CIVIC dignitaries have attended a special thanksgiving service in which the outgoing Bishop of Newcastle was given the Freedom of the City.

The Right Reverend Christine Hardman stepped down from her role at Newcastle Cathedral on Sunday.

The service was attended by community leaders as well as many who have met and worked with Bishop Christine in her six years leading Newcastle Diocese. The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Habib Rahman, supported by City Council Leader, Councillor Nick Forbes, presented Bishop Christine with the Freedom of Newcastle as she became the first faith leader to receive the award.

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Bishop Christine, the 12th Bishop of Newcastle, said: “I am profoundly grateful for the six years I have served this Diocese, the depth of welcome and relationships in this region has been inspirational and encouraging.

“We have all been called to minister together, lay and ordained, at a time of extraordinary challenge, and I am very proud of the way in which our clergy and laity have responded to this.

“I give thanks for all of you. It has been a privilege to be your bishop.”

The Northern Echo:

The Right Reverend Christine Hardman

Bishop Christine became a Deaconess in 1984 and was ordained Deacon in 1987, serving in the Diocese of St Albans.

From 1987 to 1996, she was a tutor, and then course director for the St Alban’s and Oxford Ministry Course.

In 1996, she was appointed Vicar of Holy Trinity and Christ the King, Stevenage, also Rural Dean of Stevenage in 1999, and in 2001 served as Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich in the Diocese of Southwark.

In 2012, she retired only to return to active full-time ministry and was consecrated Bishop of Newcastle.

As Bishop of Newcastle, Christine has been a Member of the House of Bishops in the Church of England's General Synod.

Her major area of work on General Synod was the legislation to allow women to be bishops.

She has also been a Church Commissioner, chairwoman of the Archbishops’ Pastoral Advisory Group, sat in the House of Lords and was chairwoman of the North of Tyne Combined Authority Inclusive Economy Board.

The Northern Echo:

The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Habib Rahman, and city council Leader, Councillor Nick Forbes, present Bishop Christine with the Freedom of Newcastle

Bishop Christine said: “My husband Roger and I have been incredibly blessed by the generosity and support that has been shown to both of us in our time in Newcastle Diocese.

“Its people, history, and landscape have an enduring place in our hearts, and we will always treasure the years we have spent here.”

Suffragan Bishop of Berwick, the Right Reverend Mark Wroe will lead the Diocese of Newcastle as the process begins to appoint the next Bishop of Newcastle.

Bishop Mark said: “Bishop Christine has been a profound voice of hope and faith for the Church and the North East, locally and nationally, as a passionate advocate of our region.

“It’s been a privilege to serve in the team she has developed, in the midst of so many changes and challenges, to help us be a growing church bringing hope for our Diocese.

“We have appreciated her compassionate, straight-talking, faith-filled and collaborative leadership which never shies away from the issues at hand.

“Although we will miss Bishop Christine deeply in the diocese, we will be bolstered by the hope and faith in Jesus Christ which she constantly holds before us. Our prayers and love will go with her and Roger.”

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