Anglican Diocese of Worcester
|Diocese of Worcester|
|Bishop||John Inge, Bishop of Worcester|
|Suffragan||Graham Usher, Bishop of Dudley|
|Archdeacons||Nikki Groarke, Archdeaconry of Dudley
Robert Jones, Archdeacon of Worcester
The diocese was founded around 679 by St Theodore of Canterbury at Worcester to minister to the kingdom of the Hwicce, one of the many Anglo Saxon petty-kingdoms of that time. The original borders of the diocese are believed to be based on those of that ancient kingdom.
Covering an area of 671 square miles (1,740 km2) it has parishes in:
- the County of Worcestershire
- the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley
- northern Gloucestershire
- urban villages along the edge of the south-east of the Metropolitan Borough of Wolverhampton
- the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell
Currently the diocese has 190 parishes with 281 churches and 163 stipendiary clergy.
The diocese is divided into two archdeaconries:
On its creation the diocese included what is now southern and western Warwickshire (an area known as Felden). On 24 January 1837 the north and east of Warwickshire (Arden) which formed the Archdeaconry of Coventry in the then Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry was transferred to the Diocese of Worcester. In 1905 an area in northern Warwickshire was split off as the Diocese of Birmingham and in 1918 an area approximate to the rest of Warwickshire was made the Diocese of Coventry. From 1993 until 2002, the diocese operated an episcopal area scheme.
Besides the diocesan Bishop of Worcester (John Inge) and the Bishop suffragan of Dudley (Graham Usher, whose see was created in 1974), there are five retired bishops resident in (or near) the diocese who are licensed to serve as honorary assistant bishops:
- 2002–present: Christopher Mayfield, retired Bishop of Manchester and former area/suffragan Bishop of Wolverhampton, lives in Worcester.
- 2002–present: Mark Santer, a retired former diocesan Bishop of Birmingham living in Moseley in the neighbouring Birmingham diocese.
- 2004–present: Humphrey Taylor, retired Bishop of Selby, lives in Church Honeybourne.
- 2005–present: Jonathan Ruhumuliza, a Rwandan bishop, lives and works as a parish priest in Worcestershire.
- 2009–present: Michael Hooper, retired Bishop of Ludlow, lives in Eckington.
Since 1994, alternative episcopal oversight for parishes in the diocese which do not accept the sacramental ministry of women priests is provided by the provincial episcopal visitor, Jonathan Goodall, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet since 2013, who is licensed as an honorary assistant bishop of the diocese in order to facilitate his ministry.
The church in Worcester is believed to have been founded in the late 7th century. It seems to have benefited in the 8th century from the support of the kings of Mercia. Through this royal support the bishopric found itself in a position from which it was able to gradually extend its control over several of the other prominent minsters in the area during the 7th and 8th centuries. Consequently, in the 9th century, the bishopric of Worcester can be seen to be the most powerful ecclesiastical power in Mercia during this time. From this position the church was able to use its great wealth to buy privileges from the kings of Mercia. Later in the period it was from Mercia, in particular Worcester, that King Alfred began to recruit priests and monks with whom to rebuild the church in Wessex during the 880s (Asser, ch. 77). It has been argued[who?] that these priests bought with them a new attitude towards the church's place within society and its relationship with the monarchy. Consequently, from the bishopric of Worcester there developed a new ecclesiastical ideology that would become the accepted Anglo-Saxon church.
The Charters of Worcester are one of the key sources for historians studying the period and are a major reason for information about the early Anglo-Saxon church. The charters exist within the Worcester archive which is itself the largest Anglo-Saxon archive of its kind. It contains many texts, ranging from late 7th to the 11th centuries, providing a significant and continuous history of the church. The archive takes physical form in two distinct cartularies. The first one, Cartulary A (Cotton Tiberius A xiii), contains in it the majority of the charters that make up the archive. It is from these that there develops a coherent picture of land ownership and societal responsibilities during the Anglo-Saxon period and beyond. A prominent example of this is No. 95 of Cartulary A which shows the 8th-century king of Mercia, Ceolwulf II, granting the bishopric of Worcester exemption from royal dues in exchange for money. This example shows not just the dues and power of the king himself but also the wealth and power of the church, the sophisticated system of bartering and exchange that existed at the time and also the legal system of recording important transactions.
- Della Hooke, The Kingdom of the Hwicce (1985), pp. 12-13.
- The London Gazette: . 24 January 1837. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- GS 1445: Report of the Dioceses Commission, Diocese of Worcester (Accessed 23 April 2014)
-  Section: Honorary Assistant Bishops
- "Mayfield, Rt Rev. Christopher John". Who's Who 2014. Who's Who (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- "Santer, Rt Rev. Mark". Who's Who 2014. Who's Who (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "Taylor, Rt Rev. Humphrey Vincent". Who's Who 2014. Who's Who (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- "Ruhumuliza J". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 22 August 2014. (Subscription required)
- "Hooper, Rt Rev. Michael Wrenford". Who's Who 2014. Who's Who (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 22 August 2014.