A series of changes have been announced to the names of bishops who offer extended episcopal care to parishes that cannot accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women. Under these changes, now approved by the Dioceses Commission, the Bishop of Maidstone (Rod Thomas)’s successor will now be known as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet and the role of the previous Bishop of Ebbsfleet - whose ministry was to traditional catholic parishes - will move to become that of the Bishop of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield.
Bishop Rod, who will retire in October, has had a special national ministry since 2015 providing a voice in the College of Bishops and advocacy for those who cannot, on the grounds of complementarian theology, accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women. The future Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who will take on this responsibility when Bishop Rod retires, will live either in London or the M4 corridor for ease of travel and will minister nationally to complementarian evangelical parishes. The combined effect of these changes means that the See of Maidstone will become vacant and could potentially revert to local use within the Diocese of Canterbury in the future.
“The role of Bishop of Maidstone only became a Provincial Episcopal Visitor in 2015, and this has been a source of a great deal confusion, particularly with our civic partners – who, understandably, have assumed that the present Bishop of Maidstone is ‘just like’ all previous Bishops of Maidstone, said The Ven Stephen Taylor, Acting Diocesan Secretary for the Diocese of Canterbury. “This is not a reflection on Bishop Rod or his ministry – but arises from local confusion about the role being used as a post for national ministry.”
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet - one of the Church of England’s three ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitors’, who minister to traditional catholic parishes – have been responsible primarily for churches in the western half of the Church of England’s Province of Canterbury. Consultations on a successor to Jonathan Goodall, the previous Bishop of Ebbsfleet, strongly suggested that it would be helpful for the new postholder be rooted in a diocese. The Dioceses Commission has therefore agreed that Lichfield provides a good location for this ministry to this part of the Province and that Bishop Jonathan’s successor should therefore be designated as the Bishop of Oswestry.
Notes to Editors:
- The Provincial Episcopal Visitors - the Bishops Beverley, Richborough and Ebbsfleet – were created as part of the arrangements in 1992 which first enabled women to be ordained as priests.
- The See of Maidstone was appointed in 2015 in accordance with the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests 2014 and associated guidance, to provide a voice within the College of Bishops for those within the Church of England who cannot, on the grounds of complementary theology, accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women and to act as an advocate for those who hold that position.
- The See of Oswestry was one of a number of sees created in the 19th Century but never filled
- Further information about the ministry of the current Bishop of Maidstone
- Further information about The Society (more fully, The Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda).