changing nature of the Anglican episcopate on mainland
READERS should not be put
off by some of the views expressed in the introduction; for this
book brings together an immense amount of biblical, historical, and
contemporary statistical material.
After surveying the New
Testament and Early Church evidence for the emergence of the
episcopate, chapters follow on the British episcopate until the end
of the Middle Ages, developments at the Reformation, and the
creation of the classic Anglican bishop.
There is a fascinating
chapter on the changing nature of the English episcopate in the
20th century, bringing out the almost exclusively public-school
backgrounds of all bishops at the beginning of the century to the
inclusion now of more grammar- and comprehensive-school-educated
men, as well as those who have studied at newer universities and
not only Oxford and Cambridge. More bishops today have greater
experience of parochial ministry than their predecessors, and fewer
come from a background in lecturing at universities and theological
Chapters follow on
differences in the episcopal system in the Church in Wales after
disestablishment and the Scottish Episcopal Church. Turning to
recent thinking on episcopacy in the Church of England, the author
speaks approvingly of the Cameron report with its philosophy of the
"three planes" of episcopal ministry, and looks at the effects of
synodical government, the Crown Nominations Commission, the anomaly
of suffragans, and the provision of Provincial Episcopal Visitors
The chapter ends with a
useful summary of what are called "extra-mural Anglicans", ranging
from the Free Church of England to the more recent Anglican Church
of North America and the Anglican Mission in England.
The penultimate chapters
summarise a survey of responses about bishops received from clergy
and laity of four dioceses, and a review of what bishops who
retired between 2000 and 2008 have to say about episcopal ministry.
Their comments are particularly revealing.
The final chapter asks: "So
where do we go from here?" The answers have already been hinted at.
A pastoral ministry should take over from the establishment model,
with the emphasis on the local church, with the parish top of a
bishop's list of priorities, allowing him to teach and stimulate
Keulemans is not the first
to call for smaller dioceses, which he describes as
"deanery-become-diocese", nor to ask for an end to trappings of
episcopal thrones, "ridiculous" headgear of mitres, and purple
shirts; nor to suggest a pay scale the same as the clergy's. What
is needed, he says, is "a new type of bishop for a new age", with a
parish-focused, pastoral ministry.
The author suggests that the
PEVs are rediscovering "what the episcopate is really about" in the
close relations that they establish with their clergy and people. A
remodelled episcopate he sees foreshadowed, too, in the development
at Holy Trinity, Brompton, in London, with its related parishes and
Bishop Sandy Millar. A pastoral ministry, however, is surely not
only exercised at the level of that congregation, but also on a
national level, and to institutions.
It is surprising that little
is said about episcopal collegiality; for the author's great
emphasis on the local church needs to be kept together with the
relationship of local churches through the collegial gatherings of
bishops, who bring local concerns to the wider Church, and reflect
back the concerns of others to the local church. And, coupled with
collegiality, the ministry of primacy, which focuses the unity of
the Church and can call together bishops and preside over their
meetings. More attention to recent ecumenical thinking on the
episcopate would have helped here.
There is no space left to
tell of what are called "the two defining issues": women in the
episcopate, and the consecration of those living in openly gay
relationships. But the final sentence of a passage quoted in an
article by Ian Cundy and Justin Welby, written in 2000, and
reproduced in the last chapter of Keulemans's book is worth
repeating: ". . . giving a lead in the Church of England is like
trying to take the cat for a walk."
Dame Mary Tanner is President of the World Council of