Archbishop John Sentamu will retire in 2020

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From Anglican News:

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will retire on 7 June 2020 – Trinity Sunday – three days ahead of his 71st birthday, it was announced today. Church of England clergy are required to retire at the age of 70, but the Queen, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, has the power in her discretion to extend that for up to one year if she considers that there are special circumstances which make it desirable to do so. Before he retires, Archbishop Sentamu will take part in three pre-planned international mission events.

He will also lead “bishops missions” in three northern dioceses: Liverpool, Southwell & Nottingham, and York before he retires. Bishops missions are something he introduced a few years ago, and involves all the bishops of the York province taking part in a weekend of diocesan-wide evangelism events.

Within his diocese, he will launch and begin to embed the new diocesan evangelism and discipleship programme, “Reach, Grow, Sustain”; and he will continue his work facilitating discussions on possible political devolution for the Yorkshire region of England, under the “One Yorkshire” plans for possible regional mayoral election in 2020.

Sentamu was born in Uganda, and has served as Bishop of Birmingham and Stepney; earlier in his career he was an attorney and judge, and his criticism of Idi Amin led to his imprisonment before he was able to escape to England.

“I have decided to announce my retirement now in order to provide the Church of England with the widest possible timeframe to pray, discern with wisdom and insight and put in place a timetable for my successor and to consider fully the work they will be called to do in service to the national church, the Northern Province and the Diocese of York”, Dr Sentamu said. “I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty The Queen for graciously allowing me to continue as Archbishop of York until June 2020 in order to enable me to complete the work to which I have been called.

“I am full of joy and expectation to see all that God is doing and will be doing in this diocese and in the Northern Province over the coming months.”

From The Economist, which describes Sentamu as “a rambunctious prelate, sometimes ceremonial, never pompous”:

He soon found that even in his new homeland, merit might bring professional rewards but it offered no protection against malicious violence. While acting as an adviser to the inquiry into the case of Stephen Lawrence, a black London teenager murdered in 1993, he received repeated, explicit death threats. And in 2002, as he was returning from a service at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen’s Jubilee, he was attacked in the underground by a racist abuser and thrown down an escalator. He needed hospital treatment for his wounds.

His term as Archbishop of York will be remembered for some unlikely vignettes. During a television interview in 2007, he waxed indignant about the tyrannical rule of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. To underline the point, he doffed his clerical collar and used scissors to chop it into pieces. Only when the despot was removed would he put a collar back on, he declared. That promise was kept last year, on the same television show, after Mr Mugabe finally left office. And in the summer of 2006 the recently elevated prelate spent his nights not in a palace but camping out on the street in a vigil calling for an end to the war in Lebanon.

The archbishop has been a strong advocate of female clergy, and there is speculation that his successor might be a woman. He has opposed same-sex marriage but also condemned homophobia and the fanaticism of people who say that “all the great evils of the world are being perpetrated by gay and lesbian people, which I cannot believe to be the case…”  But his term in office was marked out not so much by ideological or theological stances as by a character that somehow transcended the pomp and ceremony that go with his rank. Both in York and in his previous job, as Bishop of Birmingham, he used his personality to ease social conflict. In Birmingham he reached out to the large Muslim community and opposed the war in Iraq.

Photo from the Archbishop of York’s webpage.

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Philip B. Spivey
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Philip B. Spivey

A "rambunctious prelate" who talks the talk and walks the walk. I wish we had more of them. Although I don't agree with his stance on marriage equality, he strikes me as someone I could sit down with, over a delicious meal, and have a rational conversation about our theological disagreements. Something sorely needed these days.

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