Saturday, 10 May 2003

London: Gareth Miller's proposals

London is the first part of Gareth Miller’s proposals that I have examined in detail.
He proposes a Province of London which would cover the area of the London boroughs exactly. His proposals would replace London and Southwark dioceses with a total of 12 new smaller ones, increase the number of bishops, and substantially alter all of the current episcopal areas. I can see no benefit to the creation of two additional areas.
While the proposals to alter the external boundaries of the current London and Southwark dioceses may well be sound, the many internal changes to existing episcopal areas seem to offer no benefit to the parishes, and would surely cost a large amount to implement.
On balance, this amount of change does not seem worth doing.
Ignoring the fine details of existing boundaries, the changes can be summarised as listed below.

Existing episcopal areas in London and Southwark would all be altered.
Bishop of London: would retain only City of London and lose pesonal jurisdiction in City of Westminster (but become an archbishop)
Bishop of Kensington: would lose Hounslow and Richmond north of the Thames, and gain part of Westminster
Bishop of Willesden: would lose Hillingdon and gain Barnet
Bishop of Stepney: would lose Islington and gain Newham
Bishop of Barking: would transfer from Chelmsford diocese, and lose Newham and Waltham Forest
Bishop of Edmonton: would lose Barnet, Camden and Enfield, and gain Waltham Forest
New bishopric of St Marylebone would cover Camden, Islington, and part of Westminster
New bishopric of Ealing would cover Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow
Bishop of Fulham is not mentioned in the proposal
Bishop of Southwark would be reduced to Southwark, Lambeth and Wandsworth
Bishop of Croydon would lose Surrey and gain Bromley from Rochester diocese
Bishop of Kingston would lose Wandsworth and Lambeth and gain Richmond north of the Thames
Bishop of Woolwich would lose Southwark

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 May 2003 at 8:23 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church Structures

I think that he intended to keep the total number of bishops very close to the present number and, as far as possible, to follow local authority boundaries. One problem with this is that governments don’t seem to be able to resist reorganizing local government and I wonder if the Church would ever be able to catch up with the latest changes.

He doesn’t say how he set the size of each diocese - has he used population or area or both? Presumably he decided that Greater London currently has fewer bishops than its fair share.

Elsewhere in the country, at least one diocese (Bradwell) has been given the name of a place that is not actually in the diocese. I don’t think that you should read any significance into the names of the new dicoeses, or talk of altering current episcopal areas. They are all abolished and replaced by a new set. In many parts of the country dioceses are not divided into episcopal areas, so the idea of changing current areas cannot apply to them in any case.

Of course it is possible to regroup the London boroughs in other ways, but the suggested grouping does give people an idea of what a new diocese would look like. The real question is whether each diocese covers an “area that is universally recognised as a unit.” I do not know London well enough to comment, but in my own area (in the proposed diocess of Southport) I am not sure that the folk in the Bootle end of Sefton would feel that they belong naturally with Chorley.

Posted by: Peter Owen at May 10, 2003 09:43 PM