DURHAM wants someone who will speak for the North-East in London as its next bishop, a public meeting called to discuss the appointment heard.

The process of choosing the next Bishop of Durham, to succeed Justin Welby who left to become Archbishop of Canterbury, has begun.

On Friday (February 15), the Archbishops’ and Prime Minister’s appointments secretaries, Caroline Boddington and Sir Paul Britton respectively, staged one-to-one interviews in the region.

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The following day, around 150 people attended a public meeting at Durham Johnston School, in Durham City.

Afterwards, Sir Paul said he had heard that Justin Welby had begun to tackle key issues facing the Durham diocese including mission, discipleship, growth and reaching out to young people.

He continued: “Whilst a clone of Justin wasn’t appropriate, the person would probably have some of the characteristics.

“They would bring some new things as well. You said you don’t want to be comfortable, you want to be challenged and you’re up for change, and that is very refreshing.

“You also want a bishop who will continue to ensure that the Church is absolutely at the leading edge in the North-East, in building a more prosperous and populous community here, and who will also speak for the North-East in London.”

A Durham Diocese Vacancy In See Committee (ViS) has been set up, which will produce a person and role brief.

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) will then interview candidates and submit two names to the Prime Minister, who by convention accepts the first and passes it to the Queen for approval.

An announcement is expected this summer.