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Bullying, Lack of Pastoral Experience appears to undo a Bishop's Episcopacy

Bullying, Lack of Pastoral Experience appears to undo a Bishop's Episcopacy
Winchester Bishop Tim Dakin faces ecclesiastical storm over handling of his diocese and is 'invited' to step back. Questions arise if he was ever validly ordained.

By David W. Virtue, DD
May 30, 2021

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Rev Tim Dakin is at the epicenter of an ecclesiastical storm. Dakin has revealed a bullying personality with no previous experience of parish leadership. Dakin catapulted through the ranks from humble beginnings in Kenya as principal of a college for Church Army students to become the fifth most powerful bishop in the Church of England.

There are also questions over whether he was ever validly ordained. Procedures in most provinces are quite clear and it should be possible to produce documents fairly easily.

How did this happen when so many other candidates were probably better qualified?

A history lesson is in order.

Dakin was born In Tanzania, but grew up in Kenya where his father Stanley Dakin, 91 (and still alive) was General Secretary for Church Army Africa.

The website of his alma mater says that Dakin studied theology and philosophy at University College of St. Mark and St. John in Plymouth, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986. He then trained for ordination at King's College London, graduating with a Master of Theology (MTh) degree in 1987. St Marks and St Johns is a private university - like the University of Buckingham. At the time he attended, it was not a university (it did not obtain that status till 2012) but only as a college.

So, Dakin has a degree from an institution that was not at that time a university and evidence is needed of his valid orders! Between 1987 and 1993 Dakin spent as a 'student' with Professor Rowan Williams at Christ Church. It came to nothing, a source told VOL. “His appointment to Winchester was during the archiepiscopacy of Rowan Williams when the working of the Crown Nomination Commission was basically to appoint whomever Archbishop Williams said he could work with. The strategy was to appoint people whom Williams could control.”

Though he failed selection as a CMS missionary, Dakin became the principal of the Church Army, Carlile College in Nairobi, in 1993. Lady Gillian Brentford (nee Schluter), a British evangelical Anglican and activist who has a family background in Kenya, was President of the Church Mission Society (C MS) between 1998 and 2007. Under her presidency, Tim Dakin was appointed General Secretary of CMS in 2000.

Lady Brentford also served as the Third Church Estates Commissioner, one of the most senior lay people in the Church of England, from 1999 to 2005.

From leading the CMS, Dakin was appointed as Bishop of Winchester in 2011, the number 5 in the CofE hierarchy. He had no previous experience as a parish vicar in the Church of England. The fundamental question is therefore how come the CofE appointed to its number 5 position someone with no previous record as a vicar or as a suffragan bishop.

Dakin wrote the foreword to a book 'Western Culture in Gospel Context: Towards the Conversion of the West: Theological Bearings for Mission and Spirituality' by David J. Kettle. He was given an honorary doctorate by his alma mater. Was the honorary doctorate for this book or another one?

A source told VOL, "No one can understand him. He has no real understanding of the culture of the Church of England. He has been orthodox and hopefully still is."

But then his true colors emerged. Rumors of heavy handedness at the heart of the diocese have long troubled the wider church. There was circumstantial evidence that between 30 and 40 people had been silenced about the treatment they had received at the hands of the diocese.

Wikipedia reports that in January 2014, it was announced that the Channel Islands would be temporarily removed from the oversight of the Bishop of Winchester for the first time in 500 years, after relations between Dakin and the Deanery of Jersey broke down over the handling of alleged abuse, and the suspension of the Dean of Jersey. The Deaneries of Jersey and Guernsey were transferred to the direct oversight of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Dean of Jersey was reinstated, with Archbishop Justin Welby subsequently issuing an apology to the Dean and his wife "for the hurt and the treatment that they had received".

While no proof was forthcoming and no Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) had ever been issued, 'confidentiality agreements' it turned out had been, many times. This disingenuity was the tip of a much larger iceberg, and the pent-up anger produced by what was felt to be years of bullying, broke the surface.

In the Church Times this week, Canon Angela Tilby writes: "He quickly made his mark as a mission-orientated disturber: one whose instinct is to "move fast and break things". And he broke quite a lot of things. I remember the shiver that we felt in Oxford diocese when we heard of the sacking of the entire Continuing Ministerial Development team. In Winchester, he broke links with southern-based training schemes and developed a bespoke one; started lay training without selection procedures, and made clear his preference for successful mega-churches over declining rural parishes."

"Another term for Dakin's management style could be 'bullying'. Winchester is not called the Diocese of North Korea for nothing," said a source.

Dakin's suffragan bishop, David Williams, a Wycliffe Hall graduate, accompanied by a group of 30 clergy and determined lay officials confronted Dakin and told him they no longer had confidence in the way he exercised his office. Williams, an evangelical whom Dakin had himself appointed sided with the 30 clergy.

At that point Dakin was 'invited' to step back for a period of time while more thought was given to the governance of the diocese. If he did not, the Diocesan Synod said they would produce a vote of no confidence in him.

"These are all polite Anglican euphemisms of course. He is being invited to take stock of this distress and misery, and to resign. If he ignores this plea, the implication is that the full story of his alleged heavy handedness with his clergy will be told in public," said another source.

The Church of England has no mechanism to remove a bishop. Several attempts to make Dakin accountable for his "over-muscular actions" have now been launched. These involve bringing what is called a CDM, a disciplinary complaint against him.

However, the upper organization of the Church closed ranks against what were seen as presumptuous trouble-makers. In a significant change, it appears that Lambeth Palace is no longer protecting Dakin. The Palace Guard have come to realize that the widespread revolt against Bishop Dakin is too serious to continue offering the episcopal immunity which they have provided until now.

It would seem likely that the curtain is coming down on the episcopal ministry of Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester.

For more on this story, blogger Archbishop Cranmer asks the question, was Dakin even validly ordained? See below.


Another take on Bishop Dakin confirming what I wrote.: http://survivingchurch.org/2021/05/25/bishop-dakin-and-winchester-a-diocese-in-crisis/

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