By Kirk Petersen

One of the five most-senior bishops in the Church of England is “stepping back” from his duties as Bishop of Winchester for a six-week period, in the face of a threatened no-confidence vote at the next diocesan synod, according to the Church Times (paywall).

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Tim Dakin, 63, who has served as the XCVII Bishop of Winchester since 2011, reportedly has been sparking discontent for years because of his management style. The Church Times reported that unidentified “critics” are unhappy with what they see as a “lack of pastoral care for clergy and the imposition of a particular approach to the Church’s ministry.”

Dakin, assisted by two bishops suffragan, is responsible for more than 300 parishes — yet he has never been a full-time parish priest.  For 12 years prior to his enthronement, he was general secretary of the Church Mission Society, leading a 200-year-old institution with missionaries in dozens of countries around the world.

One of the bishops suffragan, the Rt. Rev. Debbie Sellin, is temporarily leading the diocese. The more senior bishop suffragan, the Rt. Rev. David Williams, “is said to be in sympathy with the protesters, and has also stepped back,” the paper reported.

Dakin is part of the evangelical wing of the Church of England — a constituency already troubled by recent sexual abuse revelations regarding the Rev. Jonathan Fletcher, another prominent evangelical.

Winchester is one of the five “great sees” of the Church of England, along with Canterbury, York, London, and Durham. The leaders of these dioceses automatically have a seat in the House of Lords in Parliament. The Diocese of Winchester is about 50 miles southwest of London.