Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Newcastle to retire

News from the Diocese of Newcastle

Bishop Christine announces the date of her retirement

The Right Reverend Christine Hardman, after six years as Bishop of Newcastle, has announced that she is to retire from her role at the end of November.

Bishop Christine, the 12th Bishop of Newcastle, said: “I am reaching my 70th birthday at the end of August and my time as Bishop of Newcastle is drawing to a close. Her Majesty the Queen has graciously accepted my resignation, and with the Archbishop of York’s permission I will be stepping down as Bishop of Newcastle on 30th November, 2021…

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Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

My impression is she will be much missed, and I hope she has a happy retirement. But I’m bemused that she needs the permission of the ABY to retire. Is this just another tiny instance of that sense of ‘line management’ that so inappropriately seems to be creeping into ecclesiastical structures?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

It may be because Bishop Christine is going slightly beyond her 70th birthday that she needs the permission of the Archbishop of York to do so. My interest is more piqued by the three months notice, bishops seem to usually give their diocese up to a years warning of their departure.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Well if she was supposed, in the absencce of an extension, to retire this month, it seems she has given the public barely a fortnights notice of her intention to sit tight.

Nigel
Nigel
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

I’m consistently “bemused” on this site that many posters consistently read the worst into any situation! The reason that she needs the ABY’s permission to retire on that date is because it is beyond her 70th birthday – under Common Tenure, a diocesan bishop requires the consent of their archbishop. Nothing to do with “line management”!

Peter Collier
Peter Collier
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

The statutory age of retirement is 70; any extension beyond the 70th birthday, in her case at the end of August, requires the consent of the Archbishop for bishops and of the bishop for priests.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter Collier
Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Peter Collier
1 month ago

Ah… I’d missed the point about her birthday. That makes sense. But I wrote what I did in part because I think there is a trend (particularly obvious at confirmation of elections, when it looks like the archbishop is giving the new diocesan a job description) to words and actions that have an implication about line management in today’s church. So while I accept the point about +C going beyond seventy does need permission, I do maintain that I perceive attempts to make diocesans answerable to metropolitans in a way that I think is concerning.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

The ‘charge’ that the archbishop (Canterbury or York) gives to the new diocesan bishop at his/her confirmation of election is based on what the vacancy in see committee of the diocese will have set out in their diocesan profile / statement of needs and which the CNC will/should have had as a key document when seeking to discern who to recommend for appointment as their next bishop: it is nothing to do with line management.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  David Lamming
1 month ago

Indeed, but it is also a document which every shortlisted candidate (at least) will have studied carefully before interview, and which no doubt will have formed the basis for a significant part of the CNC interviews. To lecture the new bishop on this basis at the Confirmation of Election, an event otherwise dominated by church lawyers, smells very much of an attempt to find something for archbishops to do and not feel totally sidelined.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

I think you may be reading too much into this. “Permission” might simply be a matter of protocol, form, manners – call it what you will. When I retired my spiritual director advised me that the done thing was to ask “permission” from your bishop, knowing that its granting would of course be forthcoming.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
1 month ago

Best wishes to Bishop Christine. The time between announcement and retirement seems much more sensible than the year in advance notices that keep cropping up. Hopefully the legacy of Bishops Christine’s straightforwardness will result in strong diocesan representation on the CNC and a solid appointment.

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
1 month ago

This means there are now seven vacant (or soon-to-be vacant) dioceses in the C of E. Talking to friends in that part of the world, Christine Hardman’s time there has obviously been much appreciated. If there is going to be a shift of emphasis and more diversity in the House of Bishops, is it not time that diocesan representative on the CNC started flexing their muscles and challenging the presumption that the only names that can be considered are those who have made it on to Caroline Boddington’s jealously guarded list? I realise there has to be a rigorous process,… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
1 month ago

Michael there will be lots of people falling over themselves to fill each of these episcopal vacancies; but might this not be an opportune time to merge Newcastle with Durham? Parishes and parish clergy regularly face consolidation which inevitably means doing more with less resources, but this never seems to affect the senior clergy. Even the Leeds diocese now has one more bishop than it had when it was three separate dioceses. Sheffield has introduced another layer of junior managers with its Associate Archdeacon Transitional Enablers. Chelmsford with its already huge senior staff appointed an additional Change Manager to get… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
1 month ago

At risk of sounding ‘piqued’ why was the +Newcastle expected/ required to retire on her 70th birthday; just as the previous ABY was permitted to go beyond his 70th? Surely ‘HQ’ has knowledge of such dates (they have been known for close on 70 years!!) and the CNC already put to work! My own view (!) is that the Dioceses Commission should be taking this opportunity to review the whole ‘big picture’, ‘pour encourager les autres’. 9 Dioceses to align with the English Regions.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 month ago

I’m not convinced that 9 is the optimum number, but how about just NOT FILLING any diocesan sees that fall vacant until a plan is agreed?

