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Category - "Archbishop of Canterbury":

Candidates for Cantuar: Geraldine Grainger

Calm down dears‘ says the official spokesman for the Church of England (Please try not to be so patronising, if you don’t want another Peasants’ Revolt on your hands).  It seems that we have neglected to take the elementary precaution like the Vatican of locking our Cantuar selectors in a room, and feeding them on a diet of gruel and water, until they come to a conclusion. The British weekend, unbelievably, takes precedence. Just as well the decision is not urgent or important, then. Perhaps their rules of life derive from those who fought Asterix the Gaul, but those Britons only stopped for tea.

Of course, it could be a sign from above that the Almighty thinks the list of possible candidates contains several huge omissions. Geraldine Grainger became Vicar of Dibley in 1994. By now, she would have had 18 years (at least) service in the priesthood, and in any normal part of the Anglican Communion would have undoubtedly been raised to the episcopate by now.
Lest you think this is proof, if further proof were needed, that Lay Anglicana has finally lost her marbles, I am putting forward this idea at the suggestion of our New Zealand brethren, who have already secured enthusiastic assent from many in The Episcopal Church of North America. The Revd Bosco Peters invites us all to sign his petition:

The time has come to move from bearded and bushy to the “babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom”. Bring back joy and laughter to being a Christian – no no no no no no yes?!

Here is a link to Bosco’s blog post, ‘Failing to agree on Archbishop of Canterbury’

[UPDATE: in response to people’s angst, I have re-opened the online petition to The Crown Nominations Commission and Britain’s Prime Minister: That Geraldine Granger be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by the Queen. SIGN UP – tell your friends]

p.s. this Southern-hemisphere blogger is  a little surprised, in the present state of the Communion, at how many Anglicans still live on a flat earth. By “an announcement is expected during the autumn“, for those of us having moved on to accepting the world is round, for half the planet they mean “the Spring”! [Unless they are really going to drag it out…]

p.p.s. For those of you who can cope with the “F” word – they were secretly filming the meeting (as you know they do!)


There has been much talk on twitter about the need to select a candidate who shows true humility. This was in response to a post in turn from an Archdruid, no less. I invite you to inspect closely the photograph of the Revd Geraldine Grainger illustrating this piece, which seems to me to be the epitome of humility. ‘Who, me?’ she seems to call to us…


Of course, if we are really desperate – and I hear you object that the Vicar of Dibley was a fictional character – we could always ask Dawn French to fill the post. Cyberspace is now full of references to those made Archbishop of Canterbury without previously having been ordained.


Candidates for Cantuar: Tim Thornton



Bishop Timothy Martin Thornton is the most elusive bishop that I have so far attempted to describe.

His Wikipedia entry, which in the case of some bishops runs to 6 pages, runs instead to six lines:

Timothy Martin “Tim” Thornton (born 14 April 1957) is the current Bishop of Truro, having previously been the Bishop of Sherborne from 2001 to 2008. Thornton was educated at Devonport High School for Boys, the University of Southampton and King’s College London. Ordained in 1980, following priestly formation at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, he began his ministry with a curacy at Todmorden followed by a spell as Priest-in-charge at Walsden. He then became Bishop’s Chaplain to David Hope: successively in the Diocese of Wakefield and the Diocese of London. From 1994 until 1998 he was Principal of the North Thames Ministerial Training Course. His final post before his ordination to the episcopate was as the vicar of Kensington.

Very good. Seeking further information from his diocesan website a week ago, I found a link to a profile page, which I followed only to be greeted with a dreaded ‘404’ message (‘Page not found’ – if you follow the link now, it is still there). Nothing daunted, I then telephoned the diocesan office and asked to speak to someone who could perhaps send me a copy of the information on the page. Did the diocese have a press officer? The person on the switchboard assured me that someone would ring back but I was not altogether surprised when nothing happened. The website has a nice line in self-deprecation, at least when describing their bishop. If you search ‘Thornton’, you will get no illuminating results and when Bishop Tim joins some teenagers on an Outward Bound-type course, he is described as ‘tagging along‘ (somehow I cannot imagine the Bishop of London being described as ‘tagging along’ to anything) which he gamely did, despite admitting to having no head for heights.


