Thinking Anglicans

New Lead Safeguarding Bishop and Deputy Announced

Press release from the Church of England

New Lead Safeguarding Bishop and Deputy Announced
05/02/2020

The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs has been announced as the Church of England’s new lead safeguarding bishop, taking over from Bishop Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells who leaves the role at the end of February.

Bishop Jonathan, a member of the House of Bishops, will be supported by the Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, as deputy lead safeguarding bishop.

Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie will work closely with the national director of safeguarding Melissa Caslake, who took up the role six months ago, along with the all members of the National Safeguarding Team as they continue to develop the Church’s safeguarding practice. Bishop Jonathan will chair the National Safeguarding Steering Group, the delegated House of Bishops body responsible for making national safeguarding decisions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “We are truly grateful to Bishop Peter who as lead safeguarding bishop, represented the Church at its three IICSA hearings over the past two years as well as leading on the response both to the recommendations and the important calls for change from survivors. His commitment to safeguarding and the mission of the Church is exemplary and the House of Bishops has learnt a lot from him.

We welcome Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie and commend their willingness to take up this role which is a vital part of the work of the Church. I am aware of the immense time commitment involved and pray for them as this new chapter begins.”

Bishop Jonathan said:

“Having been a member of the NSSG for the last two years, I am deeply grateful to Bishop Peter Hancock for all that he has done, as well as very aware of the responsibility involved in taking on this role. I am profoundly conscious of the work that lies ahead, both in response to the findings of IICSA and beyond. In particular, I am committed to working closely with the survivor community, to whom we owe a huge debt of thanks for their courage, integrity and willingness to hold us to account. Safeguarding is about enabling the Church of England to go on becoming a safer, healthier place for all, and it is a sacred responsibility in which every single one of us must share.”

Bishop Debbie said:

“It is a privilege for me to take on this role, and to play my part in helping the Church respond well to survivors. Having begun ministry as a Family and Children’s Worker, I am committed to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and supporting families in need. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and I am pleased to be working with the National Team in developing our practice further.”

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Martin SewellAnthony ArcherCharles KHarriet StoneRevd Joanna Percival Recent comment authors
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Priscilla White
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Priscilla White

Does it matter that neither is a diocesan? Though i note ÷Jonathan is a member of the House

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

That crossed my mind too. In current circumstances the lead bishop really needs to have authority and respect in quite a large body of people which seems to have a mysterious group dynamic.

God 'elp us all
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God 'elp us all

Neither Bp Jonathan nor Bp Debbie diocesan; Bp Peter although diocesan was still not in the House of Lords I think- does/ did that matter?- maybe.
I’m conscious that Bp Holtam was ‘ambushed’ on the Radio4 Today programme regarding the ‘Pastoral Guidance’ when he was there to promote the green agenda.
How many ‘grades’, ‘leads’ and ‘deputies’ do we have/ need?
I have no knowledge of any of them; I wish them all well.

Martin Sewell
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Martin Sewell

I welcome and support this appointment of Bishop Jonathan who i have met on occasions at General Synod. I do not know Bishop Debbie but I do wish her well in this important work. I noticed Bp Jonathan attending fringe Safeguarding events in recent times and had an inkling that he might be the next Lead on Safeguarding. He is a good choice. Having had discussions with him over that time, I am confident he is the right person for the task. His task will be very different. There was much we did not know when Bp Peter was appointed.… Read more »

Priscilla White
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Priscilla White

That is encouraging. My concern, expressed above, was not meant to detract from the gifts and qualities of the appointees.

Revd Joanna Percival
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Revd Joanna Percival

It is most important to get a people into these senior roles who are given the authority and are able and willing to stand up to those who are less aware but nevertheless people in authority in the Church. The consistent cover up of the Peter Ball case and the antiquated “Naughty Boys” files show that more than one gifting is needed. Bp Jonathan et al need to be given authority and support for their role by the institutional Church in a real way without fear of what will happen to them if the Church doesn’t like the results of… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
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Fr. Dean Henley

The warm words in this press release do not reflect that Bishop Hancock has equivocated over the years and has let down survivors, particularly in his failure to expedite Safe Spaces.

Harriet Stone
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Harriet Stone

Perhaps the appointment of a Suffragan, and one that has proved particularly effective, is a reflection of the fact that a Diocesan simply has too much on his/her plate to give this the time it really needs. On the other hand, Mark Bennett’s point about authority is important. How does a Suffragan effectively challenge the kind of archiepiscopal slight of hand and inertia (not to mention synodical/secretariat slight of hand) that has been all too evident?

Charles K
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Charles K

I wish both of these bishops well, and I know its pedantic, and I know I am not feeling great about the church I used to love so much at present, but it is anodyne and almost a non-sequitur for +Debbie to say that just because she has been a Children and Families Worker, that she is committed to safeguarding. Furthermore, we don’t just need to “develop practice”, we need to get our act together and be as rigorous and as scrupulous as possible. So I wish both of these bishops well, but wish their “vox pops” had a bit… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

These are strong appointments in which the Church can have confidence. The Bishop of Huddersfield has been a member of the NSSG for over two years and, as noted above, is a member of the House of Bishops. He is highly effective and his fellow bishops are most unlikely not to re-elect him to General Synod as a Northern Suffragan going forward. The Bishop of Southampton is of course new to the work, but I see that as a clear advantage. They both deserve and need our prayers, especially as we continue to grapple with the ongoing failures to address… Read more »

Martin Sewell
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Martin Sewell

I actually see the appointment of Suffragans as progress. First they will not have the duties that go with being a Diocesan bishop. I know Bp Peter’s Diocese generously surrendered his support to allow him to help survivors. I think two Suffragans will be better able to share the load, one in the North one in the South, provided they are a good team It is unfair and unwise to compare Bp Peter and his successors. Their roles will differ pre and post IICSA. We needed a highly pastoral presence during the steep learning curve. The role has no executive… Read more »