Episcopal Oversight in 2023-4

5th June 2023

To: Licensed and PtO Clergy and Lay Ministers in the Diocese of Lichfield

I am writing to give you advance notice regarding two matters of episcopal oversight in the Diocese of Lichfield, as follows:

  1. As you will know, the See of Wolverhampton is currently in vacancy, following Bishop Clive’s retirement at Easter. As I explained to Diocesan Synod in March, I will be approaching the discernment of a new Bishop of Wolverhampton at a measured pace, given that there is continuing work being undertaken at the level of the national Church on the best way of providing pastoral reassurance for clergy and parishes who have concerns about the House of Bishops’ proposals following the Living in Love and Faith process. As we await further clarity as to what patterns of episcopal care may be put in place to provide such reassurance, it seems prudent to me to wait for further developments on this before moving ahead with a nomination for Wolverhampton. It is my hope that initial consultations about the shape of the role can be completed, and agreement to appoint can in principle be reached, by the end of this calendar year; and that the process of identifying a new Bishop of Wolverhampton can then proceed early in 2024.
  2. With the agreement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, I shall be on sabbatical this autumn, from mid-September to mid-December. During this time, I am making arrangements for oversight of the Diocese of Lichfield as follows. During my absence, +Sarah Bullock will take on pastoral and administrative oversight of the diocese as a whole, in addition to her area role in Shrewsbury. As the See of Wolverhampton is currently vacant, I have asked +Jonathan Clark, one of our Assistant Bishops in the diocese, to act in a half-time role providing episcopal care in the Wolverhampton Episcopal Area during my sabbatical; for part of that time, +Jonathan will in fact be based in our house in Lichfield. Meanwhile, +Matthew Parker will continue to provide support across the diocese in addition to his area role in Stafford; +PauI Thomas will continue to provide extended sacramental and pastoral oversight to traditional catholic clergy and parishes, both within and beyond the diocese, in his suffragan role as Bishop of Oswestry; +Rob Munro as Bishop of Ebbsfleet and Assistant Bishop will offer the same ministry to complementarian evangelicals; and +Alistair Magowan will continue to enrich our common life through his ministry as Assistant Bishop in the diocese, as will +Jan McFarlane insofar as her role as Interim Cathedral Dean permits.

I hope that these arrangements are clear in their outline (more detailed information on practical arrangements will follow in due course), and I believe that they will provide a workable pattern of episcopal oversight over the coming months. Please do keep me and my episcopal colleagues in your prayers; and always be sure of our prayers for you, and our appreciation for your ministry.

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