Would any wheels fall off? I doubt it.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

Many thanks. There are precedents for this. For example, Elizabeth I kept the see of Ely vacant for nearly 20 years (1581-1600), or the see of Oxford vacant in 1559-67, 1568-89 and 1592-1604. This also happened elsewhere (and in earlier periods), although not for such long periods of time. Of course, the real object was to allow the crown to get its hands on the revenues, which in the case of Ely (though not Oxford) were considerable (and with respect to Ely it also permitted the crown to exercise the franchise jurisdiction of the bishops in the Isle of Ely).

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

Splendid idea Simon. A God given opportunity to formulate a plan but I’m afraid that it seems to me that several wheels have fallen off already! “One wheel on my wagon and I’m still rolling along”. I think it was in the time of the great Bishop Lightfoot that the diocese of Newcastle was created. For starters it could easily return and be reunited to its ancient mother Durham

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

An alternative approach is that there should be many more dioceses, but that there should be shared diocesan offices. This was floated in the Church Times a good few years ago and mentioned here several times since.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Goodness knows how long it has been mooted that the Oxford diocese be split into three – Bucks, Berks and Oxon but naught ever came of it. No, fewer and larger is surely the better way forward.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Leeds has not so far set a good example for the idea that “fewer and larger” is better.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Well, if “Small is Beautiful” then let Wakefield declare UDI as they never wanted to be swallowed up against their will into the mega diocese in the first place. Hasn’t Leeds got one more bishop than they had when they were three separate dioceses? The Church of England is beginning to resemble more and more the Royal Navy – far too many Admirals and not nearly enough Able Seamen

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

‘The strength of the Navy in 1914 could be shown as 146,000 officers and men, 3249 dockyard officials and clerks, and 57,000 dockyard workmen. By 1928 there were only 100,000 officers and men, and only 62,439 dockyard workmen, but the dockyard officials and clerks by then numbered 4558. As for warships, the strength in 1928 was a mere fraction of what it had been in 1914 – fewer than 20 capital ships in commission compared with 62 [thanks to the Geddes axe and the Washington Naval Treaty]. Over the same period the Admiralty officials had increased in number from 2000… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

A diocese of Durham stretching from Teesside to Scotland would make Oxford diocese look small.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Letter in Telegraph:
Too many bishops

SIR – The Church of England has become top-heavy (Letters, August 13). The Archbishop of Canterbury should clear out unnecessary jobs in diocesan offices and cut the number of bishops to one per diocese. In my father’s day, one bishop was able to tend to full churches and clergy in each parish.

We could then afford more parish priests, who could be trained to visit their parishioners and have a better chance of filling their churches. What is the point of busy diocesan offices if the churches are empty?

Robert Pyke
Stowmarket, Suffolk

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2021/08/15/letters-talibans-resurgence-afghanistan-shames-britain-america/

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

Great “Telegraph letter”. “In my father’s day…” is not necessarily a great argument for anything except living in the past, and that’s not something that we are called to do. What’s the marginal cost of a suffragan bishop? If every suffragan bishop were replaced with say two parochial clergy, that would not provide very many more such clergy, would it? (I’m not saying that we should or shouldn’t get rid of suffragan bishops, just noting the illogicality of the letter!)

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Given that the average clergy stipend is £26-27000 and that of a suffragan bishop is about £37000, even allowing for on costs one could only replace a suffragan bishop with less than 1.5 parish clergy. That ignores the cost of using laity to carry out necessary costs that the suffragan bishop currently carries out. Let’s get real!

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

I cannot for the life of me see how that would help. We are haemorrhaging numbers fast , we need workers at the coal face not more bishops, their archdeacons, a chaplain, a PA, a gardener, a housekeeper and a chauffeur. Nine dioceses sounds like an ideal number to me. A suffragan or two together with retired bishops helping out with confirmations and licensing services. It won’t be long before the bishops lose their seats in the House of Lords so there won’t be that distraction.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

It wasn’t my plan and I didn’t say I was in favour of it, just trying to report it! But I think the point was to considerably reduce the role and responsibilities of these bishops, so no chaplain, no housekeeper or chauffeur. The plan, if I recall correctly, also did not increase the number of archdeaconries. Basically it took the current number of diocesan and suffragan bishops and gave them each a smaller diocese. These smaller dioceses were grouped into small provinces which might possibly have been roughly aligned with the regions used by the government, or perhaps with the… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

I’m sorry if my response seemed a bit clipped. The model you describe has much to commend if there were some humility in those appointed to such posts. I fear that they wouldn’t give up the impedimenta of a large staff to ‘support’ them in the albeit reduced role. As a member of the diocesan property committee we were told that archdeacons must have not less than five bedrooms and suffragan bishops six. I think the culture of status and entitlement is deeply embedded in the clergy and especially the ambitious career minded ones, and this would end up costing… Read more »

