on Thursday, 9 March 2023 at 9.16 pm by Peter Owen
categorised as Church of England, News
The Right Reverend Peter Eagles, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, has announced that he is to retire from the role on 28 October 2023.
Man is one of the most beautiful places to visit, and one of the most depressing for the church. Attendance is more in freefall than the mainland, young people are leaving the island in droves. Holiday makers and 2nd home owners are on the increase, Air b and b are in the ascendancy. Its a great tax haven, but there are some major church and missional issues to face here.
Living there requires a certain mindset. When asked to apply for chaplain to the bishop some time ago, I decided I did not have that mindset. Maybe I do now. Respect to those called there who can belong.
a few bishops seem to be retiring early I wonder why
Yeah! There seems to be a little surge on CofE bishops retirements since… Oh, well, since when?… Ah, yeah!… Since that day!…
Not only bishops but also deans. There seem to be a considerable number of vacant cathedral Deaneries at the present time.
Nothing personal … as good a time as any (for the Dioceses Commission) to undertake a wholesale review of how many bishops and dioceses are really required today, and what, and who, they are for. Retirements good a more painless opportunity to rearrange things without having to ‘let someone go!’
Agreed, Sodor and Man has 15 parishes and average Sunday attendance of 1,000. Would make more sense as an offshore Deanery.
The diocese of Sodor & Man is obviously very vulnerable. Its assets (c. £15m) are modest, and the number of parishes and clergy (15 apiece), and 42 buildings, are tiny. In both 1948 and 1977, for example, it had 41 clergy, 29 of whom were beneficed, and as recently as 1991 it had 25 clergy. It never had much money. Its apologists frequently make mention of Thomas Wilson, but he was relatively unusual. Most of its bishops were birds of passage, and as the income of the see was so modest, they held preferments in commendam on the mainland; thus,… Read more »
I should add that this is useful: https://www.sodorandman.im/diocesan-strategy-for-church-buildings-2020-updated-september/. There are ancillary materials. Since it was written the ‘new’ church of All Saints at Lonan has been handed over to a charitable trust as a community centre (though Remembrance services are still held there, and summer services at the old church of St Adamnan).
An update on Sodor and Man, unrelated to the episcopy, but of relevance and interest to the Cathedral and other church buildings there. The wonderful Pevsner Architectural Guides (I know you are a fellow aficionado) which now cover much of the UK and Ireland have just reached the Isle of Man, and publication of this new volume is scheduled for later this month: Yale ISBN: 9780300225020. (Apologies if you already know this!)
Episcopacy, of course!
Many thanks indeed. The link to the volume was supplied in an earlier post on 12 March. The important thing to note is that it will be the first comprehensive survey of the built heritage of the island (alas, nothing has as yet been announced for the CI). I also note that the new volume on the North Riding will also be out in about 4 weeks’ time: https://yalebooks.co.uk/page/detail/yorkshire-the-north-riding/?k=9780300259032. That will leave only south Oxfordshire and Staffordshire (less the Black Country) to go – Staffordshire being the last of the original series – plus the 5 outstanding Irish volumes. You… Read more »
Whilst there is not a Pevsner Architectural Guide to the Channel Islands, John McCormack’s Channel Island Churches and Channel Island Houses are significant contributions to an understanding and appreciation of the built heritage of the islands.
The Comms Officer in the Diocese of Sodor and Man clearly needs a lesson in maths! The statement on the diocesan website (linked above) says: “The Right Reverend Peter Eagles, The Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, has announced he is to retire from the role after a tenure of nearly seven years.” (emphasis added). Bishop Peter was consecrated as a bishop on 30 June 2017 and installed at Peel on 30 September 2017. If he is retiring on 28 October 2023, his tenure as Bishop of Sodor and Man will be just over six years, not nearly seven. (To be… Read more »
Does the PM’s appointment advisor need to be involved in the CNC for his successor since this diocesan bishop doesn’t sit in the House of Lords?
