Today in the Diocese of London we welcome Bishop Sarah Mullally as our new Bishop, though of course she won’t start for a while yet. We all have the framework given both by the London Plan and by the Five Guiding Principles Five Guiding Principles which will allow us to continue to work together under the Grace of God for the growth of the church in faith, love and numbers of those believing.
I have always served as far as possible in the mainstream; my wife is a deacon (she has no problem with the ordination of women to all three Orders), so I can hardly avoid the issues. Archdeacon Rosemary and I have worked together these last two years, and our article in the forthcoming edition of New Directions offers a report of a public reflection we made at the City Deanery Chapter earlier in the year. The experience has changed us both. There are only four traditionalist archdeacons in the country. In fact Bishop Sarah has this all too uncommon experience in the diocese of Exeter.
It will be different, and there will be many things to work out. There will be sticking points in unanticipated places, and trust will be needed to work through them. The Bishop of London is both Diocesan and our local Area Bishop. The Archdeaconry of London is a microcosm of the Church of England and has facets which are unlike any other Archdeaconry. Bishop Sarah and I will need to tease things out in action just as Archdeacon Rosemary and I have. Time and prayer and patience and clarity of thought will be needed as well as mutual sympathy, loyalty, love and respect. This will need to be founded in mutual intercession and a genuine desire for mutual flourishing.
The question is, can there be a place for traditionalists (and conservative evangelicals) in the mainstream life of the Church of England, or is it in fact the case that the structures set up and agreed by the church for us all to flourish are actually not workable? I think and believe the honoured place in the mainstream which has been our hope to establish is possible to maintain, and that the appointment of Bishop Sarah to London gives a further opportunity to show that it can be done. If it can, the way can be open to more appointments of people of all views and an effective challenge offered to those who would attempt to create ‘no go’ areas on either side of the debate.
|At the press conference|
I am confident from what Bishop Sarah said this morning, has said directly to me and from what she has written that she too thinks like this. Please pray for her and for us all. For me I simply say that I shall be giving it the best go. I will serve with and for Bishop Sarah who will have my canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest, and loyal service in the continuing mission of the church in London.