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

it is not a distraction to those bishops who sit in the House of Lords with its £300 a day tax free attendance allowance not handed over to the Church Commissioners!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Philip Johanson
1 month ago

Has anyone analysed bishops’ attendance statistically? I believe one bishop attends every day for prayers, but watching HL debates on television it is rare to see more than three or four bishops sitting on their bench, frequently there are fewer, and sometimes none.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

I worked in the Diocese of Saskatchewan from 1979-84. I don’t remember how many parishes there were at the time, but I’m guessing about forty. Geographically it was quite far flung, with many of the First Nations parishes at the end of long gravel roads. The first time I met my Bishop, Vicars Short, he said to me, “If you’re in Prince Albert (the see city, 120 miles from my parish), stop by the synod office, and if it’s at all possible, I’ll stop what I’m doing and have coffee with you.” That was a promise he kept. Also, when… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Tim Chesterton
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

A very informative and interesting post, Tim. Thank you. One of my earliest memories as a young boy walking around the village where I lived in the 1940s/50s was seeing the arrival at the Rectory of Bishop Henry Montgomery Campbell carrying a large flat suitcase, possibly for his robes, and obviously for an overnight stay. I don’t remember a car or a chauffeur, but he would have travelled from Farnham Castle, then the residence of the Bishops of Guildford. Years later he was to confirm both my sister and me. A very tall, dignified man, very bishop-like to my juvenile… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

That’s the best strategy for the C of E I’ve read in a long time, Simon. And I think we all know the answer to your question. Most vacant dioceses seem to take on a ground-up life of their own during a vacancy, but that’s precisely not what the other purple-shirt-wearers want. It would symbolise a loss of power and that, for most of them, is a loss they’re not preapred to contemplate. Meanwhile, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed here about Christine Hardman. I live two dioceses south of Newcastle, but have heard only good things from clergy… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

I think given that the Bishop of Berwick is new to his post as the Suffragan Bishop in Newcastle and will be administering the Diocese of Newcastle during the Vacancy as the Acting Diocesan Bishop, I do not think this time round they will Consecrate a Bishop into Newcastle, but will translate an experienced Suffragan or Area Bishop to Newcastle. Jonathan

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

It strikes me that the recent revival of the suffragan see of Berwick, which had been in abeyance since 1572, suggests the intention to develop rather than abolish the diocese of Newcastle. Whatever else is meant by the strapline “Simpler, humbler, bolder,” it doesn’t mean fewer dioceses or bishops.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 month ago

Is anyone seriously contemplating or organising this much referred to plan for the future shape of the Church of England or will it simply be a case of carry on as usual regardless? I often think it rather unusual that a “Carry on Vicar” film was never made at Pinewood. What with proposed votes of no confidence at Winchester and the dream of creating 10,000 lay led house churches, there’s no shortage of cinematic material on offer.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

There’d be too much pathos in Carry on Vicar for it to work as comedy, Carry on Bishop however would be hilarious. Sadly most of the actors have gone to their heavenly reward now. But surely new actors could be found to reprise Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtry and Bernard Breslaw playing senior clerics.

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Shame we shall never see Hattie, Barbara and Joan playing clergy.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Shamus
1 month ago

The nearest equivalent is probably the 1964 film Crooks in Cloisters, which has a few of the Carry On team. I’m currently working on a script for ‘Carry On up the Cloisters’ in between sermons. But there’s just too much material to fit in at present.

Neal Terry
Neal Terry
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
1 month ago

Heavens Above, surely.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Neal Terry
1 month ago

Ah yes, the documentary of Christianity – you can see why it’s never been tried in this country. As ideas go, the Bishopric of Outer Space has much to commend it. Trouble is there are way too many suitable candidates.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Shamus
1 month ago

Or Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams playing bishops.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

Oooo archdeacon! Charles Hawtrey was very free and easy apparently and used to entertain stage hands with his dressing room door ajar. According to Dame Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams reacted with a mixture of jealousy and disgust.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

That CARRY ON ECCLESIASTICUS Cast in full

ABC – Most Rev’d Charles Hawtrey
ABY – Most Rev’d Bernard Breslaw
Diocesan Bishop – Rt Rev’d Peter Butterworth
Suffragan Bishop – Rt Rev’d Kenneth Williams
Dean Crumpet – Very Rev’d Terry Scott
Archdeacon Jael – Ven Hattie Jacques
Archdeacon Leah – Ven Sid James
Our Man at St. Mark’s – Rev Leslie Phillips (“Ding Dong”)
Our Woman at St. Mary’s – Rev Joan Sims
Curate Inuendo – Rev Frankie Howerd
Deaconess Gloria Stits – Ms. Barbara Windsor
Verger Phwor – Mr Kenneth Connor

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

You missed out the Organist…

And I think I’d import Terry Thomas for a role as Chairman of the PCC… ‘you vicars are an ebbslute shah!’

Alternatively James Robertson Justice would be good in that role.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

The Chair of the PCC is the incumbent, with a lay person elected as vice-chair. Not that that stopped the casting of the Vicar of Dibley, of course.

Michael Nash
Michael Nash
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Here in Hurstbourne Tarrant the late Tom Goode came to his first PCC with and said “Well, you’ve got along very well without me so I’ll just turn up when I need to”. And so he did. Quite why clerics are thought to be good chairman beats me; we’ve plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Simon, wasn’t the Council in ‘Vicar of Dibley’ the civil Parish Council rather than the PCC? That makes more sense to me – with a limited number of people half-capable and willing in a small village of people to serve in any village capacity? One of our churchwardens was also Chair of the Parish Council for several years. The programme was somewhat CofE illiterate anyway, something that ‘Rev’ could not be accused of. I still struggle to watch some ‘Rev’ episodes as they are too near the bone. (And curiously there were very few bishops, if any, in ‘Rev’ as… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Father how you got this cast list past the moderator I’ll never know! But with the suggested emendations I think we have the makings of a blockbuster at the box office. I think our delight in these actors perhaps rather dates us somewhat. Do you by any chance have a synopsis of the plot you’d care to share?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

It has taken me several hours to remember a name missing from the list of the regulars: Jim Dale. I’m not sure what role would suit him. James Robertson Justice, mentioned by Susannah, comes closest to one cathedral organist (now long retired) whom I know.

peter kettle
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Jim Dale could play Richard Coles – but why bother when the real thing is so good!

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

The cathedral organist who most resembles James Robertson Justice must surely be Durham’s Conrad Eden?The most musical edition of AGAG was “The Bishop Warms Up”. The role of cathedral organist Mr. Parry Jones was played by Dudley Jones. The two friendly Plainsong singers were Mr. Fox (Norman Chappell) and Mr Dawson (Frank Williams). The latter singer went on to be ordained and in the guise of the Rev’d Timothy Farthing held the living of Walmington-on-Sea for many years. He later received preferment when he appeared as Charles, the Lord Bishop in You rang, M’Lord.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

And he managed to be vicar of Walmington-on-Sea and a bishop whilst also being a member of the House of Laity of the General Synod.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

This has been an enjoyable excursion. I’m sure some of TA’s silent readers, if they have seen any of this, must be shaking their heads. No, I did not have Conrad Eden in mind, although the likeness existed; the gentleman in question is still alive and must remain anonymous (clue: but this is not our most distinguished centenarian doyen of the organ world).

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

If I did then it would certainly not pass the moderator’s scrutiny. As I said on the occasion when they tactically voted me off The Weakest Link, quoting Kenneth Williams, “Infamy, infamy, they’ve got it infamy!”

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

You were on The Weakest Link, Father David? Is there a recording of your episode on YouTube or somewhere? I’d love to see it!

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Deaconess?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

I’m sure people must remember on the small screen “All Gas and Gaiters” with brilliant performances by William Mervyn as the bishop, Robertson Hare as the archdeacon, Derek Nimmo as bishop’s chaplain and John Barron as the Dean. I always thought it amusing that, in a way, the Dean was the most dominant character, he and his daunting wife causing a degree of terror in all of the others whenever they appeared. There was also an RC programme “Bless me, Father” with Arthur Lowe in the priestly title role – perhaps less convincingly than his better known Captain Mainwaring.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Not forgetting Joan Sanderson as the Dean’s wife Mrs. Grace Pugh-Critchley. Alas for reasons of false economy the BBC wiped all but 11 episodes in order to reuse the video tapes – a televisual tragedy! However, a letter appeared in the Press from Pauline Deveney (the co writer of the series along with her then husband Edwin Apps) stating that in a house move she discovered in her attic the long lost AGAG scripts. Her intention was to publish the scripts in a series of volumes but I believe that only the first volume was ever published. As Pauline Deveney… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Indeed I had not forgotten the Dean’s wife. An interesting point for a pedant like myself, the Dean didn’t wear gaiters, so the series had moved into semi-modern times. I recall the two last Deans of Winchester to wear them: Deans Selwyn and Sykes, both distinguished biblical scholars, the latter Dixie Professor at Cambridge. We won’t see their like again in dress or intellect. Then Dean Gibbs-Smith arrived from St Paul’s, London, with an entirely different, modern style of ‘deanship’. As to your list of episcopal actors, I think Kenneth Williams has to be at least a dean or a… Read more »

David Emmott
David Emmott
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

I’ve heard a similar true story (from Newcastle as it happens, to bring the thread back a bit), except that in this case it was the archdeacon and other dignitaries travelling first class, while the Bishop (the saintly +Ronnie Bowlby) headed for standard.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Fr. David: It was, unfortunately, standard practice to wipe most of the output after screening at that time. This has meant that relatively little of everything broadcast until at least 1978 (when an archiving policy was introduced at the BBC) has survived. The BFI, until recently, ran an annual ‘Missing Believed Wiped’ season under Dick Fiddy, and has tried to conserve as much as possible at its Amersham archive (thanks in large part to the late John Paul Getty). The tragedy of this is that the quality of BBC and ATV output was often very high between the 1950s and… Read more »

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

The radio version of the scripts regularly surfaces on BBC R4 Extra. Not sure how many programmes there are.

