Comments: Michael Harrison to be next Bishop of Dunwich

I think a lot of us will have been expecting a much more exciting appointment, but I'm sure this is a wise one nonetheless.

Posted by DBD at Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 12:07pm GMT

The announcements are surprisingly coy about where exactly in Oxford Canon Harrison did his training, but Crockfords reveals it to have been Cuddesdon. So a catholic-inclined bishop at last, but appointed (with due apologies to Dunwich and its denizens) to somewhere he is unlikely to do much harm to the Evangelical, HTB modelled, Church our Archbishops seem intent on creating.
Like contributors to other threads, I am alarmed at the continuing slew of Evangelical appointments to other sees, and that none of the highly qualified, catholic-inclined ladies who are ready and waiting, has yet been preferred. This has now gone on for far too long for it to have been just a coincidence, and it must be a deliberate policy. If so, I deplore it.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 4:23pm GMT

Malcolm it is deplorable.

I cannot understand the lack of wider comment, let alone public outcry.

I hope Parliament will intervene, through one of the routes available to it.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 5:26pm GMT

Has there really been a a disproportionate amount of evangelical bishops appointed? Of the last 5 Diocesan bishops announced (Election confirmed 2015 & Leicester) three trained at evangelical colleges, whilst two did not. Of the suffragan/other bishops (15 since start of 2015) 10 trained at broadly evangelical colleges. (Though college name isn't necessarily accurate for finding out about theological convictions).

Suffragans/area bishops are appointed by the Diocese without the CNC being involved so the wider CofE isn't having a direct influence here.

With regard to recent appointments some dioceses are looking to have clergy as bishops with experience of or expertise in growing the church numerically. We can read this in Martin Seeley's comments in the press release for Dunwich. In the Leicester profile this was part of the role described (along with other important things).

How about this theory - I'm not sure if the following is fair or not:
For evangelical clergy church growth is part of the DNA of ministry for theological reasons (whether or not they are good at it). To generalise hugely, for those with different convictions this isn't going to be centre stage in the same way. Of course there are many liberal/catholic/central who are very able and care about this whole area. But on the whole one might expect more evangelicals to have a passionate vision for growing the church in the way that is described by those who are looking for a bishop.

Posted by s_snowberry at Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 9:05pm GMT

"He is unlikely to do much harm to the Evangelical, HTB modelled, Church our Archbishops seem intent on creating."

I am not sure I can agree with Malcolm Dixon on his (self-imposed) gloom about recent episcopal appointments. Based on a timeline since it was lawful for women to be consecrated bishops, there have been four appointments to diocesan sees (Leicester, Newcastle, Gloucester, and Southwell & Nottingham) and ten to suffragan sees (Hertford, Edmonton, Taunton, Aston, Crediton, Kensington, Sherborne, Richmond, Hull and Stockport). These are not in order of appointment. I have left Maidstone and Islington out of the equation. Of these 14 appointments, eight have been women. As to which might be regarded as "HTB evangelicals", labels are unhelpful, but it would be expected that Southwell and Nottingham, and Kensington might fit that description. Of the others, Gloucester and Hull might be described as card-carrying evangelicals, but the others represent considerable breadth in tradition. Others might have different views. Malcolm might be surprised to know that 'churchpersonship' (I have adjusted the phrase to be inclusive of gender) plays less a part in the process than might be supposed, both for CNC regulated diocesan appointments and diocesan bishop-led suffragan appointments.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 9:55pm GMT

@Anthony Archer - you really mustn't come on here debunking the comfortable myths that are the plausibility structure for the habitues of TA. Why, you'll be telling us next that the Bishop of Newcastle isn't catholic and female, and reminding us that the CofE has never in the past gone through phases of appointments when all the bishops came from Westcott and Cuddesdon...

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 11:07pm GMT

How heartening to see the new Dunwich keeps his name 'Mike', against the worrying trend of massively pretentious new bishops adopting lengthened versions of their established (short) given names. An excellent indication that this one is to be servant, not lord!

