Steven John Lindsey Croft was born in 1957. He went to Heath Grammar School in Halifax, Yorkshire, and studied classics and theology at Worcester College, Oxford, after which he studied for the priesthood in Durham at Cranmer Hall, St John’s College. He is married to Ann and has four children.
Bishop Steven was ordained as deacon in the Diocese of London in 1983 and as priest in 1984. The Crockford’s entry reads:
|+CROFT, The Rt Revd Steven John Lindsey. b 57. Worc Coll Ox BA80 MA83 St Jo Coll Dur PhD84. Cranmer Hall Dur 80. d 83 p 84 c 09. C Enfield St Andr Lon 83-87; V Ovenden Wakef 87-96; Dioc Miss Consultant 94-96; Warden Cranmer Hall Dur 96-04; Abps’ Missr and Team Ldr Fresh Expressions 04-09; Bp Sheff from 09.|
In the mid 1990s, Bishop Steven was diocesan mission adviser. He then became Archbishops’ Missioner and Leader of the Fresh Expressions team under Archbishop Rowan Williams. He was a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council from 1997-2000.
It is said of some candidates that they may be too old; Bishop Steven is only 55 but on the other hand has only been a bishop since January 2009. Also, except for his curacy in Enfield, all his ministry has been in Yorkshire and the neighbouring County Durham.
He is a co-author of Emmaus: the way of faith (1996-2003), a set of resources for Christian nurture widely used in the UK and across the world. He is author or co-author of a number of books including Ministry in Three Dimensions (1999 and 2008); and Travelling Well (with Stephen Cottrell) (2000). His first novel for children and adults, The Advent Calendar, was published in 2006. In 2009 Jesus’ People: What the Church should do next challenged the reader to rethink both the role of Jesus in the Church and that of the Church in today’s society and culture. He wrote the Church of England ‘most digital Lent course yet’ for 2011, about which Church House Publishing said:
Household music and DVD collections could be a good starting point for studying the Bible this Lent, teaches a new five-week course called Exploring God’s Mercy, compiled by the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft. Suitable for church groups, couples or individuals, the course prepares us for the festival of Easter by reminding us just how much God loves us, using Scriptures, specially filmed You Tube videos, podcasts for iPods, group discussions and prayer. It recommends playing popular songs or DVD clips at the start of each session, to set the scene for that week’s theme.
The Sheffield Diocesan Website is up to the minute, and relies heavily on videos. This means that readers like us can form quite a clear impression of what life with Bishop Steven as the Archbishop of Canterbury might be like. (The impression might still be erroneous of course).
As in the case of Bishop Tim Stevens, he is often filmed in strong light which makes his eyes narrow rather alarmingly . You may think I make too much of this, but if the eyes are windows of the soul, it is difficult to form an impression of someone whose eyes are hidden. (If I were in charge of his PR, I would also frogmarch him to Trumpers, the Curzon Street barber). Other YouTube videos are his initial ‘sermon’ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNxezSFRc1A, his Easter message (you can see his eyes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgmU9M43wGM&feature=related and his address to diocesan synod July 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPI5MEg0uX8&feature=relmfu.
Both Sheffield bishops voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did their clergy and laity.
At General Synod in July 2012 he voted to adjourn the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c
(the position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops).
Bishop Steven has been a strong opponent of same-sex marriage:
“One in four marriages in England are performed by the Church of England and that proportion is rising at the moment. In every marriage service the priest begins the service by spelling out what marriage is – a union between one man and one woman with the intention of it being lifelong. So it is really important to register back to the Government that this is not a minor change, this is a fundamental change to a very, very important social institution.”
You can see possibly the best (ITV) video interview with him in this clip, where he explains, sitting at his desk with no props or gimmicks, exactly what his views are. Am I alone in seeing an iron hand emerge in this charmingly velvet glove?
Leap in the dark assessment
Bishop Steven Croft would make an excellent Archbishop of York in due course.