THE Bishop of Winchester is taking a break from his role as the most senior churchman in Hampshire.

The Rt Rev Tim Dakin, bishop since 2011, has temporarily stepped down from his role based at Wolvesey Palace in Winchester.

The Church Times newspaper reports that there is discontent among clergy in the diocese about his "management style".

The news was revealed by the Rt Rev Deborah Mary Sellin, Suffragan Bishop of Southampton, in a messages to local churches.

She said: "I wanted to contact you all directly with an important update. Bishop Tim has today informed me that he will be stepping back from his role as Bishop of Winchester for the next six weeks, so that he can focus on discussions about future leadership and governance reform in the Diocese. I fully support his decision. Bishop Tim and Lambeth Palace have requested that, over this period, I temporarily take responsibility for the Diocese and I shall be working with the team at Wolvesey to ensure full continuity.

"I realise that, even before today’s news, this has been an enormously challenging 15 months for us all as a diocese and as a church - as it has been for the entire country. On behalf of Bishop Tim and the team, I wanted to thank you once again for all you have been doing for your parishes and your communities, in such trying circumstances.

"As the country begins to emerge tentatively from the long shadow of Covid-19, our anticipation continues to be tempered by necessary caution. We will, of course, continue to be led by Government and National Church of England guidance, so that we can all stay as safe as possible."

The Church Times will report tomorrow that 20-30 senior church members in the diocese, clergy and laity, had threatened at the diocesan synod to pass a vote of no confidence in Bishop Tim's leadership.

The newspaper also says "discontent" about Dr Dakin’s management style and agenda has been growing for some time. He has never worked in full-time parish ministry. He previously worked for the Church Missionary Society and is said to be on the evangelical wing of the Church of England.

The reason for the Bishop of Southampton's elevation into temporary charge is, according to the newspaper, because the senior suffragan bishop in the diocese, the Bishop of Basingstoke, the Rt Rev David Williams, sympathises with the protesters, and has also "stepped back".

Before he became Bishop of Basingstoke, Bishop David was the vicar of Christ Church in Winchester, a very successful evangelical church.

Bishop Tim and the diocese have been asked to comment.

More follows.