Bishop of Winchester to step back from office for a further two months

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The Bishop of Winchester will not return to work today but will continue to stand down from office until the end of August.

In an ad clerum letter to the clergy of the diocese, the Rt. Rev. Debbie Selin stated: “Facilitated conversations are continuing and, in order for them to be given the time and space they need, Bishop Tim has agreed these will be his sole focus until the end of August.”

The Bishop of Basingstoke, the Rt. Rev. David Williams, who along with 20 clergy and lay leaders brought BIshop Dakin’s conduct to the attention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, will also “continue standing back from ministry in Winchester Diocese to enable the conversations to run their course.”

Last month almost a quarter of the Winchester Synod endorsed a no confidence motion to be presented to the diocese’s June meeting of SYnod. It stated in part: “We do not have confidence in the diocesan bishop . . . to lead by example, due to allegations of poor behaviour and mistreatment on his part of a number of individuals.”

After the content of the motion was made known to the Bisjhop at Lambeth, the Rt. Rev. Tim Thornton, Bishop Dakin was persuaded to “step back” from office for six weeks. He was to have returned to work today, June 29.

Under the auspices of the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Sarah Mullaly, and Bishop Thornton a facilitated conversation was begun between Bishop Dakin and the chairmen of the house of clergy and laity in Winchester and the diocesan finance committee. Two meetings have been held and a third is to be held shortly, sources tell Anglican Ink.

Text of the Bishop of Southampton’s 29 June 2021 letter:

Dear Friends,

Jesus said to them, ‘But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered. ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16: 15 and 16

This is Petertide, the season when we remember how Peter declared his faith and trust in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, and how Jesus entrusted Peter to build his church, a church that we have the privilege of being part of today. It has been wonderful to see so many of you each Monday morning for Diocesan Prayer over the last five weeks. Coming together in this way has provided such encouragement, and our time with one another has reinforced to me what it means to be part of God’s church and what unites us as a diocese. Given the busy weeks ahead, we will not pause Zoom morning prayer for the Summer with a view to looking at future arrangements for the Autumn.

It goes without saying that this remains a hugely challenging period for us as a diocese. I realise many of you feel you have not heard enough since I wrote to you almost six weeks ago, to inform you that Bishop Tim would be stepping back. Again, I am conscious that many questions remain unanswered, but I can confirm that the process to consider matters raised concerning leadership and governance is progressing.

Facilitated conversations are continuing and, in order for them to be given the time and space they need, Bishop Tim has agreed these will be his sole focus until the end of August. I recognise many will want to know more and have questions but we do need to ensure the process is held as confidential at this stage and I would urge all to keep those concerned in our prayers.

Once we can say more then of course we will. The Bishop of London and the Bishop at Lambeth are being kept fully aware of the ongoing process and are providing welcome support, although they are not part of the conversations.

Bishop David has agreed to continue standing back from ministry in Winchester Diocese to enable the conversations to run their course.

I am grateful to you for your prayers through this time and am aware also that, nationally, we continue to live in a time of considerable uncertainty. The overriding questions we have lived with for so many months throughout the pandemic appear to fluctuate almost daily: from when our lives will return to normal, through to whether they even will at all. The answers remain far from clear. Yet, you all continue to work tirelessly for your parishes, your communities, and for each other. This remains a source of great inspiration to me personally.

Finally, and on a particularly joyful note, we have Diocesan Ordinations to look forward to this weekend. Please do add this year’s ordinands to your prayers as we welcome their ministry into our parishes.

With best wishes,

+Debbie