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Ground is laid for a conservative Evangelical bishop

04 December 2014


Waterside: the Archbishop's Palace, on the River Medway, at Maidstone

Waterside: the Archbishop's Palace, on the River Medway, at Maidstone

THE suffragan see of Maidstone in Kent, vacant since 2009, is to be revived to accommodate a conservative Evangelical bishop, it was announced on Thursday.

The appointee will take a 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 with a proposal from the Archbishop of Canterbury that this conservative Evangelical bishop be appointed to the see of Maidstone.

In the build-up the meeting of the General Synod in July, a note from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Synod acknowledged that the "normal processes" for appointing bishops had not yet selected an Evangelical with the conservative Evangelical position on headship (News, 27 June).

"It is also unclear whether the processes are capable of doing so within a reasonable timescale. We are therefore now consulting others with a view to ensuring that the aspiration is met within a matter of months," the note added.

The House of Bishops' declaration to the General Synod in July accepted that "the presence in the College of Bishops of at least one bishop who takes the conservative Evangelical view on headship is important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust".

A press release announcing the decision to revive the see of Maidstone said that the new bishop would undertake episcopal ministry in both Provinces for churches that pass a resolution requesting oversight from a male bishop, subject to the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop.

He will also be able to act as an assistant bishop in several dioceses if invited by a diocesan bishop, and will work to ensure those holding the headship view are represented among ordinands. He will not be expected to act as a suffragan bishop in the diocese of Canterbury.

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