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Posts Tagged "Candidates for Archbishop of Canterbury":

Candidates for Cantuar: John Inge


Bishop John was born in 1955 and educated at Kent College followed by a chemistry degree from St. Chads College, Durham. He then taught chemistry at Lancing College in Sussex, to which he later returned as a chaplain. He is married to Denise, and they have two daughters.


He studied at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire and was ordained deacon in 1983 and priest in 1984 in the Diocese of Chichester. He became one of the Lords Spiritual in June this year.  He serves on the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) of the General Synod and has served on the Council of Ridley Hall College, Cambridge since 2008. The Crockford’s entry reads as follows:

+INGE, The Rt Revd John Geoffrey. b 55. St Chad’s Coll Dur BSc77 MA94 PhD02 Keble Coll Ox PGCE79. Coll of Resurr Mirfield. d 84 p 85 c 03. Asst Chapl Lancing Coll 84-86; Jun Chapl Harrow Sch 86-89; Sen Chapl 89-90; V Wallsend St Luke Newc 90-96; Can Res Ely Cathl 96-03; Vice-Dean 99-03; Suff Bp Huntingdon 03-07; Bp Worc from 07

Mission and Evangelism

This is a recurring motif in Bishop John’s ministry, which is reinforced by the diocesan website, which has a special tab devoted to the subject:

As a Diocese we are committed to mission in every aspect, seeking to bring the good news of God’s love in Jesus to all who live in our cities, towns and villages, and to make the gospel relevant to their everyday lives. In putting mission first we are currently focusing on three areas of mission:


By so doing, we hope and pray that our churches will display the hallmarks of healthy churches which we have identified as:

  • Worshipping God
  • Working to rid the world of poverty
  • Sharing the gospel
  • Building inclusive communities
  • Helping people to faith
  • Caring for the earth

Other Interests

According to the diocesan website:

Bishop John is fascinated by international affairs and cultural variety and has taken groups to Africa (on seven occasions), India, South America, Russia and the Holy Land. He has also fostered Indian and African links with the Diocese of Ely. He is a longstanding member of the World Development Movement and Amnesty International. Bishop John is a trustee of Common Purpose, an international organisation that helps people in leadership and decision-making positions in the private, public and voluntary sectors to be more effective in their own organisations, in the community and in society as a whole.


I do not know whether this is an interest of Bishop John’s, or whether it is simply an area of diocesan expertise which he inherited. But it is the only diocese I have so far seen to say that ‘help [is offered] for those who feel they may be haunted, cursed or oppressed‘. However, perhaps the reference to ‘this phenomena’  (phenomenon, please!) indicates that he has not focused on this page.


His book A Christian Theology of Place (Ashgate, 2003) was short listed for the Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing. His latest book Living Love: In Conversation with the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Inspire, 2007) looks at the Christian message contained within the series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith’s.


He is Chairman of the board of The College of Evangelists, which says it ‘exists to recognise and affirm evangelists whose ministry is nationwide or at least beyond the confines of any diocese’. Evangelists as opposed to Evangelicals, presumably.  Mirfield, his alma mater, is generally thought to be High Church.

The chapel of Lancing College is a splendid, soaring building, which dominates the surrounding countryside. I think it is a reasonable inference from his service as chaplain, both here and at Harrow, that Bishop John’s natural habitat is the top of the candle, but other than this circumstantial evidence, can find no proof one way or another.

He voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did his suffragan, but his diocese voted overwhelmingly against. All the representatives from Worcester Diocese voted in favour of adjourning the debate to reconsider amendment 5.1.c, the way those in favour of women bishops in general voted.

Leap in the dark assessment

A David to match all those Goliaths?


In trying to find an illustration for this post, I was unable to find one of Bishop John in which he was not smiling.

Not grinning, gently smiling.   Is it too fanciful to read into this what Kenneth Clark called ‘the smile of reason’? Certainly, writing a book about the lessons to be learnt from the ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ indicates a degree of twinkle.


Candidates for Cantuar: John Packer



I owe Bishop John Packer an apology – his disappearance from the bookies’ lists turned out to be temporary and he is listed at number 8, tying so far as I can see with Bishop Steven Croft. Based on his somewhat patrician portrait on the diocesan website, I had thought he would turn out to be rather a fuddy-duddy but, from my dip into cyberspace, it seems clear that nothing could be further from the truth. It shows how misleading first impressions can be and it is a reminder, if I needed reminding, that this exercise is only as good as the comments by those with some personal knowledge of the candidates. So please – anonymously if you prefer – do what you can to flesh out the skeletal biographical sketches I offer. Many thanks.

John Richard Packer, currently Bishop of Ripon and Leeds,  was born in Blackburn, Lancashire in October 1946. He went to  Manchester Grammar School followed by Keble College, Oxford, where he read modern history, and then Ripon Hall, Oxford where he obtained a degree in theology. He married Barbara Priscilla Jack in 1971 and they have one daughter and two sons. His entry in Wikipedia is here.


Bishop John was suffragan Bishop of Warrington until 2000, when he was appointed Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.

The entry in Crockford’s reads as follows:

* +PACKER, The Rt Revd John Richard. b 46. Keble Coll Ox BA67 MA. Ripon Hall Ox 67. d 70 p 71 c 96. C St HelierS’wark 70-73; Chapl Abingdon St Nic Ox 73-77; Tutor Ripon Hall Ox 73-75; Tutor Ripon Coll Cuddesdon 75-77; V Wath-upon-Dearne w Adwick-upon-Dearne Sheff 77-86; RD Wath 83-86; TR Sheff Manor 86-91; RD Attercliffe 90-91; Adn W Cumberland Carl 91-96; P-in-c Bridekirk 95-96; Suff Bp Warrington Liv 96-00; Bp Ripon and Leeds from 00.



