Additional Episcopal Care in the Diocese of Lichfield

Bishop Michael wrote to Revd James Gandon, chair of the Lichfield Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship  in April after conversations with DEF members and episcopal colleagues.

Additional Episcopal Care in the Diocese of Lichfield

Following General Synod debates in response to the Living in Love and Faith process, and in particular following publication of the Prayers of Love and Faith, I have been consulting with my episcopal colleagues in the Diocese of Lichfield over ways in which we could helpfully offer additional episcopal care to clergy and churches who are finding it difficult to receive the direct episcopal ministry of their diocesan or area bishops. It is my, and their, heartfelt desire that all should be able to flourish with the appropriate support, and with the integrity of their conscientiously held theological and ethical views respected; and I believe that within the collegially held episcopal care of this diocese we have resources to help with this.

I recognise that we are all waiting for a national settlement on the provision which will be made for episcopal care in the aftermath of LLF; the following arrangements are not designed to pre-empt any such provision, but are offered on a temporary basis until any national provision is securely in place. These arrangements will also be reviewed once an appointment has been made to the Area See of Wolverhampton – which process I expect to be completed later this year.

If a priest is seeking specifically episcopal ministry on an occasion at which they would find it difficult to invite either me or their area bishop, it may be possible for one of the following episcopal colleagues to minister:

  • The Rt Revd Alistair Magowan, Hon. Assistant Bishop in the diocese
  • The Rt Revd Paul Thomas, Suffragan Bishop of Oswestry in the diocese
  • The Rt Revd Rob Munro, Bishop of Ebbsfleet and Assistant Bishop in the diocese

Requests on such occasion should be through me as diocesan bishop; I will then consult with the relevant area bishop and with my colleagues listed above to agree arrangements. I anticipate that most such requests will arise in relation to confirmations. Clergy and churches already receiving extended pastoral and sacramental care from either the Bishop of Oswestry or the Bishop of Ebbsfleet should continue to make their arrangements in the usual way.

Beyond the particular circumstances above, clergy and churches in the Church of England will naturally look to a range of people and organisations for support, wisdom and advice, and it is natural that many of the individuals and networks to whom people will turn will be outside this diocese. I recognise that such spiritual support will be invaluable to some, particularly if they feel that they are in a contested situation. Any such support will need to respect legally constituted patterns of authority in the Church of England – in particular, public ministry offered by any ordained minister is under the authority of the diocesan bishop as Ordinary.

I am very grateful to all my episcopal colleagues for their willingness to work together in this way, and I hope and pray that these arrangements – while not in any sense a complete or permanent answer to the questions we are now facing – will be helpful to some in finding assurance of support for their flourishing in ministry.

+Michael Lich:, 09.04.24

Page last updated: Tuesday 21st May 2024 8:31 AM
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