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Mary Hancock
1 month ago

DVD of AGAG is available. A friend lent it to me. It is still funny.

Father Ron Smith
1 month ago

Wouldn’t it be useful for the Body of Christ if the role of bishop were to be restricted to those who have served at least 20 years in parish ministry? Such bishops would then have a much more practical experience of ther Body’s real needs – from the ground up. The first and most important task of a bishop is pastoral care, Management could be left to thse with the practical experience of the particular calling.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
1 month ago

Good luck with that, Ron. I’ve pointed out on TA the desirability of bishops and archdeacons having substantial post-curacy experience in more than one sort of parish (UPA, market town, suburb, rural) only for people who think they know better than I that we need bishops with different types of experience and not necessarily parochial. I stick to my opinion: hierarchs who wish to earn respect from parish clergy need to have had substantial post-curacy parish experience. I go further. Since memory is often a treacherous thing, there is much to be said for hierarchs to be required to return… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

I am commenting from a Canadian context where our bishops are elected by diocesan electoral synods. I agree with the thrust of your comment and that of Fr. Ron. Tim Chesterton’s comment above is also insightful on this. A substantial and diverse amount of experience as a parish priest is a sine qua non for a contemporary bishop. Parish ministry, that is being rector of a parish, is now a specialized skill set. It comes about by obtaining training specific to the task, developing a skill set in situ and honing it with ongoing training and continuing education. I spent… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Well said, Rod – I would 100% concur with all of this.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Thanks Rod and Tim. Much to digest, not that what I think will make the slightest difference of course. It seems to me that here in the CoE if all churches closed and parish clergy were sacked, bishops and church civil servants would remain as part of the establishment – until, that is, changes to the monarchy forced events. And who knows what will happen in the not too distant future?

Last edited 1 month ago by Stanley Monkhouse
CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
1 month ago

Just think of all the brilliant church leadership down the years this would have left out. Gregory the Great, Irenaeus would be two of thousands upon thousands. I doubt there is any single formula for identifying/inculcating spiritual holiness, intellect, and management.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Hmm…strikes me as a kind of idealistic, romanticism reaching out across both centuries and cultures from today’s church; but I’d be interested in hearing more from you on this. Would an ‘Irenaeus’ today be, say, bishop of a diocese, or an academic at The Gregorian? Could such an ‘Irenaeus’ do justice to both? Would Tom Wright be an Irenaeus for our times? Would John 23 qualify as a Greg the Great figure, I wonder? As for holiness. I agree there is no ‘formula’ for identifying ‘holiness’. There is only the more difficult task of discernment. Such is especially true in… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

“I’d be interested in hearing more from you on this.” Really? Pretty basic observation. Lots of very solid leadership without some formula ‘One must have 20 years in the parish.’ Nothing wrong with that, but hardly the stone that turneth all to gold. We can all name manifold exceptions down the ages.

I did not make the proposal, Ron did. I just lodged an historical demurral. Now for as for romanticism…

Last edited 1 month ago by CR SEITZ
Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

I could agree with you if you were arguing that there may be several skills that may enhance an episcopal ministry, context depending. A broad skill set is a good thing. The particular skills, in addition to deep experience, that a diocese may require from episcopal leadership may vary from time to time in its history. However, the complexities of modern diocesan life are such that electing a bishop who has no significant and proven effectiveness as a parish priest is likely to turn everything into tinfoil. Five will get you ten that exceptions to this would be rare indeed.… Read more »

Father David
Father David
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Not so very long ago the route to the episcopacy was not 20 years of parochial ministry but the experience of being Headmaster of a Public School – Tait – Benson – Temple – Fisher – to name but four who made it to the very top of the ecclesiastical candle.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Interesting. Goes to different contexts I suppose, the C of E by comparison with the Canadian church. I’d be interested in hearing more about how that worked out in terms of episcopal ministry there. One way of evaluating the twenty years of parish ministry ‘benchmark’ is from the angle of the number and types of parishes a priest would have served in that twenty years. Here it would be perhaps two, three, probably no more than four rectorships over twenty years. Certainly no more than an adequate number to prepare someone to undertake work as a diocesan bishop. So, from… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I think it comes down to my question, Rod, ‘What are bishops for?’ I think that despite the theological differences between you and me, we are probably in basic agreement about the answer to that question, and we know what sort of experience qualifies a person for it. Therefore, when we use the word ‘bishop’, we are actually thinking of something very different from a C of E bishop. On another subject, I find it really interesting that a few posts back when I suggested that many Anglicans place too much importance in bishops, some people saw my comment as… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

