Welby exit triggers search for new Bishop of Durham

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

DURHAM is looking for a new bishop for the second time in two years, with the search expected to last several months.

While the worldwide Anglican Church gets used to having the Right Reverend Justin Welby as its new figurehead, the 56-year-old’s flock in the ancient See of Durham are coming to terms with losing their leader after only a year’s service.

Bishop Welby is well thought of in Durham, having thrown himself into the Church’s fourth most senior job with energy and commitment.

But replacing him when he leaves for Lambeth Palace is certain to be a lengthy process.

It was ten months after Tom Wright stepped down from the job after seven years in August 2010 that Durham was able to announce Justin Welby, then the little-known Dean of Liverpool, as its new Bishop Designate – and a further five months before he was formally enthroned in Durham Cathedral.

A spokesman for the Durham diocese said a process would be undertaken, but it was too early to talk about dates or names.

Appointing a bishop is slow and complicated.

A Vacancy-in-See Committee, including the Very Rev Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of Durham, clergy and senior lay people, will produce a Statement of Needs for the diocese.

This is sent to the Crown Nominations Commission, including Archbishops Welby and Sentamu with others, which will meet several times in secret before forwarding two names to the Prime Minister, who by convention chooses the first-named recommendation and so advises the Queen, who makes the formal nomination.

The frontrunners for the Durham vacancy will likely include some pipped to the Archbishop’s job by Justin Welby, such as Graham James, Bishop of Norwich; Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry; and Richard Chartres, Bishop of London.

In the meantime the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, will once again hold the fort.

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