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New Bishop-Designate of Durham Announced


The appointment of the new Bishop Designate of Durham The Very Revd Justin Welby was announced on Thursday 2nd June - Ascension Day.

Justin Welby, is currently Dean of Liverpool and 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 trained for the priesthood at  Cranmer Hall, St John's College, Durham Univeristy 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 1989-1992, when I was training for ordination, and one of our children was born at the Dryburn Hospital. But that was a while ago, and for 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.”

Photographs of Justin Welby and Bishop Mark by Keith Blundy, Aegies Associates.


The Very Revd Justin Welby’s present post is Dean of Liverpool. He was installed in December 2007.

Justin Welby is an experienced parish priest who has also worked in the Church around the world, especially in areas of severe civil conflict.

Before ordination he studied Law and History at Cambridge University then spent 11 years in the oil industry, based in Paris and London, working mainly on West African, (principally Nigerian) and North Sea projects. He ended his oil industry career as Group Treasurer of Enterprise Oil plc, a large UK exploration and production company, responsible for all its financing. During this time, he was also a lay leader at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London. From 1989–1992, Justin studied Theology at St John’s College, Durham.

For the next 3 years, Justin was curate of a busy urban priority area in Nuneaton. With several schools and a big hospital in the parish, it was ideal for learning the hands-on skills of clergy work. Justin launched and managed a major youth project, was on the governing body of the local school and led courses in finding Christian faith.

In 1995 he became Rector of Southam, a small market town in Warwickshire, and in 1996 also took responsibility for Ufton, a local village church. During his time at Southam the congregation grew from about 60 to about 180. There was extensive work with other churches especially around welcoming children and families. The number of weddings and baptisms also rose substantially. The church became more outward-looking, serving its community. Major services were full at Christmas, Easter and Remembrance, modern and traditional forms of worship were used, the fabric of the 14th century church was repaired, and the interior reordered.

In November 2002, Justin became a Canon of Coventry Cathedral. In this capacity, with Canon Andrew White – who is now based in Baghdad - and later working on his own, he was responsible for leading Coventry’s international ministry of reconciliation, which included practical direct intervention work in the middle east and Africa, as well as facilitating a network of peace centres, the Community of the Cross of Nails, with 165 partners in more than 25 countries. In his last 18 months, in Coventry he was also Sub Dean of the Cathedral. He also worked extensively in areas of deprivation in Coventry, especially enabling local organisations to bring together different ethnic and religious groups.

In his last year at Coventry Justin was also Priest-in-Charge of the main city centre church, Holy Trinity.

While at Liverpool Justin has led significant changes to the life of the Cathedral. New styles of worship have been introduced alongside the traditional forms. The congregation has grown from about 250 to about 450. The cathedral has become much more involved in the life of the local area (Toxteth), working with asylum seekers and in partnership with local churches, and with the Roman Catholic Cathedral. A strong team, both lay and ordained has been built up, and a clear sense of mission and direction established. Morale amongst the roughly 80 staff and 200 volunteers has risen significantly. The mission of the Cathedral has been “a safe place to do risky things in Christ’s service”.

Among other activities, Justin has been Chairman of a National Health Service general hospital trust and chaired the Governors of some schools in the parishes in which he has served. He is the Personal and Ethical Adviser to the UK Association of Corporate Treasurers, and lectures extensively on ethics and finance. He has published a number of articles in English and French on issues of international finance, ethics and management and also on reconciliation.

Justin is married to Caroline. They have five children aged 15–26, and one who died in infancy in a road accident.

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