the mess we have made of peoples private lives.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
1 month ago

Potential external candidates should have a good look at Resourcing Sustainable Church, it can be hard to get behind someone else’s project.

Father David
1 month ago

I remember that we were both Durham ordinands at the same time when Bishops Ian Ramsey and John Habgood ruled the diocese. I recall with affection the annual ordinands tea parties at Auckland Castle in the days before it became an Ecclesiastical Theme Park (what would Hensley Henson make of that, I wonder?). Happy days so full of hope and service for the future.
+ Christopher has indeed experienced a fiery ordeal and been very badly treated with his excessively lengthy suspension. I can only wish the bishop a long, happy and care free retirement.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Perhaps there’s little point in re-opening an old wound, but at the time of the suspension there were major irregularities: + Lincoln was not told the reasons for it, saying that he was bewildered; there was serious doubt that the suspension was even legal, a matter which I raised and David Lamming subsequently wrote a substantial paper on the subject which he published here on TA. The germane point was that for the suspension to be lawful the archbishop had to be satisfied on evidence received that the bishop was a safeguarding risk, whereas the suspension was announced as that… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Although it was announced that the suspension did follow the police raising concerns about Bp. Lowson.

Certainly several Lincoln safeguarding cases which had stalled for some time, were reactivated after the bishop’s suspension.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Janet: This was discussed in great detail at the time and you were involved in the discussion. David Lamming’s paper can be found, via the TA index, on 24 May 2019. He conceded that the legal basis for the suspension was “at least doubtful” which was putting the most charitable interpretation on the facts as known at the time.
Other matters arising during the suspension (of which I am unaware) are simply a red herring. They would not, and could not, provide any grounds to justify a suspension already made.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

It is entirely possible for the suspension to have been legally doubtful (our disciplinary procedures being as poorly drafted as they are) but to have contributed to justice being done in safeguarding cases. That’s an unsatisfactory situation, I admit. And certainly the suspension should not have been so long as it was.

I can’t say any more in a public forum, but we may one day find out more about why it happened.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

The CDM is being redrafted. It’s important that those in the Church who can have a say are vigilant that necessary reforms happen. Outsiders, like myself, can only comment, but have no illusions that stating their thoughts on TA will make any difference.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Fr. David: I attended a good many services across Lincoln diocese during Christopher Lowson’s suspension, and on the few occasions the topic was raised, the response was one of bafflement. Whilst I note your comments about Auckland Castle, I think we must be most grateful to Jonathan Ruffer for ensuring that it has not been converted to the private use of some multi-millionaire (just as we must also be grateful for the recent salvation of Hartlebury and Rose castles). Henson, of course, was keen to free the Church from the real or imagined shackles of establishment, although I note he… Read more »

Father David
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Had he not been taken from us in “the whirlwind which swept Ian, like Elijah of old, to Paradise”; ian Ramsey would have been a great and much loved Cantuar.. Equally great but more cantankerous Hensley Henson possessed a number of eccentricities – refusing to have a telephone in Auckland Castle and sending the poor Chaplain out to the nearest telephone kiosk with a handful of pennies. Heaven knows what he would have made of the internet? Full marks to the people of Somerset who kicked up a fuss when it was mooted that Bath and Wells should vacate his… Read more »

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