Bishop on the brink: Bishop of Winchester fights for his post after no-confidence motion
The Bishop of Winchester is fighting to keep his job after an unprecedented rebellion in his diocese, the Daily Mail can reveal.
Reverend Tim Dakin holds one of five senior Church of England positions that are automatically assigned a seat in the House of Lords.
He is now the first bishop in Church history to be the subject of a motion of no confidence.
Although it has yet to be voted on, it has been signed by 25 senior clergy officials and elected lay representatives – more than a quarter of the government synod of the diocese.
Calls for his departure were sparked by a financial crisis and the sacking of more than 20 clergy and other staff.
The Bishop of Winchester, the Reverend Tim Dakin (photo, file photo) holds one of five senior Church of England positions that are automatically assigned a seat in the House of Lords. He is now the first bishop in Church history to be the subject of a motion of censure
Before receiving any awards, they had to first sign legally binding “confidentiality clauses” prohibiting them from making “adverse or derogatory comments” about the bishop or diocese.
Some held senior positions but left after clashing with the 63-year-old bishop, according to their colleagues. Payments amount to £ 800,000, according to diocesan sources.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Justin Welby, previously said confidentiality agreements were “unacceptable” and should “never be used” by the Church.
A reviewer of the bishop, writing in The Church Times, jokingly dubbed Winchester the “North Korean Diocese” because of its allegedly autocratic style.
There is no official power to force the bishop to leave, but Church sources say the hope is that he will choose to resign now, seven years before the retirement age of 70.
The motion of censure declares that the Church nationwide is “committed to fostering an open and transparent culture” but warns: “We do not trust the diocesan bishop to establish this culture or to lead by example. , due to allegations of bad behavior and mistreatment on the part of a number of individuals.
He alleges that since his appointment in 2011, the “governance and financial management” of his diocese have become “unfit for use”.
The diocese is on the verge of losing 22 full-time vicars – more than a fifth of the total – due to layoffs or unfilled vacancies.
Although it has yet to be voted on, it has been signed by 25 senior clergy officials and elected lay representatives – more than a quarter of the government synod of the diocese. Calls for his departure were sparked by a financial crisis and the sacking of more than 20 clergy and other staff. Pictured: Winchester Cathedral (file photo)
Winchester covers one of the wealthiest areas in the country, and revenue generated from church collections barely declined last year, despite churches being closed during the pandemic.
A cleric said: “This is the last place in England this should happen.” Critics of the bishop claim the cuts are deeper than necessary because he has adopted too gloomy forecasts.
Hours before the motion was placed on the synod’s agenda on May 19, Bishop Tim, as he is commonly known, “retired” from office, initially for six weeks.
The next synod meeting, scheduled for last Thursday, has been canceled. The motion has been withdrawn for the time being. Bishop Dakin is due to resume his duties on Wednesday, but his return is uncertain.
“I don’t think there is any other possible outcome than his final resignation,” said a synod member. Lambeth Palace sources say Archbishop Welby is monitoring developments closely, despite being on a three-month study leave.
The Bishop of London, The Right Reverend Dame Sarah Mullally, is conducting an informal investigation, interviewing members of the clergy and laity.
She appointed an “external facilitator” to try to bridge the gap between the bishop and his flock. They had interviews for the second time last week.
A member of the clergy said: “I just don’t see how he could come back.
Lambeth Palace sources say Archbishop Welby (left) is monitoring developments closely, despite being on a three-month study leave. The Bishop of London, The Right Reverend Dame Sarah Mullally (right), conducts an informal investigation, interviewing members of the clergy and laity
“It is truly remarkable that over 20 people were ready to sign the motion. That alone should be a signal, the only way out is for Tim to quit permanently. He has enormous self-confidence. But if you’re going to lead, you have to check: is anyone still following you? ‘
The Diocese of Winchester was founded in 676. Its cathedral, consecrated in 1093, is one of the largest in Europe. The Bishop’s magnificent residence, Wolvesey Palace, was built by Christopher Wren.
Once appointed, Bishop Dakin quickly established himself in the diocese. He abandoned his predecessor’s plan to empower suffragan (lower-ranking) bishops and fired his entire ministerial development team.
In 2015, he became president of the diocesan finance council, assuming a role distinct from that of bishop in most dioceses.
The nine-member board is less than half the average size, giving it an unusual influence over finances, critics say.
A spokesperson for the diocese said he could not comment on ongoing talks over the bishop’s future. “These are confidential and seek to find a solution to the issues raised,” he said.
The spokesperson added that his lawyers considered the confidentiality clauses to be “legal and ethical” because they “protect the employer, but also the employee”. They are also “in line with current guidelines and best practices”.
The spokesperson said the changes to financial governance had been approved by the auditors, while “significant cost savings” were “justified and very necessary”.