UNCERTAINTY still surrounds the future of the Bishop of Winchester six weeks after he 'stepped back' following a rebellion in his diocese.

The future of the Rt Rev Tim Dakin had expected to have been resolved by now after around 20 church people told him they would table a vote of no confidence in his leadership at the diocesan synod.

There have long been issues over his management style and direction he wants to move the diocese.

But today the Bishop of Southampton, the Rt Rev Debbie Sellin said discussions were ongoing and no decision was now due before the end of August.

In an message to the church community today said: "It goes without saying that this remains a hugely challenging period for us as a diocese. I realise many of you feel you have not heard enough since I wrote to you almost six weeks ago, to inform you that Bishop Tim would be stepping back.

"Again, I am conscious that many questions remain unanswered, but I can confirm that the process to consider matters raised concerning leadership and governance is progressing.

"Facilitated conversations are continuing and, in order for them to be given the time and space they need, Bishop Tim has agreed these will be his sole focus until the end of August. I recognise many will want to know more and have questions but we do need to ensure the process is held as confidential at this stage and I would urge all to keep those concerned in our prayers. Once we can say more then of course we will.

"The Bishop of London and the Bishop at Lambeth are being kept fully aware of the ongoing process and are providing welcome support, although they are not part of the conversations.

"Bishop David has agreed to continue standing back from ministry in Winchester Diocese to enable the conversations to run their course." This refers to the Bishop of Basingstoke, the former Vicar of Christ Church in Winchester, David Williams, who stepped down at the same time as Bishop Tim.

Bishop Debbie concluded: "I am grateful to you for your prayers through this time and am aware also that, nationally, we continue to live in a time of considerable uncertainty. The overriding questions we have lived with for so many months throughout the pandemic appear to fluctuate almost daily: from when our lives will return to normal, through to whether they even will at all. The answers remain far from clear. Yet, you all continue to work tirelessly for your parishes, your communities, and for each other. This remains a source of great inspiration to me personally."