Bishop Tim is chairman of the national Continuing Ministerial Development Panel, which would indicate that he does have some experience of the Church of England at a national level.

The Crockford’s entry reads as follows:
+THORNTON, The Rt Revd Timothy Martin. b 57. Southn Univ BA78 K Coll Lon MA97. St Steph Ho Ox 78. d 80 p 81 c01. C Todmorden Wakef 80-82; P-in-c Walsden 82-85; Lect Univ of Wales (Cardiff) Llan 85-87; Chapl 85-86; Sen Chapl 86-87; Bp’s Chapl Wakef 87-91; Dir of Ords 88-91; Bp’s Chapl Lon 91-94; Dep P in O 92-01; Prin NTMTC 94-98; V Kensington St Mary Abbots w St Geo Lon 98-01; AD Kensington 00-01; Area Bp Sherborne Sarum 01-08; Bp Truro from 08.


I have not been able to find any. There is just one YouTube clip, but don’t blink or you will miss it (less than 5 seconds)

Attitude to Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Tim wrote in December 2010 in The Daily Telegraph:

There is a difference between marriage and what are at the moment called civil partnerships. We need to be honest about that.
From my faith perspective and background, marriage is about the relationship between a man and a woman who commit themselves to a lifelong faithful partnership out of which in many cases, but not all, can come the gift of children.
That is a different thing from a civil partnership.
Speaking as the chairman of the Children’s Society, I don’t have any problem in understanding that civil partnerships can be places where children are adopted and they have very good relationships. I know of such couples who are very good parents. I don’t have a problem with that.
Speaking as a bishop, I do not myself see that at this stage it would be right for us to be making a significant change.

Colin Coward of ‘Changing Attitude’ commented on this article:

Even younger and supposedly more alert bishops like Tim Thornton, recently moved from Sherborne to Truro, can write an article about civil partnerships and marriage for the Daily Telegraph which is defensive and badly argued. He talks about the blessing of ‘homosexual practice, to put it in crude terms’ which is, from Changing Attitude’s perspective, to put it in very crude terms indeed, Tim.
Bishop Tim thinks the most significant thing is the danger of a confusion between different things, marriage and civil partnerships, which, “if we open ourselves up to blurring that difference … would be unhelpful for all concerned.” This is a problem for a minority, for bishops who spinelessly toe the line and other Christians who still think gay relationships are unlike heterosexual relationships.


Bishop Tim was one of the very few bishops actually to vote against the Anglican Covenant, in November 2011, which would have needed a degree of moral courage and shows a principled stand.

He also voted at General Synod 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.

Is it reasonable to infer that Bishop Tim is an Anglo-Catholic from his chairmanship of the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee, together with the RC Archbishop of Birmingham, announced in March this year?

English ARC, which was established in 1974, now comprises ten Roman Catholic and ten Anglican members, with the General Secretary of Churches Together in England as an observer. It is chaired by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Revd Bernard Longley, and the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton.

The Archbishop of Birmingham said, ‘I look forward to working with the members of English ARC to find new paths towards the unity for which Our Lord prayed.’

The Bishop of Truro said, ‘I am excited by the commitment of English ARC’s new members and the prospect of a programme of work which will make a difference to our churches and their common witness both nationally and at the local level’.


Edwardian books on etiquette advised that ladies should only appear in the press on three occasions in their life: birth,  marriage and  death. Although my experience might lead me to suppose that Bishop Tim is attempting to live his life according to the precepts of genteel Edwardian womanhood, I am drawn instead to a different and more interesting inference.

I think it is perhaps likely that Bishop Tim is a genuinely humble man. It may be that he takes seriously the various versions of: So the last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20.16).

