It has been announced by 10 Downing Street this morning (15 minutes earlier than planned!) that I am to be the next Bishop of Bradford. We’re heading back north. Given the way these things work, it isn’t possible to say when we will move or when I’ll start officially, but my feet will be under the table by spring or early summer. I think.
The Diocese of Bradford faces an uncertain few years following the report by the Dioceses Commission last week which proposed radical reform of the dioceses in West and North West Yorkshire. So, why leave Southwark/Croydon now?
Simple. It is a privilege to be asked to serve and lead this diocese at this time in its history. We need to keep our eyes on the purpose for which the Church exists and help shape the structures which will best enable us to fulfil it. I look forward to working with clergy and parishes in confidently living the Good News of Jesus Christ and working for the common good – that is, the flourishing of the whole society at a time of enormous economic and social challenge. There is loads to do in both urban and rural areas.
The next few years will bring great challenges: economically, politically and culturally. I hope to encourage confidence in the Christian Church, the unique and particular role of the Church of England and the development of sensitive ministry and outreach in a multifaith context. The task of communicating and living the Good News is great – but so are the opportunities.
Urban and rural communities face different challenges and I look forward to getting to know the whole diocese as quickly as possible. The unique interfaith relationships in this part of Yorkshire are vital to a flourishing society and I will engage fully in developing them for the ‘Common Good’. I am committed to focusing on the Church as the servant of the Kingdom of God – a church with the vision and courage to shape its future in this wonderful part of the world.
I was at university in Bradford from 1976-1980 studying German and French. I did a six-week placement here while at theological college – just after the Bradford football stadium fire. I remember the impact on the people affected and the amazing work done by the Burns Unit at a local hospital. But, this is an area and a diocese I now need to rediscover.
I will bring to this new role my experience of the secular world and ministry in rural, urban, suburban and small town contexts. I hope my background in communications, outreach and engagement with wider society will be of use to the diocese. My weaknesses and failings will also come with me – and I hope people will be patient as I learn.
Enough for now – there are people to meet and things to be done. For now suffice it to say that I will be sorry to leave the wonderful clergy, people, parishes and communities of the Croydon Episcopal Area. But, I look forward with hope, trust and gratitude to moving back up north and discovering where the light of Christ is shining in the messiness and glory of this part of the world.