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‘New bishop’ public meeting a success

Date: 13 March 2014
Holy Trinity Church in Guildford hosted over 100 visitors for a public meeting last night (Wednesday 12th March) for anyone wanting to find out more about the ongoing selection process for the new Bishop of Guildford and have their say on the qualities that their new bishop should have.

The one-and-a-half hour meeting was chaired by the Revd Nick Whitehead (Clergy Chair of Diocesan Synod) and the listening panel comprised of Edward Chaplin CMG OBE, the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary for senior ecclesiastical appointments and Caroline Boddington the Archbishop of Canterbury’s appointments secretary.

The meeting covered three areas: the appointment process, the challenges ahead for Guildford Diocese and what personal qualities the new bishop should have.

After the listening panel explained the appointments process to those at the meeting, the challenges voiced can be summarised as:

    - the need for growth, to reverse the decline in church members
    - the point was made that Guildford being a relatively well-off diocese, the need for growth is disguised
    - many in work have to work such long hours they have no time for church and are exhausted by the time the weekend comes around
    - contrary to the perceived view of stockbroker-belt surrey, there are pockets or poverty and deprivation all over the diocese
    - Guildford scores higher than the national average for abuse of various types
    - being close to London the Bishop is easily distracted by demands from Lambeth, House of Lords etc to the detriment of the diocese
    - reaching out to the non-churched and to younger people

Personal qualities of the new bishop can be summaried as:

    - needs to be a confident and competent communicator, able to reach out to the man in the street
    - a spiritual leader
    - known throughout the diocese
    - who can engage with the elderly non-churched
    - who can encourage the young to consider ordination
    - a particular sector of the audience were keen for someone ‘soaked in the scriptures, pastoral and biblically and theologically orthodox’
    - a newcomer to the Diocese called for someone who would introduce a ‘Deanery plan’ which he’d seen in his previous diocese

Everyone is still welcome to have their say until Friday May 30 to diocesan representatives for the selection process. 

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