Leap in the dark assessment

If the Crown Nominations Commission are looking for a Servant King, Bishop Tim Thornton could be their man.



The illustration is from the BBC (the Wikipedia entry contains no picture of Bishop Tim).  Google images show that there are not many photographs in the public domain and those that there are tend to be of low resolution. The one I have used is a thumbnail, which I have magnified three times before inserting in this blog post.

Rules for Lacrosse Double Up As Instructions for Next Cantuar: Ernie Feasey


According to the official website for Lacrosse as it is played in England:

Lacrosse has a history that spans centuries and is rooted in Native American religion. It was often played to resolve conflicts, prepare for war, heal the sick, and develop strong, virile men. To Native Americans, lacrosse is still referred to as “The Creator’s Game.” Legend tells of as many as 1,000 players per side, from the same or different tribes, who took turns engaging in a violent contest. Contestants played on a field from one to 15 miles in length, and games sometimes lasted for days. Some tribes used a single pole, tree or rock for a goal, while other tribes had two goal posts through which the ball had to pass. Balls were made out of wood, deerskin, baked clay or stone.

The Creator’s Game

This seems an appropriately elevated title for the game of being an archbishop.  ‘Game’ in this context, of course, does not indicate a simple hand of whist, say,  but the game theory beloved of experts. The description (played to resolve conflicts, prepare for war, heal the sick and develop strong, virile men) seems to cover pretty well what we currently expect of the Primate of All England.   Although the original game was conducted on horseback, I see no reason why the next Cantuar should make a habit of this, although given the strife that ensues at most recent debates in the Anglican Communion, insisting that speakers only be ‘heard’ while mounted would at least ensure a quick, if undignified, exit.

It must be pointed out that, whereas the finest flower of British womanhood play this ‘contact’ game completely unarmed and with their womanly attributes protected only by a T-shirt, in other parts of the Anglican Communion (notably the USA) it is regarded as madness to enter the fray without full body armour: what we stiff-upper lip Brits call a ‘contact game’ is more accurately described on the other side of the Atlantic as a collision sport, with the concomitant degree of injury. British school girls are not ‘injured’ on the lacrosse field, merely inconvenienced by the odd (?mis-directed) thwack. Similarities with the Anglican Communion are too obvious to need pointing out: although both are under the impression that they are playing the same game, local variations in fact make the rules of the game played in one Province almost unrecognisable in another.


Job Description suggested by the Crown Nominations Commission (I paraphrase:)

1.  Diocesan in Canterbury (duties of diocesan normally devolved to Bishop of Dover).

2.  Metropolitan of the 30 dioceses of the province of Canterbury.

3.  Primate of All England – Chaplain to the Nation.

4.  Focus of the Anglican Communion (first among equals), Convener of the Lambeth Conference.

5. International Spiritual Leader (together with the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch representing Christianity).

6. National and International Ecumenical Role.

7. Take a lead among leaders of other faiths, nationally and internationally.


The Rules of Lacrosse

 Lacrosse is a contact game played by ten players: a goalkeeper, three defence men, three mid fielders and three attack men. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent’s goal. The team scoring the most goals wins.


Ÿ  The Archbishop is part of a team of bishops who play the game of running the church on behalf of God and the Queen.  The prime objective is to preserve the status quo. His team generally plays defensively in all matters, and only goes on the offensive in matters of gender and sexuality. There are both defence men and attack men amongst the bishops but all play the game according to the Church’s interpretation of the rules.


