Why are schoolchildren selecting Church of England bishops?

Nov 29, 2021 by

by Archbishop Cranmer:

Caroline Boddington is barely out the door, and bishops are now being appointed by…  schoolchildren called Temisan, Keziah, Honey and Sophia.

With the retirement of the Rt Rev’d Pete Broadbent as Bishop of Willesden, somebody (Caroline Boddington?) decided that children should have a say in who replaces him. The teenagers from Twyford CofE High School in Acton assessed CVs,  judged sermons, interviewed and discerned the spiritual leadership of all those who applied. And they unanimously decided that the best person to replace Pete Broadbent would be Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy: “..the current BAME mission and ministry enabler in the diocese of Leicester, was their favourite”, we are told.

Honey Ryder, Deputy Head Girl and A-level Religious Studies student, said: “It was an honour to be a part of the selection process for the Bishop of Willesden. All of the candidates spoke excellently and gave really insightful, thought-provoking presentations.”

The Rt Rev’d and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, said: “It is a joy to join with Lusa and his family today as this announcement is made. I know we will all learn and benefit from Lusa’s leadership and wisdom as we welcome him into our Diocese. It is fitting that we have heard the news today at one of our own church schools, Twyford Church of England High School, where some of the students helped in the selection process for the new Bishop. It is for them, and for every Londoner, that we spread the Good News, as part of our 2030 Vision.”

The Rev’d Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, the next Bishop of Willesden, said: “It is a real privilege to be called to join the work that God is doing in Willesden. I am eager to experience the wealth of diversity in heritage and culture that make up the communities of West London. I look forward to strengthen existing bonds across churches and the wider community, as we tackle together some of the big issues facing us all. As the next Bishop of Willesden, my hope is to share the love of Jesus with confidence, compassion, and imagination. It has been a pleasure to meet the school children responsible, in-part, for my appointment. I hope that I can deliver on their faith in me. I will, of course, carry with me precious memories of life and ministry in the diocese of Leicester, especially the gifts of curiosity, attentiveness, and generosity.”

It perhaps comes as no surprise that a selection panel apparently made up solely of minority ethnic students chose a minority ethnic ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mission and Ministry Enabler’ from the Diocese of Leicester. People tend to like a church made in their own image. Were there any white boys on this selection panel? Were there any boys at all? If not, why not? If so, why aren’t they in the official photograph?

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