Sunday, 17 January 2010

A new Bishop

I can observe the election of a new Bishop of Glasgow with a certain degree of interested neutrality, not having to live with the results (so to speak). Of the unsuccessful candidates (NOT failed as the Press described it!), I know nothing of the English candidate, but was partially responsible for Alison Peden being appointed Chaplain to Forth Valley College's Stirling campus (I was the chaplain at Falkirk campus and was asked if I knew of anyone suitable to be my equivalent in Stirling - I did and have liaised with her on Chaplaincy matters and can attest to both her excellence and ability). Gregor Duncan conducted my deaconing retreat at Cumbrae Cathedral and preached at my deaconing. I will never forget him describing the choosing and ordaining of the candidates as akin to a local event at the annual town gala in Largs (where he was Rector at the time) know as the "Crowning of the Brisbane Queen"!! Funnily enough, Fr Callaghan's side of the church didn't get the the joke and just looked puzzled. My side was in mild hysterics! Well, Donald Reid and Beverly MacFarlane were virtually horizontal with laughter in the clergy stalls after I caught their eyes and raised my eyebrow suggestively! Gregor also succeeded my training Rector Douglas Reid as Rector of St Ninian's Glasgow. Following a priest as long serving and well loved as Douglas was, was no easy task and Gregor has managed that - and very well indeed. He is a fine preacher, a very capable theologian and a well regarded pastor. OK, he's a bit of a stickler for things being done the right way and in accordance with the rules and I really never did understand why he re-introduced the maniple (or indeed why he still does the conjoined fingers thing after the words of institution - "bunny ears" Douglas Reid called it because that's what it looks like when you celebrate eastwards). So I think FWIW the Glasgow electors have chosen wisely and well and think some of the drool on other sites I've read about "injustice and sexism" winning is simply partisan, ignorant and contemptible.

In a sense, a home grown candidate starts with the advantage/handicap of being known in the Diocese. In Glasgow, due to recent history, that is, broadly speaking, an advantage. What you might call "The Derek Rawcliffe Experience" left them highly unlikely to appoint externally. A nice man +Derek and he had some fine gifts I'm sure, but some of his appointments were dreadful, favouring charismatics who disrupted congregations terribly (Mosspark was the one I knew most about, as the disgruntled and displaced headed for St Ninian's) or the madder sort of English Anglo-Catholic who caused just as much mayhem (Gourock and Coatbridge being prime examples). He also treated his gay clergy appallingly (which, in fairness, he later admitted and apologised for) which was rather unsurprising, given that he was both gay and married (later widowed). He did (after retiring) "come out", but his treatment of gay clergy left a very bitter taste in the mouth of many people. Since then, every time Glasgow has had to elect a Bishop, they have always appointed from within the diocese - John Taylor from Dumfries (who ordained me), Idris Jones from Ayr and now Gregor.

I sincerely hope Gregor does well as Bishop and proves to be both an inspired and inspiring leader. He will be in my prayers in the days ahead.


  1. +Derek had his gifts! He wisnae all terrible! But, yes, we'll live with him in mind in every episcopal election in the forseeable future, and that's sad.

    Haven't come across any drool yet on other sites! Must be looking in the wrong places!

  2. Well, I'm sure he did have gifts and opened the door to some good things in the Diocese. His dress sense and hairstyle weren't among them! Have a peek at Thinking Anglicans for drool (well, one bit thereof).