“..we are actually thinking of something very different from a C of E bishop.” I think that is it. Very different settings. The overall charism of episcope given to the church adapts to the local situation. I think there is also some of that nuanced adaptation even within the Canadian church. One of the names Father David mentions above is Temple, as in Archbishop William Temple. I’ve been a fan of Temple, his work on the church and the social question, his pioneering work as an ecumenist, his commentary on John. However I don’t think the kind of episcopal ministry… Read more »

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I was really thinking of Frederick Temple, William’s father who was Headmaster of Rugby but William was also a Public School Headmaster (a role he freely admitted he was not suited by temperament to occupy) of Repton. Geoffrey Fisher succeeded him in that position, as indeed at Canterbury when Temple died prematurely – a great loss to the Church. Michael Ramsey was a pupil at Repton under Fisher. I fully agree with you Tim that Temple’s “Readings in St. John’s Gospel” is a great Commentary.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Thanks for the clarification Father David. My copy of W. Temple’s commentary on John was in two volumes, and given me by a priest who picked it up in England while serving as a padre in the RCN during WWII. Alas, it has gone missing. I have in front of me here, What Christians Stand for in the Secular World, by Temple, which the introduction says was first printed in 1943 in a newsletter, reprinted by SCM in 1944. In that introduction Franklin Sherman (Mansfield College) writing in 1965 notes that William Temple in later years shared emphases with continental… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

What C of E bishops are, or should be, is set out in full in Canon C 18 of the Canons of the Church of England. It’s far too long to quote here, and although in archaic language, it is nevertheless absolutely clear about their functions and powers. Principally the bishop is to be a pastor, the chief pastor, to everyone in his/ her diocese, clergy and laity alike, to conduct confirmations and ordinations, to ensure that there are adequate numbers of clergy, and having responsibility for both clergy discipline and dealing with lay misconduct. (The duty to ensure that… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

The Ordinal fleshes out the canonical requirement regarding initiation rites: “He [sic] is to baptize and confirm…” In my experience bishops welcome being invited by parishes to baptize and confirm (conversely getting irritated by clergy who baptize candidates days before their confirmation). The Ordinal continues: “…to preside at the Holy Communion.” Again, my experience is of bishops responding favourably when invited to preside and preach at the Parish Eucharist. “I wish parishes would get away from seeing me as just a confirming machine” one remarked. Others will have a better take on this, but are we making good use of our… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

I have little or no experience of adult baptism. In the far off days of my own, infant baptism was invariable in all C of E families. That was during WW II but it had never occurred to me until now that the war was an added reason for prompt reception into the Church.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Nobody has EVER satisfactorily convinced me what’s going on in infant baptism. Evidence abounds that baptism in order to keep the devilish sky pixie at bay is utterly impotent. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed them particularly sloshing holy water on the assembled company, Orthodox style, but I never really knew what I was doing other than “getting the baby done” and providing an excuse for a party (a very good reason of course).

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

I think we often lose sight of the fact that in the earliest days of episcopacy bishops were also pastors of city churches whose care was extended to other congregations (perhaps, in some cases, planted from their own churches). In other words, the original dioceses were small, pastoral units, not giant administrative structures with hundreds of churches and platoons of staff. This is ‘the historic episcopate.’

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

That did not, however, last for very long. I recall something Rowan Williams said in his book on Arius (if memory serves). Cardinal rectors had the money/power; Bishops the notional authority; monks the intellect. That was in the context of Alexandria and 4th century debates. But I have thought there was a good deal to it. The idea of rungs on a ladder of “preferment” surely cannot be correct. Think of all the people who shuddered at the idea of being made a Bishop. That makes sense to me. But it is now rare and that must say something about… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by CR SEITZ
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Interestingly, the Diocese of the Arctic has returned to this model with its suffragans, because of the extremely high cost of air travel.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Many thanks. A very apt comment, and that model -extinguished in Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt and Africa Proconsularis – is best preserved in the old papal states and Mezzogiorno. See pp. 9-25 here: https://archive.org/details/churchinitalyinf0000hayd/page/n11/mode/2up (Denys Hay was president of the Ecclesiastical History Society, 1980-81). In England the dioceses were not erected in major population centres (though that had been the Gregorian conception), but in or near those settlements that were the seats of the rulers of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (or, the case of Rochester, a sub-kingdom, or which were resettled in order to avoid the Norsemen. In England the… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

It does resonate in TEC. Houston/TX diocese and Dallas dioceses pay their big parish rectors more than the Bishop. There are probably 25 places like this.

