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Posts Tagged "Bishop Tim Stevens":

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: Tim Stevens


Bishop Tim Stevens was raised in a rural vicarage in Essex and went to Chigwell School, after which he spent a year in Zambia with Voluntary Service Overseas and then read Classics and English at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Bishop Tim and his wife, Wendi, have two adult children, Rachel and Adam. He has  ‘a keen attachment’ to cricket and rugby.


After leaving Cambridge, he  spent five years as a management trainee with the then British Overseas Airways Corporation. He left this to join the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and spent two years as  a Second Secretary in the South Asian Department.

The Crockfords entry reads as follows:

* +STEVENS, The Rt Revd Timothy John. b 46. Selw Coll Cam BA68 MA72. Ripon Coll Cuddesdon 75. d 76 p 77 c 95. C E Ham w Upton Park Chelmsf 76-80; TR Canvey Is 80-88; Dep Dir Cathl Cen for Research and Tr 82-84; Bp’s Urban Officer 87-91; Hon Can Chelmsf Cathl 87-91; Adn W Ham 91-95; Suff Bp Dunwich St E 95-99; Bp Leic from 99.

As you can see, he trained for ordination at Ripon Hall, Oxford and subsequently at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He was ordained in 1976, at the age of 30,  as Curate in East Ham, East London.

Bishop Tim  is Council Chairman of Westcott House  theological college in Cambridge. He also has a co-ordinating role of the Bishops sitting in the House of Lords and is the episcopal spokesman on constitutional and family issues in the House. Possibly for this reason, he often speaks out on the overlap between Church and State: for example he said that the proposed parliamentary bill on same sex marriage would threaten this relationship. He also backed Archbishop Rowan’s attack on David Cameron’s idea of  ‘the Big Society’.



He is the author, with Tony Morgan, of ‘Simply Strategic Voluteers: Empowering People for Ministry‘ (2004)



On the episcopal issue, he voted in favour in the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c, a position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops. He also voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant.

The City of Leicester has the largest Hindu population in the United Kingdom as well as substantial Muslim, Sikh and other faith communities. Both at diocesan and at national level the Bishop is involved in conversations with those of other faiths, especially in finding ways of working with other faiths on regeneration issues in cities.



Leap in the dark assessment

Nice enough chap. Possibly not inspirational leader?


Note: Bishop Tim has an unfortunate tendency to screw up his eyes when being photographed, making him look worried and cross. I think this is simply that he reacts to strong light, but any future spin doctors might consider placing their (arch?)bishop in a better position for photography.

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