Diocese of Portsmouth

    New ‘commissary bishop’ will help to lead diocese

    26 Feb. 2021

    A NEW ‘commissary bishop’ has been appointed to help lead our diocese when Bishop Christopher retires.

    When a diocese, such as Portsmouth, has no suffragan bishop it’s necessary to appoint a commissary bishop from another place. 

    On Bishop Christopher’s retirement, Bishop Rob Wickham, Area Bishop of Edmonton, is to be our commissary bishop during the vacancy in see. This has been agreed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as well as by Bishop Rob and Bishop Christopher, and subsequently agreed by our Bishop’s Council.

    His principal responsibilities will relate to governance, such as chairing Diocesan Synod and Bishop’s Council meetings, issuing licences and offering episcopal liturgical ministry with the support of the honorary assistant bishops. The day-to-day life of the diocese will be overseen by the archdeacons, working closely with the diocesan secretary and other lay and ordained colleagues.

    Bishop Christopher said: “I am personally delighted that Bishop Rob, whom I have known since he was a curate, has generously accepted these responsibilities in addition to his own. He will bring to this part-time role his substantial experience of parish ministry and church growth across a range of different contexts and styles of worship.”

    And Bishop Rob said: “I am delighted to accept this interim role of Commissary Bishop for Portsmouth, alongside the privilege of being the Bishop of Edmonton. Having served in the Diocese of London since ordination as a deacon, I am now looking forward to spending some time, listening, loving and learning in a different part of God’s kingdom.”

    The vacancy-in-see process will continue while Bishop Rob is involved with our diocese. It will involve both diocesan representatives and those from the national Church of England serving together on a Crown Nominations Commission, which will ultimately recommend the name of Bishop Christopher's successor as Bishop of Portsmouth.

    Bishop Rob became the Bishop of Edmonton in September 2015, and has always served so far in the Diocese of London. He was a curate in Willesden, a team vicar in St Pancras, and then for nine years was rector of St John, Hackney, latterly becoming area dean of Hackney.

    He grew up in suburban Surrey, studied geography at Durham University – especially urban regeneration – and studied for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Since ordination, he has completed an MA in Theology, Politics and Faith-based organisations.

    His thesis, now published, was based upon the political theology of Joshua Watson, the great church schools pioneer from the 18th century. And, during a period of study leave, Rob to wrote a theological thesis on the creative use of church buildings.

    Indeed, while rector of Hackney, St John’s Church was reordered so that most aspects of Hackney life could be experienced, including concerts by Coldplay, Gary Barlow and Emilie Sande, jobs fairs, credit unions, and the most-used knife amnesty bin in London.

    The reordering led to a reordering of its relationship with the local community, which was needed in the aftermath of the disturbances in 2011.

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