I am not advocating anything, just noting the ecology in a different Province.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Many thanks, Prof. Seitz, though I should add as a corrective that Crediton was moved to Exeter in 1050: the bishop who effected that (Leofric) had spent much time in Germany and France (at Toul in particular) and the regime of the Confessor was, to some extent, quasi-Norman. There was a view at the time that sees ought to be in cities rather than villages. There were times in English church history when some sees (Bristol, Llandaff, Rochester) were endowed so abysmally that they had to be held in plurality with parochial cures or some other office. Here, then, is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

RG: This is not intended as a contentious comment, but I thought you would like to know of three Anglican (C of E) bishops who have chosen to wear the simplest pectoral cross in the form of three nails – with their obvious symbolism. The first, whom I knew and met several times, was John Dennis, retired bishop of St Edmundsbury, and in active ‘retirement’, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Winchester and a Franciscan. Sadly he died very early during the Covid epidemic last year. The other two are the present Bishop of Winchester, Timothy Dakin, and Archbishop Justin… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Thanks RW, comment received in the spirit in which it is offered. I’m an old debater. Sometimes my penchant for political sardonicism gets in the way. Re: my reference to ‘pectoral crosses the size of small sculptures’ is, perhaps unfortunately, typical. My intention was to contrast clerical culture and the affectations of outward piety with the loci of holiness not often visible or expected. Holiness is characteristic of faith life in general, not aways discerned readily, or found in the places one first looks.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I understood your purpose and was trying not to give the impression of any rebuff by quoting my three examples. Incidentally, while I had known of Bishop Dennis’s unusual cross of nails, and his personal humility, for some years, the more recent discovery of the other two were surprises, especially as both wearers have been subject to widespread criticism and claims of employing an episcopally overbearing management-style.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rowland Wateridge
Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Archbishop Justin was for five years a residentiary canon of Coventry Cathedral, and for 10 years before that a parish priest in the diocese of Coventry. As the Cross of Nails originates at Coventry Cathedral that’s a good reason for him to wear such a cross.

I’m not aware of any connection between Coventry and Bishops Dennis and Dakin, but perhaps others can enlighten us.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

You are certainly correct in the case of Archbishop Welby, and he has presented such a cross of nails to Pope Francis. The symbolism is obvious. The altar cross in the church of my childhood and where I was baptised incorporated thirty pieces of silver – clearly the same concept. Bishop Dakin was Canon Theologian at Coventry from 2001 to 2011, and I believe that overlapped with the Archbishop’s time there. Bishop Dennis had no connection with Coventry. He once said that he chose his pectoral cross as a personal reminder and symbol of Christ’s suffering. Its simple form also… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Pictures of Bishop Dennis online don’t seem to me to show a cross of nails, but something closer to a Franciscan tau cross. Of course, he might have had more than one pectoral cross. One example https://www.cofesuffolk.org/news/bishop-john-dennis.php

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

I have the clearest recollection of Bishop Dennis showing his pectoral cross to members of the congregation after morning service at St Matthew’s church in Winchester. It may have been in the form of two nails and not necessarily in the Coventry pattern. He spoke of the fact that the constituent arms were nails. That it might have also been in Franciscan form would have been entirely understandable and consistent. I note from the photograph which you linked that the horizontal bar is separate from the vertical and crosses behind it. There is insufficient detail to see whether the horizontal… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Bishop Dakin was Canon Theologian of Coventry Cathedral when he was Secretary-General of CMS.

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

During the time that Colin Bennetts was Bishop of Coventry he was also Chairman of Partners for World Mission. Tim Dakin was General Secretary of C.M.S and therefore a member of Partners for World MIssion. Colin Bennetts appointed Tim Dakin as Canon Theologian of Coventry Cathedral hence the Cross of Nails

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Philip Johanson
1 month ago

Surely the significant fact is that both the Archbishop and Bishop Dakin chose to continue to wear this simple cross of nails as their episcopal pectoral cross. I see it as a symbol of personal humility. It certainly was for Bishop Dennis.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

The Cross of St. Cuthbert is also a popular choice as a pectoral cross for bishops – especially, understandably so, for Bishops of Durham.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Thanks again RW. I’m in the ‘strongly disagree’ column when it comes to Archbishop Welby’s political management style at The Communion level, his dealings with the Anglican Consultative Council following upon his manner of leading the Primates’ gatherings and such. However, his public advocacy for the disabled and his public leadership on behalf of grieving parents are significant and remarkable.+Welby’s leadership on those matters arise out of his existential situation as a parent. I’m sure he is a person of faith, a striver after holiness. When we get into duking it out with people in positions of leadership, especially when… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

In the middle of parochial disagreements they may become the object of transference, their whole personhood weighed entirely on the basis of a single hot button issue.’