Posted by DBD at Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 11:23pm GMT

Whatever the tactics behind the choice of both diocesan and suffrgan bishops in the Church of England; there is still no expressed intention to include people of the intellectual and pastoral gifts of the current Dean of St. Albans!

Why is that? And is the bias going to change soon?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 2:37am GMT

Where one trained isn't a guarantee that a cleric is of the one mind with the college: the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, for example, trained at Wycliffe Hall.

Posted by Richard at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 12:16pm GMT

Thank you Anthony for your detailed comments based on your considerable experience of the CNC process. I accept that labels can be unhelpful, but I think our church has usually managed to keep a reasonable balance across the spectrum of churchmanship, and I fear that balance is being disturbed. Statistics can always be interpreted in different ways but, yes, I do think that the figures as presented above by s_snowberry show a disproportionate leaning to the evangelical wing, perhaps for the reasons advanced in the same post. If that reasoning does explain what has been happening, then I would caution that many catholic priests also have a passion for growth and that, since we are all different, and drawn to and sustained in our faith by differing flavours of worship and belief, a growth agenda biased to an evangelical approach would not be attractive to some potential converts, and would alienate many of the faithful we already have.
My gloom may indeed be self-imposed, but I am certainly not alone in my concern, as numerous other contributors on earlier threads attest. I am very sorry that I (we) have driven +Pete to such withering irony, but I wish him and Canon Harrison the compliments of the coming season, and every blessing in their episcopal ministries.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 2:17pm GMT

Well, evangelical or catholic he's clearly 'muscular'. There's a nice variation on the usual 'hill walking' interests expressed in the press release - clearly Michael Harrison will hit the ground 'running!' Of course, he is also in the traditionalist mould of a 'passionate football supporter.'

It's a pity these new bishops can't be rugby supporters, but I suppose that would be too elitist?

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 4:16pm GMT

A point I was going to make Richard . I once interviewed for a Lambeth diploma a chap who had trained at Wycliffe Hall a few years previously. He arrived in black suit, Gleason formal and turned out to be a member of F in Faith.The interesting thing perhaps is that people tend to go " up" rather than " down". Given our residential colleges are mostly aligned with a particular churchmanships it would be interesting for Min Div to do a study of the dynamics of churchmanships mobility.

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 4:16pm GMT

There are lots of catholic diocesans in the Church of England at the moment: Lincoln, Ely, Norwich, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Chelmsford, Dover, Southwark, London, Chichester, Portsmouth, Worcester, Manchester, Salisbury, Exeter, Truro. it's odd that it doesn't feel much like it.

Posted by Robin Ward at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 6:04pm GMT

Note that, in this announcement, "Mike is married to Rachel, an occupational therapist and they have 4 children, aged 13 to 21." In Tuesday's announcement, by contrast, "The Right Reverend Martyn Snow is married to Dr Lynn Snow, a paediatrician and they have 3 children (aged 14, 12 and 10)."

Why does Lynn get treated like an adult woman in her own right, while Rachel does not? Does Number 10 accord full respect only to paediatricians, and not occupational therapists?

(I pass over the bizarre comma usage.)

Posted by R at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 6:23pm GMT

Congratulations to Mike Harrison. I am moved to comment in support of Fr Ron. It would appear that Eltham is a mysterious place. Two former vicars are consecrated bishops, Christopher Lowson (Lincoln) and now Mike Harrison (Dunwich). Pity the man who served between them and in whose stewardship the parish prospered was not so favoured. Still that is St Albans gain or it's Abbey at least

Posted by Stanley Shaw at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 7:30pm GMT

There have often been little groups of catholics at Wycliffe Hall who wanted to study in Oxford but didn't want to come to St Stephen's House. They were often involved with Pusey House. Jonathan Goodall, Nicholas Wheeler and the former head of the Oratory School Clive Dytor come to mind.

Posted by Robin Ward at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 9:56pm GMT

R: also notable is the overuse of titleage in Snow's compared to Harrison's.

Posted by DBD at Saturday, 19 December 2015 at 12:27am GMT
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