Thinking Anglicans

Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth
10/02/2021

The Rt Revd Tim Thornton is to retire as Bishop at Lambeth after four years in the role.

Bishop Tim has been Bishop at Lambeth since 2017. Previously he was Bishop of Truro, and Bishop of Sherborne before that.

As Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop Tim has supported the Archbishop of Canterbury’s work in the House of Bishops, General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council. He has chaired the Development and Appointments Group overseeing the leadership programmes and development work with senior clergy. He has also chaired the review of the Clergy Discipline Measure and provided advice on areas including safeguarding and church renewal.

Acting on the Archbishop’s behalf, Bishop Tim carried out episcopal duties within Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and had pastoral oversight of Anglican chaplains and the Anglican church within the Forces. He also served as Bishop for the Falkland Islands.

Bishop Tim has also been closely involved in preparations for the Lambeth Conference, which has been postponed until 2022 because of the pandemic. He will continue to be involved as a Trustee of the Lambeth Conference Company. At Archbishop Justin’s request, he will work on other matters relating to the process leading up to the Conference and in the years after it.

Bishop Tim said: “It has been a tremendous privilege working with Archbishop Justin and the marvellous colleagues in Lambeth and the other aspects of my work and life over the last four years. It has not been dull and I have been challenged and excited by all that I have done. During this year I will have been ordained for 41 years and a Bishop for 20 years. Sian and I have both chosen to retire and we look forward to taking on some new opportunities together in a variety of areas.

“I am very pleased to be able to continue to be involved with the process around the Lambeth Conference. I am especially grateful to those who have worked closely with me for all their hard work and all that we have managed to achieve. There is much more work to do as the Church of England faces up to the realities of the current situation. I will keep all concerned in my prayers and look forward to hearing more about all the plans and following from slightly further away the moves towards ensuring under Justin’s wise leadership the growing and flourishing of the Church of England.”

Archbishop Justin said: “From the chaplaincies of the Armed Forces, to congregations of the Falkland Islands, to the chamber of the General Synod, Bishop Tim has been a blessing to so many during his time as Bishop at Lambeth. I give thanks for his wisdom, insight, compassion, generosity and humour. I will miss him enormously, and I will be praying for him and Sian as they prepare for the next stage of their journeys as faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Tim will leave Lambeth at the end of September.

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
7 months ago

ARCHIVE TRANSCRIPT – BBC’S JUSTIN WEBB TALKS TO TIM THORNTON BISHOP OF LAMBETH – BBC RADIO 4 ‘TODAY’ – SATURDAY FEBRUARY 10 2018 Justin Webb BBC – Well, that’s Bishop George Bell’s biographer, Andrew Chandler, ending that report from Martin Bashir. We can talk to Tim Thornton, who used to be the Bishop of Truro, is now the Bishop at Lambeth, who works directly for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Good morning to you. Bishop Tim Thornton – Good morning. Justin Webb – On that point about George Bell’s family being allowed to use the legal representation that they choose, why… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
7 months ago

I hadn’t heard before that the family were refused the representation of their choice. That’s shocking.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

It’s beyond shocking.

General Synod’s Martin Sewell covered this at the time on the ‘Cranmer’ site [February 12 2018] – “C of E bullies George Bell’s niece [Barbara Whitley] by denying her choice of lawyer”.

Barbara Whitley [nee Wood] – a wartime Bletchley Park codebreaker – called for the resignation of Archbishop Justin Welby and vowed to clear her uncle’s name before her death..

Her last wishes were denied. She died four months ago, aged 96.

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Kate, just to say that following further representations, Barbara Whitley was allowed to be represented by the QC of her choice (Desmond Browne QC, acting pro bono) in the investigation (‘Bell 2’) into the further allegations against Bishop George Bell received after publication of the Carlile Review in December 2017, all of which Timothy Briden, a senior lawyer and diocesan chancellor, acting as commissary of the Bishop of Chichester, found to be ‘unfounded’ in his decision dated 17 January 2019.

Last edited 7 months ago by David Lamming
Fr John Harris-White
Fr John Harris-White
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
7 months ago

We claim to be Thinking Anglicans. As Christians we should also be forgiving Anglicans.
Remembering the words of the Lords prayer, which many of us say more than once a day.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
So why these stirring of the dirt comments, save one. We should be grateful for Bishop Tim’s ministry, and wish him and his wife a peaceful retirement.. .

