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Posts Tagged "Bishop David Urquhart":

Open Letter To The Bishop Of Birmingham: Chris Fewings

Dear Bishop David

I am writing this as an open letter from a half-faithful irregular worshipper delighted by the hospitality of various parishes in your diocese which welcome me as a fringe member. It will be published on the web. I would like to publish your reply but will only do so with your express written permission. However, I will let people know whether I receive a substantive reply.

I would like to thank you for your openness in calling a public meeting in Birmingham Cathedral just after the Synod vote on the gender of bishops. It was good to hear individual clergy and laity freely expressing their views and feelings.

In my view the ‘official’ Church of England (represented by Tim Stevens and anonymous press statements from Church House) is making a fool of itself on the subject of gay relationships, willing to sacrifice the innocence of gay couples who simply wish to celebrate their love openly and unequivocally before God and their community. (I welcome Tim Stevens’ strong statement on homophobia to the House of Lords, but in the current context it will not be heard.)

And yet these official pronouncements do not represent the range of opinions among Anglican clergy, laity and even bishops in this country. They are not even consistent with the known views of Rowan Williams. They show a woeful ignorance or ignoring of the history of marriage. The Bishops of Buckingham, Salisbury and Grantham have made their alternative views known, although to my knowledge among serving bishops only Alan Wilson has spoken out repeatedly, and Nicholas Holtam is the only serving diocesan to have raised his head above the parapet in recent years. Richard Harries assures us that others in the House of Bishops dissent but dare not speak their minds. What is stopping them?

In the past some de facto marriages (such as that between Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten) could flourish privately in a culture of secrecy. It may be that some gay bishops and others still see such secrecy as a protection against homophobia. In a society whose culture and legal framework has changed hugely since the bishops (and I) were growing up, to most people now secrecy seems like an undermining of loving commitment and an endorsement of homophobia. My impression is of a powerful lobby determined to create the public perception that the Church of England regards same-sex unions (however committed and long-term) to be at best second-rate or suitable only for non-Christians – and generally they are succeeding, as most non-Anglicans probably now assume this is how we all think.

I would like to hear every bishop tell his own story. How does each of you interpret scripture? Have your views of human sexuality changed over the last few decades, a period of intense study and re-evaluation of sex and gender issues in the fields of psychology, biblical studies, and cultural history? Could some bishops (of whatever orientation) tell us how they were called to celibacy in the service of Christ? How do they experience love and joy and pain in that context? Surely such stories would be a witness to love.

It seems to me that the silence of individual bishops promotes a simple message to those outside the churches: Christians oppose gay relationships. The nuances of stances within and between churches are lost. And opportunites to nurture life-long loving relationships (including those of many couples who are very active members of the Church of England) are missed. To be a locus of unity in the Anglican tradition surely implies acknowledging the diversity within that unity.

If silence is the best policy, are you free to explain why?

Wishing every joy of the last week of Epiphany as the light bursts into our world once again

Chris Fewings

The illustration is a statue of Bishop Charles Gore, the first Bishop of Birmingham, uploaded to Wikimedia by  oxyman

Candidates for Cantuar: David Urquhart

After last week’s little flurry, we do not know whether the Crown Nominations Commission has made up its mind, but is going through administrative hoops, or whether it  has not made up its mind and is pretending to be going through administrative hoops in order to mask its failure to reach a decision. Either way, we are not likely to have a definitive answer for a while, so I propose to continue our gentle stroll through the presumed candidates. I think the bookmakers’ lists are increasingly unreliable, and many bookmakers have withdrawn from the fray. Certainly the rankings are all over the place. We will continue to use the original list.

And so we come to the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart.



David Andrew Urquhart, born on 14 April 1952, was educated at Rugby  and Ealing Technical College Business School (BA 1977). Like Justin Welby, he then had a  career ‘in oil’, in his case with British Petroleum (1972-82).

He is not married. In the old days, the cryptic annotation ‘WHM’ (‘wife has means’) would have been looked for in Crockford’s when selecting a bishop – or indeed any priest expected to entertain on a lordly scale – but these days potential wives with private incomes are hard to come by.


Bishop David studied for the  ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and was ordained in 1984.  The Crockford’s entry is as follows:

* +URQUHART, The Rt Revd David Andrew. b 52. Ealing Business Sch BA77. Wycliffe Hall Ox 82. d 84 p 85 c 00. C Kingston upon Hull St Nic York 84-87; TV Drypool 87-92; V Cov H Trin 92-00; Hon Can Cov Cathl 99-00; Suff Bp Birkenhead Ches 00-06; Bp Birm from 06.

He became suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead in the Diocese of Chester in 2000. His succeeded John Sentamu as Bishop of Birmingham was announced in November 2006.


I have not been able to find any publications.


Bishop David has been described as ‘a low church evangelical’. He voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, but apparently put no pressure on his diocesan synod to follow suit and in the event Birmingham voted against it. Bishop David, and the entire Birmingham delegation, voted in favour of adjourning the debate to enable reconsideration of  amendment 5.1.c, the position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops.


Bishop David joined the House of Lords in 2010 and is a spokesman on “Economy/Tax/Business; Foreign Policy; Local/Regional Government”. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Envoy to China in 2006. And he is the Prelate of the Order of St Michael and St George, the order awarded to diplomats.

He is a very active member of the community in Birmingham, where he has been the Chair of the ‘Be Birmingham’ Summit of the Local Strategic Partnership.

Leap in the dark assessment

At his enthronement Urquhart was presented with a cope which incorporated various images related to his life and the city of Birmingham. These included a bagpiper, signifying his birth and upbringing in Scotland, a motorcycle which represents one of his hobbies, and the emblems of Aston Villa and Birmingham City FC, the two most prominent football teams from the city.

More interestingly, as a potential Cantuar, the cope also features a passage from Isaiah (58.12), written in EnglishMandarinHebrew and Gandan.

 “You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets to dwell in.”

Could David Urquhart be the peacemaker, the unifying force, that we need?


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