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New report says Church of England should choose bishops more in tune with the Spirit

Fri 09 Feb 2018
By Tola Mbakwe

A Church of England (C of E) report has warned that senior bishops are being chosen for their "management skills", instead of their "gifts of the Spirit".

The Crown Nomination Commission (CNC), the body which oversees the appointing of senior bishops, has come under fire for prioritising "models of business-leadership" over the "theological authenticity" of a candidate.

The report, presented in the Church's General Synod meeting on Thursday, states: "What we look to find in a bishop is the arc of a mature and compelling life of faithfulness to the gospel, the life 'above reproach', that will represent the transforming power of the gospel to many outside the church who know nothing else of it."

 

The review also highlighted that the commission's focus on getting a diverse group of candidates has led to intellectual candidates being overlooked.

"[The fact] that there is now no diocesan bishop who has had a career in Higher Education- a resource that once would have seemed indispensable - raises questions about a loss of intellectual depth and seriousness," the document states. 

The Church's governing body voted to approve the report and consider the recommendations.

It's a decision that General Synod member, Canon Jonathan Ford opposed for other reasons.

He pointed out at the meeting that the review "lost sight of the fact that each diocese is different". He also said that there isn't proper understanding for the state that the C of E is in now.

And while former CNC member Anthony Archer, welcomed the report for being practical and getting under the skin of the process, he said he isn't proud of the secretive reputation of the CNC. Canon Ford disagreed.

He told Premier the process needs to be more private.

"The CNC leaks and it leaks and it leaks very badly and we've got to make it more confidential, not less transparent.

"Everybody wants to know who's going to be the next bishop and everybody says to just one person 'I think it's going to be so and so' and then, of course, they then tell one person 'I think I can trust you' or 'you're a good Christian friend' and that's how it happens."

Items on the General Synod agenda, which will conclude on Saturday, include food wastage, valuing people with Down Syndrome, and digital evangelism.

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