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fr John Harris-White
7 months ago

I have no particular knowledge of Bishop Tim. Personally I am grateful for Richard’s comments because they give me context which wasn’t in the press release. I am equally grateful for Trevor’s comment which gives yet a different context. The more, the better, in my opinion.
 
As to your observation, if we weren’t supposed to remember adverse facts, the Bible wouldn’t record that Judas betrayed Jesus, nor the roles of Caiaphas and Pilate. Remembering is not antithetical to forgiveness (if, indeed, there is anything to forgive).

Jeremy
Jeremy
Reply to  Fr John Harris-White
7 months ago

Forgiving Anglicans does not mean Forgetting Anglicans.

Trevor ADAMS
Trevor ADAMS
7 months ago

I remember Bishop Tim at a day conference on developing dementia friendly churches. I was one of the speakers. Bishop Tim gave himself to the day and joined in with one of the role plays at the front of the Truro Cathedral. He is really good man with an easy way of getting on with people. Thank you,

Trevor Adams

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
7 months ago

RETIREMENT OF TIM THORNTON BISHOP OF LAMBETH, AGED 63 Elliott Review controversy – Wiki In March 2016, Thornton was cited in a Guardian report[15] on the Elliott Review as one of several senior figures who had received a disclosure of child sex abuse but had “no recollection”. The review, led by Ian Elliott, found this lack of memory difficult to countenance. “What is surprising about this is that he (the survivor) would be speaking about a serious and sadistic sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a senior member of the hierarchy. The fact that these conversations could be forgotten about is hard to accept,” Elliott wrote. The survivor had tried repeatedly… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
7 months ago

I still believe it’s not too late for the likes of Archbishop Justin Welby, Bishop Martin Warner and Bishop Tim Thornton to make amends regarding wartime Bishop George Bell – even though they [and others] have fallen into a hole both big and deep, entirely of their own making. All they have to do, to my mind, is to say ‘We got it wrong about Bishop Bell. We are sorry. To make amends we will, for example, ensure 4 Canon Lane reverts back to George Bell House’. It is still not too late for them to do that. Our capacity… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Father David
Father David
7 months ago

Just reading “Faithful Witness” the confidential diaries of Alan Don. I wonder if Justin Welby relies upon Tim Thornton as much as Cosmo Lang relied upon Alan Don? Or more recently – Robert Runcie relying upon Richard Chartres?

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
7 months ago

He is 63 which is young for a bishop to retire. I wonder if he will be replaced.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Sam Jones
7 months ago

Good Evening Sam!
I wonder if this is the earliest age a Priest or Bishop can draw their Pension, hence early retirement?
Jonathan

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
7 months ago

With 41 years in Holy Orders Bishop Thornton will already have qualified for a full clergy pension. Though there will be an actuarial reduction if he draws it any earlier than 68 (which would be negligible if he draws down his benefits after age 65). An actuarial deduction is not normally made if the member is claiming ill health benefits. So although the bishop has resigned his office he may choose not to draw down his benefits until 65 for example. Someone with independent means, or other sources of retirement income might choose to take this course of action to… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Sam Jones
7 months ago

Yes, he is young to retire, which makes my cynical mind wonder what the real story is here.
And he shouldn’t be replaced – with frontline clergy about to be made redundant, there should be a thorough review of just how many bishops we need. How many would notice if there were not to be a Bishop at Lambeth?

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
7 months ago

The Archbishop doesn’t seem to be looking towards a leaner and fitter hierarchy; by any criteria it is already rather bloated, and this will be compounded as the redundancies amongst parish clergy highlighted by the Archbishop of York’s report, begin to be effected.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
7 months ago

I don’t think 63 is at all too young to retire if one has been ordained – or indeed worked in any sphere for 41 years. And I very much doubt Tim will retire. He will stop paid employment but that does not mean that he ceases to serve. I’m very wary of the Protestant work ethic that seems to be on display in so much of the C of E. As Lt Kaffee says in A Few good men: you don’t need a patch on your arm to have honour. You don’t need a title or diocese or parish,… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
7 months ago

I may be wrong, but I don’t think many clergy will be in a position to retire from paid ministry at the age of 63. Perhaps the pension scheme will surprise us all and offer us such options. And how wonderful to hear that we should abandon a stressful work ethic – presumably you’ve relayed that thought to those whose plans for ‘pastoral’ reorganisation will leave those clergy not made redundant picking up the pieces and the vacant parishes.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
7 months ago

The benefits of the clergy scheme were significantly reduced a number of years ago. This will not be too bad for older clergy who still have a significant portion of their benefits from the old rules. Younger clergy face a bleak retirement and as you say Dexter, may not be able to afford to retire before 70 even if they wish to. There are already murmurs that the state retirement age will extend beyond 68 in the medium to long term. Clergy who find that prospect not to their liking would do well to explore paying AVCs or into a… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
7 months ago

Dexter: I detect a rather too personal slant in these comments. Nobody knows another person’s financial circumstances, but we all know that 41 years of service currently provides a certain level of pension, a lump sum, and some assistance with housing – unless you want an especially lavish lifestyle. The picture for many leaving work after 41 years is nowhere near so good. And yes, I spent quite a few years saying that the kind of pastoral re-organisation you are referring to will not work. But that also relies on clergy learning to say no. The kind of service the… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
7 months ago

Actually the Church of England Pension Scheme is generous compared to most private sector offerings.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
7 months ago

I’ll try not to laugh too loud at a diocesan grandee telling clergy to say ‘no’ to the latest wheeze…

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Sam Jones
7 months ago

I would imagine a new Bishop of the Armed Forces will be appointed. I think the Dean of Windsor held the post at one time. Is there still a Bishop of St Helena who could look after the Falklands? The post of Bishop at Lambeth could be unfilled as a sign of ++Welby’s commitment to a leaner hierarchy and staff.

Father David
Father David
7 months ago

The post itself wasn’t created until 1984. Since then there have been 6 Bishops at Lambeth – four former diocesans and two former suffragans
Ronald Gordon
John Yates
Frank Sargeant
Richard Llewellin
Nigel Stock
Tim Thornton.
The post was vacant for the best part of a decade from 2004 – 2013.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Father David
7 months ago

In finding this same from the Wikipedia entry for <Bishop at Lambeth> I ‘pursued’ the footnote [3] and came to this:

https://web.archive.org/web/20111229072641/http://changingattitude.org.uk/campaigns/gay-bishops/3841-2

It also gave me this further thought, regarding the possibility of an ‘Interim Bishop’ based perhaps on experiences in the former diocese of the current Archbishop of York, who I guess may be seen in time as Interim Primate of All England?

https://www.chelmsford.anglican.org/uploads-new/pages/Interim-Ministry-Bulletin-AUTUMN-2020.pdf

Clare Amos
Clare Amos
7 months ago

Although it is unlikely – at least directly – I wonder if Tim Thornton’s resignation could have anything at all to do with the case and conviction of Canon John Roberts – about which I read for the first time today . When I worked for the Anglican Communion Office a number of years ago – I knew that David Virtue could make our lives very difficult and I really dislike his ‘vibe’ ! However I find it ‘intriguing’ (a euphemism) that the story of the conviction of Canon John Roberts in Liverpool in late December (conveniently just before Christmas… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Clare Amos
7 months ago

Good Evening Clare! It would seem that Justin Welby may have too many skeletons in his cupboard, which may be coming out into the light of day. I wonder if he realises the net could be closing in on him and may be using the forthcoming sabbatical to plan his exit strategy? Given the fact he has now reached 65, he could use this as a good time to decide to retire, to jump before he is pushed especially when the Keith Makin report comes out on John Smyth. I wonder too if Tim Thornton could be aware that the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Clare Amos
7 months ago

I have nothing of use to mention in relation to this painful story, but I believe that I had the great pleasure of meeting your husband at Iwade, Newington-next-Sittingbourne and Stockbury about a decade ago, and then again – albeit briefly – at the annual Advent service at the closed church of Iwerne Stepleton, a couple of years after Derek Coombs died. It was your husband who alerted me to the fate of St Bartholomew’s Hospital chapel in Chatham. I am very sorry if you and/or your husband had a difficult time in Canterbury diocese, but I got the distinct… Read more »