We are reminded from time to time that the Isle of Man (like the Channel Islands) is neither part of England nor the UK, but its bishop and diocese are C of E. The Bishop is ex officio a member of the Island’s parliament, The Tynwald, and regularly sits in it. Notwithstanding this seeming degree of national independence, the present Bishop’s appointment was announced from 10 Downing Street (quoted on TA 4th May 2017), presumably as the appropriate channel for communicating the late Queen’s approval of the appointment, so the same course is to be expected next time. Possibly someone… Read more »
Since you mention this question, these articles may be of some interest: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/66655/1/Edge-Pearce-2004.pdf and https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ecclesiastical-law-journal/article/abs/constitutional-implications-of-the-survival-of-the-diocese-of-sodor-and-man/E9D0345EB9FBC15F89C61CD5CEB9849D. Edge and Pearce have also noted: “Research revealed a past courtesy of allowing the Manx bishop to sit, but not vote, in the Lords’ Chamber, together with isolated seventeenth- and eighteenth-century opinions that he was entitled to a vote, or would be if his barony were held of the king, rather than of the Stanley or Murray lord. The Lords’ Committee of Privileges had apparently planned to consider the question in relation to the family’s last appointee, George Murray, but had not pursued the matter.… Read more »
As the Bishop of Sodor and Man and the Bishop of Carlisle will both be retiring later this year an amalgamation of the two dioceses seems to me to be eminently sensible.
Perhaps. But Heysham for ferries so Blackburn? Historically cases could be made for S&M to join the Irish or Scottish churches and that is so for the Diocese of Carlisle too. Anyhoo as David Keen points out S&M is the size of a deanery here: Tutbury deanery where I sit has 16 parishes and (soon to be) 5 stipendiary posts with 2 HfDs though the prospect of being HfD in charge of Burton’s civic town centre church is strangely unattractive. Maybe potential applicants have heard that the National Brewery Museum has a wobbly future.
I wonder whether such an amalgamation would be possible given that the Bishop sits in the Isle of Man Parliament. That significantly contrasts it from the otherwise similar position of the Channel Islands.
is that quite true Roland W. The Dean of Jersey sits in the States of jersey, the dean can speak but not vote.
Yes, I’m fully aware of that and the very unfortunate history of events which led to the severance of the Channel Islands from the Diocese of Winchester. Paradoxically, neither of the two principals in that dispute remains in office. But we are discussing a Diocesan Bishop, not a Dean, albeit one with special powers. The link I provided in an earlier comment below includes Archbishop Sentamu’s letter dated 14th November 2017 stressing the importance of the Bishop’s right to vote in the Isle of Man Parliament being seen as central to the continued independence of the diocese. I’m sure there… Read more »
I am not in or of the Isle of Man, but I offer some comments from familiarity with the Channel Islands. The two Channel Island deaneries are now happily attached to the Diocese of Salisbury. I quote from the Bishop of Salisbury’s address on 17 November 2022, when the Deans of Guernsey and Jersey were installed as Canons of Salisbury: ‘Of course, the bishop with responsibility for the Channel Islands is not the bishop of the Channel Islands. The language is subtle but important. Whilst the Bishop of Salisbury does indeed hold episcopal authority for the Islands, that authority is… Read more »
As I say in reply to Fr Dean below, the principal difference to be drawn between the situations in the Channel Islands and the Diocese of Sodor and Man is the Bishop’s membership, regular attendance and right to vote in the Manx parliament (which Archbishop Sentamu likened to being a Lord Spiritual).
