THE General Synod has given its support to a proposal requesting the creation a new suffragan see of Loughborough to “support and grow” black and ethnic-minority (BAME) Christian communities in the diocese of Leicester.
The proposal was moved by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, on Wednesday morning. Under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure of 2007, the Bishop requires the permission of the Synod before he can petition the Queen in Council for a new suffragan bishop. Bishop Snow said: “This petition does not increase the number of bishops in the Church of England. This is simply a proposal to replace a stipendiary assistant bishop with a suffragan bishop.”
The diocese of Leicester (formerly the diocese of Peterborough) was created in 1926. It has never had a suffragan see, but since 1987 there have been a series of stipendiary assistant bishops, three of whom were consecrated elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, and one was translated from Aston. The current stipendiary assistant bishop, the Revd Christopher Boyle, is due to retire in May.
The new see, Bishop Snow said, was to be tasked with growing the Anglican BAME community in the diocese. “There are now more than 100 BAME majority churches in Leicester — our issue is that only three of them are Anglican,” he told the Synod. “If we truly want to be inclusive of all who live in our parishes, then we have to heed the cultural changes and challenges within our cities.
“I hope that he or she will provide both a role-model, and a prophetic challenge to our Church, which has for too long talked a good talk, but failed to act on God’s calling.”
The Archdeacon of Leicester, the Ven. Tim Stratford, said that the diocese was focused on growth, with a commitment to building 330 new ecclesial communities by 2030, of which 70 have already been started.
The Chair of the Dioceses Commission, Professor John Clarke, said that he was “delighted” to support the motion. The Commission was required to comment on the financial implications, and whether these fit within the diocesan development strategy. “We are satisfied on both counts,” he said.
Canon Shayne Ardon said that bishops had the ability to open doors and ears that might otherwise stay shut. “There is a desire [among people, parishes, and groups] to meet ‘the bishop’ and have ‘the bishop’ visit them,” she said. “It is a title that is known, respected, and valued.”
Speaking after the debate, Bishop Snow said that it was “encouraging to hear so many voices in favour of this proposal, particularly its focus on Loughborough and the role of the new bishop in growing the generosity and confidence of Christian communities across the diocese in serving their local communities.”
The Synod approved the motion:
That this Synod approve the proposal to petition Her Majesty in Council to direct under the Suffragan Nominations Act 1888 that the town of Loughborough be taken and accepted for a See for a Suffragan bishop as if it had been included in the Suffragan Bishops Act 1534.