Bishop Nick says, "Bishop Tom is one of the great servants of the Church of England who hasn't stopped yet. I have served with him in a number of capacities since 1991 and admire his clarity, professionalism, pastoral care and wisdom. As a regular broadcaster, particularly on Radio 4's Thought for the Day, he has shed new light on many themes across the years, and his popularity is well-earned. A scientist by background, he has never let theology escape from academic reality, and always rooted theology in real experience. 30 years is a long time to have been a bishop - the Church owes him huge gratitude."
(Click on the picture for a short video from Wakefield Cathedral honouring Bishop Tom).
Born in Birmingham in 1940, Bishop Tom obtained a first-class degree, an MSc and Phd in electronics from the University of Leeds and trained for ordination at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield.
He has been bishop in five different dioceses: Southwark, Leicester, London (where he was Bishop of Willesden), and in retirement he has been acting Bishop of the former Diocese of Bradford and helped with the creation of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales where he is honorary assistant bishop and acting chair of the Board of Finance.
He says, “I have been very fortunate that my 30 years of episcopal ministry have taken me to serve in places and dioceses which have been full of interest. What each of these dioceses has in common is substantial multi-cultural, multi-faith urban communities.”
He is the contributor with the longest continuous service to Thought for the Day on Radio 4, having begun in 1988. In 2011 he drew his contributions together in a book entitled ‘Religion and Public Life.’
For 10 years he chaired the follow up to the ‘Faith in the City’ report, and was also national co-chair of the Interfaith Network. He says, “Both roles involved me in sensitive negotiations with politicians, which was a helpful preparation for serving for 12 years in the House of Lords.
“A bishop can be a helpful bridge between Church and State, feeding into public life both encouragement and challenge from his or her daily back home experience in parishes.”
He was very involved with the struggle for women to be ordained, first as priests and then as bishops. He says, “On behalf of the House of Bishops in 2005 I introduced the debate which led into the synodical process of ordaining women bishops. My one frustration has been that I reached the compulsory retirement age in 2010 before the legislation had been completed. However, the Archbishop of York has asked me to preach at the coming consecration service of Christine Hardman, the new Bishop of Newcastle, so I feel part of the process again. Christine was one of my archdeacons in Southwark and is a great church pioneer. By coincidence her consecration on St Andrew’s Day at the end of November is the exact 30th anniversary of my own consecration, and so for me it will be a day of looking back with thanksgiving and forward with hope as the baton of ministry is passed on.”
The celebration of the 30th anniversary of Bishop Tom’s consecration took place during the 10am Eucharist at Wakefield Cathedral on Sunday1 November, during which he presided and Bishop Nick preached.