Clare Amos
Clare Amos
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

Happy to talk to you Froghole (whoever you are!) in a personal email if we can contact. You can probably spot me on facebook … there are not too many Clare Amos’ who regularly spout theology there… and send me a Messenger message. My husband’s time with The Six was lovely – he and his congregations appreciated each other – the lack of support I was referring to was much earlier. It was in George Carey’s archbishopric – when he was involved in theological education in Canterbury and the lack of episcopal interest and support in difficult merger negotiations made… Read more »

Neil
Neil
7 months ago

As Archbishop Hope’s blue-eyed boy the mistake made by Tim Thornton was to be lured at too young an age (in his case) to become Bishop of Sherborne after only 3 years at St Mary Abbots. This after an early career of moving on within 4 years from every job he’d ever had. His early departure was thought to be a mistake at the time and it probably was.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
7 months ago

It must surely be right and a godtime (!) to review the need for this post.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  God 'elp us all
7 months ago

I confess to a hope there would be more discussion about how and why ‘replacement’ or ‘succession’ (or ‘abolition’) of this and other bishoprics might be taken forward. Hoping to prompt such now. That authority ‘Wikipedia’ lists ‘The Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop to the Forces and Bishop for the Falkland Islands’ as top of its list of ‘Other diocesan bishops’, following on from ‘Lords Spiritual with seniority of service’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bishops_in_the_Church_of_England I note the ‘titles’ are ‘at, ‘to’ and ‘for’ and not ‘of’. So, will the Dioceses Commission have a role? Will the Crown Nominations Commission have a role? Who decided,… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
7 months ago

I found this bit quite vague, perhaps deliberately obscure: “At Archbishop Justin’s request, he will work on other matters relating to the process leading up to the Conference and in the years after it.”
My own suspicion is that Lambeth 2022 will be a disaster for the Church of England and that anyone associated with the word Lambeth should run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.
Perhaps this is what the retiring Bishop is doing?
If not, the timing is very odd.

Oscar
Oscar
7 months ago

One of the worrying consequences of Bishop Tim Thornton’s (unexpected?) retirement concerns the possible replacement of the rightly reviled Clergy Disciplinary Measure (CDM). Bishop Tim was a leading figure in this and had had many discussions with such organizations as the Sheldon Community and the Church of England Clergy Advocates (CECA) grouping of the Faith Workers branch of Unite. His departure may well mean that the replacement of CDM is delayed significantly and whoever takes over this task is going to have a lot of work to do in order to re-establish a healthy working relationship with Sheldon, CECA and… Read more »

M Evans
M Evans
Reply to  Oscar
7 months ago

That was my first thought too. I hope the fact that he’s not going until September means positive work can take place before then.

Still odd, though.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
7 months ago

I was struck by the similarity of headlines between the Liverpool Echo in December 2020 – “Child rapist vicar protected by Church of England for 24 years” – and the Boston Globe in January 2002 – “Church allowed abuse by priest for years”.

Has the Church of England hierarchy learned nothing for the last 20 years?

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Marion Owen
Marion Owen
7 months ago

I worked in the HR department of a Welsh university until about 18 months ago and I recall occasional enquiries from journalists about a bishop who had claimed, in a professional directory, to have been employed by the university in an academic post. The line was that we never disclosed personal details about former employees without their permission. In this specific case, we could never find any record. I was recently talking to a former colleague who still works there who told me ‘do you remember those press enquiries about that bishop…?’ It seems there was a FOI request recently.… Read more »

Neil
Neil
Reply to  Marion Owen
7 months ago

What is embarrassing about Tim Thornton being a Lecturer in the University of Wales between 1985-1987?

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Neil
7 months ago

Might it be about being unclear as to whether an individual had or had not been employed by a particular university in an academic post, as perhaps an entry in Crockford’s Clerical Directory may suggest. Could be wrong?

