John Gibbs (bishop)

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John Gibbs (15 March 1917 –20 December 2007) was an Anglican bishop. He was the Bishop of Coventry in the Church of England from 1976 until 1985. He was the first Church of England bishop in modern times to have started his ministry in the nonconformist tradition.[1]

Born in Heywood, Lancashire on the 15 March 1917, he left school to begin work before entering Western College, Bristol[2] for training as a Congregational Minister. He was ordained in 1943, the year of his marriage, and served as minister of Sarisbury Green Congregational Church, Hampshire, and Garstang Road Congregational Church, Preston.

The turning point in his career came in 1949 when he joined the Student Christian Movement, working in Bristol. This meant he liaised with many churches and, becoming drawn to the Anglican tradition, he re-trained at Lincoln Theological College[3] and took up a curacy at St Luke's Bristol. His, however, was an educational vocation and in 1957 he became head of Divinity at St Matthias Teacher Training College, Bristol, rising to Vice-Principal in 1962.[4] In 1964 Gibbs was appointed head of Keswick Hall College of Education[5] in Norfolk.[6] From 1967 he was a key member[7] of the Durham Commission on the future of Religious Education in Schools.[8] In 1968 he was appointed an honorary canon of Norwich Cathedral and in 1973 he was appointed suffragan bishop of Bradwell in Essex.[9] Three years later he replaced the more flamboyant Cuthbert Bardsley as Bishop of Coventry, eventually serving for nine years.[10]

One of his proudest achievements was founding Myton Hamlet Hospice and when he retired to Minchinhampton near Stroud, Gloucestershire[11] he was a leading figure in helping to start the Cotswold Care Hospice. In July 2006, while visiting his daughter near Cambridge he became completely paralysed from mid chest downwards. He found a new home in the Hope Nursing Home in Cambridge where he died on 20 December 2007.


  • Mr John Gibbs (1917–1943)
  • The Revd John Gibbs (1943–1968)
  • The Revd Canon John Gibbs (1968–1973)
  • The Rt Revd John Gibbs (1973–2007)


  1. ^ The Right Reverend John Gibbs The Daily Telegraph Obituary, 31 December 2007 Issue no 47,454
  2. ^ National Archives
  3. ^ Now defunct
  4. ^ "Who's Who 1970" London, A & C Black,1971 ISBN 0-7136-1140-5
  5. ^ College Web-Site
  6. ^ "Crockford's Clerical Directory" (Lambeth Palace, Church House) 1982 ISBN 0-19-200010-1
  7. ^ Influence discussed in article Education and Schooling by Francis,L.J in "The Church of England Today and Tomorrow:an agenda for the future" Hannaford, R(Ed): Leominster, Gracewing, 1998 ISBN 0-85244-300-5
  8. ^ "The Church Teacher" Gibbs,J London, Children's Council Church House, 1970 ISBN 1-873576-14-5
  9. ^ Diocese of Chelmsford, suffragan bishopric of Bradwell, Essex Who's Who (Ibid)
  10. ^ Bishop to retire (Official Appointments and Notices) The Times Thursday, 24 January 1985; p. 14; Issue 62044; col A
  11. ^ "Debrett's People of Today" Ellis, P(Ed): London, Debtrett's 1992 ISBN 1-870520-09-2
Church of England titles
Preceded by
William Neville Welch
Bishop of Bradwell
Succeeded by
Charles Derek Bond
Preceded by
Cuthbert Bardsley
Bishop of Coventry
Succeeded by
Simon Barrington-Ward