Ÿ  The Archbishop normally plays the game for about  10, 15 or 20 years (variable) with an end time of 70 years.  The game is divided into 5-year quarters, when the Archbishop convenes the Lambeth Conference to mark half-time. Quarters have periods, of indeterminate length, but everything stops for a crisis. Such crises have included, either in reality, or in the planning department at Church House, the following:

  •  Ÿ  The Pope parking his tanks on the Lawn of Lambeth Palace.
  • Ÿ  Women forgetting subservience and expecting to play the game alongside men.
  • Ÿ  Gays asking for equality and disturbing the consciences of players.
  • Ÿ  The Church Commissioners investing unwisely, putting  clergy pensions in jeopardy.
  • Ÿ  A Royal Wedding or other major public event, preventing normal play.
  • Ÿ  An ethical public protest and attempt to occupy sacred ground, disturbing the business of  money-making in cathedrals.
  • Ÿ  An article written by the Archbishop creating public uproar.

Ÿ The Archbishop may blow the whistle at any point, according to conscience or whim.  He and his team then change sides.  Time-outs for consultation are permitted, after which the status quo is maintained, unless the Archbishop wishes the status quo to be amended, in which case it is amended.

The Archbishop may run with the metaphorical ball in his metaphorical stick or ‘crosse‘ as it is called. The intention is to keep the  ball in play, pass to one another and to continually defend the status quo without of course dropping the ball.   It is in this sense that it is a team game. Fouls are rare, in that it is almost always acceptable for the player to plead unintentional injury to the other player. Part of the gamesmanship lies in pushing at the boundaries of what is acceptable to each umpire. Of course, it may be advantageous at times to cry ‘Foul’ in order to disqualify a player on the opposing team.

The expression ‘moving the goal posts’ makes little sense in the context of lacrosse, since the lacrosse field has no boundaries and nothing is therefore out of bounds.

So there we have it.  Lacrosse for the Archbishop of Canterbury.


“The Brave Do Not Live Forever, But The Cautious Do Not Live At All’ (Richard Branson)

Candidates for Cantuar: Stephen Cottrell

It is very hard to dislike someone who introduces himself as ‘a bit of an oik from Essex’, as Bishop Stephen does in this 2011 address to Sheffield diocese. And I defy you to dislike Bishop Stephen Cottrell. Dare I insist that you listen to the first 9.55 minutes of this 47.55 minute video? You will not regret it. It is masterly, both as a memorable sermon in the truest meaning of the word and as an example of showmanship, the orator’s art of slowly drawing the audience in. And then please listen to the rest of it as well.

I have never met Bishop Stephen, but I too have been drawn in to the group of his followers. I became hooked one August, when researching a ‘thought for the day‘ for a service of Matins which I was due to take. I came across Bishop Stephen’s ‘Do Nothing to Change Your Life: Discovering What Happens When You Stop‘. I was entranced. Realising that I needed to quote a large chunk of it for full effect, I thought I had better ask the bishop whether he minded. So I, the smallest of small fry, emailed the Bishop of Reading, as he then was. I don’t know what I expected – a standard reply from a minion perhaps – but instead I had the most charming personal reply from Bishop Stephen himself, wishing me (I don’t think he used the word ‘luck’) as a lay worship leader.

Bishop Stephen has his own website, though I don’t think he has yet been persuaded to blog or twitter. His Wikipedia page is here.


Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, born 31 August 1958, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, was educated at Belfairs High School and the Polytechnic of Central London. After studying at St Stephen’s House, Oxford he was ordained in 1985. He is married to Rebecca, and they have three teenage children.


The Crockford’s entry reads as follows:

+COTTRELL, The Rt Revd Stephen Geoffrey. b 58. Poly Cen Lon BA79. St Steph Ho Ox 81. d 84 p 85 c 04. C Forest Hill Ch Ch S’wark 84-88; P-in-c Parklands St Wilfrid CD Chich 88-93; Asst Dir Past Studies Chich Th Coll 88-93; Dioc Missr Wakef 93-98; Bp’s Chapl for Evang 93-98; Springboard Missr and Consultant in Evang 98-01; Can Res Pet Cathl 01-04; Area Bp Reading Ox 04-10; Bp Chelmsf from 10


He was nominated Bishop of Reading in 2004 after the  Jeffrey John affair. Cottrell had been a supporter of Jeffrey John’s original appointment. He said of his nomination:

I am looking forward to becoming the next Bishop of Reading with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.I believe my work in mission and evangelism has prepared me well for the challenges facing the church in this new century.I hope and pray that my love for and understanding of the different traditions of the Church of England will enable me to be a focus for unity in the Reading Episcopal area.

