Thursday, 26 September 2013

Forthcoming episcopal appointments

Updated Friday morning

Here’s a round-up of where the process of choosing bishops for vacant English diocesan sees is at present.

Five dioceses have been allocated places in the queue for the Crown Nominations Commission.

Bath and Wells

The CNC has already held its first meeting (18 July), and the second is scheduled for 3/4 October 2013.


The three dioceses that will be subsumed into the Diocese of Leeds have all published updates this week (Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Wakefield) inviting “anyone wishing to comment on the needs of the diocese, or the wider Church, or who wishes to propose candidates” to write to the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments by 3 October. This timetable is very short, but originally the closing date was 30 September.

Leeds has been allocated 12 November 2013 and 9/10 January 2014 for its CNC meetings, but the Ripon and Leeds update states “The Crown Nominations Commission will meet on November 12th, interview in January 2014 and will make its selection in February when it nominates the new bishop” whilst Bradford has “These diocesan reps will join the national reps in November to begin the formal process, with a further residential meeting in January. It is hoped that we will have the name of the new diocesan bishop by the end of February.” My interpretation of this is that there will be the usual two meetings (in November and January), and that the public announcement of the new bishop is expected in February.

The diocesan representatives on the CNC are David Ashton (Wakefield), Kathryn Fitzsimons (Ripon and Leeds) and Paul Slater, Zahida Mallard, Sam Corley and Debbie Child (Bradford).


The CNC meetings will be on 18 October and 6/7 November 2013. Details of the diocesan statement of needs, and the six people elected from the diocese to serve on the CNC are here. These representatives are Anneliese Barrell, the Revd Douglas Dettmer, the Very Revd Jonathan Draper, Anne Foreman, Charles Hodgson and the Revd Gilly Maude.


The CNC meetings will be on 22 January and 25/26 February 2014. The diocese has published this briefing note and this note from the chair of the vacancy in see committee.


The CNC meetings will be on 6 March and 1/2 April 2014. The diocese has published this guide to the process. Liverpool’s vacancy in see committee will be having its first meeting next week (1 October) and its main meeting on 3 December.

Other vacancies in the pipeline are Gibraltar in Europe, Guildford, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, and Southwell & Nottingham.


The usual notices of the vacancies in the Sees of Leeds and Hereford appear in the Church Times today (27 October) with closing dates for comments of 3 and 17 October respectively. The Religious Job site carries the notice for Leeds here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 26 September 2013 at 5:00pm BST | TrackBack
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I see in the Church Times that the Suffragan See of Lewes is in process and the Bishop is asking for comments on the needs of the role and possible suggestions of candidates. Time for Chichester to get writing. It's certainly time for a change.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 26 September 2013 at 6:01pm BST

I am on record as saying that the CNC process takes too long. It is frustrating for the diocese concerned and, for the higher profile nominations, inevitably means there is too much scope for media speculation. Based on the current vacancies, it is going to take 15 months to clear the backlog, and that assumes no retirements (or vacancies caused for other reasons) during the period. There is no reason why the CNC can't mount back-to-back meetings. It would make better use of the central members' time and there would be no loss of integrity to the discernment process. I understand from a well placed source that ++Canterbury has indicated that he may not necessarily attend all CNC meetings (presumably primarily those in the Northern Province) but send a diocesan in his stead. That should make the calendar slightly easier to manage, althought I doubt he would absent himself from Leeds. The process needs some out-of-the-box new thinking. The sole reason I felt unable to stand for re-election to the CNC as a central member in 2007 was because of the time commitment. I don't believe there has ever been a time with more vacancies. However, once the backlog is sorted there might be a pause. +Newcastle is 70 in August 2014 and the next senior bishop is +Leicester, 70 in 2016. The next two are +London and +Gloucester (currently 66) and then +Derby and +Oxford (currently 65).

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 26 September 2013 at 6:55pm BST

Re the CNC. Are all the central members involved in every vacancy? I presume they are. Perhaps there could be a bigger central panel, with not everyone involved in every vacancy. Overlaps and briefing papers could ensure any required continuity. That would perhaps enable the process to go more quickly. It would also bring more and wider experience to the panel.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Friday, 27 September 2013 at 10:10am BST

Please let us keep a core membership as it is. This allows participants to gain experience and courage to deal with the two members who already exert excessive influence, the two Archbishops. Diocesan representatives can find themselves in very intimidating situations when it is hard to 'hold the line' (read about that in the Southwark CNC accounts) and need all the support they can get from ordinary members of the core group elected by General Synod.

