Monday, April 29, 2013

Bishops: How to Misread a Job Description

I am mystified, as to how this list of personal qualities wanted in a new bishop:

1. A deep and confident personal faith
Our new bishop should be a person, clearly captivated by God, whose love of God and life of prayer will equip him to encourage, and engage in a meaningful way with the diversity of church traditions that make up the diocese. He will be theologically literate, confident in scripture and a good/strong teacher of the faith/apologist for the church.

2. A clear commitment to mission and growth
He will have demonstrable gifts in visionary and inspired leadership and be fully committed to working with the Five Marks of Mission. He will promote growth and stewardship in its various forms and build on existing initiatives as well as offering fresh insights. 

3. Experience of working across diverse social, economic, ecumenical and interfaith contexts
He will be able to embrace the many diverse elements that make up the diocese and have an awareness and understanding of the particular issues that pertain to the North. He will have at least some recent urban experience as well as an interest in suburban and rural contexts. 

4. An ability to lead and to manage change creatively
He will take the lead in managing necessary change at parish, deanery and diocesan level, recognising the need to work collaboratively and to delegate as part of that process. He will be bold and courageous in tackling difficult issues: ensuring financial sustainability, helping to steer through the necessary culture change in relation to the balance of lay and ordained ministries.

5. A confident and competent communicator
He will be comfortable and at ease engaging with a wide cross-section of people and be particularly able to connect with young people in churches, schools and HE/FE. He will be able to communicate in a compelling way with the un-churched as well as with members of churches and other faiths. He will have experience of working with the media and be a clear thinker with a warm and engaging delivery.

6. A gifted pastor to clergy and laity
He will be a person of wisdom and integrity with an ability to listen and to get alongside both clergy and laity. He will encourage, motivate and empower others, building up their confidence and self esteem and affirming them in their ministries. He will be open to the ministry of women at all levels of  the church’s life whilst respecting and seeking to hold together those of differing views.

produces the headline 'Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop'. 'Establishing positive relationships with the LGBT community' is half of one of the 27 bullet points under these 6 headings. Forget being 'captivated by God', a high quality teacher, a leader in mission, a deliverer of change, an empowerer and motivater of other leaders, and all that other stuff.

Because hey, who cares if the Church of England is disappearing up its own Synod, as long as we're being friendly? I'm not decrying bullet point 13b, it's just the utter lack of perspective that frustrates me.

As a footnote, it seems to have taken the Telegraph 6 weeks to break this story after the publication of the original document. Maybe someone with an agenda has had a quiet word? If so, here's an agenda: mission, mission, mission, mission, mission, mission. A.O.B: mission. Who'd have guessed from the article that Manchester had this on their agenda at all?


  1. Thanks for the corrective, David

  2. That's quite a job description. Would the Archangel Gabriel, or even the Messiah, be up to the task, do you think?

  3. I should point out though (and have pointed out on my blog) that point 6 above "He will be open to the ministry of women at all levels of the church’s life whilst respecting and seeking to hold together those of differing views", violates the provisions of the 1993 Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod. The CNC should (indeed I believe I'm right in saying must be willing to consider those who don't fit this artificially imposed criterion.

  4. John, are you saying that the CNC is obliged to consider candidates who are closed to women's ministry, implying that they would refuse on principle to implement the decisions about this ministry of the church as a whole, its General Synod and its Supreme Governor? You should just be thankful that this diocese chose to include the second half of that point.