Bishop Stephen has been  Bishop of Chelmsford since 7 October 2010.


Bishop Stephen is a prolific writer, his Amazon coverage running to three pages (allowing for one or two other Cottrells to have crept in).  It says much to the credit of both, I think, that he has written several books with Bishop Steven Croft, the Evangelical, although he is an Affirming Catholic.

His most recent book is ‘Christ in the Wilderness: Reflecting on the Paintings by Stanley Spencer ‘ which was published this month by SPCK.


The Wikipedia entry on Affirming Catholicism describes it as follows:

The movement represents a liberal strand of Anglo-Catholicism and is particularly noted for holding that Anglo-Catholic belief and practice is compatible with the ordination of women. It also generally supports ordination into the threefold ministry (bishops, priests, deacons) regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The movement was formalised on 9 June 1990, at St Alban’s Church Holborn in London by a number of Anglo-Catholic clergy in the Diocese of London who had been marginalised within, or expelled from, existing Anglo-Catholic groups because of their support for women’s ordination to the priesthood. It developed a theological stance which was staunchly liberal in matters of inclusivity but traditionally Catholic in matters of liturgy and the centrality and theology of the sacraments whilst believing that traditional restrictions on who may receive them should be re-examined.

Bishop Stephen’s diocese, Chelmsford, rejected the Covenant. Bishop Steven himself abstained, as has now been confirmed by one of the comments on this blog.

On the question of women, Bishop Stephen voted in favour of  adjourning the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c, a position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops.

Leap in the dark assessment

When we first made the list in the priority suggested by Oddschecker, Bishop Stephen was 13th in line to the archiepiscopal throne. Today he is 11th, having overtaken Bishops John Packer and Tom Wright in the last couple of days.

A passionate proponent of mission and evangelism, Bishop Stephen’s inclusive attitude and charm might be just the right prescription for the Anglican Communion and Church of England at this juncture?

Candidate for Cantuar: N T or Tom Wright?


Professor N T Wright, or Tom Wright,  is so well-known to all likely readers of this post that I hesitate to write at all, but it would be unfair not to subject him to the same sort of summary that I have offered for other potential candidates, so here goes. I was rather surprised to find that Tom Wright has a LinkedIn profile. He is still listed as Bishop of Durham, and only has one connection. This is rather the point – Bishop Tom has no need of a LinkedIn page, he is already a household name.

Bishop Tom was born in Morpeth, Northumberland and educated at Sedbergh, established in 1525. He read classics at Exeter College, Oxford, followed by a theology degree from Exeter University. In addition to his Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford,  he  has also been awarded multitudinous other honorary doctoral degrees.



As the entry in Crockford’s makes clear, he is essentially a theologian and does not appear to have had any experience as a priest at parish level. His seven years at Durham, however, would have given him oversight of all the parishes in the diocese.

* +WRIGHT, The Rt Revd Prof Nicholas Thomas. b 48. Ex Coll Ox BA71 MA75 DPhil81 DD00. Wycliffe Hall Ox BA73. d75 p 76 c 03. Fell Mert Coll Ox 75-78; Chapl 76-78; Chapl and Fell Down Coll Cam 78-81; Asst Prof NT Studies McGill Univ Montreal 81-86; Chapl and Fell Worc Coll Ox and Univ Lect Th 86-93; Dean Lich 93-99; Can Th Cov Cathl 92-99; Lector Theologiae and Can Westmr Abbey 00-03; Bp Dur 03-10; Chair NT and Early Christianity St Andr Univ from 10.

He was  Bishop of Durham from 2003 until 2010, when he left to take up a new appointment as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews.