Posted by: Commentator on Friday, 27 September 2013 at 2:03pm BST

How many of the vacant and soon to be vacant diocesan sees will be filled by bishops from the Catholic wing of the CofE? With four out of the five senior posts within the Established Church now occupied or designated to be occupied by Evangelicals the signs don't look too hopeful. Even the next Bishop of Blackburn is an Evangelical. Sadly we are losing the balance between Catholics and Evangelicals in recent episcopal appointments.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 27 September 2013 at 2:34pm BST

Lots of interesting points here. @Simon - not sure anyone has suggested this. It has some merits, but @Commentator is right that members need to bring their experience to the process. However, my experience was that the archbishops do not exert excessive influence. ++ Rowan was a master Chairman, allowing all members to contribute fully. Hugely inclusive. If anything, some might have wanted him to open his mouth sooner. He was excellent. ++ Sentamu wears his views more on his sleeve, but is far from dogmatic. He is a lawyer, very objective and open to being persuaded. @Father David, the issue of balance in the House of Bishops is difficult. When General Synod voted to increase the diocesan group from four to six the dynamics changed considerably. Unless the diocesan group cannot agree among themselves, they can usually get the nomination they want, or at least block a nomination they do not want. The result is that the views of the archbishops (which are sought) on the needs of the national church in general and the HoB in particular are listened to but may not be honoured. The diocese knows want it wants. The result currently is that mission is prioritised and not surprisingly the evangelicals have the edge. We need more +Chelmsfords (the next ++York - you heard it first). And how does the House of Bishops benefit these days from a +Sykes or a +Selby? The answer is it can't and has to get its serious theological input in other ways.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Friday, 27 September 2013 at 10:17pm BST

Fr David, I think we know the answer to your question. None.

Posted by: Ian on Friday, 27 September 2013 at 11:31pm BST

Anthony, I think I got in first on an earlier TA blog with the suggestion that +Chelmsford would be the ideal candidate as the next ++Ebor but let's not split hairs. As for Evangelicals having the edge when it comes to mission, I simply cannot agree. Having been nurtured in the Catholic faith as a lad in his native Essex by Canon Bundock +Chelmsford has great sympathy still with that particular wing of the Church yet he is possibly the most Missionary minded of all the current bishops on the Bench. As evidence of this look at his document Transforming Presence which he is currently promoting within his diocese with evangelical zeal, further note the introduction of no less than seven "missional" Archdeacons and his strong encouragement to every parish in the diocese to hold a mission next year in order to celebrate the centenary of the diocese. Can any other bishop match such fervour for mission. As one brought up to appreciate the traditions of the faith +Chelmsford would be the ideal candidate to be the next ++ Ebor and would bring a much needed injection of missionary zeal to the Northern Province. The current system of choosing bishops seems to produce a certain sameness and blandness. If Trevor Beeson were writing his book "the Bishops" about the current Bench he'd be hard pressed to include any real balance or variety. Certainly we are currently lacking any great scholars in the episcopacy. Just look at the Contents of Beeson's book to see what we have lost - The aristocrats and courtiers, scholars, statesmen, prophets, pastors, controversialists, headmasters, church reformers, social reformers, missionaries, evangelists and the odd men out! Today any similar tome would be simply top heavy with Managers.

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 28 September 2013 at 6:46am BST

Anthony Archer, with whom I served once on a CNC, makes many points I would want to agree with. I'm not sure where the claim of lack of balance of churchmanship comes from in the comments of others, though. Of the more recent diocesan appointments I would reckon Durham, Winchester and Blackburn would be seen as evangelical and that Southwark, Ely, Salisbury, Lincoln, Chichester and Manchester (me) would be seen as more catholic.

Posted by: David Walker on Saturday, 28 September 2013 at 8:13am BST

The Bishop of Manchester elect seems to have a very broad understanding of the word "catholic". Maybe a better calculation of where our bishops stand rather than Catholic/Evangelical might well be Traditionalist/Liberal. I certainly agree with him with regard to the Bishop of Chichester but would be hard pressed to place the liberal Bishop of Salisbury in the same category. Of the others - I know little about other than they don't seem to feature very prominently in what might be called Catholic circles. At least I can't recall seeing any (apart from Ely - this year - when Archbishop Sentamu was the visiting preacher) at Walsingham's National Pilgrimage in recent years. I do hear that the buzz is that for the interviews for Blackburn - there were three card carrying Catholics short listed and one Evangelical who got the hat. However, as the interviews were held in secret conclave - this is, of course, mere speculation. Mind you the cardinals who elected Pope Francis were also sworn to secrecy but in his book - "Pope Francis - Untying the Knots" Paul Vallely gives a very precise break down of all the voting figures. Hey Ho!

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 28 September 2013 at 9:03am BST

and of course, no women liberal, conservative, catholic, all, tragic.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Sunday, 29 September 2013 at 5:08pm BST

Does anyone know why Bradford have FOUR representative on CNC, and Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield only have one each...? John Packer and Stephen Platten are both due to retire next year, but Nick Baines is well below retirement age I presume. I bet the odds for him becoming the new Diocesan are rather low!

