Category : CoE Bishops

The Bishop of Chichester’s 2017 Easter Sermon

I am not, and probably never will be, a gardener. This does not mean that I don’t like gardens: I do, but mainly when they are somebody else’s responsibility. But one of the things I like about gardens is that they are great for playing hide and seek, which is what today’s gospel is all about.

In fact, the whole of St John’s gospel is a brilliantly constructed unfolding of the unseen God who is hidden revealingly in Jesus Christ: it’s an eternally significant game of hide and seek. And John’s literary method is also brilliantly captured, in art, by Graham Sutherland’s depiction of the hide and seek moment that is central to this Easter celebration.

Sutherland’s 2-dimensional garden is a jewel-like work that is filled with memories of the garden of Eden where we enjoyed but seriously damaged, our friendship with God, according to the book of Genesis. The prize it holds out to us is finding a way back into that garden of friendship for real, and not simply as a theoretical proposition.

If you have time after the Eucharist, go and find this icon of the resurrection. It’s at the far end of the south aisle. Go and pray; light a candle and rejoice in the opportunity to seek and find the image of the risen Christ. And here are five details that are hidden in the picture…

Read it all.

Posted in Art, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Preaching / Homiletics

Thanksgiving Service to be held in May for Former Bishop of Lichfield

Tributes from across the world have been sent following Bishop’s Keith death from people including the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who became friends with Bishop Keith when he was chaplain and tutor at Bishop Tucker College in Uganda between 1968 and 1973. Bishop Keith secured a visa for Dr Sentamu to flee Uganda, under the reign if President Idi Amin, to study theology at Cambridge University.

Dr Sentamu said: “Bishop Keith loved people and was passionate about communicating the Gospel in a language they would understand. He was a pastor, a theological educator, a friend, an encourager, with a big heart for the poor and marginalised.

“He was sent to South Africa by Archbishop Robert Runcie when Archbishop Desmond Tutu had been put under House Arrest. In defiance of the Apartheid Regime, Bishop Keith said to a vast crowd outside St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town: ‘Anyone who touches you, touches us. And believe you me, the arm of the Rule of Law knows no bounds, colour, gender, ethnicity. Jesus Christ is the only Lord and all in him are one.’

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Do not take yourself too seriously Dept.–Top novelist @fictionfox’s husband’s career change prompts Twitter gold

So, last week the new Bishop of Sheffield was announced. What this actually precipitated was the most creative burst of episcopally related shenanigans on Twitter that we’ve ever seen from @fictionfox (who happens to be married to the bishop-designate of Sheffield).

Here are some of her best tweets…

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Humor / Trivia, Marriage & Family

The Very Revd Pete Wilcox’s Announcement Speech

I want to share with you, to start with, the time when, as a 13 year old, I was first conscious of the call of Jesus. I grew up in a Christian home, but the defining experience of my life came when I was a young teenager and sensed that God was inviting me to commit to the adventure of following Jesus. I chose to respond with my whole self and it was the best decision I have ever made. I share that with you because I am here this morning not primarily as your Bishop-designate, but as a disciple of Jesus, seeking to live out, day by day, a life worthy of my baptism.

But I also refer to that experience because such a high proportion of those who make a lasting commitments to Jesus do so as I did – as teenagers. Of course, the Church of God is called to proclaim the good news to all people at all times and in all places, but I am encouraged to see in the current priorities of the Diocese of Sheffield a commitment to reach out to that age group in particular and you can be sure I will do everything I can to make that outreach fruitful. And that is just one part of the Diocesan Strategy which excites me: so much of it expresses what I firmly believe. So the direction of travel for the Diocese will remain unchanged; there will be no sudden lurch to new priorities.

The second thing I want to mention is the publication of the Faith in the City report in 1985. Some of you will remember it: it rang out like an alarm bell at the height of Thatcherism, calling church and nation back to what, for shorthand, became known as God’s bias to the poor. It came out while I was training for the ordained ministry and it’s a document which has profoundly shaped me. It is no coincidence that I come to you from a northern, urban cathedral; a cathedral with a food bank and an employability programme; a cathedral which seeks to give a voice to the disadvantaged. And it’s no coincidence that we are meeting here, in a place where the church has engaged to such good effect with the local community, proclaiming the kingdom of God by directly addressing the challenges and celebrating the opportunities of this place, liberating its neglected assets and blessing its unfulfilled potential. The Gospel of Jesus Christ confronts social and economic inequalities, and we see here a great example of how transformative a local church can be; and I’m looking forward to visiting other examples of confident Christian witness in Rotherham and Doncaster later today.

Read it all. For those interested, there is a video of the announcement in the diocese there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained

(Church Times) Dean of Liverpool Pete Wilcox is named as the next Bishop of Sheffield

THE man who has the task of healing the wounds opened up in Sheffield by the Philip North row is to be the Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Dr Pete Wilcox.

