The pencil of this page remains ever sharp and vigilant. Bishop Anne Dyer of Aberdeen & Orkney, appointed in 2018, has had her appeal rejected; she remains suspended and bound to silence. Except this doesn’t stop her lawyer doing the talking. Referring to ‘a relentless campaign of anonymous and inaccurate media briefings from a small cabal of church members,’ he states how ‘an entirely one-sided and self-serving picture has been presented by a handful of people who fundamentally object to same-sex marriage and to Bishop Dyer’s appointment as the diocese’s first female bishop.’ Perhaps he did not have Angela Barber in mind, who spoke to the Times in September 2021 and said Anne Dyer destroyed her vocation: ‘In 2006 I was an ordinand for a very brief period of time at Cranmer Hall. I was subjected to an unforgettable meeting with Anne Dyer which has had long-term effects on my mental health and resulted in my decision to immediately leave the college.’ Another former ordinand name Helena Cundill alleged that bullying from Dyer led her to leave the church entirely. The report into this whole situation by respected academic Professor Iain Torrance used words like ‘systematic dysfunction’ and ‘bullying’ – ‘Awareness of her history in Durham makes me even less confident of her chance of success. Without colluding in what I much fear is a repetition of the past, I cannot recommend the continuation of a tenure in which I fear that more people will be made to feel diminished and discouraged.’ More succinctly, he described her position as ‘irrecoverable’.
On 14 October, Southwark Crown Court heard former Diocese of London employee Martin Sargeant plead guilty to £5.2 million of fraud charges. He is apparently staying in a residential centre at present as he receives support for gambling addiction, and £5m over 11 years is certainly a great stake. Reports state he flew with British Airways 180 times during that period, although there’s no mention of the considerable time off he also claimed for cancer treatment. The judge told him to expect ‘immediate custody’ when he is sentenced on 21 November.
Over the summer, St Paul’s Cathedral opened the ‘Remember Me’ Covid-19 memorial ‘for all faiths and none’ in its north transept and part of the planned step-free access which this welcome boost from the Covid memorial appeal fund helped to complete. Designed by Surveyor Oliver Caroe, ‘in sympathy with its iconic surroundings, echoing the geometry of Wren’s design’, the ‘beautiful, elliptical timber structure crafted with British Oak’ inner portico unfortunately, in the words of one observer, ‘looks like a pissoir’.
It used to be that bishops had a chaplain but needs must and they can even have their own bishop nowadays. When Emma Ineson moved to Lambeth Palace the job title changed from ‘Bishop at Lambeth to ‘Bishop to the Archbishops’. And now congratulations to Dr Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking (the Rt Revd Mrs Sam Wells) who has just been appointed to the new post of Bishop for Episcopal Ministry in the Anglican Communion ‘to build on the success’ of the Lambeth Conference. And who pays for all this? Another addition to the Church Commissioners’ pay roll?
Back when the See of Maidstone was handed to the conservative evangelicals in 2010, the deal was struck with Canterbury Diocese for an extra archdeacon (Ashford). Now that Canterbury is reclaiming Maidstone for a diocesan suffragan, and the PEV baton passes to a new Bishop of Ebbsfleet, will the diocese be surrendering that archdeacon post or continue to soldier on with three archdeacons? Answers on a postcard.
The London day of the Lambeth Conference in August had an ‘exit through the gift shop’. As the bishops and their spouses departed for the river cruise, stalls peddled branded travel cups, tea towels, cotton bags, Lambeth Palace honey and even a ‘bishop duck’ for the bath. Canterbury Cathedral has gone one step further. In time for Christmas, tree ornaments are now available of none other than Archbishop Welby ‘in his inaugural vestments’. Priced at £14.99, they’re available from www.cathedral-enterprises. co.uk/Shop/Ornaments-and-Christmas (see photo on p3).
It’s not often the announcement of a new Provincial Episcopal Visitor makes the BBC lunchtime news, but that’s what happened on Friday 14 October. As journalists on the ground in Westminster did their best to report live on the unfolding chaos in those vital minutes between the news of Kwasi Kwarteng’s sacking as Chancellor and Jeremy Hunt’s appointment, they went to the Number 10 website. ‘We’re looking for an announcement and the last one there is for the Suffragan Bishop of Beverley from two days ago,’ pronounced the national broadcaster. An auspicious start for Fr Race, in the same breath as Chancellors of the Exchequer even before his consecration. We all wish him well, ad multos annos, and surely to last longer than the average politician in high office.