Surprising news today that the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright is retiring early to take up a professorship at St Andrew’s University. Like others I have mixed feelings on this, it will be a blow to the evangelical centre within the Church of England, and Rowan Williams who values that breadth and skills that Tom brings to General Synod and wider, but it’s exciting to see such a great communicator and author hopefully going to have more time to do that.
Here’s more from The Times:
Dr Wright, 61, who will take a chair at St Andrew’s in Fife in September, soon after his 62nd birthday, could in theory have remained at Durham until he was 70.
As Bishop for the evangelical centre, and one of the top five Church of England bishops, he carries authority because of his position but also has added value by virtue of his skills of communication and of intellect.
He will be badly missed by his troubled Church, where he has served as the leading voice attempting to help Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, maintain unity from the evangelical side. Dr Wright has been a figurehead for centrist evangelicals who wish to uphold Gospel truths while remaining within the mainstream Anglican Communion, currently facing divisions over the ordination of homosexuals.Dr Wright, who decided to return to academic life after enjoying a sabbatical at Princeton enabled him to complete a seminal new work on St Paul, said: “This has been the hardest decision of my life. It has been an indescribable privilege to be bishop of the ancient Diocese of Durham, to work with a superb team of colleagues, to take part in the work of God’s kingdom here in the North East, and to represent the region and its churches in the House of Lords and in General Synod.
“I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work. But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster, for the benefit, I hope, of the wider world and Church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop. I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear.”