I was born in Liverpool in 1957, went to the Holt Comprehensive School and then studied Modern Languages (German and French) at the University of Bradford. I worked as a freelance technical translator in Germany and for a telecommunications company in Paris during this time. After graduation I got married to Linda and we moved to Cheltenham where I worked as a Linguist Specialist at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) as a Russian linguist.
In 1984 we moved to Bristol where I trained for ordained ministry in the Church of England. After graduation from Trinity College, Bristol with a BA in Theological Studies in 1987, I was ordained in Carlisle Cathedral to serve at St Thomas, Kendal, and St Katherine, Crook. From there I moved to the Diocese of Leicester in 1991, becoming Vicar of Rothley in 1992 and beginning eight very happy years in a wonderful place with wonderful people. I was elected to the General Synod in 1995 and served (with a brief break) until 2005, serving on the Board of Mission, Partnership for World Mission and to the Crown Appointments Commission Review Group.
In February 2000 we moved to the Diocese of Southwark to take up the post of Archdeacon of Lambeth. I was consecrated Bishop of Croydon at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, in May 2003. I became Bishop of Bradford on 1 April 2011. The Diocese of Bradford was dissolved on 20 April 2014 (Easter Day) as the new Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales was created – I become the first (Anglican) Bishop of Leeds on 8 June 2014.
My portfolio of responsibilities now includes: English Co-chair of the Meissen Commission (Church of England relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany), representing the Archbishop of Canterbury in an international interfaith initiative based in Kazakhstan and member of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel. I am also the Bishop for Diocesan Communicators and am an experienced media broadcaster and writer. I chair the Sandford St Martin Trust whihc promotes excellence in religious broadcasting.
I was a Director of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group from 2002-2010. For many years I have regularly contributed to Pause for Thought on Radio 2 and a book based on these reflections, ‘Speedbumps & Potholes’, was published in 2004. Other books include ‘Marking Time: Reflections on Mark’s Gospel for Lent Holy Week and Easter’ (2005), ‘Hungry for Hope?’ (2007), ‘Scandal of Grace: The danger of following Jesus’ (2008) and ‘Finding Faith: Stories of music and life’ (2008), ‘Why Wish You a Merry Christmas?’ (2009).
We have three adult children and an incontinent cat.
I am passionate about Christian engagement in the big wide world – not on our own terms, but on the basis that we get stuck in wherever we can. This means that I think the messiness of the Church is a good thing and that we must be bolder (and thicker-skinned) when it comes to engaging with the world for the sake of the Kingdom of God. This means that we must be curious about the world, interested in the world and committed to the world in all its pain and glory.
I love music, literature, film and theatre. I try to love art, but often don’t know the ‘language’. And that is why this blog will roam far and wide over whatever takes my eye or ear. The Church is often criticised for being obsessed with the Church – but I believe the Church exists for the sake of the world and it is there that my musings find their stimulation. I can understand why God loves the world – it is a wonderful and amazing place to be.