A Sunderland based vicar has just been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Durham and Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Durham.

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham is delighted to announce that Revd Canon Libby Wilkinson has been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Durham and Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry for the Diocese. 

Libby was ordained in Durham in 2005 after training for ordination at NEOC and served her curacy in Harlow Green and Lamsley in Gateshead before becoming Priest in Charge at St Barnabas, Burnmoor. She then became Vicar of Bishopwearmouth St Gabriel’s, Sunderland in 2016 and was made a non-residentiary Canon of Durham Cathedral in 2019.

Libby (54) is married to Jon who is also ordained and they have two grown-up daughters, Rebecca and Hannah. She previously had a career working in economics, finance and insurance with Norwich Union before she moved to the North East in 1999 when husband Jon became Team Rector of Gateshead. 

After the children arrived, Libby was thinking about going back to work but she couldn’t get excited about her old job even though she loved it. At that point, a friend’s comment got her thinking. Libby said: “I had always shied away from even thinking about being a vicar, then a friend said ‘you’re just running away from being a vicar’ and that was the thing that spurred me into saying to myself – ‘I’ve got to look into this’.

“I was sort of hoping that the church would say no, but they didn’t and the rest, as they say, is history.”

In her new role, Libby will lead the Mission and Ministry Support Team and serve as Archdeacon for the Deaneries of Durham and Lanchester, a role that she says is a dream job that is tailor-made for her. 

Libby said: “If I could have written my own job description that would have been it, and it picks up all sorts of things around mission and ministry that I find challenging and exciting. And for me, discipleship is the bedrock of Christian faith and my dream, my hope would be to see every church member engaged as a courageous and confident disciple of Jesus Christ.”

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said: “Libby comes to the role with a wealth of experience and understanding both in terms of the spiritual needs of the Diocese and of what makes the people and communities of the North East tick. 

“She has been a valued member of my leadership team for several years as Women’s Adviser in Ministry and through her new role, she will be instrumental in helping us to shape our response to Mission, Discipleship and Ministry across the Diocese.

“Please hold Libby and her family in your prayers along with the people of St Gabriel’s and the Mission and Ministry Support Team.”

Libby’s licensing and start date will be in late summer at a time still to be finalised, and her final Sunday in St Gabriel’s will be announced shortly.

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