He has an astonishing 69 books currently in print, according to his Amazon pages. Lay Anglicana reviewed his 2012 book on Mark, released in time to be studied for Lent around the globe, under the leadership of the Big Bible Project; Lay Anglicana also ran an ‘online house group‘ to discuss a page every day of the text.

There is no doubt that he is an excellent communicator – his ease of manner and attractive speaking voice make him a pleasure to listen to, even when one does not necessarily agree with what he is saying.

He publishes under two names: ‘Professor N T Wright’ when he is writing for grown-up theologians, and the matier ‘Tom Wright’ when he is writing what I call ‘Goldilocks theology’, works which are neither too difficult nor too easy, but just [w]right.  This habit of writing different sorts of work under different names is of course quite common in the publishing world (Ruth Rendell, for example, also writes as Barbara Vine) and there may be good reasons for doing it, particularly in fiction, but for works of theology it makes me a little uneasy, I know not why.




Bishop Tom’s theological views would require a post of their own, running to several thousand words. He is well-represented on YouTube, if you would like to explore further and the Wikipedia entry combined with his fan website should provide a good introduction to his beliefs, if you have time to spare.
If you don’t have time to spare, I recommend the page on Thinking Anglicans summarising his interview in 2010 by the Church of Ireland Gazette:

“Bishop Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham and now a Research Professor at the University of St Andrews, has said that the Church of England should not proceed to the consecration of women as Bishops if the move were to create a large division.

He said: “my own position is quite clear on this, that I have supported women Bishops in print and in person. I’ve spoken in Synod in favour of going that route, but I don’t think it’s something that ought to be done at the cost of a major division in the Church.”

Bishop Wright warned that if the Church of England were not able to resolve the matter “a ‘quick fix’ resolution” would be “a recipe for long-term disaster”…

And asked about the Anglican Covenant, he said this:

Asked if he thought the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant, aimed at keeping the global Communion together, would become a reality, Bishop Wright said: “I think so, because I don’t think really there’s any alternative.” He said the Communion could not afford to have “the kind of unstructured mess that we’ve had”.


It seems clear that Bishop Tom abhors ‘unstructured mess’.
He has already made it clear what he thinks should happen next to Cantuar, in an ‘appreciation’ in Fulcrum of Archbishop Rowan’s term of office (my bolding):

A new Archbishop must be allowed to lead. Yes, there are deep divisions. Part of the next Archbishop’s task will be to discern and clarify the difference between the things that really do divide and the things that people believe will do so but which need not. But, at the same time, there are problems of structure and organization that slow things down and soak up energy, problems that can and should be fixed so that the church and its leaders can be released for their mission, and to tackle properly the problems we face.

Who, after all, is running the Church of England? We have Lambeth Palace, the House of Bishops, General Synod, the Archbishops’ Council, the Anglican Communion Office, and (don’t get me started) the Church Commissioners. How does it all work? In an episcopal church, the bishops should be the leaders. Rowan hasn’t bothered much about structures, but with six hands grabbing at the steering wheel someone now needs to take charge. I wouldn’t bet on the Crown Nominations Commission proposing someone with the right combination of spirituality, wisdom and strategic thinking, plus boundless, multi-tasking energy. But that’s what I shall be praying for.


Leap in the dark assessment

An authoritarian autocrat in a cuddly teddy-bear’s clothing?

Candidates for Cantuar: Richard Branson

This is a strange story, or may turn out to be, of synchronicity and cyberspace. On Wednesday, we had a bantering conversation on Facebook, as you do, when I suggested that a squirrel in a photograph was actually saying: Good heavens! It looks as though they’ve decided to make Richard Branson Archbishop of Canterbury on the grounds of his management skills…

Of course, I was joking, but the more I thought about the idea, the more appealing it seemed to be. If the House of Lords is divided into the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Temporal, why should we not have Archbishops Temporal and Spiritual? Well, alright, perhaps we can’t have an Archbishop Temporal, but isn’t this just what the Church of England needs, call the job what you will?

