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Maidstone see revived for male headship

12 December 2014


Old-style: a barber's shop on Gabriel's Hill, Maidstone 

Old-style: a barber's shop on Gabriel's Hill, Maidstone 

CONSERVATIVE Evangelicals have welcomed the announcement that the see of Maidstone is to be revived for a bishop who holds the conservative view on male headship.

Such a bishop was promised by the House of Bishops during the debates over women bishops, to reassure conservative Evangelicals who opposed the change that they were still welcome in the Church of England.

The Dioceses Commission agreed unanimously on Thursday of last week with a proposal from the Archbishop of Canterbury that a conservative Evangelical bishop be appointed to the see of Maidstone, which has been vacant since 2009.

In a statement last Friday, the director and chairman of the conservative Evangelical group Church Society said: "[This] is an important step in . . . rebuilding trust in the family of the Church. We wish to stress that this is but a first step - for flourishing, rather than mere toleration and tokenism, more surely needs to be done." It also wanted another "headship bishop" for the Province of York.

The pressure group Women and the Church (WATCH) said that they were "disappointed" at the announcement, which they said would be "divisive".

Hilary Cotton, who chairs WATCH, said: "This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?"

The House of Bishops' declaration to the General Synod in July accepted that there needed to be at least one "headship bishop" to sustain "the necessary climate of trust".

The new Bishop of Maidstone, who has yet to be appointed, will undertake episcopal ministry in both Provinces for churches that pass a resolution requesting oversight from a male bishop, with the consent of the diocesan bishop.


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