Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the selection of bishops

Bishops are a perpetual source of fascination to Anglican blogs, and Always Hope is no exception. Yesterday the appointment of a new Diocesan Bishop was announced, that of Christopher Chessun to Southwark. See Nick Baines's blog for the insider view on this. This excited some comment, but not a great deal of heated debate, in fact the excitement level hardly twitched the needle of the blogs and mews media. The notice follows the standard pattern for these announcements - a potted biography of the new Bish, with some compliments from a reliable colleague. In Bishop Chessun's case, surely the most interesting thing this reveals is that he has an identical twin. For those outside the Diocese of Southwark, there was the temptation to think that he might be just a teeny bit dull.

But how much of what a good minister does is really that exciting, after all? The new man at Southwark has been a curate, canon, rector, archdeacon and area bishop. He has simply got on with his ministry over many years and, all the evidence suggests, has been recognised by the rest of the church as being very effective and, we assume, used by God.

There have been, and probably always will be, bishops who generate plenty of headlines, and the church needs high profile people who can make an impact on the public consciousness. But those who have that gift need to exercise it in a good way. It's possible to be in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, as many of Bishop Christopher's new colleagues in the House of Bishops will tell him. And for a Diocese which gets a controversial bishop in post, the novelty soon wears off, especially if there's a suspicion that the bishop quite likes the public attention (there have been a few of those too).


Southwark must be breathing a sigh of relief that the new appointment passed off without controversy and argument. That's got to be a good sign for Christopher Chessun as he begins his new ministry.

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