The new Bishop of Durham Designate was announced today. The announcement from by Downing Street this morning confirms that the next Bishop of Durham Designate is The Rt Revd Paul Butler.
Currently Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Bishop Paul was installed at Southwell Minster on 27 February 2010. He was consecrated at Southwark Cathedral on 24 June 2004 and served as Bishop of Southampton until his move to Southwell. Commenting in advance of today’s announcement Bishop Paul said that he was very much looking forward to coming to the North East and continuing the work started by the previous Bishop of Durham, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Bishop Paul is delighted to be part of the continuing renewal of the ministry of the Diocese of Durham and joining those that are strong advocates of the North East.
He said: “To be called to become Bishop of Durham came as a big surprise but is a huge privilege for many reasons. This ancient Diocese goes way back before England was a united nation. The heritage is extraordinary; each new Bishop of Durham stands on the shoulders of some of the greatest Christians in this country’s long and proud history.
“It will be very sad to leave Southwell and Nottingham, the work that we have begun there will continue and I am sure in time will be taken up by a really good and inspirational bishop able to take the Diocese from strength to strength.”
“I am delighted to be coming to Durham and the North East at a time of significant change that is both exciting and challenging in equal parts. I come here to serve and to seek to enable the continual renewing of the faith and our engagement with all people in every community”.
Although not from the North East, Bishop Paul will come to Durham with a keen interest and understanding of the issues and the geography of the region. He said: “I come here deeply aware of the challenges faced by the community and the church. Although I am new to the area, I have visited the region’s universities both in my work before training for ordination and on my Journey of becoming a bishop in the Church of England.
“My first priority will be to get out and about meeting people on the ground; hearing about their lives and communities. I want to get to know the area and being out and about is the only way to do so. I will want to build relationships with the clergy, local community leaders, local and national politicians and business leaders. I hope that the itinerary of this announcement day begins to demonstrate that commitment.”
Today’s visits highlight clear priorities identified by the Diocese and to which Bishop Paul brings a great deal of experience, gifts and passion to help work to achieve, which include: a commitment to children and young people, tackling poverty and church growth.
Bishop Paul said: “These are important issues for all communities but never more so than here in the North East today. I have a strong commitment to engaging with children and young people, through schools, in church and community based activities. I have a particular concern around child poverty, social, economic and spiritual.
“Tackling poverty together must also be a priority. Together as communities, with the church in all its forms playing a key role, we must seek to see what we can do ourselves as well as look to support from elsewhere. Poverty is a scourge that we can only tackle together. I recognise that it is found in urban and rural communities. In my role in the House of Lords I will want to speak up strongly for this region, advocating for its specific needs.
“This is beautiful area of the country; full of great people and great places. We need to work together to attract people here. People who will visit as tourists; people who will bring business and employment, and in church terms people who will serve as leaders in our churches. I come with a priority to renew and grow the church. I do so not for the church’s sake but convinced that the renewal of the church leads to the renewal of the whole community. This renewal depends on prayer, on teaching the faith and on serving all people.
“I am excited, and a little daunted, by the challenges ahead but know that the God who calls us to follow Him always travels with us.
“I love Jesus Christ. I love the church of Jesus Christ, and in particular the Church of England. I love the C of E for its commitment to the good news of God in Jesus Christ; its breadth and its continuing engagement in the life of the community at every level, and that is what will drive me in my ministry here in Durham.”
The Right Revd Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, said: “I was absolutely delighted to hear that Bishop Paul is to be the new Bishop of Durham. I know that he has always had a deep interest in and concern for the communities in which he has worked and I know that he will bring that to the North-East. I know too that he has a deep passion for helping churches to grow and make a real difference to the lives of individuals and communities and that will be a real help to us in the churches in the Diocese of Durham.”
Bishop Paul will be an advocate of the North East in the House of Lords which he says will be a challenge and a great privilege. He said: “I was due to enter the House of Lords as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham this year anyway, but now I will be there as the Bishop of Durham and I can’t wait to get started.”
Speaking about his current commitments he said: ”I will continue the work I have been doing as Advocate for Children and in Safeguarding and I would also be delighted to take up the reins as patron of the Darlington Foundation for Jobs started by Archbishop Justin when he was here – if they will have me.
“I will also seek to maintain my Anglican Communion connections and look forward to discovering more about the world church links that the Diocese holds, especially in Lesotho.”
A message from Bishop Paul:
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