HAVING been nominated as a diocesan bishop, one of Canon Martin
Seeley's first considerations is whom to nominate as an episcopal
Downing Street announced on Thursday of last week that Canon
Seeley, at present Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge, is to be
the next Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.
The diocese is currently without a suffragan: the Bishop of
Dunwich. On Friday, Canon Seeley said: "I would join with those who
lament the length of time it has taken [to enable women to be
bishops]. . . We will obviously want to find the person that God is
calling to this post, whether they be male or female. I am
delighted that we will be able to include women candidates."
Dunwich is one of several vacant sees. On Friday, Canon Seeley
suggested that the first women bishops would face "a huge burden of
expectation and scrutiny. What I have consistently said is none of
us know how we are going to respond to the reality. . . I think
that we don't quite know what the unconscious dynamics are going to
be. . . We all need to be supportive. I rather hope that I am
consecrated with a woman."
Canon Seeley, whose appointment was announced on Thursday, has
held his present appointment since 2006. The formation and learning
of all Christians had not received adequate attention from the
Church, he said: "It's an area where we need to refocus our
energies, because it's the nurture and growth of all Christians
that is the foundation of the faithfulness of the Church. Without
that we won't have flourishing churches and lay ministers and
ordinands being called forth.
"For me, that starts with worship. We can put on as many courses
as we like, but everybody who is engaged with the life of the
Church participates in worship; so let's look at how that is the
locus not just of praise, but how we are changed and grow
Like the majority of dioceses, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich has
seen a fall in attendance figures: average weekly attendance has
fallen by ten per cent since 2009, and current Sunday attendance
accounts for three per cent of the population. While 20 per cent of
the population is aged 65 or above, this age-group accounts for 56
per cent of congregation members.
Canon Seeley said on Thursday that young people and education
must be a priority: "I am the son of a schoolteacher, and education
has been in my blood from a very early age. . . Developing and
strengthening church schools is a priority for me."
On Friday, he said: "We need to recognise that the challenges of
communicating the gospel in the context of a town may not be the
same as the challenges in the very rural communities of Suffolk. So
we need to do some thoughtful and attentive analysis before trying
to present approaches that may work in one context but not
Next year, the diocese will partake in the shared conversations
on sexuality taking place across the Church. Canon Seeley said: "We
need to be careful that people see the conversation process as a
positive and constructive approach to reconciling differences."
Canon Seeley was Vicar of the Isle of Dogs for ten years before
2006. He served from 1980 to 1990 in the United States, as an
assistant curate in New York, and as assistant director of Trinity
Institute at Trinity, Wall Street, before becoming Director of the
Thompson Centre, an ecumenical continuing-education centre, in St
Canon Seeley is married to the Revd Jutta Brueck,
Priest-in-Charge of St James's, Wulfstan Way, Cambridge. They have