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Suffolk: Search is on for new Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich but the post will not be filled by a woman this time around

15:00 10 April 2014

Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Right Reverend Nigel Stock at his farewell sermon

Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Right Reverend Nigel Stock at his farewell sermon

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The process of choosing a new Bishop for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich is under way – but it will not be a woman this time around.

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The Church of England’s ruling body, the General Synod, last month backed legislation that could see the first woman bishop appointed by the end of the year but it will be just too late for Suffolk’s new appointment.

A diocesan spokesman said: “General Synod delegates agreed to halve the consultation period with dioceses across the country from six to three months and, at the last synod of this diocese, delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of the newly-drafted package of measures.

“Providing the majority approve the measures by the May 22 deadline, General Synod will be able to hold the final debate in July.

“If passed, the legislation would go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.

“By then, however, the Crown Nominations Commission – at their second meeting on October 16 – will have made their choice for St Edmundsbury based on the information from the consultation process.”

The bishop will succeed The Right Reverend Nigel Stock, now Bishop at Lambeth. Bishop David Thomson of Huntingdon has been acting bishop for the past few months.

The Crown Nominations Commission has been appointed and will meet with the Archbishops on September 11 to draw up a shortlist of four candidates, who will be interviewed on October 16, before a secret ballot takes place is held.

The commission’s members are Rev Canon Jonathan Alderton-Ford, Canon Tim Allen; Margaret Condick; the Rev Andrew Dotchin; the Very Rev Dr Frances Ward; and Canon Michael Wilde.

An open hearing meeting has already been held for the wider community of Suffolk to give their views on the selection of the new bishop and people have until May 30 to make representations.

The diocesan spokesman said work was also under way on preparing background information to help identify the right candidates.

He said: “The drafting of a ‘Statement of Needs’ is under way, setting out the desired qualities of the new Bishop against a background of a profile of Suffolk drawn from the last Census of 2011, as well as in the context of the mission and ministry needs of the diocese.”

The Prime Minister’s appointments secretary Edward Chaplin and the Archbishop’s appointments secretary Caroline Boddington had also visited to ascertain what “personal attributes, leadership skills and background experience is needed for this key post in both the diocese and the county”.

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