A provincial episcopal visitor (PEV), popularly known as a flying bishop, is a Church of England bishop assigned to minister to many of the clergy, laity and parishes who on grounds of theological conviction, "are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests".
The system by which said bishops provide certain churches with oversight is referred to as alternative episcopal oversight (AEO).
The Church of England ordained its first women priests in 1994. According to acts of the General Synod passed the previous year, if a parish does not accept the ministry of women priests it can formally request that none be appointed to minister to it. Likewise, if the local bishop has participated in the ordination of women as priests, a parish can request to be under the pastoral and sacramental care of another bishop who has not participated in such ordinations. In such a case the parish still remains in the diocese of the local diocesan bishop, at whose invitation the "flying bishop" makes his visitation.
On 4 December 2014, it was announced that the see of Maidstone would be filled again in order to provide a further provincial episcopal visitor for particular conservative evangelical members of the Church of England who take a complementarian view on headship.
The act empowers the metropolitans of the Church of England's two provinces to appoint provincial episcopal visitors as suffragan bishops whose main purpose is to be available for such visits to parishes across the province. Accordingly, four PEV bishops have been appointed across the two provinces.
In the Province of Canterbury:
In the Province of York:
As of 1 April 2015, the Bishop of Beverley ministered in 10 of the 12 dioceses in the northern province. The other two dioceses use different suffragan bishops:
Until the appointment of Paul Ferguson in 2014, the Bishop of Whitby provided AEO in York diocese; with Ferguson's appointment that oversight lapses to the Bishop of Beverley as PEV. Following the retirement of John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley, on 19 July 2014, it was announced that Philip North would be consecrated as the next Bishop of Burnley on 2 February 2015 and would have AEO in the dioceses of Blackburn and Carlisle; however, while North is now listed as the AEO bishop for Blackburn diocese, Webster is listed for Carlisle.
As of 2016Bath and Wells, Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, Oxford, Salisbury, Truro and Worcester) while the Bishop of Richborough serves the eastern half (Canterbury, Chelmsford, Ely, Europe, Guildford, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Leicester, Lincoln, Norwich, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Rochester, St Albans and Winchester)., in the southern province, the bishops of Ebbsfleet and of Richborough together minister in 27 of the 30 dioceses. Of the three remaining dioceses, London and Southwark are ministered to by the Bishop of Fulham and Chichester by its diocesan bishop. The Bishop of Ebbsfleet serves the western 13 dioceses (
As of January 2018, 114 parishes have passed resolutions for conservative evangelical reasons; 53 of these have requested AEO from the Bishop of Maidstone.Rod Thomas is an assistant bishop in the Dioceses of Birmingham, Bristol, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Chester, Derby, Ely, London, Manchester, Norwich, Portsmouth, Rochester, Sheffield and Southwark.
In the Church in Wales, David Thomas was appointed to the comparable office of Provincial Assistant Bishop in 1996 when the province voted to ordain women to the priesthood. No successor was appointed when Thomas retired in 2008.