The new Anglican Bishop of Durham-Designate has been named as The Right Revd Paul Butler, currently Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.
Bishop Paul was introduced to his new Diocese on Thursday September 12 during a day of events across the area. During his visit, he said that the priorities for his tenure as Bishop would be growing the Church, helping to tackle poverty and addressing the role of children and young people in the Church. Bishop Paul, who will take over from The Most Revd Justin Welby, who moved to become Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this year, began his tour of the Diocese with a trip to meet children at Holy Trinity CofE Primary School in South Shields where he met members of the school’s breakfast club and took part in morning assembly. He was then introduced to worshippers and local dignitaries at Durham Cathedral before visiting the Easington Colliery Café Together project in the local Methodist Church, which supplies meals to local people and has cross-denominational and community support.
During the visit to Easington Colliery, Bishop Paul, a keen supporter of credit unions, which he sees as a way of tackling poverty, signed up as a member of the Durham County Credit Union.
He finished his tour by meeting parishioners at the Anglican St Mary’s Church in Barnard Castle then returned to Durham to view the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition being held in the city and met Durham University Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Higgins.
Bishop Paul, 57, who visited the Diocese with wife Rosemary, said of the day: “I was taken aback to be asked to be Bishop of Durham but almost immediately we knew that it was the right thing to do.
“I arrived still slightly stunned but I am deeply honoured and humbled to have been asked to be Bishop of Durham.” He said that a growing Church could play its part in tackling problems in communities struggling with issues such as poverty. ”Growing the Church is something that has to be the highest priority for the Diocese, growing it in numbers, growing it in depth and growing its discipleship of Jesus Christ.
“It will not be an easy task but a healthy, growing Church is good for the community. A healthy, growing church is part of the community and part and parcel of transformation.
“I want the Church to be good news for the area. I know it is already is but I want it to be better and people to talk more positively about it.”
He added: “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.” Bishop Paul also said that he was keen for the Church to involve children and young people.
The bishop, who will continue in his role as an Advocate for Children and in Safeguarding, said: “I believe passionately that children and young people should not be seen simply as our future society but our present society and we have to integrate them in everything we do. We should not see children and young people as the future but the present.”
The Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, who accompanied Bishop Paul on his tour of the Diocese, said: “It was an immensely exciting day as we welcomed our new Bishop of Durham.” Bishop Paul became Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham in 2010 and before that was Bishop of Southampton. Images from Bishop Paul’s announcement visits: