Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Rochester

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Appointment of Bishop of Rochester: 31 March 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Gibbs for election as Bishop of Rochester.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 31 March 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Gibbs, Suffragan Bishop of Huddersfield, for election as Bishop of Rochester, in succession to The Right Reverend James Langstaff following his retirement.

Background

Jonathan was educated at Jesus College, Oxford and Jesus College, Cambridge and he trained for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at Holy Trinity Stalybridge, in the diocese of Chester and was ordained Priest in 1990.

Jonathan became Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Basle, Switzerland with Freiburg, Germany in 1992, before being appointed Rector of Heswall, St Peter and Good Shepherd, in the diocese of Chester in 1998.

Jonathan took up his current role as Suffragan Bishop of Huddersfield in 2014. He is married to Toni and they have three adult children and two grandchildren.

There are more details on the Rochester diocesan website.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
45 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

Whilst I have little doubt that Dr Gibbs is a Good Thing, and that this preferment is welcome, it is also an opportunity missed. This, then, was a chance to merge Canterbury with Rochester, to translate Rose Hudson-Wilkin to Rochester and have her continue to act as suffragan for Canterbury (in imitation of medieval practice), and to either suppress the suffragan see of Dover or put it to other use, as with Maidstone. St Nicholas’ Rochester could have been turned back into a church or part-church/community use, the offices at Lady Wootton’s Green (which are not exactly in mint condition)… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I should add that the sub-kingdom of (west) Kent appears to have been held by the heirs to the main kingdom, which was ruled from Canterbury (until the foundation of the cathedral), Reculver, Milton Regis, etc., although the organisation of the ‘joint kingship’ (which was not a permanent feature of the kingdom) was sometimes more complex than that.

See https://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/Vol.099%20-%201983/099-01.pdf (at pp. 5-6), and pp. 2-5 here: https://archive.org/details/faithfabrichisto0000unse_a8n8/page/4/mode/2up?view=theater. Kenneth Witney’s ‘The Kingdom of Kent’ (1982) is also useful (the late Eric Christiansen’s basting of this work in the EHR was, frankly, unfair).

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I note the mention of the ‘antiquity’ of the Diocese of Rochester. I write sometimes for ‘The Gippsland Anglican’ (TGA), the monthly of the Anglican Diocese of Gippsland, having once lived in Gippsland. The following is from something I published in the February 2022 TGA.

‘The Diocese of Rochester, England, is very ancient and goes well back into the first millennium AD. The Episcopal (Anglican) Diocese of Rochester in New York State is a decade shy of its centenary. Each is the seat of a Bishop of Rochester.’

The Diocese of Gippsland had its centenary in 2002.`

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Clifford Jones
1 month ago

Many thanks for that, Mr Jones. There is a Kentish connection with Gippsland, of which I daresay you are aware. It is, of course, named after Sir George Gipps, who was governor of NSW in 1838-46 (NSW then including what is now Victoria), who was born in Ringwould (the parish next to the one from which I am writing this post), then educated at King’s Canterbury and at the RMA Woolwich (the ‘Shop’): https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gipps-sir-george-2098, and is buried in the cloisters. Here is his monument in Canterbury cathedral: https://statues.vanderkrogt.net/object.php?webpage=ST&record=gbse067, which is – significantly – close to the tomb of his schoolfriend,… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thank you. Yes, I did have some background on Gipps though I was unaware of the connection with Ringwould.

Two Australian archbishops from the 20th Century had been pupils at King’s School Canterbury: Mowll of Sydney and Moline of Perth.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Clifford Jones
1 month ago

The below is from something I drafted a couple of months ago but did not in the event publish.

‘Broughton was  centrally involved in the setting up of King’s School Parramatta [in Sydney], which took its first pupils in 1832. It is good to note that the second Bishop of Gippsland, George Cranswick, who was installed at Sale [the cathedral town of the diocese] in November 1917, had been a boy at King’s School Parramatta. The young Broughton had gone from King’s School Canterbury to Cambridge. The young Cranswick went from King’s School Parramatta to the University of Sydney. That is a clear example of continuity of tradition.’

