The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the people of the Diocese of Winchester concerning arrangements for the episcopal vacancy in the Diocese. The full text of his letter can be found here.
In this letter he states that following the retirement of Bishop Tim Dakin as Bishop of Winchester on the 6th of February, he has asked Bishop Debbie Sellin to continue in her role as acting bishop during the vacancy. Bishop Debbie will work closely with Bishop David Williams, and with the senior staff team, to provide collegial oversight to the people of God in Winchester Diocese. Bishop Debbie’s role will involve leading the senior leadership team and ensuring good working relationships, working with +David in promoting clergy morale and wellbeing, ensuring that governance structures are fit for purpose and that the diocese is confident in financial sustainability, building on the Diocesan Vision for growth and preparing the way for a successful appointment of the new Bishop of Winchester.
Additionally, the letter states that Archbishop Justin has asked Bishop Richard Frith, who has been providing some support to diocesan leadership in recent months, to take up a more formalised role as the Archbishop’s Episcopal Commissary in the Diocese of Winchester. +Richard’s role will be to work closely with +Debbie as Acting Bishop, and with +David, to walk alongside the senior staff team and the church as a whole in helping the diocese to move forward from the sad events of the recent past, to enable a process of reconciliation and healing and to recover confidence and joy in the service of Christ. +Richard will provide on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Metropolitan, oversight of the process of Winchester moving towards the nomination of its next bishop, the formal process for which is anticipated to begin towards the end of 2022.
Archbishop Justin will be coming to Winchester Cathedral for the 11am service on the 16th January, at the invitation of the Dean and Bishop Debbie, to commission the episcopal team.
Archbishop Justin says: “I am very grateful to +Debbie, +David and +Richard for the dedicated ministry they are already providing in the Diocese, and to the whole people of God for your faithfulness and heart for God’s mission”.
Bishop Debbie says: “After such a difficult 2021 for so many, we hope and pray that we may start to see signs of light in the fight against the pandemic. I pray that, as a diocese, we will continue to make progress on our journey of reconciliation together, and I am grateful for the arrangements the Archbishop has put in place. I am particularly thankful for the support and prayers of everyone across the Diocese. Your tireless work ministering to your parishes, your communities, and what you do to help one another, remains a great source of strength and inspiration to me.”
Bishop David says: “I believe that we can begin 2022 with optimism and confidence about our future together in the Diocese of Winchester, and thank the Archbishop for the trust and responsibility he has given us. Alongside Bishop Debbie and Bishop Richard, I am looking forward to supporting our vital ministry and mission across the region.”
Bishop Richard says: “I have greatly enjoyed working with +Debbie, +David and their colleagues in recent months, and I am delighted that my involvement will continue. I will do all I can to support +Debbie and +David as the Diocese moves towards the nomination of its next bishop.”