There are three Archdeacons in the Diocese of Durham overseeing the Archdeaconries of Auckland, Durham, and Sunderland. Here’s a little more information to introduce each of them.
The Venerable Rick Simpson
Archdeacon of Auckland
Archdeacon Rick is responsible for the southern and western parts of the Diocese of Durham that form the Auckland Archdeaconry. He is also the Safeguarding Lead on the Bishop’s Senior Leadership Team.
Rick has been in the Diocese since 2006, when he came to be Priest in Charge of St Brandon’s, Brancepeth. He was also the Initial Ministerial Education (IME, Phase 2) Officer for both Newcastle and Durham, supporting curates and training incumbents; he is author of the Grove Booklet on the supervision of curates.
Rick became Archdeacon of Auckland in February 2018 and sees the role quite simply as, ‘trying to enable the mission of the church’. If that sometimes means sorting out matters to do with buildings, administration and difficulties in church life, then he wants to be a support in working these things through. Rick is also trained in consultancy for mission and ministry and enjoys helping churches discern and focus on their real purposes and calling.
He served previously in the Diocese of Newcastle, where, as Vicar of Holy Trinity, Jesmond, he saw the church grow in number and discipleship over 10 years. He believes growth like this is always possible where a church prays, worships in ways that are accessible to newcomers and becomes a caring and joyful community which others want to be part of.
Rick is married to Rachel. He enjoys getting out into the natural world with his binoculars and camera, growing vegetables, playing guitar (sometimes as part of a jazz band), reading novels and watching films.
Tel: 07384 511 671
PA: Revd Catherine Walton
Tel: 01325 260 274 or 07581 043 061
The Venerable Libby Wilkinson
Archdeacon of Durham and Director of Mission, Discipleship & Ministry
Libby has served in Durham Diocese since she was ordained deacon in 2005, serving as a curate in Gateshead Deanery followed by two incumbencies, one in the former Houghton-le-Spring Deanery and one in Wearmouth. She was also Area Dean of Houghton-le-Spring for a couple of years.
As well as being the Archdeacon for Durham and Lanchester deaneries, Libby is responsible for Mission, Discipleship and Ministry (MDM) across the Diocese, and has the privilege of working with the rest of the MDM team, who she commends as a great asset to the Diocese and who carry out a large range of tasks and responsibilities.
For Libby, discipleship is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. She is passionate about supporting those who follow Jesus to grow and develop in faith, with the aim of becoming confident disciples who know their identity in Christ, and who live out their faith in every part of their lives.
Before her ordination, Libby worked in the insurance industry – initially in a claims department and then working as a Business Analyst at a head office.
Libby is married with two grown-up children and a Labrador. She loves pub quizzes, plays the flute and is part of a community choir.
Tel: 01388 604 515 or 07436 399 917
PA: Mrs Kate Martin
Tel: 0191 374 6017
The Venerable Bob Cooper
Archdeacon of Sunderland
Born and brought up in Lancashire, Bob was educated at the Universities of Aberystwyth and Nottingham where he studied Divinity and Theology. Unlike many clergy who had professional careers, Bob was a doorman and labourer which he jokes ‘probably prepared me well for life as an Archdeacon!’
After training at Lincoln Theological College, Bob was ordained in 1993. He has served in Urban Priority Area (UPA) parishes in Leeds, Halifax and Pontefract. He has also been full time chaplain to a public school in outer London.
Bob is passionate about mission, church growth in all forms and has a deep calling to social justice. Within the Diocese, along with his Archdeaconal duties, Bob leads on Prison Chaplaincy, is Chair of the Lord Crewe Trustees and sits on the Board of Education.
In wider society Bob also chairs a national charity which works in former coalfield communities.
Bob is married to Kate, a teacher, and they have four children.
Tel: 0191 536 2300
PA: Mrs Linda Richardson
Tel: 0191 536 2300