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Why do you consider this vacancy to be a missed opportunity? Is it forbidden to merge dioceses when there is a sitting bishop?

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

When the modern Leeds diocese was created, what happened was:
The Bp of Ripon & Leeds was due to retire imminently and did so.
The Bp of Bradford was chosen by the CNC to be the new Bp of Leeds and the Queen approved.
The.Bp of Wakefield lost his bishopric and was (the only person) to receive financial compensation for loss of office.
So yes,it can be done.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

As a parishioner in the Diocese of Leeds, that little snippet about the (former) Bishop of Wakefield losing his bishopric is interesting because the spin at the time was that, at 65, he had chosen to retire. More significantly, one factor in the creation of the Diocese Leeds that is often overlooked is that a diocese (Wakefield) was dissolved in the teeth of clear opposition from its diocesan synod. The General Synod motion, which was cynically timetabled to take place immediately after the women bishops vote in 2013, meant that anyone with any clout had left the chamber in euphoria… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield, went to St Michael Cornhill and was Chair of Hymns Ancient and Modern and Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London

Tim
Tim
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

I have made this point before and so I am concerned that Bill criticises senior clergy in the diocese but fails to name them. Equally important is that he provides not a shred of evidence to support his claims.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Tim
1 month ago

Quite Tim! I know the current Bishop of Wakefield, and whilst I passionately oppose his views on the ordination of women. He is a good and gentle pastor, knows the area, was an Archdeacon there for many years, and is far from sleeping! At the time, his appointment was a bold, pragmatic, and inclusive move in a fractured diocese with a significant number of so-called “traditionalist” parishes. He has done a good amount to hold things together.

Mike Townsend
Mike Townsend
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

I suspect (though I can’t be certain) that if Bill Broadhead were to supply ‘a shred of evidence’ it would mean compromising other people, so I think he’s absolutely right to keep his comments in the realm of generalities. All I can say as a worshipper in the episcopal area to which Bill, interestingly, does not specifically refer, I would make the following points: The appointment of the Bishop of Wakefield in 2014 was anything but ‘bold, pragmatic and inclusive.’ It was an automatic ‘translation’ provided for under the terms of the diocesan merger. The post could not be advertised,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

Also, why can’t a bishop hold separate office in two sees? Priests do for parishes. Then the administrative functions could be rationalised over time, taking it slowly to avoid many redundancies.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

It is because there are too many small dioceses, which all have their own officials, the cost of whom is becoming increasingly oppressive to straightened parishes. If diocesan bureaucracies are not to be abolished wholesale (as I would prefer) the number of bureaucracies could at least be rationalised very severely. What I am proposing is to keep the title, but to make the bishop suffragan (i.e., de facto diocesan, given that the archbishops have been largely absent from their notional diocese since 1991, if not 1980) for both Canterbury and Rochester, and for the bureaucracies to be amalgamated. The boundaries… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Froghole
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Sorry, just to be clear the following were put into London diocese in 1845: Charlton by Greenwich; Deptford St Nicholas; Deptford St Paul (i.e., Hatcham, which was partly in Kent and partly in Surrey); Eltham; Greenwich; Kidbrooke (chapelry); Lee; Lewisham; Plumstead; and Woolwich (including the detached North Woolwich, now encompassing part of Silvertown, an exclave of Kent on the Essex side). These parishes were retroceded to Rochester in 1867. I stated below that west Kent was returned to Rochester in 1877, but it was actually in 1905 (apologies!): there was therefore a 28 year period when the diocese encompassed the… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I agree with the sentiment but merger of dioceses would proceed more smoothly if dioceses had more than one cathedral so nowhere would lose their cathedral.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

In the creation of the new Diocese of Leeds, no cathedrals were lost. We have three. None of which are in Leeds itself.

Alastair
Alastair
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

The Diocese of Argyll and the Isles has two Cathedrals. One in Oban the other in Cumbrae.