I cannot find any trace of publications by Bishop John (which is not of course to say that he has never published). Given the wide nature of his interests, however, I am tempted to say this might be ‘not because he wouldn’t, not because he couldn’t, but simply because he was the busiest man in town.’

I can also only find one YouTube video which includes visual footage of  Bishop John, and that is an extract from a debate organised by St Paul’s Cathedral on the welfare state in which Bishop John took part. The Bishop appears at 9.26 minutes (but the whole debate is worth listening to).



I suspect that Bishop John has a highly developed sense of joie de vivre, perhaps as an antidote to his uphill battles in the House of Lords. He helped brew the beer made to celebrate the re-designation of Leeds parish church as a Minister  and became a barista (though perhaps not full-time) for Christian Aid Week.

Activities in the House of Lords

In 2006, he was called to the House of Lords and is the Bishops’ parliamentary spokesman on immigration & asylum, urban affairs and welfare reform. He used his maiden speech on 14 December 2006 to criticise the government’s policy on asylum seekers, saying that under the current policy refugees are being “made destitute, terrorised and imprisoned”.  Although some of his campaigning speeches have attracted criticism for being too political for a bishop, his supporters believe that he personifies the reason for having representatives from ‘the Church of the State’ in the State’s Upper Chamber of government.

He does not mince his words, however. He wrote in the Guardian about the duty to break the law in support of higher authority. In 2012 he ran the bishops’ campaign against the coalition government’s plan to put a cap on welfare benefits , when his amendment to exclude child benefits was passed. He spoke in the House of Lords on the need for an exit strategy from Libya.



I have found no clear indication of Bishop John’s links with any particular wing of the Church. In a comment piece in the Guardian before the February General Synod in 2009, he wrote:

Always we need to be challenged by Christian thinking as we make our personal and political choices. We need to hear the moral perceptions of those with whom we disagree. Christians need to assert that God’s love for all his human creation should permeate our decisions, our policies and our culture.

Bishop John voted  in favour of women bishops with his diocesan synod. At General Synod in July 2012, he voted in favour  of adjourning the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c

In March 2012 he voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant  although he is a supporter of Jeffrey John, who was forced to withdraw after his appointment as Bishop of Reading had been announced. He reportedly said that Jeffrey John’s arrival among the bishops would enable them to listen to the experience of the homosexual community.  He is a patron of Changing Attitude, which ‘works for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the Anglican Communion’.


 Leap in the dark assessment

Although his age is against him, a possible short-term Cantuar with a mission to heal the Church’s wounds?

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The photograph of Bishop John is courtesy The Yorkshire Post

Candidates for Cantuar: Steven Croft


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, his Easter message (you can see his eyes) and his address to diocesan synod July 2012



Bishop Steven is an evangelistic Evangelical.

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.

Saturday Sitrep: Canterbury Candidates

This Gillray cartoon of ‘The Church Militant’ seemed an appropriate illustration for a sorbet between courses of bishops, lest we exhaust our appetite for more before we finish the list. The rankings on 7th August, when I began this exercise, were: Christopher Cocksworth, Graham James, John Sentamu, Justin Welby, Tim Stevens,  Richard Chartres, John Packer, Stephen Croft, Nick Baines and John Inge

Today’s rankings from Oddschecker (I apologise for the vulgarity of this method of selection, but it seems the fairest) is as follows:

Christopher Cocksworth 7th August
Graham James 8th August
John Sentamu 10th August
Justin Welby 13th August
James Jones 20th August
Tim Stevens 18th August
Richard Chartres, 24th August
Stephen Croft 28th August
John Packer 30th August
Nick Baines 3rd September
John Inge 7th September
Tom Wright 10th September
Stephen Cottrell  17th September
Timothy Thornton 25th September
David Urquhart  1st October
Dr Graham Kings 9th October
Dr Barry Morgan
Dr Alastair Redfern 13th October
James Langstaff
Stephen Conway
John Pritchard
Michael Perham
Nicholas Holtam
James Newcome
Mike Hill
Paul Butler
Peter Bryan Price
Peter Forster
Stephen Venner
Michael Langrish
Tim Dakin
Gregory Cameron
Stephen Platten

+James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, who did not make it at all into the original short list,  is now in fifth place, immediately behind +Justin Welby.

On a more general note, one or two things have struck me (apart from the difficulty of the task ahead, which we already knew about).  I think there is no obvious candidate. Apart from their personal qualities, which we must hope weigh uppermost in the minds of the Crown Nominations Commission, there are perhaps three practical considerations which the comments so far suggest we expect to be taken into account. These are:

  • The age of the candidate: he needs to be still under 70 at the next Lambeth Conference due to be held in 2018;
  • The seniority of the candidate: though some might think +Nick Holtam or +Tim Dakin a good choice, they are currently in their first posts as bishop.
  • The length of service in their present posts: +Justin Welby might be a good candidate for other reasons, but has only recently arrived in Durham.

I do pray very sincerely that these practical considerations are not allowed to come in the way of choosing the best man for the job. As has been pointed out several times, we are at a crucial juncture in the Church of England, and for that matter in the Anglican Communion, with a built-up head of steam demanding change. There can be no question of ‘Buggins’ turn‘.  It will require someone with very special abilities to fulfil the role of Archbishop of Canterbury. Cometh the hour, cometh the man?



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