For those of you who don’t know, this is Tom Wright’s successor as Bishop of Durham.
The new Bishop Designate of Durham was announced today – on Ascension Day, one of the most important days in the Christian calendar. The Very Revd Justin Welby is currently Dean of Liverpool where he was appointed in December 2007.
Justin Welby is very much looking forward to being 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 regards his appointment as Bishop Designate as something of a homecoming, having studied for his theology degree at Durham University for three years.
He said: “To become Bishop of Durham is a huge privilege for many reasons. It is an ancient Diocese, going way back before England itself existed. The heritage is extraordinary; Bishops of Durham stand on the shoulders of some of the greatest Christians that Europe has produced, from the 7th century to the 21st. On this Ascension Day, I am reminded that the job is above all to ensure the Church of England is renewed in faith and experience of the power of God so that it can play its part in serving one of the most exciting and vibrant parts of the country.
“Coming here means being part of a remarkable community grounded in history but always moving forwards. Because of the heritage and the strength of the area, to be a good Bishop here is about as challenging as it gets.
“I know that I have much to learn about the area and its issues. We have lived here before, from 1989 to 1992, when I was training for ordination, and one of our children was born at the Dryburn hospital. But that was a while ago, and a short time, anyway. My first priority here will be to get around as much as possible and listen as carefully as possible to as many people as possible. Being the Bishop has many aspects. The key one is leading the clergy of the Diocese in worship and mission, serving the people who live here, and living out our love for Christ with those around. Another is the great opportunity to join those who are advocates for the North East, as a result of being in the House of Lords.
“This, like Liverpool where we have lived for three and a half years, is a part of the country that has had a more than its fair share of hard times. Yet, also like Liverpool, it is full of fire and life and faith, and capable of attracting investment and energy from all over the world because of the qualities of its people and life here.
“Recently, Hitachi announced the news of opening a new train manufacturing plant with 500 jobs near Darlington, the cradle of the railway industry. That is the sort of achievement that only a truly outstanding area can win in the 21st century. So my second priority is to learn how to be a good advocate for this area, and see the church continuing to contribute to its life and development, in faithfulness to Christ.
“This is a wonderful challenge and privilege, but there is a vast amount to take in.”
Bishop Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, said: “I was absolutely delighted to hear that Justin Welby is to be the new Bishop of Durham. Justin 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. Justin and I worked together some years ago at Coventry Cathedral and I am very much looking forward to working with him again.”
For a biography of the new Bishop Designate and more details visit thewebsite of the Diocese of Durham.