The Rt Rev David Chillingworth was elected Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church at an Episcopal Synod held during the annual meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Bishop David was the single nomination and his election was supported by all other six bishops.
Bishop David has been Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane since 2005 and succeeds the Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway who stepped down as Primus last night following his recent announcement to retire from the office of diocesan bishop.
The role of Primus, which is taken from the Latin ‘primus inter pares’ – meaning ‘first among equals’ is to preside over the College of Bishops and represent them and the wider Church at home and throughout the world-wide Anglican Communion.
Bishop David, who now becomes the Most Rev (the title given to a Primus) replied to his election by expressing his deep honour at the trust being placed in him and spoke of the challenges facing the Church at this time saying “We are living in an increasingly open and secular society. This is not an easy place for churches. But it is the kind of society in which small churches like the Scottish Episcopal Church can make a special contribution in mission and service. Our debate on ‘The Mission of the Scottish Episcopal Church’ during General Synod showed that we have a new vision for mission.
“We face other challenges. Economic recession brings difficulties for business life and for families. It affects the Church too. We have some very difficult decisions to make about how we can sustain our life and work with less resources available.”
Bishop David is widely known in the Church as a communicator. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Thought for the Day’. He writes a blog at www.bishopdavid.net and believes that bishops should use today’s means of communication to carry the message of the Church. Born in Dublin in 1951, Bishop David grew up in Northern Ireland. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and Oriel College, Oxford.
His training for ministry was at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, in the Church of England. Ordained in Belfast in 1976, much of his working life has been spent at the heart of the Northern Ireland conflict. His work in parish ministry was consistently focused on the challenge of reconciliation and the problems of sectarianism. He also served as Church of Ireland Youth Officer from 1979-1983. Before moving to Scotland in 2005, he was for 19 years Rector of Seagoe Parish Church in Portadown and Archdeacon of Dromore.
Since coming to the Diocese of St Andrews, Bishop David has worked with clergy and others to carry out a major review of the life of the diocese and its congregations. This has led to the Casting the Net initiative which was launched in every church of the diocese on Pentecost Sunday, 31st May. Casting the Net is a movement of mission and growth - it encourages clergy and people to reach out into the communities in which they live.
Bishop David is married to Alison, who is a Social Worker who specialises in Fostering and Adoption. They have three grown-up children, Anna, Simon and Mark.