Steven Croft (bishop)

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Steven Croft
Bishop of Oxford
Official portrait of The Lord Bishop of Oxford crop 2.jpg
The Lord Bishop of Oxford, 2019
Church Church of England
Diocese Diocese of Oxford
In office6 July 2016 present [1]
Predecessor John Pritchard
Other post(s) Warden, Cranmer Hall (19962004)
Archbishops' Missioner and Fresh Expressions Team Leader(20042008)
Bishop of Sheffield (2008–2016)
Ordination25 September 1983 (deacon)
by Bill Westwood
23 September 1984 (priest)
by Graham Leonard
Consecration25 January 2009
by  John Sentamu
Personal details
Born (1957-05-29) 29 May 1957 (age 66)
Nationality British
Denomination Anglican
ResidenceBishop's Lodge, Kidlington
Alma mater Worcester College, Oxford
Member of the House of Lords
( Lord Spiritual )
Assumed office
15 July 2013

Steven John Lindsey Croft (born 29 May 1957) is a British bishop in the Church of England and a theologian specialising in mission. He has been Bishop of Oxford since the confirmation of his election on 6 July 2016. [1] He was the Bishop of Sheffield from 2008 to 2016; previously he was Archbishops' Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions, a joint Church of England and Methodist initiative. He falls within the open evangelical tradition of Anglicanism.


Early life and education

Croft was born on 29 May 1957. [2] He attended Heath Grammar School in Halifax and studied classics and theology at Worcester College, Oxford, graduating in 1980. [3] From 1980 to 1983, he trained for ordination at Cranmer Hall, Durham. [4] The University of Durham awarded him a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 1984 for a thesis titled "The identity of the individual in the Book of Psalms". [5]

Ordained ministry

Croft was ordained as deacon in the Diocese of London on 25 September 1983 by Bill Westwood, Bishop of Edmonton, at St Andrew's Enfield (his title church). [6] The following year, he was ordained as priest by Graham Leonard, Bishop of London, at St Paul's Cathedral on 23 September 1984. [7] From 1983 to 1987 he was curate of the parish church of St Andrew's Enfield. After that, he became vicar of Ovenden, an Urban Priority Area parish in the Diocese of Wakefield, from 1987 to 1996. In 1997, Croft was made a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council, which he was a part of until 2000.

19962004: Warden (i.e. head) of Cranmer Hall

20042008: Archbishops' Missioner and first Team Leader of Fresh Expressions

Croft was appointed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York to help found Fresh Expressions, a joint Church of England and Methodist initiative "to help Christians of any denomination think about ways of starting and growing fresh expressions of church in their area" where a fresh expression is defined as "a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church". [8] In recognition of this work he was awarded the silver Cross of St Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury. [9]

Episcopal ministry

Croft was nominated as the next bishop of Sheffield, succeeding Jack Nicholls who retired in July 2008, [10] and formally elected by the chapter of Sheffield Cathedral in November 2008 [11] (and that election having been confirmed in the interim), he was consecrated as a bishop by John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, on 25 January 2009, [12] at York Minster; [13] and started in the diocese following his formal enthronement on 9 May 2009. [14] This was followed by three welcome Eucharists celebrated in various locations around the diocese to allow more people to meet the new bishop. [14]

In 2012, Croft was nominated by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, to be the Anglican fraternal delegate to the Synod of Bishops in Rome. [15]

Croft became a member of the House of Lords on 15 July 2013. [16] On 12 April 2016, it was announced that he was to be translated to become Bishop of Oxford in "autumn" 2016; [17] he was duly elected to that see and that election was confirmed at Lambeth Palace on 6 July 2016, at which point Croft legally became Bishop of Oxford. [1] He was reintroduced to the Upper House as Bishop of Oxford on 19 July 2016. [18] Croft is the first bishop of Oxford to reside at the new Bishop's Lodge, Kidlington; "for decades" previously, bishops had resided at Linton Road in North Oxford. [19]


In November 2022, he became the most senior Church of England figure to back same-sex marriage, saying clergy should be free to bless or marry same-sex partners and to enter into a same-sex marriage themselves, in contrast to the church's official position. [20] [21] [22] [23] As a result of this, some evangelicals within his diocese may seek alternative oversight. [24]

In November 2023, he was one of 44 Church of England bishops who signed an open letter supporting the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith (i.e. blessings for same-sex couples) and called for "Guidance being issued without delay that includes the removal of all restrictions on clergy entering same-sex civil marriages, and on bishops ordaining and licensing such clergy". [25]

Personal life

Croft was born in Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1957. He is married to Ann and has four children. [10]

Protest at his enthronement

Two survivors of clerical child sexual abuse staged a peaceful protest outside Croft's inauguration as Bishop of Oxford on 30 September 2016. [26] One of them said that he had told Croft three times in 2012 and 2013, when Croft was Bishop of Sheffield, of his rape by a serving priest, but the bishop and other senior figures had failed to respond or take action despite the abuser still being alive. The cover of the protest brochure handed out to the public pictured all six bishops who the survivor alleged had failed to respond, including John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. [27] [28] [29] The survivor commented to the Church Times that he was angry that the church had the "nerve" to enthrone bishops after safeguarding complaints had been made against them. He went on to say

This is absolute proof that the Church of England does not truly recognise the profound and long-lasting impact such abuse has on survivors at all. [30]

The protest was shown on ITV [31] and the BBC. [32] Croft met with one of the survivors in front of the news cameras.

