James Lawton Thompson

Biography of James Lawton Thompson

James Lawton "Jim" Thompson (11 August 1936 – 19 September 2003) was an Anglican bishop. He was firstly the area Bishop of Stepney (one of five Episcopal Areas of the Diocese of London in the Church of England) from 1978 to 1991 and later the diocesan Bishop of Bath & Wells in succession to George Carey who had become Archbishop of Canterbury. He retired in 2001.

Thompson was probably best known to many as a regular contributor to the "Thought for the Day" segment on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Following his death in 2003, obituaries in the national press praised his deep humanity and lively sense of humour. One obituary referred to his gift of "conveying the warmth of his physical presence in his voice and in his words", adding that "his reflection on the events of 11 September 2001 was nominated for a Sony Broadcast Award, uniquely for religious broadcasting." He used his seat in the House of Lords to express his concerns for equality and education. The Telegraph described him as "the Church of England's best known commentator on social and political matters as well as a prominent advocate of religious and racial tolerance." Thompson wrote that "a bishop who doesn't give offense to anyone is probably not a good bishop." Thompson was also an important figure in interfaith relations in Britain, chairing the British Council of Churches advisory committee and co-chairing the Interfaith Network for the United Kingdom. He believed that when Christians helped to create opportunities for all faiths to participate in public and in institutional life (such as in educational and health care chaplaincy) they were being good neighbours in a multi-faith world.

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