From Canon Peter Huxham
Sir, — Your report of Bishop Dakin’s refusal of permission to officiate for Canon Jeremy Davies (News, 18/25 December) ends with the question "Has Bishop Dakin acted correctly?"
It may help your readers to answer that question if I explain the context in which this unhappy action has taken place.
The Bournemouth Town Centre parish, which is meant to be a team ministry, has been in a state of crisis for the past four years, with only one stipendiary priest to minister to St Peter’s Church with all its civic duties, and Night Club Chaplaincy; St Stephen’s Church with its national reputation for music and liturgy; and St Augustin’s with its ministry to those who actually live in the centre of Bournemouth. We keep going by heroic and dedicated efforts of loyal laity and retired clergy.
It is in this context that Bishop Dakin’s action is particularly wounding and unhelpful. Two other retired priests, well known to us over a period of 40 years, both in heterosexual marriages, one having a PTO in the dioceses of Salisbury and Europe, the other with PTO from the previous Bishop of Winchester, have been refused permission by Bishop Dakin when they were willing to help us at St Stephen’s, which is now in its fifth year without a Team Vicar.
One begins to understand why the Channel Islands asked to leave the jurisdiction of Winchester and to be placed under the direct jurisdiction of Canterbury.
Since the boundary changes, Bournemouth and Christchurch are now in the county of Dorset, while the north Bournemouth parishes have always been in the diocese of Salisbury. During my time as an incumbent in Poole, and as Rural Dean for seven years, it became increasingly clear to me that this large conurbation deserves an Episcopal Area of its own. It is now time for this to be given serious consideration.
Meanwhile, the congregation of St Stephen’s, which has consistently refused to become "Forward in Faith" or to seek jurisdiction under a "flying bishop", and has never passed an official declaration against women priests, will do all we can to continue our tradition of worship and service with our inclusive welcome to those who come through our open door.
PETER R. HUXHAM
34 Brownsea View Avenue
Liliput, Poole BH14 8LQ