Bishop of London to Retire in 2017

/ 19 JULY 2016

Bishop of London announces retirement in 2017

Bishop Richard Chartres on the Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade 2016

The Bishop has written to clergy and parishes across the Diocese of London to share the timetable for his retirement, with his last public engagement as Bishop of London being Candlemas at St Paul’s Cathedral on 2 February 2017. The Bishop, who has held the post for over twenty years, will continue his work and engagements as normal until Christmas and will continue to hold the post of Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.

It has been a privilege and a delight to serve in the Diocese of London as priest and bishop for well over thirty years. I have seen confidence return and church life revive. The recently circulated progress report on Capital Vision 2020 is an eloquent testimony to a renewed confidence in the gospel, more strenuous compassion and more extensive service of our neighbours in the most diverse city on earth, together with burgeoning creativity. At the same time the annual accounts reveal that we have ended the financial year in balance for the tenth year in succession.

No bishop could wish for more inspiring partners in the gospel, both among the clergy and laity of the Diocese. Regular visits to St Mellitus College are also a huge encouragement. There are more than 200 talented candidates for the priesthood training in the London centre of the college, with flourishing work on Merseyside and other places in England and even overseas. Work begins on a hub in Kuala Lumpur this September.

It has been a blessing to serve with a diocesan team of bishops, archdeacons and those who work at Causton Street, whose gifts are so diverse but who are united in their zeal for generous orthodoxy.

For my part, I have tried to follow the example of St Augustine who said, “For you I am a bishop but with you I am a Christian”, and in this spirit I hope you will forgive my many shortcomings in office.

After consultation with the Archbishop I am writing to let you know about the timetable for my retirement. It is business as usual until Christmas, after which I shall hope to clear my desk of more than twenty years’ worth of accumulated debris. The intention is that my last public engagement as Bishop of London will be in the Cathedral at Candlemas, February 2nd 2017, the day when Simeon was granted a vision of Christ in the Temple and prayed “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” My formal resignation will be dated from the end of the month on Shrove Tuesday.

Her Majesty the Queen has graciously indicated that I should remain as Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.

I have received so many signs in prayer and in the life of the Diocese that my period as Bishop of London is drawing to a close. I have every confidence in the Diocesan Team, and in the leadership of our Archbishop in the challenge of renewing and reforming the Church as a servant of reconciliation in these turbulent times.

I look forward to continuing to serve in other roles but it is right that someone who began as a primary school ink monitor should give way to a new Bishop of London more at home in the digital world, and with sufficient time to be able to play a constructive part in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020.

The important things, however, do not change and I shall be praying for you as you seek to navigate into God’s future under new leadership.

In the meantime I continue to give thanks for our partnership in the gospel.

Photo credit: Stephen Bruce Photography


The Rt.Revd. Richard Chartres, Lord Bishop of London, an outstanding Anglo-Catholic leader in the Church of England, is about to retire. It has been said that, if the timing of the election of the current Archbishop of Canterbury had been different (the C. of E. has a habit of electing alternate Archbishops of Canterbury from the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings of the Church, so that when the current Evangelical ABC, ++Justin Welby, was elected to follow the A.C.  Archbishop, ++Rowan Williams) Bishop Richard might well have become the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

One of the problems, though, might have been the fact that Bishop Chartres has not been known to actively participate in the ordination of a woman priest – despite the fact that there are women clergy within his diocese. As an Archbishop of Canterbury in the present constitution of the Church of England, that could have proved a stumbling block.

A deeply pastoral bishop, +Richard has gained the respect of all of his clergy (including the women) in his large diocese. His celebration of important State and Church liturgical functions has alway been impeccable. His wise leadership in the stewardship of the Church’s financial situation has reaped its own rewards, with the Diocese of London remaining ‘in the black’ for some years now. Also, the number of ordinands proceeding through the diocesan campus of st. Mellitus’ College is living testimony to his careful pastoring of vocations in the Church. Here is his own statement on the basis of his episcopate:

“For my part, I have tried to follow the example of St Augustine who said, “For you, I am a bishop but with you, I am a Christian”, and in this spirit, I hope you will forgive my many shortcomings in office”.

The London Diocese has always been something of an Anglo-Catholic citadel in the Church of England, so there will already be some speculation as to who might be capable of filling the role, walking in the footsteps of this outstanding Bishop of London.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand





About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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