Marion Owen
Marion Owen
Reply to  Neil
7 months ago

It would be embarrassing if it turned out not to be true. As I wrote, we never found any record of the person about whom the the enquiry was made ever being employed by the University.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Marion Owen
7 months ago

This website
https://churchinparliament.org/about-the-lords-spiritual/bishop-of-truro/
shows this
Chaplain to University of Wales Colleges – 1985-87

Neil
Neil
Reply to  Marion Owen
7 months ago

But given that the information has been in several editions of Crockfords for decades isn’t it bound to be true? I don’t have the latest info up on Crockfords, although it is interesting that God ‘help us all points to an entry about University Lecturer Tim Thornton that calls him simply Chaplain…

David Richards
David Richards
Reply to  Neil
7 months ago

Because of its non-denominational foundation, Chaplains at the University of Wales were not University employees, but clergy appointed and paid by their own denomination to serve as chaplains “to” (rather than “of”) the University (unlike, say, Oxbridge colleges or some Russell Group institutions). In that sense, there can be no confusion about whether a chaplain is also a lecturer. The two roles are entirely separate. If a person was a teaching officer in the University, there would be separate contractual and employment arrangements, which would be recorded and archived by the University as per Marion Owen’s basic point. Crockford’s as… Read more »

Clare Amos
Clare Amos
Reply to  David Richards
7 months ago

Interesting – Crockfords online (checked today) does NOT show Tim Thornton as being a lecturer at the University of Wales. However my memory is that when it was first referred to on TA (which was I think about 4 days ago) his Crockfords entry mentioned both his chaplain’s role and separately a role as lecturer.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Clare Amos
7 months ago

That’s my recollection too. It’s easy to have one’s entry edited, but the request has to go through an administrator, and this in my experience is not immediate (maybe it is for purple people). The update option today states that details will be checked.

peter kettle
Reply to  Clare Amos
7 months ago

The relevant section of the 2018-19 edition reads: Lect Univ of Wales (Cardiff) Llan 85-87; Chapl 85-86; Sen Chap 86-87.

Will Richards
Will Richards
7 months ago

The last time I heard Tim Thornton in the public sphere was at my college, when he came to preach at Evensong in a series about the various elements of Evensong. It was the weekend after the death of Sir Stephen Cleobury and the Cambridge choral world was reeling from the death of someone who had not only been an inspiration, but a pervasive and innovative presence around Cambridge for nearly four decades. There was huge sadness, not least among members of the college choir. Tim Thornton used the occasion, discourteously, to ‘have a pop’ at professional choral music in… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Will Richards
7 months ago

In addition to “The long hours, months and years of disciplined study by the young people who enable musical excellence in our places of worship” you could add the personal expense of buying music and the substantial fees, for example, involved in qualifying as a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, fully the equivalent of the stiffest of music degrees. Alas, ignorance of such matters (and, seemingly, a lack of appreciation of fine music) within the Church is not confined to Bishop Thornton.

Anne Farthing
Anne Farthing
7 months ago

Those of us in Cornwall will not be surprised by this announcement. ‘Ive started so I’ll *not* finish’ seems to have been Tim Thornton’s unofficial motto. He’s personable enough, but gives the impression of promising too much and delivering very little, with a tendency to hector (Will Richards’ comment above rings all too true) coupled to an unfortunate tendency to resort to sarcasm, while always having an eye on the next ‘big’ job. After a big diocesan service in the Cathedral once, at which the bishop preached, my vicar turned to me afterwards and said ‘I was always taught never… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Anne Farthing
7 months ago

Thank you Anne. This underlines the need to ensure we get bishops that truly love and connect with the people they serve. A godly bishop can challenge the status quo if they have built bridges of friendship and trust. But importing an alien vision or implementing a central strategy at all costs takes years to recover from. CNCs need to reprioritise the person spec. I hope the people of Truro Diocese are in better hands.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
7 months ago

As always, I’ll be only too glad to be corrected if my sources prove to be unreliable. I’ve waited a while before commenting to see if anyone else had already picked this up (which they don’t appear to have done) before offering my gruff, unreconstructed Northerner’s contribution. In Private Eye terms, what seems to be going on is that the Head Boy finds himself on the losing side in a growing mood of dissatisfaction around the Headmaster and those who are more naturally inclined to see things from the Deputy Headmaster’s point of view. Not only that, but the Headmaster… Read more »

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