Bishop of Durham-designate focuses on church growth, poverty and young people

Bishop of Durham-Designate, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, has made involving young people in the church a priority(Photo: Keith Blundy)

The next Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, has identified his priority issues as growing the church, tackling poverty, and addressing the role of children and young people in the church.

Bishop Butler, current Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, was announced as the Bishop of Durham-Designate this week, taking over from the Most Reverend Justin Welby, who left the post to become Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this year.

He spent Thursday touring the Diocese of Durham and meeting and greeting people, including pupils 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.

Bishop Butler, who sees credit unions as a way of alleviating poverty, signed up as a member of the Durham County Credit Union during his visit to the colliery.

Later in the day, he spent time viewing the Lindisfarne Gospels, which are part of a major exhibition in Durham.

He said growing the church in numbers, depth and discipleship was the "highest priority" for the Diocese of Durham.

"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 Butler, who will continue in his role as an Advocate for Children and in Safeguarding, said it was important that the church involve children and young people.

"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," he said.

Bishop Butler was accompanied on his tour of the diocese of the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant.

He said: "It was an immensely exciting day as we welcomed our new Bishop of Durham."

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