The Bishop of Manchester has acquired a job-lot of senior leaders, appointing a mis-matched pair to high office in his diocese: a conservative evangelical suffragan bishop and a transgender progressive archdeacon. Both will be Bolton bound – Matthew Porter will become the Bishop of Bolton while Rachel Mann will become the Archdeacon of Bolton and Salford.
Mann has been a long time progressive activist in the Church of England, and describes herself as a “feminist and queer writer” who seeks to “ground my work in my own story and experience, producing liturgy that seeks to be critical of patriarchy and liberative for both men and women.” The new archdeacon’s theological mission is to “open up more satisfying ways for all – male and female, black and white, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered – to worship God.”
A “Prayer of Approach” penned by Mann gives a sense of her faith:
Holy God, chuckling wise woman, tender and strange, we bless you.
Bless us, trouble us, bewitch us into delight in your love, mercy and grace.
Christ our Sister, unite us in your holy bleeding.
As you took spit and dust for healing,
take our hands, cracked and huge as washerwomen’s, for God’s work.
Take our sacred bodies for the healing of the world.
Birth-Spirit, as you coursed in intimacy through the veins
of Eve and Adam, Hagar and Abraham, Deborah and Lappidoth, Naomi and Ruth,
be the pulse of our lives. Desire us with your desire.
Matthew Porter, who currently serves as vicar of St Michael le Belfrey in York describes himself as a Bible-centered Christian, passionate in sharing the good news of Christ. Will Porter stand up for his principles now that he will done a purple shirt? In the announcement of Mann’s appointment, Porter is quoted as saying: “I am very much looking forward to ministering with Rachel, as we seek to grow Christ’s Church, nurture disciples, and serve the people God has called us among.”
Can two integrities exist in Bolton? Will two integrities be allowed to exist in Bolton?