The Rt Revd Graham James was born in 1951 in Cornwall, where many members of his family had worked in the tin mining industry. He and his wife, Julie, have a son and a daughter (as well as a daughter who died in infancy). His interests are amateur dramatics, cricket and rugby union.
After school in Northampton, he read history at the University of Lancaster and then did his theological training at Cuddesdon, Oxford. He was ordained in 1975, worked as a team vicar in Welwyn Garden City and then moved to Church House in London. He became chaplain to the (Anglo-Catholic) Robert Runcie when he was Archbishop of Canterbury and remained Archbishop’s Chaplain to the (Evangelical) George Carey for his first two years in office.
He was consecrated Bishop of St Germans in 1993, returning to Cornwall, and then transferred to Norwich in 2000. He is an active member of the House of Lords and a Board Member of the Countryside Agency.
In 2011 he was invited to join the Select Committee on Communications, and became the Church of England’s spokesman on media issues.
He is the author of ‘Changing Rural Life: A Christian Response to Life and Work in the Countryside‘ and is presumably the Graham James who wrote an introduction to Sally Gaze’s ‘Mission-shaped and Rural: Growing Churches in the Countryside’ (2006/2011).
Bishop Graham is a hard man to pin down without the benefit of personal contact. Cuddesdon, where he trained, was originally geared to the Catholic wing of the Church of England, but the wikipedia page says: ‘Nowadays, Cuddesdon students come from across the spectrum of the Church of England but it retains a liturgical approach to worship and a broad approach to theology’. It would be unkind to say that the ability to serve both archbishops, although from theologically opposite ends of the church, is reminiscent of The Vicar of Bray. And (if accurate) maybe this is exactly what the Church needs next – someone to be all things to all men?
There is a 16-minute interview dating from 2010 which you can listen to here. It includes the following exchange (the transcription is fair, but not literal, so if you regard the comments as significant it is worth listening to the original).
Q Do you think we will see a woman bishop in the Church of England in the next ten years?
A No. But my suspicion is that in ten to 20 years time we will, partly because the legislation will take that long to get into place. I want to see women bishops, but what I don’t want to see are people in different traditions within our church being unchurched. It is how we can live in the same church with two quite different opinions on this.
On the episcopal issue, he abstained in the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c, a position he shared with the Bishop of London, known to be against women bishops. He also voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did his diocese.
Leap in the dark assessment
If you are looking for someone to try and keep the lid on the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, Graham James would seem to be a good bet.