Birmingham Gazette 1890s

History

A Brief History of the Birmingham Diocese

There were two driving forces behind the creation of the Diocese in 1905. The first was the realisation by successive Bishops of Worcester that their Diocese (which included many of the parishes of the City of Birmingham) was becoming unmanageable. The other was the wish of the leaders of the new city that it should have a Bishop and a Cathedral to boost its status.

Charles Gore was active on behalf of the Christian Social Union and, although never a socialist in any strict sense of that term, was profoundly convinced that socialist ideals could find countenance in the Gospels and hoped the Church and the labour movement would share his conviction.

On 2nd March 1905 Dr Gore was duly enthroned in the Cathedral Church (St Philip's) of Birmingham. His hopes for Birmingham were reflected in his first speech as Bishop of Birmingham at his enthronement:

"What we are celebrating is the foundation of a city bishopric. Very much of what is best, noblest, most beautiful, most intellectual in the world's history - in Greece, in Italy, in Germany, in England, in America, is bound up with the intense life of cities, with men's love for their city, with the public spirit of a city. Indeed, when Christianity has to find its ideal for the life of humanity it finds it in the perfect city.

There is felt by all classes of society in Birmingham a great pride in its past. It has become a city with a noble centre and with a fine record of commercial, philanthropic and artistic enterprise.

A sign of corporate feeling is that a Birmingham man feels a great pride in its local heroes, whether those born here or those who have made their name amongst you and then have set their mark on the great world outside of politics, or art or religion.

No city has shown a better public spirit than Birmingham but there is a danger in a city, like a church, dwelling on its past. There is a danger of the due succession of men of public spirit failing, a danger that the best men, the men of richest gifts and opportunities, may fail to feel the call of public service as their fathers felt it.

There are ugly spots and grave moral risks in the civic life of Birmingham, as of all other cities and like every society with a noble past she needs fresh efforts from all classes of the community. As compared with other bodies the Church of England has not played its proper part in the past in contributing to the civic life of Birmingham. Our contribution to the civic life and our public witness for righteousness must become more vigorous".

The Diocese celebrated its Centenary Year in 2005, led by the then Bishop Sentamu who is now Archbishop of York. Activities included a ten week mission event, a pilgrimage by the two Bishops during Lent, celebrations for children, young people, older people and the publication a history of the Diocese: Celebrating A Century of Christ; The Diocese of Birmingham 1905-2005 by Canon Dr Terry Slater.

Since 1905 there have been nine Bishops of Birmingham. The Ninth Bishop of Birmingham is the Rt Revd David Urquhart who was inaugurated on November 17th 2006 in Birmingham Cathedral.