Downing Street announced on Friday morning that Dr Wilcox has been nominated as the next Bishop of Sheffield, one month after the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, withdrew his acceptance of the post after protests against his views on women’s ordination (News, 9 March).

At the time, it was reported that the Archbishop of York, who chaired the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) that selected Bishop North, would propose an alternative candidate. (For each diocesan appointment, the CNC sends two names to the Prime Minister for rubber stamping.) The speed of Friday’s announcement suggests that Dr Wilcox’s was the name beneath Bishop North’s. Having first nominated a Catholic traditionalist, the CNC has opted for an Evangelical.

Dr Wilcox said in a statement on Friday: “Although the journey has been unconventional, to say the least, I feel called by God to this role, and am therefore thrilled to be coming to the diocese of Sheffield.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Law & Religion UK) David Pockington–The Independent Reviewer and the Sheffield See

From the Archbishops’ letter it is clear that they are committed to the principles within the Declaration, subject to “a number of specific concerns in the Church about its operation…[some of which]..”relate to whether the nomination itself, and the procedure leading up to it, were in accordance with the Declaration”, i.e. points (a) to (e) in the letter.

Having agreed in Synod a procedure for dispute resolution, the Archbishops would have been subject to criticism from other quarters had this not been initiated. This provides a means of taking the issue “off-line” for an initial review by an independent party who has been fully versed in the associated issues since his appointment in 2014. Nevertheless, at its conclusion the review must be followed up by decisive action in relation to the general issues surrounding the Bishops ‘Declaration, and to the appointment to the See of Sheffield without cannot proceed without such clarification.

It seems likely that Sir Philip’s findings will be known in advance of the York General Synod, 7-11 July, and a debate seems inevitable. However, should any changes to the Regulations be proposed, it is unlikely that these would be debated until a later Synod; this would reopen aspects of the debate which took place in the lead up to the Bishops’ Declaration in 2014. As noted above, any revision to the Regulation would require two-thirds support in each of the Houses of General Synod.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(HuffPo) Bp Paul Bayes of Liverpool: For Carol’s Sake, For Christ’s Sake, We Must Look After The Poor

A comment piece in today’s (23/3/2017) Guardian shows again the human cost of what I am sure to the bureaucrats in the Treasury seems like a sensible pen stroke on an accountancy line. It tells the story of “Carol”, a disabled woman, struggling to keep her head about water as she copes with the loss of £40 a week. “Welfare reform” – cuts – have made it harder and harder for her to survive. Our local Council has supported her through its hardship fund but even that is squeezed meaning tough decisions and greater hardship. And when I think of Carol, and of the other real people I have met, I am angry.

I am angry because we as a nation are allowing a cumulative, creeping deprivation to happen to our sisters and brothers, to our children, to our neighbours. I am angry that our hard-working local politicians are forced into heartbreaking, difficult decisions over where best to spend their limited resources. I am angry that the Westminster government fails to recognise the cumulative impact of their cheese-paring, the impact in injustice and impracticality of their funding regime.

I do not want to see a society where our children starve, where our fellow citizens are punished for being disabled, sick and in need. In today’s world, in today’s Britain we should surely be investing in our support for people not continuing to punish, attack and demonise the very people who need our help. We should be investing in dignity and love, and we should if necessary be paying the price of dignity and love, the price of human flourishing, the price of a caring and more equal society.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Poverty

C of E creates new bishop to reach out to ethnic minorities because the church is seen as too ‘quintessentially English’

The Church of England will appoint a new bishop to reach out to ethnic minorities because it is seen as too “quintessentially English”.

The new Bishop of Loughborough, based in the Diocese of Leicester, will have a specific focus on creating new churches which reflect the “cultural changes” in the area, according to the Bishop of Leicester Martyn Snow.

It will be the first brand-new post created since 1987, when the See of Brixworth was established.

Read it carefully and read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Joint statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the Bishop of Sheffield

From here:

“The recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, including his withdrawal from the process, have understandably raised great concern amongst many in the Church of England. The status of the House of Bishops Declaration of June 2014 has been questioned by some and its meaning has also been challenged.

“We have therefore written to Sir Philip Mawer, the Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following these recent events. We attach our letter to Sir Philip, in which we reaffirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing.

“Finally, in this period of Lent, as part of our preparation for the glorious celebration of the extraordinary grace of God in the events of Holy Week and Easter, we call on all those in the Church to pray openly for the flourishing of those with whom they disagree, to demonstrate the mutual love which we are called to share and to proclaim confidently in word and deed that in Christ we find our true identities, and the overcoming of those things which in ourselves we find so divisive.”

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Theology

(CEN) The Bp of Chichester appoints a LGBTI liaison officer

A Bishop’s Liaison Officer for the LGBTI Community has been appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to ‘build bridges.’