Posted by: John Connell on Sunday, 29 September 2013 at 5:42pm BST

John - The Bradford update that I linked to notes that "Members could not agree to allocate that representation either by the 5 episcopal areas or the three present dioceses, so the voting was random."

For the first Bishop of Leeds there is a good argument to be made that it should be someone from outside to avoid suggestions of bias towards one part of the new diocese over another.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Sunday, 29 September 2013 at 10:27pm BST

"The Bishop of Manchester elect seems to have a very broad understanding of the word "catholic"."

Or David it could just be that you have a very narrow one?
The sense that a bishop is so important in the process of church and/or kingdom building (depending upon your ecclesiology) is surely unhelpful in a climate where diocese after diocese is trying to emphasise the ministry of all the baptised. The bishop is one ministry amongst many. The temptation to make them some kind of MD or chief exec surely needs resisting?

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Monday, 30 September 2013 at 11:55am BST

"The temptation to make them (bishops) some kind of MD or chief exec surely needs resisting" I couldn't agree with you more Andrew that is why we need more in the episcopacy like the Flying Bishops who are largely liberated from stifling synods and committees and are thus free to be both pastoral and spiritual Fathers in God.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 30 September 2013 at 5:00pm BST

@Anthony Archer

It seems ++ Rowan wasn't *always* a master Chairman . . .

> ++ Rowan was a master Chairman, allowing all members to contribute fully. Hugely inclusive. If anything, some might have wanted him to open his mouth sooner. He was excellent.

> "We had two very horrible days in which I would say both archbishops behaved very badly. The meeting was not a fair consideration at all; they were intent on wrecking both Jeffrey John and Nick Holtam equally, despite the fact that their CVs were startlingly in an entirely different and better league than the other two candidates … The archbishop of Canterbury was bad tempered throughout. When it came to voting, certainly two – possibly three – members were in tears and [Williams] made no acknowledgement but carried on regardless.

Posted by: Veuster on Monday, 30 September 2013 at 5:42pm BST

Still Jeffrey John moulders hatless at St Albans while amazingly ultra-liberal Nick Holtam sits secure on his cathedra under the tallest spire in England.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 30 September 2013 at 11:21pm BST

@ Veuster. Of course I can only speak from experience. The Southwark CNC, if the Slee note is a fair record, does appear to have been a pretty torrid affair. It will not have been the only CNC to have had moments of difficulty. Whatever you make of the process, and it can obviously be improved further, confidentiality of deliberation is the red line issue. It was hugely unfortunate that the late Dean's executors appeared to have published his note. Presumably that was what he wanted, and that was why they did it, but it breached the core principle, even if from the grave.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 1 October 2013 at 10:14am BST

@ Peter Owen. While the conventional wisdom might be that an outsider for Leeds would prevent any suggestion of bias, the fact is that this is complex and a considerable challenge for the first bishop and someone who can hit the ground running, so-to-speak, is an advantage. If I was on the Leeds CNC I would strongly advocate the Bishop of Bradford as the best equipped candidate. However, if I was a member of a later CNC, especially Liverpool, I would be praying that he is not nominated for Leeds!!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Wednesday, 2 October 2013 at 8:26am BST

Other episcopal appointments coming up within the next six month or so will be the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Edmonton

Posted by: Fr Nesbitt SSC on Wednesday, 2 October 2013 at 12:12pm BST

Those two were born in 1947. They don't have to retire in the next six months. And they are not the oldest still serving.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 October 2013 at 1:24pm BST

See my earlier post on this. Assuming they all go on to 70, the retirement order is:
+Newcastle - 70 in August 2014, then +Leicester - 70 in 2016. The next are +London and +Gloucester (2017) and +Derby and +Oxford (2018).

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Wednesday, 2 October 2013 at 6:56pm BST

Very few bishops nowadays go on until they reach the compulsory retirement age of 70. The last two Archbishops of Canterbury, for example, went well before reaching three score years and ten. How unlike the stamina shewn by Archbishop Randall Davidson, the first ABC to actually retire who went aged 80 after 25 years as Cantuar.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 3 October 2013 at 6:37am BST

Given bishops are unlikely to be appointed under 45 ( and usually older) and over,say, 59 ( usually a bit younger) many people are actually eligible these days....esp as we havent had a diocesan bishop trained on a course have we? Far fewer than a decade ago im sure..

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 3 October 2013 at 8:25am BST

Unsurprising that we have not yet had a diocesan bishop trained on a course, but just wait for the women.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 3 October 2013 at 11:22pm BST

I think I'm correct in saying that the recently retired Manchester went on until his 71st birthday. Thank the Lord we don't have the likes of Henry Philpotts around now, who ruled Exeter for a little short of 40 years (1831-1869)

Posted by: cryptogram on Saturday, 5 October 2013 at 7:02pm BST
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