The Bishop of Wakefield leads tributes to the Bishop of Beverley on his retirement
When I think of our dear Bishop Glyn, there are many words that come to mind; words such as humanity, humour, hospitality and humility.
Bishop Glyn was born in Lancashire, way back in 1951. After training, and working, as a state registered nurse, he was ordained deacon in 1977 and priest in 1978.
He has been a curate, a vicar, a hospital chaplain, a senior chaplain, a rural dean, a diocesan director of ordinands, both a canon and a prebendary of York Minster, a chaplain to the Queen, a member of General Synod for 25 years, a prolocutor of the Northern Province, a member of the Crown Nominations Commission, which involved appointing some 23 diocesan bishops, and, finally, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of York, operating as an Provincial Episcopal Visitor and as an assistant bishop in almost all dioceses of the Northern Province.
In York Minster alone, he has been Canon Precentor, Canon Treasurer, Canon Chancellor and twice the acting Dean.
That is quite some track record, and we give thanks to God for all the blessings which have flowed from Bishop Glyn’s long and happy ministry in the Church.
It is as Bishop of Beverley that many readers will know Bishop Glyn. This has involved exercising episcopal oversight over more than 100 parishes in all but three dioceses in the Northern Province. Bishop Glyn accepted that vocation in 2012, at a time when the future for traditional Catholics in the Church of England was very uncertain – a bold and risky thing to do.
It has been a costly vocation, not least in terms of the time and energy consumed in travelling from York to parishes from Northumberland to Nottingham and across the Pennines to Manchester, Liverpool, and Cheshire. The number of parishes is greater than many suffragan bishops have, and many of the northern Society parishes are in the most deprived areas served by the Church of England.
Furthermore, the need to maintain good relationships with the bishops and senior staff of nine different dioceses multiplies the complexity of the task enormously. The role requires stamina and tenacity combined with high-level diplomatic skills, which Bishop Glyn possesses in abundance and has deployed to great effect.
Bishop Glyn knows that the Church of England can do funny things to people. It can sometimes squeeze the humanity out of us. He is always one of the first to see the signs and take the necessary steps.
There are many of us, including myself, who have benefitted from Bishop Glyn’s hospitality and humanity. His humanity goes hand in hand with his humour which is a great spiritual gift!
It is sometimes said that, in the Old Testament, God laughs but never cries and that, in the New Testament, He cries but never laughs. I am not so sure. The parables of Jesus, from the man with a plank in his eye to one who owed ten times the nation’s tax bill, are shot through with humour.
When Glyn became a bishop, he was already one of the most experienced priests in the Church of England. In his many roles, he has used humour powerfully – akin to tossing a proverbial hand grenade into a discussion and standing back to see the reaction – all done with a smile on his face!
As a bishop, he became experienced at picking up the pieces that others scattered. I was always grateful – and I know that others were too – that he never lost the knack of using humour to challenge us all to act with integrity. He is always the first to spot humbug!
His observations of others, be they pompous bishops or uppity members of a PCC, could reduce you to tears. I would love to give you some examples now but data protection rules, and even more worryingly for me the laws of libel, make that impossible.
Bishop Glyn retires after decades of senior leadership in the Church. For all his gifts, his energy, his ebullience, his compassion, there is a humility which to me is most apparent in the liturgy. Formed in the best Catholic tradition, he knows that it is at the altar of sacrifice that we form the most sober assessment of ourselves. It is the cross that brings us to our knees.
Bishop Glyn’s presidency at the Eucharist reveals his own relationship with God. While in the leading of liturgy there is always the need to project, it is not at its core a performance for him but an expression of his utter dependency on the grace of God.
So, for his humanity, his humour, his hospitality, and his humility, we give thanks to God for Bishop Glyn, and we wish him a very happy, long and peaceful retirement.
Bishop Tony Robinson is the Chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops.