TRADITIONALISTS in London have been urged to have confidence in their next diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, by the Bishop who supervises them, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker.
In a Christmas ad clerum, Bishop Baker reports that he has had several conversations with Bishop Mullally, whose nomination was announced on 18 December (News, 22 December), and says that he “very much looks forward” to working with her.
“I think it will be remarkable, and a privilege, to be part of a partnership which I think will have enormous significance for the life of the whole Church, especially in London but beyond that, too.
“Bishop Sarah and I have been in contact several times already, and I am entirely confident, and would invite you to share that confidence, that she is wholly committed to the continuation of the ministry of the Bishop of Fulham, and the priests and people committed to my oversight, according to the principles of the London Plan.”
The London Plan was set up when Lord Hope, who opposed the ordination of women to the priesthood, was Bishop of London, to make arrangements for the new situation once the Church of England allowed women priests. It remained in place during the episcopate of his successor Lord Chartres (continuing a convention that the Bishop of London ordained the deacons, while the other bishops in the diocese ordained the priests), and was revised after the legislation for women bishops was carried.
Bishop Baker hopes that London traditionalists will join him in praying for Bishop Mullally. “Quite apart from her future role as Diocesan Bishop and Ordinary, I know that I can trust all of you to offer her those prayers, and that welcome, due to any partner in mission, sister in Christ and minister of the gospel.”
Bishop Baker acknowledges that there are matters that “will need to be looked at afresh”, not least the ordination of deacons. Unlike her predecessor, Bishop Mullally intends to ordain deacons and priests.
Also, he says, “Bishop Sarah and I are also aware that we may need to find better ways to offer pastoral care to clergy who do not serve in Fulham parishes, but whose theological convictions will make Bishop Sarah’s appointment something of a challenge.”
But, he concludes: “I simply want to emphasise that, following the news of Bishop Sarah’s appointment, I believe that we can continue our ministry and mission confidently and with integrity.”