Yes, I’ve seen that happen many times in a parish, but had not made the connection between the way we treat our diocesan and national church leaders. Thanks once again, Rod!

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
1 month ago

If he were not already destined to move from Finedon to prison ‘down south’ might not the Reverend Richard Coles make a great appointment in Geordieland to Carry on Strictly- Coles to Newcastle?

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 month ago

A good suggestion except, like former Diocesan bishop Tom Wright, he’d never be present in the Diocese.

mark
mark
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

is fr coles moving

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  mark
1 month ago

He is retiring — at the end of the year I think.

Philip Johanson
Philip Johanson
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

The present Bishop of Newcastle had retired when appointed to Newcastle.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

I think that Fr Coles biography might rouse a lot of opposition to him being made a bishop. I think the Vicar of Jesmond might kick up a stink if he was nominated for Newcastle. I hope he enjoys his retirement as much as I do.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

I hadn’t realised that the Reverend Richard Coles was going to retire – presumably from the parochial ministry rather than his alternative media career?
There can’t be many priests currently who have served in the same parish longer than David Holloway – come 2023 he will have been Vicar of Jesmond for 50 years. Now aged over 80 and still in harness.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Tommy Bloomer, Bishop of Carlisle in my youth, was much loved. He said when he retired that he’d been encouraged to remain in post but felt that although staying in harness might be good for the horse, it was seldom so for the harness. He was a Church of Ireland protestant farmer from Dungannon but liked to surround himself with people of unlike mind, and deliberately chose curates when Vicar of Barking who would argue with each other and him. He subsequently appointed several to posts in Carlisle diocese such as Richard Bradford, a Mirfield man, later Vicar of Penrith… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

How noble of Mr Holloway to recognise the CofE’s staffing problems and soldier on.

peter kettle
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

…. with permission from the Bishop of Newcastle, presumably, at that age! (or the Bishop of his choosing if he can’t cope with her.)

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  peter kettle
1 month ago

I don’t think he needs his bishop’s permission. He was appointed to his position in 1973 and so the mandatory retirement age of 70 does not apply to him. Freehold was for life in those pre-1975 days.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

My predecessor at Feering (The Reverend Aubrey Moody – former soldier and former Conservative candidate for Malden, being beaten twice by Labour’s Tom Driberg) was inducted into the living in the 1950s and finally decided to retire on the cusp of 90 (so David Holloway has a few years yet to minister). When the Board bearing the list of incumbents for my name to be added a bat flew out from behind it!

Oxon Ian
Oxon Ian
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

William Deane, who held the living for 61 years from 1718, resided at least part of the time until 1738 when he became ill; by 1759 he was of unsound mind and seems to have remained so until his death, aged over 90, in 1780

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp264-266

Just sayin’- no ageism to be inferred 😉

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father David
1 month ago

Mr Moody had 44 years at Feering, but he was pipped at the post in Chelmsford diocese by such recent examples Norman Kelly (Canewdon with Paglesham, 1957-2003, his death) and Trevor Thorpe (North Weald Bassett, 1957-2011, dying the following year), but Jim Cocke of Highfield in Oxford diocese was also appointed in 1957 and finished only last year. The longest-serving incumbent known to me in East Anglia (indeed, the only pre-1975 freehold incumbent I can presently think of in the region), is the inimitable Philip Gray of Mendlesham (in post since 1974), who does so much for the FFC. I… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Needing the bishop’s permission about anything doesn’t apply to Jesmond Parish Church. When Mr Holloway’s curate, the Rev Jonathan Pryke, was illicitly consecrated a ‘bishop’, no one at Mr Holloway’s Church gave two hoots about Bishop Hardman’s opinion. There is only one person Mr Holloway obeys. Himself

Liam Beadle
Liam Beadle
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

It is not quite true to say no one at Jesmond Clayton Memorial ‘gave two hoots about Bishop Hardman’s opinion’. A number of long-standing members of the congregation left. As for bishops and permissions, I gather it is a phenomenon at the conservative end of the conservative evangelical movement in the Church of England, that their clergy have been unwilling to concede that the current occupants of certain sees legitimately hold their office, and they have therefore been unable to take advantage of any extended episcopal oversight. Instead, as the old poem goes, ‘colonial prelates they employ from far-off mission… Read more »

Nicholas Henshall
Nicholas Henshall
Reply to  Liam Beadle
1 month ago

Completely left field, but an old friend of mine big in the Newcastle arts scene left Jesmond Parish Church because it was “too Anglican”. After years of worshipping there he had never picked up anything at all about its ecclesiastical politics or eg that gay people were not welcome. That rather made the point to me that most members of congregations are almost completely untouched by the dogmatic positions taken by their church leaders.

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