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

Historically a number of dioceses had more than one cathedral – sometimes one being monastic whilst the other being a secular collegiate church (e.g. Bath and Wells) and sometimes due to the geographical spread of a diocese (e.g. Coventry and Lichfield, which also had the two titular cathedrals and a third in Chester. There were then some other dioceses where monastic or collegiate churches served as co-cathedrals in all but formal title: Ripon, Southwell, Howden and Beverley Minsters alongside York Minster in the Diocese of York; the abbeys/priories of Bristol and Gloucester in the diocese of Worcester; and the collegiate… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
1 month ago

A Dean of St Paul’s and a Bishop of Rochester. A bumper week for appointments!

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Agree with Froghole. Though unfortunately the Dioceses Commission have no power to act on their own. So unless someone asked them… But uniting Kent would make a lot of sense.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

I imagine the plan is for growing cooperation.

mark
mark
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

it Will be interesting to see if someone does ask the commission to do so. Almost every denomination are restructuring apart from the C of E. The results of the Canterbury consultation will be interesting to see because other dioceses may copy parts of it. I recognise the ABC job is different to other bishoprics. I think the work of local ecumenical partnerships should be looked at again it seems to of gone out of fashion just as it is needed.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Many thanks, Bishop Pete. I should add that Kent has been almost united before, as you probably know. When Rochester was re-formed in 1845-46 it took in Essex, and also Hertfordshire until 1877 when St Albans was formed. It also lost its peculiars in Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. Within Kent it was reduced to only the deanery of Rochester (effectively the city plus the hundred of Hoo). Everything else in Kent was passed to Canterbury. In 1877 Rochester received east/mid Surrey from Winchester in addition to its former territories in west Kent, and it retained territory in Surrey (absent the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I have corrected myself above. Rochester recovered west Kent in 1905 and not 1877, absent the NW Kent parishes removed in 1845/1846 in what are now the boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham. Apologies. Therefore, Canterbury had control of the whole of Kent bar the 9 or so parishes in NW Kent and the 37/35 parishes of the rural deanery of Rochester for a period of 60 years. See here (from p. 2541): https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/20499/page/2562/. The rural deanery of Rochester was quite extensive and comprised: Ash next Meopham; Aylesford; Burham (CCT); Chalk; Chatham (St Mary’s, the original church, reconstructed, is now redundant,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Froghole
Christopher Daws
Christopher Daws
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

As I read the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007, the Dioceses Commission are not as reactive as this comment says. They may have no power actually to act but they do not have to wait for someone to ask them. The Measure includes: 3(1) It shall be the duty of the Commission to keep under review the provincial and diocesan structure ….. (2) The Commission shall…. consider whether changes are required, put forward proposals for discussion, where appropriate, and encourage detailed and reasoned responses from those persons and bodies consulted;

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
Reply to  Christopher Daws
1 month ago

I think the Powers that Be closed down the possibility of an independently instigated inquiry at one stage in the past. I agree that they should take it upon themselves to start being proactive.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

I wish the Dioceses Commission, with its soon to be elected members from the new General Synod, well in its deliberations going forward. I was a member for a short time in the 2015-17 period. But I am willing to wager that we will not see radical change for at least five years. The process for filling a diocesan vacancy automatically starts once the incumbent has offered his/her resignation to the Queen and it has been announced. From that time on, the V-in-S Committee and CNC processes inexorably start. We have seen Portsmouth filled (a good appointment – made more… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 month ago

“No diocese is in a position of strength currently.” This is, of course, thanks in large measure to the very misguided national financial settlement of 1995-98. Until relatively recently the Rochester diocese was (like Guildford) one of the strongest in the country, at least financially. Given that it includes Sevenoaks, part of the ‘ne plus ultra’ of the home counties, at least in terms of wealth, how could it fail? Yet it did fail, perhaps precisely because the DBF felt that it could rely on places like Sevenoaks (although that town’s largest church, St Nicholas, has had a very ‘awkward’… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
1 month ago

