Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Church Times mitre question

Church Times  ( June 12th 2009)  Letters Page 15:

I quote:

From the Revd Philip Brownless ( Chichester)

“Sir,- The Bishop of Grimsby suggests ( Letters, 5th June) that reducing the number of suffragan*  ( see below)  bishops after the increases of recent years would seriously affect the mission of the church.

It is worth pointing out that, in the past 50 years, the big contributions to the mission of the Church – the revival of the healing ministry…. and the Alpha and New Wine movements were started by parish clergy, not bishops.

On the question of suffragans’ needing to have a far more informed understanding and involvement, I agree with  the Bishop. The solution I would suggest is that all rural deans should be suffragan  bishops, and suffragan bishops rural deans, all running parishes. This would put them in much closer touch with parishes, and ease the shortage of parochial clergy. A well-run Deanery is a splendid unit in which to get things happening”

Faint!! I think we’d end up with some very exhausted people – BUT what about the women rural deans??  Maybe coming from Chichester Diocese, the writer hadnt thought of that ( Chichester Diocese isnt , in places, too keen on women priests).  Are we looking here for gender changes or a change to be wrought by general Synod, allowing women to be ordained to the episcopate???

I shan’t rush to order my mitre….

* Suffragan bishops : 1. A bishop elected or appointed as an assistant to the bishop or ordinary of a diocese, having administrative and episcopal responsibilities but no jurisdictional functions.

June 13, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I don’t think either the idea of RDs and suffragans being merged, or them being women, are daft ideas in principle, and I did even float the idea in a fanciful way in another diocese. The Methodists might claim to have got there first with their Circuit Superintendent Ministers, I suppose. Fancy going shares in a new episcopal robe-making company to catch the boom? But there is a good gap between having such ideas and the whole church discerning them as God’s will, so it would be long-term investment.

    Comment by David Thomson | June 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. As I understood it Bp. Nick Baines’ article in last weeks CT he was linking the number of Sufregans with the cost to Central Church Funds for their employ. And highlighting how many more Suffregans there are today, compared to the 1930’s (or something) when Suffregans were first thought of.
    I assume that a RD is not paid the same ammount as a Suffrgan;(actually I know they’re not) so if it was proposed that RD’s be Bishops then the cost to Diocese would be astronomical, since, there are far more RD’s than Sf. Bp’s.
    Maybe I’ve got quite the wrong end of the argument here but I think this has something to do with the orignal discussion.

    Comment by Wingy | June 14, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Wingy,
      Well, there are two ways of looking at it…

      If all RDs became suffragans, then there would be rather a lot of them – but as RDs- certainly in this Diocese, dont get any remuneration for being a RD, then the church would get their suffragans for free. But, if you look at it the other way round, if all suffragans were also RD’s, then there wouldnt be so many RD’s- at which point my brain loses track of where we are!
      The whole point of the debate is to look sensibly at whether the church is spending its money wisely in its appointments and whether some roles could be doubled up maybe. I very much value the ministry of bishops, not least as pastors of their flocks – and I think there is a place for having sensior clergy who dont have the every day stresses of parish life to cope with as well as their episcopal role of oversight. With more lay ministers of various kinds, readers and NSMs than ever before ( despite falling numbers of stipendary clergy) they can all benefit from the care and encouragement of local bishops.

      Comment by paxtonvic | June 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. At times teh C of E seems a bit tp heavy and this increases every year with the number of stipendary parish priests decreasing.

    I agree there needs to be some way of keeping Bishops an dArchdeacons in touch with reality.

    Comment by Peter Hagger | June 15, 2009 | Reply

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