The ‘Archbishop Temporal’ would be responsible for overall strategy and management, including the financial aspects. The Archbishop Spiritual would carry out any important church services that come up (the next royal baptism?), talk to clergy and laity about spiritual matters (including presumably the Queen), and oversee developments in the liturgy.

Let us look again at the job description of the next Archbishop of Canterbury:


1. The Archbishop is the Bishop of the Canterbury Diocese. He has delegated much of his responsibility for the diocese to the Bishop of Dover, who leads a senior staff team of the Dean, three Archdeacons and the Diocesan Secretary. The Archbishop continues to take a keen interest in the affairs of the diocese, attend staff and other meetings, the annual residential staff meeting, and the Archbishop’s Council of the diocese when possible.

2. The Archbishop of Canterbury is also a Metropolitan, having metropolitical jurisdiction throughout the 30 dioceses of the Province of Canterbury. As such, he can conduct formal visitations of those dioceses when necessary. Establishing close links with bishops in his Province is an important part of his work and he visits three dioceses each year. It is a Metropolitan’s responsibility to act as chief consecrator at the consecration of new bishops, grant various permissions, licences and faculties, appoint to parishes where the patron has failed to do so within the prescribed time limits, act as Visitor of various institutions and release, where appropriate, those who have taken religious vows.  He and the Archbishop of York are joint Presidents of the General Synod. The Archbishop of Canterbury is Chairman and the Archbishop of York Vice-Chairman of the House of Bishops and the Crown Nominations Commission.Two Provincial Episcopal Visitors report to the Archbishop in relation to the 163 parishes in the southern province which have petitioned for extended episcopal care under the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.

3. As leader of the ‘Church by Law Established’ the Archbishop, in his capacity as Primate of All England, is ‘chaplain to the nation’, classically exemplified at a coronation. More routinely he has regular audiences with the Queen and the Prime Minister, and is frequently in touch with senior Ministers of State and with the Leaders of Opposition Parties. In addition, both Archbishops and 24 other senior bishops have seats in the House of Lords.

4. The Archbishop is the Focus of Unity for the Anglican Communion. He is convener and host of the Lambeth Conference, President of the Anglican Consultative Council, and Chair of the Primates’ meeting. In these roles he travels extensively throughout the Anglican Communion, visiting provinces and dioceses, and supporting and encouraging the witness of the Church in very diverse contexts. As primus inter pares among the bishops, he has a special concern for those in episcopal ministry.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is, along with the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch, widely regarded as an international spiritual leader, representing the Christian Church. On overseas visits, a meeting with the Head of State is almost always a part of the programme, as are meetings with other significant political persons.

5. The Archbishop has a national and international ecumenical role; nationally he is one of the Presidents of Churches Together in England, who provide strategic guidance to ecumenical endeavours.

6. The Archbishop takes the lead in relationships with members of other faith communities both in this country and overseas, reflecting the increasing significance of those communities for the context in which the Church’s mission and ministry take place.

Although several of these items are strictly spiritual, it seems likely that a ‘temporal’ element could be found in 1,2 and 4, and perhaps in others, which would take some of the enormous pressures off the next incumbent.

Tomorrow, I was to have put up a post suggesting the above, in a light-hearted, Saturday morning sort of way.

Imagine my surprise when I see a tweet this evening (thank-you, Chris, for the tip-off) from the Telegraph editor, Tony Gallagher.

In last major interview, Rowan tells @benedictbrogan the job is too big for one man & he didn’t do enough to stop spilt over homosexuality…Anglican church plans historic change for ‘presidential’ figure to take some of Archbishop of Canterbury role, Rowan W tells @Telegraph

Good! I am delighted. So pleased to know that the powers that be are thinking along the same lines as Lay Anglicana!

Of course we must wait to read the fine print….


