Obituary: the Venerable Michael Bowering


By the Ven Peter Elliott

Diocese of NewcastleMichael Bowering was appointed Archdeacon of Lindisfarne in 1987.

He came having spent all his previous ministry in the Diocese of York where he had served as curate, well-regarded incumbent and energetic residentiary Canon of the Minster. At that time Newcastle Diocese had a strong local identity and an outside appointment to an archdeaconry was unusual. It was therefore particularly unfortunate that he suffered a heart attack within a few weeks of his licensing. This meant that for many people and parishes their first encounter with Michael was on judicial or administrative matters (as he balanced the challenges of new work and convalescence), rather than as the stimulating pastor and guide which had been the characteristic of his ministry in York.

For any Archdeacon of Lindisfarne there are particular challenges posed by the necessity of involvement in diocesan (and indeed national) church life especially in times of development and change as well as the provision of on-going care to scattered and remote rural parishes and an effective ministry to tourists and pilgrims. Michael came to his new work when fears and hopes about the ordination of women, the necessity of pastoral reorganisation and empowerment of the laity were issues facing senior staff in the diocese and every parish and congregation. Michael was involved at all levels with these matters, nationally in General Synod, at Diocesan Synod and with the bishop and senior staff, and locally with area deans, parish clergy, church wardens and PCCs.

He tackled these challenges with energy and verve. He was never afraid to ask the awkward question. He did not always have the answer but invariably challenged his hearers to face difficult issues and work towards a solution. Supportive of the Ordination of women to the priesthood he was considerate and generous to those who were opposed; he wrestled long and hard over the pain of pastoral reorganisation and was tireless in promoting, training and wisely deploying non-stipendiary ministry and, with vision for the future, challenged parishes and clergy to think and act in new ways.

To those who worked closely with him he was an unfailingly supportive and encouraging colleague. He made sure that the two archdeaconries shared the same agendas and discipline; he often challenged his colleagues but never wrong-footed them with surprise decisions; we often found in him the qualities of pastor and guide.

He and Aileen retired to Yorkshire in 2000, Michael serving for a time as interim DAC secretary in the Diocese of York, both enjoying well-deserved holidays and family time, though deteriorating health has marred his final years.

We offer Aileen and his family our sympathy and commend Michael to God whom he loved and served.





View the news archive