Plans to create a new “Bishop for Church Plants” are to go ahead following approval of the revival of the See of Islington.
The Dioceses Commission has told the London diocese that it can revive the century-old Islington see to allow the Bishop, Dr Richard Chartres, to appoint an episcopal leader for church planting.
The London diocese, home to evangelical flagship churches such as Holy Trinity Brompton and St Helen’s Bishopsgate, has led the world in modelling church planting, and seen consistent growth in congregations as a result.
London described the decision as “good news”. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby personally endorsed the proposal as “essential to the future development of the evangelistic work of the Church of England.”
In Capital Vision 2020, the London diocese pledged to create c100 new worshipping communities within the diocese by 2020 and 13 have opened already. The new bishop will serve the clergy and laity in these pioneering posts and will mentor, preach and teach to help ensure their survival and growth. London will also make the new bishop, who will have no territorial responsibilities, available as a resource for the entire Church of England as it takes up the evangelism challenge set by Archbishop Welby.
Significantly, the new bishop will also take a leadership and teaching role the new School of Church Growth, working with the staff of St Mellitus in London and at the new school’s Merseyside hub.
London’s population is estimated to rise above 10 million by the end of the next decade. Although this is not as dramatic as the Victorian age when it grew from just over 1 million in 1800 to 7 million by 1900, it still presents a missionary challenge to the Church of England.
The See of Islington existed previously from 1898 to 1923. There was only ever one Bishop of Islington, Rt Rev Charles Henry Turner, who was at the same time Rector of St Andrew Undershaft.
Dr Chartres has in the past cited St Paul’s Shadwell as an example of a successful plant. Its vicar Rev Rick Thorpe is thought to be a favourite for the new job.