The interview with Benedict Brogan is now available online. It has some fascinating insights, which need further examination, but on this question, Archbishop Rowan is reported as follows:

The end of his reign is a good time to consider the future of the office he holds. The workload of priest, bishop, administrator, spiritual leader is enormous — has it become too much for one man? He discloses that the Church is considering spreading the load to a “more presidential figure” alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury. This would be a landmark moment for the Anglican communion. Can he imagine a time when the Archbishop of Canterbury is no longer its head? “It would be a very different communion, because the history is just bound up with that place, that office. So there may be more of a sense of a primacy of honour, and less a sense that the Archbishop is expected to sort everything.”

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: Nick Baines

Bishop Nicholas “Nick” Baines (born 13 November 1957 in Liverpool) has been the Bishop of Bradford since 21 May 2011. Bishop Nick was educated at Holt Comprehensive School, Liverpool, followed by a degree in German and French at the University of Bradford. He then worked as a linguist at GCHQ (the UK equivalent of NSA) for four years before reading theology at Trinity College, Bristol. In 1980, Bishop Nick married Linda, a health visitor and artist. They have three adult children: Richard (1981), Melanie (1984) and Andrew (1988), and a grandchild.

There is a very full, not to say fulsome, biography of Bishop Nick on the diocesan web page: he evidently has a most admiring Boswell.


The Crockford’s entry is as follows:

+BAINES, The Rt Revd Nicholas. b 57. Bradf Univ BA80. Trin Coll Bris BA87. d 87 p 88 c 03. C Kendal St Thos Carl87-91; C Leic H Trin w St Jo 91-92; V Rothley 92-00; RD Goscote 96-00; Adn Lambeth S’wark 00-03; Area Bp Croydon 03-11; Bp Bradf from 11.

A Communicator

Bishop Nick blogs (with a readership of 10,000 a week) and tweets (with 4,816 followers). He says:

“New media offer access to people (like me – a bishop) who might otherwise seem to belong to a remote and mysterious world.  They also enable us to engage outside our self-selected safe communities, be present in a space where a different sort of conversation can be had and allow connectivity between people, groups and ideas that in a previous generation might not have been possible, even if desirable.”

He is an experienced broadcaster, regularly appearing on Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2. One of his main priorities is how the Church communicates its message. He says:

“I’m passionate about Christian engagement in the big wide world – not on our own terms, but on the basis that we get stuck in wherever we can; committed to the world in all its pain and glory.  And it’s something about which I think we need to be a bit bolder – and thicker skinned.”

Here Bishop Nick turns the camera and acts as reporter/interviewer. Unlike some of his episcopal colleagues, he has a relaxed and easy manner, a professional broadcaster to his fingertips (3.47 minutes):


He has seven books in print, according to his page on AmazonHungry for Hope (1991, DLT), Speedbumps & Potholes (2004, St Andrew Press), Jesus & People Like Us (2004, St Andrew Press, later revised and republished in 2008 as Scandal of Grace), Marking Time (2005, St Andrew Press), Finding Faith (2008, St Andrew Press), and Why Wish You a Merry Christmas (Church House Publishing 2009). Speedbumps & Potholes and Finding Faith have been translated into German (Am Rande bemerkt and In hoechsten Toenen, respectively).

Other Church Interests

Bishop Nick is the English Co-chair of the Meissen Commission (Church of England relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany), represents the Archbishop of Canterbury at international faith conferences and is a member of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel.

He was a Director of Ecclesiastical Insurance from 2002-2010.

Here is a further example of Bishop Nick’s skills on camera.


Bishop Nick voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did the rest of his diocesan synod by a narrow majority. At the last General Synod, he also 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.

Leap in the dark assessment

Another possible contender for Archbishop of York in due course?

Post Script 5 February 2014. 'One more step along the road I go'? Bishop Nick has just been appointed Bishop of Leeds, the new amalgamated diocese of three Yorkshire dioceses.

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?

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

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.

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