After 10 years in post, Bishop John Hind will be retiring as Bishop of Chichester in April 2012, shortly before his 67 birthday, as announced in the diocese here. We wish Bishop John, and Janet, every blessing in their retirement.
Appointing the new bishop is known as ‘filling the Vacancy in See’ (that is the diocese). Each diocese has a Vacancy in See (ViS) committee that is only called in to service in the event of a bishop retiring or leaving. It is ViS committee statutorily has a number of members by virtue of their office: the remaining senior staff of the diocese (other suffragan/area bishops, archdeacons, the dean); the members of the General Synod elected by the diocese (as they have an electoral mandate already within the diocese); the chairs of the house of laity & clergy of the diocesan synod; and the 4 members elected by the diocese directly to the committee.
The membership of the Chichester Diocesan Vacancy in See Committee can be seen here. (Stephen France and Alastair Cutting of the Chalice Group are both members of the ViS by virtue of being elected to General Synod.)
The process of what happens in a vacancy is outlined here on the Church of England website. The Vacancy in See Committee has a number of key roles, including gathering views from as wide a selection of people as possible right across the diocese. It helps create a statement of needs – a bit like a parish profile in a parish vacancy – and outlines the sort of bishop that the diocese is looking for in the light of the statement of needs. The final role the ViS has is to nominate the 6 members of the diocese to serve on the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC) for the diocese. These 6 may include one member of the senior staff, and has a minimum of 3 lay people elected to it. These 6 are joined by the Archbishops’ appointmens secretary (Ms Caroline Boddington), and the Prime Minister’s appointments secretary (Sir Paul Britton), members of the Crown Appointments Committee, and of course the archbishops. It’s membership is listed on Peter Owen’s General Synod Boards & Councils page.
In Chichester Diocese, there is some preliminary information from the chair of the ViS committee, Archdeacon Douglas McKittrick, with an invitation for contributions, on the diocesan website. There is also a dedicated email address: email@example.com for contributions, or comments may be sent by post to the secretary of the commitee, the diocesan secretary: Angela Sibson, Diocesan Church House, 211 New Church Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 4ED.
Both the Vacancy in See and the Crown Nominations Committees’ work has to remain confidential, but as part of the process there will be a public in Brighton venue on the evening of 23 November to which all are welcome to come, and contribute in person, meeting members of the ViS committee, and the Archbishops’ and Prime Minister’s appointments secretaries.
Please try to make sure you contribute to the thinking going in to the diocesan statement of needs, by sending in your hopes for the future of the diocese, and what sort of bishop/s you think can help best achieve this by emailing the diocese as above. You can also contact the Archbishops’ appointments secretary Caroline Boddington, by email too.
Please pray for the ViS and CNC committees, and for the person God is calling to be the 103rd Bishop of Chichester.