Police investigation

In 2018 it was reported in the media that Croft was being investigated by South Yorkshire Police, alongside Archbishop Sentamu, Bishop Martyn Snow and Bishop Peter Burrows, for failure to respond properly to a report of clerical child abuse. The priest against whom the allegation was made committed suicide the day before he was due in court in June 2017. [33] [34] [35] The archbishop of York's office said:

The diocese of York insists that Sentamu did not fail to act on any disclosures because that responsibility lay with Ineson's local bishop, Steven Croft, who was at the time bishop of Sheffield. [36]

A Guardian editorial contrasted Sentamu's response to a statement from Archbishop Justin Welby at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, in which Welby stated

It is not an acceptable human response, let alone a leadership response to say "I have heard about a problem, but … it was someone else's job to report it." [37]

Matt Ineson, the victim of the alleged abuse, called for the resignations of Sentamu and Croft. [38] In May 2018, Archbishop Welby declined to discipline Croft, and said he "will take no further action" other than ensuring that Croft received further safeguarding training and understood his responsibilities as a diocesan bishop. [39]



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  1. 1 2 3 Diocese of Oxford — Legal ceremony brings Bishop Steven a step closer Archived 14 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine & Diocese of Oxford — Letter from Bishop Steven (both accessed 8 July 2016).
  2. "Who's Who" . Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  3. Archived 15 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 25 October 2008
  4. "Steven John Lindsey Croft" . Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing . Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  5. Croft, Steven John Lindsey (1984). "The identity of the individual in the Book of Psalms". E-Thesis Online Service. The British Library Board. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  6. "Ordinations" . Church Times . No. 6294. 30 September 1983. p. 13. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 7 June 2017 via UK Press Online archives.
  7. "Ordinations" . Church Times . No. 6346. 28 September 1984. p. 4. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 7 June 2017 via UK Press Online archives.
  8. "Fresh Expressions - welcome". Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.[ title missing ]
  9. "Dr Croft awarded cross of St Augustine". Fresh Expressions. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  10. 1 2 "New Bishop of Sheffield appointed". BBC Online. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
  11. "No. 58891". The London Gazette . 24 November 2008. p. 18243.
  12. "Diocesan News Release". Retrieved 18 November 2008.[ dead link ]
  13. Diocese of Sheffield — New Bishop of Sheffield ordained (Archived 24 March 2009; archive accessed 4 September 2018)
  14. 1 2 "Welcoming the new Bishop of Sheffield". Dean and Chapter of Sheffield. Retrieved 20 April 2009.[ permanent dead link ]
  15. "Anniversary synod for Vatican II is to hear Dr Williams". Church Times. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  16. "Bishop of Sheffield". UK Parliament. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  17. "Steven Croft is the new Bishop of Oxford". Diocese of Oxford. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  18. House of Lords Hansard — Introduction: The Lord Bishop of Oxford (Accessed 25 July 2016)
  19. Oxford Mail — New Bishop of Oxford will live outside city as current £10m house deemed too expensive (Accessed 2 October 2017)
  20. Croft, Steven (3 November 2022). Together in Love and Faith. Bishop of Oxford. ISBN   978-1-7392007-0-1.
  21. Burgess, Kaya (3 November 2022). "Bishop becomes most senior Church figure to back same-sex marriage" . The Times . ISSN   0140-0460 . Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  22. "Clergy should have the freedom to bless and marry same-sex couples, says +Oxford". Diocese of Oxford. 3 November 2022. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  23. "Information for same sex couples". The Church of England. Retrieved 5 November 2022. Church of England ministers can not carry out or bless same-sex marriages
  24. "Statement on the Bishop of Oxford's "Together in Love and Faith"". Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship. Retrieved 8 November 2022. We also appreciate his recognition that a change in the Church's position will require, not only the protection of conscience of those who could not support this, but also a differentiation of ministry and oversight. There are those in the Diocese who have already felt the need for this, believing these matters to be first-order issues and, very sadly, as a result of this publication, that number is bound to increase.
  25. Martin, Francis (1 November 2023). "Don't delay guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages, say 44 bishops". Church Times. Archived from the original on 2 November 2023. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  26. Sherwood, Harriet (30 September 2016). "Survivors of abuse in C of E to protest at bishop of Oxford's inauguration". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  27. Sex abuse survivors protest outside Christ Church enthronement and accuse bishop of ignoring rape claims, Oxford Mail website.
  28. "Sex abuse survivors protest outside Christ Church and accuse Bishop of Oxford of ignoring rape claims" . Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  29. Sherwood, Harriet (26 July 2016). "Senior Anglican clergy accused of failing to act on rape allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  30. "Abuse survivors' protest at bishop's consecration aided by Chapter". Church Times. 7 October 2016.(subscription required)
  31. "Ceremony to welcome new Bishop of Oxford is overshadowed by protest" . Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  32. MACSAS (1 October 2016). "Enthronement of Bishop of Oxford BBC Coverage". YouTube. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  33. "Police investigate archbishop for 'failures' over child abuse claims". The Times. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  34. "Police look at bishops' 'failure to act' over sex abuse claims". BBC. 5 March 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  35. "Sentamu ordered 'no action' against paedophile priest – leaving him to abuse again and commit suicide". Archbishop Cranmer. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  36. "Archbishop of York facing police investigation over failure to report abuse". Christian Today. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  37. "The Guardian view of abuse in the church: a truly dreadful story". The Guardian. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  38. "Call for the Resignation of Archbishop John Sentamu and Bishop Steven Croft". Thinking Anglicans. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  39. "UK news in brief: Welby 'will take no further action' against Croft over abuse case". Church Times. 18 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
Academic offices
Preceded by Warden of Cranmer Hall
Succeeded by
Church of England titles
Preceded by Bishop of Sheffield
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Pritchard
Bishop of Oxford