The aim of the post is to identify what ministry among this community ‘might look like if it is to be more effective’ and to provide the bishops and parishes with up to date information about the pastoral needs of LGBTI people.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, announced the appointment of the Rev Andrew Woodward, Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Kemp Town and Rural Dean of Brighton, as the first holder of the post.

Mr Woodward will help the church to ‘build bridges and enable pastoral support for a substantial group of people who feel the Church is alienated from them. Many feel they are tolerated but not included.’

Read it all (may require subsciption).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) David Baker:Philip North+Jeffrey John: A Church that is more ‘via muddle’ than ‘via media’

I was once in a meeting of clergy a few years ago, and I can’t remember the precise subject of discussion, but I do recall one minister sighing in weary exasperation as we talked around whatever the issue was before pronouncing: ‘The problem is the elephant in the room – the absence of a shared set of beliefs.’ He later became a Roman Catholic.

Philip North and Jeffery John are – albeit with very different defining convictions – both victims of a church trying unsuccessfully to face in several different directions at once. Some might rejoice that this is Anglicanism’s so-called ‘via media’ or ‘middle way’ between ‘extremes’. But to most people, it looks less ‘via media’ and more ‘via muddle’. And yet, ultimately, I do not despair. After all, it is because we humans tend to make a real mess of things that Jesus came in the first place. And so once again I lift my eyes to him and pray, ‘Lord, have mercy’.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Church of Wales, CoE Bishops

Jeremy Pemberton: On infidelity, broken promises and hounding: why Elaine Storkey is wrong.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(MC) Linda Woodhead–The Philip North affair has exposed the theological weakness of ‘traditionalism’

It’s become fashionable for ‘traditionalists’ to say that the wide support for women priests amongst Anglicans and the population in general has nothing to say to the church. They are wrong. A wider moral shift in society helped Christians to see the implications of their own orthodoxy more clearly than they had before.

From the serious theological explorations which took place over several decades we learned many things. We learned that God has no gender and that feminine language for God is no more inappropriate than masculine. We learned that women played a more central role in early Christianity than Church history had let on, and that what the CofE means by priesthood does not derive directly from the New Testament. We realised that the priest who represents Jesus at the altar and says the words of the Eucharistic Prayer over the bread and wine represents Christ in Christ’s humanity, not in Christ’s gender. And we discovered that there is therefore no reason why a woman may not preside at Communion: when she does so, she represents Jesus, our human High Priest.

The irony which the Philip North controversy has exposed is that it is the so-called liberals who are the ones clinging to orthodoxy and tradition, and the so-called traditionalists who are appealing to liberal principles of freedom, toleration, and equal respect. Lacking a strong theological basis for their position, the defenders of North are behaving like relativists who believe their position must be upheld not because it is true but just because it is their identity.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Ian Paul responds to the Bp of Chelmsford: Sex and morality in Church and society

This leads to a third surprising comment. On the one hand, the new teaching document will explore what is possible ‘within current arrangements’, and that prohibits the offering of public prayer which would give the appearance of a blessing of a same-sex sexual relationship. Yet on the other hand, Bishop Stephen cannot see any reason why ‘prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships – perhaps a Eucharist – cannot be offered.’ It seems strange to me that any bishop should feel so relaxed about contradicting the current position of the House of Bishops, without offering any account of this—and why he does notice that it is, in fact, contradictory.

But perhaps the most astonishing and surprising comment comes earlier on. In reflecting on the relationship between sexuality and missional engagement, Bishop Stephen makes this startling claim:

As I have said before, I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.

For some reason, Bishop Stephen sees the issue of the Church’s teaching on sexuality as a unique turning point in relation to culture, as if we have never experienced this sense of being out of step with prevailing morality and criticised, on moral grounds, because of it. I cannot really make sense of this statement, since even a moment’s reflection on some current areas of debate illustrates how implausible this is.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Church Times) Sheffield débâcle leaves traditionalists in limbo

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, who helps lead the traditionalist Catholic group The Society, said that the House of Bishops, led by the Arch­bishops, needed to “restore confid­ence” in what was agreed two-and-half years ago.

“It’s important for the Church that we are clear about [the House of Bishops’ Declaration and Five Guiding Principles],” Bishop Robin­son said on Sunday on Radio 4.

Bishop North’s withdrawal did not have to mean that traditionalists would be blocked from diocesan appointment from now on, he said; but “We have to enter into some dis­cussions with others in the Church about what this means, and about how we can restore some confidence into what was obviously agreed.”

The chair of Women and the Church (WATCH), Canon Emma Percy, who had been opposed to Bishop North’s appointment as a diocesan, said that she also believed that the Five Principles and the whole women-bishops agreement should be looked at again.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops