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The next Bishop of Oxford: why the wait?

22 May 2015


From Mr Don Manley

Sir, - Last week in the diocese of Oxford, we learnt that the Commission responsible for choosing the next Bishop of Oxford could not manage to make a selection. Archbishop Welby has framed this as "The Commission is unable to discern the candidate whom God is calling." So now Bishop Colin Fletcher has to carry the can for a second time in this diocese - and for a very long second time. One feels for him (and half begins to wonder why he hasn't now got the job).

This is all very disappointing, and one wonders whether any other organisation would allow a key post to stay vacant for several months like this. It is all very well dressing this up cautiously as a failure to find the "right" person, but I wonder whether this failure to agree is simply a smokescreen to hide serious theological differences in a diocese that has something of a track record for them. Maybe, maybe not; but we ought to be told.

And what would the "right" person mean exactly? It surely doesn't mean that we all have to wait for a divine thunderbolt from above. God gives us the freedom to find the person we deem to be right, and, when the decision is made, God will work his purpose with whoever that person may be.

Although I have no idea who the candidates were, I suspect that more than one of them might have been well qualified and felt a calling. Surely there should have been a mechanism for some sort of majority decision. God is not a theological football to be kicked around. I bet he is thinking: "Get on with it!"

26 Hayward Road
Oxford OX2 8LW

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