Bishop Paul has announced that he plans to retire from the role of Bishop of Durham at the end of February next year. He will have served as Bishop of Durham for 10 years.
Bishop Paul said: “It has been a huge privilege and honour to serve all the people of Durham Diocese for nearly 10 years. Being called here was an unexpected, and challenging, step. Rosemary and I have loved the variety, beauty and challenges of this diverse Diocese. It is my hope and prayer that my ministry has helped God’s church truly be a blessing to our communities for the transformation of all from the Tyne to the Tees and the Dales to the Sea.
“When we move away at the end of February next year we will miss the people and the places deeply. Yet we know the Diocese will be in good hands and that God will uphold and guide for all that lies ahead.”
Bishop Paul was installed and enthroned as Bishop of Durham on 22 February 2014, succeeding Justin Welby, now Archbishop of Canterbury. He was previously Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, 2010-14 and had also been Suffragan Bishop of Southampton in the Diocese of Winchester from 2004 - 2010.
In May this year, he was by the side of King Charles III as Bishop Assistant to the King during the Coronation at Westminster Abbey.
Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York said: “Paul has been a fabulous Bishop of Durham, active in the Diocese and the region, but also playing a full and effective part in the national life of the Church. His lifelong commitment to ministry with and for children and young people is now reflected in the national strategy of the Church of England. He has also been a great champion of the poor and of refugees. But first and foremost, Paul is a follower of Jesus. He has been a compelling and consistent voice for the Christian faith. Many of us have learned so much about Christian discipleship from him. We thank him and his wife Rosemary for their incredible service to the Church and the gospel.”
Once Bishop Paul retires, Bishop Sarah will lead the Diocese and the process to appoint the next Bishop of Durham will begin.
Bishop Sarah said: “Bishop Paul will be very missed across the whole Diocese when he retires as the Bishop of Durham, but we will also be so thankful for his wise and challenging strategic leadership, prayerful care and utter commitment to us since coming to our Diocese in 2014. We are particularly grateful for his leadership in the hard times of the pandemic where his love for all our communities put people at the heart of all we did. As our Bishop he has enabled us to grow in boldness and imagination in our response to the opportunities and challenges that we encounter as we seek to be faithful disciples of Jesus. We look to the future thankfully and hopefully from a firm foundation.
“Bishop Paul has been a passionate advocate for the North East, both at a local and national level, championing education, our young people and the poorest in our society, and the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who come to this country seeking a better and safer life. He has been a voice for those who struggle to get heard.
“Our prayers and love will go with Paul and Rosemary as they prepare to enter the next chapter of their lives and once the end of February arrives, we will wish them well. I am sure God has plans and purposes for them both as they enter their retirement together.”
Bishop Paul trained for ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He was ordained a deacon in 1983 and served his curacy at All Saints with Holy Trinity in Wandsworth, Diocese of Southwark. After his curacy, in 1987, he became the Inner London Evangelist at Scripture Union until 1992. He then became Deputy Head of Missions at SU. During that time, he was a non-stipendiary minister at St Paul's East Ham in the Diocese of Chelmsford. From 1994 and 1997 he was priest-in-charge of St Mary's Church, Walthamstow with St Stephen's and St Luke's, becoming Team Rector of Walthamstow in 1997 until 2004. He was also Area Dean of Waltham Forest from 2000 to 2004. He was appointed an Honorary Canon of Byumba in Rwanda in 2001. He has served as a Trustee and Chair of Church Mission Society, and as President of Scripture Union (2012-19). He was lead bishop for safeguarding from 2010-16.
Bishop Paul acts as an 'Advocate for Children' and he is Chair of the National Society, the body that oversees education in the Church of England and the Church of Wales. He holds one of the permanent ‘Lords Spiritual’ seats in the House of Lords where he has most recently been passionately campaigning for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. He has also been critical of cuts to Universal Credit, and the Two Child Limit which he says are driving more children into poverty.
Bishop Paul is married to Rosemary and they have four adult children and two grandchildren.