The two dioceses can see each other, on a good day, I had a lovely view of the island from my Rectory on the west Cumberland coast. Public transport between the two is as far as I know non existent. I think a day trip boat used to leave Whitehaven harbour once a year for Douglas. I assume a return journey was included. A private plane from Carlisle airport might be possible, but the Bishop of Carlisle lives in Keswick, and the suffragan in Kendal, and a helipad is probably beyond the diocesan property department. If it must go to… Read more »
“But isn’t it an offshoot of a Scottish diocese?” That is, to some extent, correct: it is arguably the southernmost part of the diocese of the Isles, which had been under Nidaros, which broke away in 1387 when Rome and Avignon were at loggerheads. The Hebrides and IOM had been under Norwegian suzerainty until 1266, when ceded by Magnus VI to Alexander III for cash, following the defeat of Haakon IV at Largs in Ayrshire, in 1263, but Norwegian ecclesiastical control lingered for longer. In the Great Schism, the English backed Urban VI of Rome, whilst the Scots (and French)… Read more »
May I respectfully suggest that if people will take the time to read this authoritative article (courtesy of Law and Religion UK) which includes views from the Isle of Man itself and (especially) the text of the letter from the former Archbishop of York stating the constitutional reasons in support of retaining the status quo of the Bishop and Diocese, also quoting the opinion of Lord Lisvane, that might be more helpful than speculation about integration into an English diocese, a concept to which the 2017 Select Committee Report was specifically opposed!
There are regular flights from London City Airport to the Isle of Man because of its status as a tax haven. It might be more sensible if one of the London suffragans took the Manx diocese under their wing. Alternatively Bishop Urquhart could have it as part of his portfolio. The duties can hardly be onerous.
We really need to have some substantive views from the Isle of Man. I suspect that they might not warm to the idea of being ‘attached’ to a London suffragan or other ‘flying bishop’. This does really call for detailed local knowledge. Like the distinct church structures in the Channel Islands (see Rhidunian’s comment above), possibly more so with its bishop being a voting member of the Manx parliament, it’s very different from other C of E dioceses.
Mention has been made of commissaries. Quite apart from various historical examples, such as the appointment of commissaries to the American colonies, we have the more recent instance of the Falkland Islands. In 2007-09 Stephen Venner was concurrently bishop of Dover and bishop/commissary for the Falkland Islands. There is no reason why that sort of arrangement could not be reprised with respect to the IOM, with a suffragan within the province of York performing the same function. The day to day duties of the bishop could be performed by the archdeacon. As others have noted, the diocese is in effect… Read more »
I’m not sure that ‘fripperies’ is a respectful term to describe the Bishop’s current status – is Archbishop Sentamu’s view, as recent as 2017, already considered obsolete? But you are clearly right to remind TA readers that this is a matter for the Province of York, while others here have blithely suggested attachment to London or ‘Europe’.
But shouldn’t we first be seeking the views of the people affected – the clergy and laity of the diocese rather than holding forth as outsiders?
To attempt to address the learned Froghole’s comments: 1 Governance It is hardly a frippery. The equivalence is perhaps more to an archdeaconry than a deanery. Although the Channel Island deaneries are called deaneries for historical reasons, they are more akin to English archdeaconries than to English deaneries. It would be argued, I suppose, that the Isle of Man could be constituted as an archdeaconry of an adjacent diocese (Liverpool has not been mentioned, but there appear to be direct flights with Loganair), with the archdeacon becoming the diocesan bishop’s commissary. Whether Tynwald would be prepared to accept the commissary… Read more »
Many thanks to you and Mr Wateridge. It was Mr Keen who, rightly I think, compared Sodor & Man to a deanery. I am not advocating the abolition of the diocese; even if it were abolished, who would want it? It would be an unwanted liability for any other diocese. What I am noting is that a diocese which, in 2016, was reported as having some 1,500 or so regular attendees (a number which has surely been eroded rapidly since then by ‘natural wastage’) is having to carry an insupportable load. With such tiny attendance, there is scarcely anything left… Read more »
Alternatively why not give Sodor and Man to the Bishop of Europe who already has many islands, not least Gibraltar within his realm? With a diocese which stretches from Gibraltar to Vladivostok I’m sure he can find room for the Isle of Man within his vast jurisdiction
Why this obsession with getting rid of the Diocese of Sodor and Man, and combining it with another mainland diocese, an obsession that seems to surface whenever a bishop retires or moves on? When a reason is given, it us usually financial, saving the cost of a diocesan bishop’s salary. This tends to overlook the fact that diocesan bishops do, in fact, work and, if they are removed, someone else will have to do that work. In so far as the work must be done by a bishop—confirmations, ordinations and so on—then a bishop will need to travel from the… Read more »
I thought that the diocese was in an impecunious state and so reorganisation was an imperative. If the diocese can pay its own way then presumably a successor will be appointed. If finances are tight perhaps a 0.6 wte might be the answer. Such an arrangement might be attractive to a bishop with caring responsibilities or someone looking to ease themselves into retirement.
