THE Bishop of Winchester, Dr Tim Dakin, has resigned, it was announced on Friday. In a video message to the diocese, he apologises to “those I have hurt or let down”, but says that he will remain proud of what has been achieved in the diocese during his nearly ten years in post.
The Bishop’s early retirement — he is 63 — comes after a difficult two months. On 18 May, it was announced that Dr Dakin had “stepped back” from his duties (News, 20 May). It transpired that he had been persuaded to do so to head off a vote of no confidence in his next diocesan synod — a virtually unprecedented move.
Signatories of the draft motion complained that, although the national Church was committed to “fostering a culture that is open and transparent . . . We do not have confidence in the diocesan bishop to set this culture or to lead by example, due to allegations of poor behaviour and mistreatment on his part of a number of individuals.”
Critics have spoken of poor governance and financial management in the diocese, as well as the toll of pastoral reorganisation and the loss of clergy posts. Dr Dakin has, unusually, served as chair of the diocesan board of finance.
Since stepping back, Dr Dakin has been in discussion with senior diocesan figures in a mediated conversation supervised by the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, and the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally. At the end of June, it was announced that his time away from work would be extended (News, 29 June).
Dr Dakin says that he will leave the diocese next February. The time until then he describes as a “transition period”, during which he will be handing on his responsibilities. At present, the more senior of the diocese’s suffragans, the Bishop of Basingstoke, the Rt Revd David Williams, is also stepped back, having led the group who complained to Lambeth about Dr Dakin. The Bishop of Southampton, the Rt Revd Debbie Sellin, has been acting diocesan bishop.
There is no hint in Dr Dakin’s statement about reversing any of the diocese’s policies, even though he admits: “The painfully difficult financial decisions made over the last year have caused real anguish.”
His apology continues: “In trying to secure a sustainable future for the growth of the Diocese, it is clear that I’ve not done enough to acknowledge what we have lost in this process. To those I’ve hurt or let down, I am sorry.
“I realise that the steps taken to stabilize the finances continue to cause upset.”
The decisions taken have been confirmed, he writes: “Bishop’s Council has received full reports in recent weeks from the Diocesan auditors and legal advisers, explaining and corroborating the decisions made by the Diocesan Board of Finance.
“None of this makes those decisions any easier to take. Nevertheless, I hope there is some comfort in the clarity now provided, and that faith can be restored in the relevant Diocesan staff and functions as the pastoral reorganisations proceed. Please continue to pray for all those involved.”
Dr Dakin’s statement in full:
I have now received confirmation that Her Majesty the Queen has accepted my retirement as Bishop of Winchester. I wanted you all to hear my decision as directly as possible – and doing it this way rather speaks to our times. Some formalities and details need to be finalized but I’ll be leaving the Diocese in early February and handing over my responsibilities to others in the meantime. Please pray for all involved in this transition process.
Mahatma Gandhi said that “unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” I have always been clear that, as your Bishop, I should be there to build and foster togetherness across our Diocese, focused upon our life together in Christ, and upon our joint mission to serve Christ in our communities and to sustain Christian witness in daily life. Sadly, it seems it is no longer possible for me to fulfil this role.
The last eighteen months have brought enormous pressures to bear on us all, individually, as a country, within our families and communities, and as a Diocese. The painfully difficult financial decisions made over the last year have caused real anguish. In trying to secure a sustainable future for the growth of the Diocese, it is clear that I’ve not done enough to acknowledge what we have lost in this process. To those I’ve hurt or let down, I am sorry.
I realise that the steps taken to stabilize the finances continue to cause upset. Bishop’s Council has received full reports in recent weeks from the Diocesan auditors and legal advisers, explaining and corroborating the decisions made by the Diocesan Board of Finance. None of this makes those decisions any easier to take.
Nevertheless, I hope there is some comfort in the clarity now provided, and that faith can be restored in the relevant Diocesan staff and functions as the pastoral reorganisations proceed. Please continue to pray for all those involved. Pray too for all serving in the parishes and various projects: that the church and its witness may grow in the Diocese.
I could not have come to my decision, or indeed found a way through this recent period, without the love and support of Sally, my children and close friends. While I have not seen much of what has been said about me, my family and friends have seen more, and I have seen the effect it has had on them. They are the people who know me best, of course – and I’ve drawn upon their love and their view of me during these difficult times.
It has been a privilege to serve a Diocese that has Companion links across the world. I’ve been reminded of previous ministry experience: of the need to live on other people’s terms to see the world they see and to know the Christ they follow. I hope these links will continue to grow in strength and in significance. It’s also been a great joy to be part of a Diocese where education is taken seriously at all levels, not least, Further & Higher Education. All of us are called to pray and witness in such a way that the coming generations will find fullness of life in Christ.
I will remain proud of what has been achieved across the Diocese over the past ten years. For there to have been a record number of ordinands at the Cathedral recently is a wonderful achievement for those involved in the School of Mission and in the parishes. I believe each and every one of our new clergy – and the many lay people who’ve received the Bishop’s Commission for Mission – will have a valuable role to play in the next stage of the Diocese as it witnesses to Christ’s mission in this region, in the life of the nation and across the Anglican Communion. The new national strategy for the Church of England offers an inspirational trajectory for such future developments.
As for me and Sally, we are planning a move to Plymouth, and we’re looking forward to making new friends, as well as to visits from old friends and from our growing family. Thank you for all we have shared. We will miss you. God bless you.