The Bishop of Winchester is taking a six-week step back from his responsibilities, with Rt Rev Debbie Sellin taking temporary responsibility.
Rt Rev Dr Tim Dakin has been the Bishop of Winchester since 2011 and before that spent 12 years at the Church Mission Society. According to The Church Times, a group of people who were dissatisfied with his ministry threatened to hold a vote of no confidence in him at the next diocesan synod, the local assembly, due to a lack of his visibility in the diocese and pastoral care of other clergy.
Bishop Debbie, the suffragan bishop of Southampton within the Diocese of Winchester, said in a statement: "I wanted to contact you all directly with an important update. Bishop Tim has today informed me that he will be stepping back from his role as Bishop of Winchester for the next six weeks, so that he can focus on discussions about future leadership and governance reform in the Diocese. I fully support his decision. Bishop Tim and Lambeth Palace have requested that, over this period, I temporarily take responsibility for the Diocese and I shall be working with the team at Wolvesey to ensure full continuity."
Bishop Tim used to have oversight of the Channel Islands but supervision was moved to the Bishop of Salisbury in 2019 because of a safeguarding case which saw Bishop Tim suspend a Dean over a parishioner's concern.
Many questioned whether the bishop was right to suspend the Dean, Very Rev Bob Key, who was reinstated and apologised for any mistakes. However, it opened a debate about the islands' relations with the diocese.
In the statement this week, Bishop Debbie went on to say: "I realise that, even before today's news, this has been an enormously challenging 15 months for us all as a diocese and as a church - as it has been for the entire country. On behalf of Bishop Tim and the team, I wanted to thank you once again for all you have been doing for your parishes and your communities, in such trying circumstances. As the country begins to emerge tentatively from the long shadow of Covid-19, our anticipation continues to be tempered by necessary caution. We will, of course, continue to be led by Government and National Church of England guidance, so that we can all stay as safe as possible."