As a parishioner in the western part of Rochester Diocese, within Greater London, I am very happy to have Dr Gibbs as my new bishop, but I agree that this does seem to be a missed opportunity, particularly when the combination of Rochester with Canterbury was specifically mentioned in the paper presented to the College of Bishops last year, and leaked in the Church Times on 8th February. Perhaps they could ‘do a reverse ferret’ when Canterbury becomes vacant, hopefully sooner rather than later? Dr. Gibbs would be a surprising choice as ABC, but no more so than the current… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 month ago

I too hope that Canterbury will be vacant sooner rather than later. But the present incumbent shows no signs of thinning down his staff, and requires a diary manager at £32k a year. Are there not enough chaplains, administrators, managers and support staff to manage his diary already? The Pathways job portal really exposes the inequalities of resourcing within the Church of England.

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

I think Jonathan has earned and deserves this promotion.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

So do I, and I haven’t seen any post on this thread which suggests otherwise. It’s just that, given the urgent need for rationalisation and cost saving, some of us feel that more could have been done with this appointment to hasten the merger of two dioceses which are already working closely together.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 month ago

With you Malcolm. The suitability of an individual for ‘promotion’ and/or for a particular position is one (or two?) matter(s). The definition or existence of the ‘vacancy’ is another. My thoughts (as I make at just about all episcopal apointments, and much as Froghole too) … 26 Dioceses, as per Lords Spiritual. No need to change that number this side of Lords’ reform. For kindness (not always apparent in’ pastoral reorganisations’) a transition to that as Diocesans retire. Wikipedia offers a table of dates of birth (and therefore latest dates of retirement at 70 y.o), when appointed etc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bishops_in_the_Church_of_England. If… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Here’s something I wrote on the subject: What we have inherited has wonderful resonance with the past but is totally inflexible in moving towards the challenges of the present and the future. In order to understand the inheritance. Colin Podmore’s July 2008 paper for the Dioceses Commission: Dioceses and Episcopal Sees in England is required reading. If we are to continue to claim that we provide pastoral oversight of the whole of England, we need to be (a) flexible in responding to relating to new local government structures; (b) able to make changes which can take into account changing population… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Perhaps only a bishop would use phrases like “grass-roots” and “bottom-up” to mean diocesan level.

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

Grass roots means what it says. It doesn’t mean just Diocesan level.Your hermeneutic of suspicion is unjustified.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Grass roots means grass roots?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Where can the Podmore report be found? Is it linkable?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Thank you for this. It might be argued that one of the reasons why boundaries have been such a big issue, despite their frequent irrationality, is that the Church has made itself the prisoner of its own administrative inertia. Each diocese has its own flotilla of officials and dependants. Each of these administrative centres constitutes an ‘Interest’, which like any bureaucracy thinks firstly of its own self-preservation. These Interests often militate against much needed rationalisation, just as their quest for self-preservation imposes further costs on a parochial system which is struggling to bear the burden. The parochial map has been… Read more »

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

Froghole, cogent as ever. Pete helpful and simplifying as ever. My ‘starters for ten’- what are bishops for? What are dioceses for? The Podmore paper is informative- geographically based units of organisation? I see some value in having related boundaries but not a lot. The North Thames Gas Board, Severn-Trent Water, West Mercia Police, Cleveland, … There may be value in ‘functional’ division, as e.g. in the House of Lords- the bishop for Housing (or would it include Levelling Up, Communities and Local Government or the Office of the Primate of England, or All England?) What ‘span of control’ might… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 month ago

I suspect (and hope and pray) that Caroline Spelman will see her role as proactive and robust and that she will be on the Archbishops’ case to get some movement on reviews. The full text of my submission to the House of Bishops’ group on episcopacy can be read here. https://petebroadbentmusings.blogspot.com/2022/02/rethinking-episcopacy.html

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

This all sounds like the various plans to change and consolidate and reinvigorate the school system in England – maybe it is not just Dioceses and Parishes – perhaps there is something in our wider culture as a nation which has not yet been named and which bears on how these issues are seen?

45
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x