on Friday, 6 January 2023 at 10.26 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Church of England, News
The Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory, has announced that he is to retire in April. He is an area bishop in the diocese of Lichfield.
He once kindly suggested a possible move saying that “There are plenty of opportunities in the Lichfield diocese for young men like you!” I was well into my sixties at the time but I appreciated the comment. Surely, the Bishop of Wolverhampton is far too young to retire but I wish him a long and healthy retirement.
Another bishop retiring young raises two questions:
I could speculate about your first question but the answer to your second is that episcopal pensions are significantly enhanced and backdated to the date of ordination to the diaconate.
The details are all available at Clergy Pension Arrangements (churchofengland.org). Unlike most defined benefit schemes, the pension is not based on salary/stipend actually received, but on the national minimum stipend, as well as the usual calculations about years of membership of the scheme. For those who “have held” the office of Dean or Suffragan Bishop the amounts are enhanced by 25%. On a straightforward reading this suggests that if someone moves back into a standard parish post, they maintain the enhancement. Anyone retiring early (before age 68) is subject to a downward actuarial adjustment, so a 61 year old would… Read more »
Thank you for that helpful link Fact Checker. A bishop retiring now will likely have a significant percentage of their benefit that was originally due to be payable at 65, so on that portion the actuarial reduction will only be from 65 to 61 (still a significant amount). There is no actuarial reduction where the member retires for reasons of ill health and is accepted as such by the Pensions Board. Not everyone who retires early chooses to draw down their pension benefits; they can be deferred until a later date and thus avoid the actuarial reduction or lessen its… Read more »
I have often thought the west midlands would be a good area for some diocesan reorganization.
Indeed, Dr Butler. Charles Gore formed Birmingham diocese in 1905 with his own money: £10,000 inherited from his mother (about £800,000 now), but essentially sweated from the Ponsonby’s estates in Carlow, Kilkenny and Tipperary: significantly, Piltown House was fired in 1923 despite, or because of, the family’s former Liberalism. At that time, the built up area around Birmingham was compact, and extended only as far as Smethwick: https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=12.0&lat=52.51086&lon=-1.97280&layers=168&b=1 (these 25″ to the mile maps were surveyed by the OS in 1892-1914). Most of the other ‘Black Country’ towns were still separated from each other, or nearly so, by a mixture… Read more »
I think that William Temple as Bishop of Manchester also contributed personally to the cost of creating a new Diocese of Blackburn.
We have been there I’m afraid Perry. The Dioceses of Lichfield, Hereford and Worcester had a long consultation in the time of Kenneth Skelton. The only change was moving the Deanery of Himley from Lichfield into Worcester Diocese. The Archdeaconry of Lichfield is actually bigger than some Dioceses and it is a huge job for someone….in some ways it’s a killer of a job.There are also problems over in the Telford area where the boundaries make no sense at all.
“where the boundaries make no sense at all”
The boundaries around Shrewsbury and Telford (which have been adjusted slightly) are mostly ancient. They therefore did “make sense” when Hereford diocese was created to serve the Magonsaete, only that was in the 7th century…!
I agree, Perry. Birmingham, Coventry, Lichfield and Worcester all have fingers in the pie. Wouldn’t it be sensible to align a diocese with the mayoral boundaries. At least the church could speak with one voice to the secular authority. Historical boundaries can often be to the detriment of the church’s witness. In my benefice, historically it was split between 2 dioceses and the witness to the town suffered. The parishes were also in 2 different government regions, which at that time was important. When a vacancy occurred, the opportunity was taken to transfer one parish into the neighbouring diocese. We… Read more »
Indeed so. In Lichfield diocese, the Stafford episcopal area covers more ground and is more populous than some dioceses. The Wolverhampton area too is more populous. The cathedral city is way down in the south east corner of the diocese (historical reason of course). Derby and Lichfield are equidistant from Burton where I sit (11 miles, with Leicester, Birmingham and Coventry all about 30 miles away. So many diocesan bureaucracies so close together. Lichfield is well stocked for suffragans: four, including the catholic PEV Oswestry, and there are a handful of parishes that look to the con evo PEV Ebbsfleet… Read more »
I believe that after the reorganisation of the (mostly West) Yorkshire diocese the thought was “never again”. As the Preface to the BCP marriage service puts it, this is not something to be undertaken unadvisedly, lightly or wantonly. Any change brings complications, some of which can be known in advance but others not so.
‘This role is a very demanding one and becoming increasingly so, as the challenges that the Church of England faces become more onerous and complex.’ Well that is honest and it raises good questions that need to be thought through. Sounds like the ‘simpler’ part of ‘Simpler, Bolder, Humbler’ has not trickled down to the suffragan role.
Perhaps such early retirement is a good thing. In nursing it is quite common for nurses to be promoted to complex and demanding leadership roles in early mid-life, and then find in their fifties that they are running out of energy and ideas a few years before they reach pensionable age. And so they downshift to a less demanding junior ward role, where they can be immensely useful as an experienced mentor and staff member, whilst a younger person with more energy and fresh ideas takes on the senior role. I have even seen senior staff nurses downshift to health… Read more »
Clive has supported the inclusion of LGBT+ people in the Church of England, and the case for a ‘Unity in Diversity’ approach, and I have his permission to share that. I have appreciated his responsiveness, and I pray he may know grace and fulfilment in his retirement.
I remember Bishop Clive preaching once in Iona Abbey in August 1995, when I was on leave of absence from my Monastery at Roslin, considering my future and realising my Community was not viable for the future, it was during the Sunday Abbey Eucharist, and at that time Bishop Clive was Chaplain to Warwick University, and one of the readings was on the Call of Abraham, when Abraham was told to leave his country for a Land God would show him, when Clive Gregory got into the pulpit he preached on the Call of Abraham and I realised then he… Read more »
There goes another one!!!