Delegated Oversight in London

Jul 13, 2018 by

by Colin Podmore, The Living Church:

On the last day of June — a glorious summer Saturday — the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham (a suffragan in the Diocese of London), ordained two men in their early 30s to the diaconate at the church of Our Most Holy Redeemer in Clerkenwell, one to serve there and the other in a parish in outer West London.

In many ways it was an ordination like so many others: a packed church; 40 robed clergy; rousing hymns; the now familiar 2005 Common Worship ordination rite; Byrd’s Five Part Mass and anthems by Palestrina and Vaughan Williams; songs by the choir of the Parochial School (one quarter of England’s state-funded primary schools, educating children ages 5 to 11, are Church of England schools); prosecco afterwards in the hall and courtyard — followed for many by a late lunch.

There were moving moments, as when the ordinands prostrated themselves for the Litany of the Saints, and moments of suspense: would the very small boy in cassock and cotta, struggling to hold the bishop’s enormous gold mitre, fully half as tall as himself, manage not to drop it?

But however much it was like many other ordinations, this service was also novel and significant. For a quarter of a century, the last two bishops of London had ordained all of the diocese’s deacons in St Paul’s Cathedral but none of its priests: that arrangement could not survive the appointment of a woman as bishop. This year, therefore, 33 deacons (19 women and 14 men) were ordained by the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dame Sarah Mullally, but a quarter of the diocese’s male deacons were ordained by other bishops: these two by the Bishop of Fulham, and three conservative evangelicals by the Rt. Rev. Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone (who ministers to conservative evangelical parishes across the Church of England).

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