The Bishop’s stipend and expenses are of course paid by the Church Commissioners, so not replacing him would not help the Diocese’s finance, I imagine.
The suggestion of a link to the Diocese of Europe was also made when the future of the Channel Islands was being considered. It is superficially attractive, but flawed. The three Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey) are parochially based, whereas the Diocese of Europe is a collection of chaplaincies. A further problem is travel. France might be visible from the various Channel Islands on a good day, but the only realistic travel from the islands to France is via London. Don’t be seduced by any memories of the easy travel between Jersey and… Read more »
He’s been a rather good bishop, hasn’t he? Different background from normal (ministry in the British Army). The Church should use the role to nominate someone who wouldn’t otherwise be chosen by a regular diocese, but whose contribution to the House of Bishops would be valuable. Not filling the post is not an option, given the current regulations. The announcement of a resignation (retirement) inexorably starts the process. There is machinery for the Archbishop to direct that there should be pause, but only if the Dioceses Commission is in action considering, inter alia, the abolition of a diocese. We hear… Read more »
The Archbishop paused action in Lincoln, though. How do you explain that one?
Well the process simply became drawn out, as it has with Winchester. They will each get a new bishop sometime! I am not expert on the Vacancy in See Regulation 1993 etc, but I don’t think there was a specific direction by the Archbishop (paragraph 5A) re Lincoln. I think the diocese simply wasn’t ready to proceed given past events. It actually only took eleven months to start the Lincoln process. In addition, there was gridlock in the system, with the 2017 – 2022 CNC continuing for a time, and there needed to be time to bed in the new… Read more »
I suppose that it will not be of great concern to others, but to some in the Winchester Diocese it is a cause for enormous regret that there will be no presence of a Bishop of Winchester at the King’s Coronation or at the Annual Garter Service in the following month. I suspect that the Bishop of Winchester has been present at every Coronation since Saxon times, more than a millennium, and officiated in a few cases. As Prelate of the Order of the Garter since 1348, the Bishop’s absence seems doubly regrettable in that this is the first Garter… Read more »
I wonder how the last Bishop of Winchester viewed his role as Prelate of the Order of the Garter. I can’t imagine he was much taken with it.
Well, the current temporary system seems to be working very well with Bishop Conway overseeing both Ely and Lincoln. We can all remember how Rob Hardy described the Lincoln diocese when he was its chief pastor! If Bishop Conway can manage to minister to the vastness of Lincolnshire in addition to the Fenlands of Ely then surely the next Bishop of Carlisle could also be given oversight of a second minuscule diocese of Sodor and Man? If, as is being claimed, membership of the Tynwald is essential then give the next Carliol a seat in that parliament – problem solved!
I have often wondered that rather than abolishing the Diocese of Sodor and Man, given its Celtic heritage, it would make more sense to transfer that Diocese to the Scottish Episcopal Church as an 8th Diocese of that Church, the only changes it would have to make, would be to turn the Dean of the Cathedral into the Provost, and the Archdeacon into the Dean of the Diocese (both with the title of Very Revd) following Scottish Episcopal Church practice. Jonathan