Graham Usher to be next Bishop of Dudley

The Reverend Canon Graham Usher

The Reverend Canon Graham Usher has today been announced as the next Bishop of Dudley.

The 43-year-old was ordained in 1996 and is current rector and lecturer of Hexham Abbey in the Diocese of Newcastle, a position he has held since 2004.

Under his leadership, the abbey congregation has grown and developed links to support an area of regeneration and a domestic violence charity.

The abbey has been involved in a foodbank for West Northumberland, and some 2,000 school children are welcomed each year for activity days linked to the National Curriculum.

Another achievement has been the reunion of its former monastic buildings taken by Henry VIII, and the raising of £3.2m to develop a new visitor centre, refectory, education rooms and meeting spaces.

Prior to joining Hexham Abbey, Canon Usher was vicar of a parish in Middlesbrough, which is in the bottom two per cent of England's most deprived communities.

There, he chaired the neighbourhood management group and developed an innovative arts based project to divert young people from crime.

He said he was "greatly looking forward" to getting to know the people of the Black Country and the Diocese of Worcester.

"I am honoured, delighted and not a little daunted to have been asked to become the next Bishop of Dudley," he said.

Despite the nerves, he revealed his excitement at the prospect of working alongside the Bishop of Worcester, the Right Reverend John Inge, and churches to share God's love with communities.

"Together I believe that we have an incredible story to tell as we share the life of Jesus and, in partnership with others, look to ways to daily bring God's love, justice and peace to the communities we serve," he said.

Bishop Inge praised Canon Usher's previous work with the poor in Teesside and his contribution to Hexham Abbey, which he said had been led into growth.

"He is an exceptionally able priest who, though relatively young to become a bishop, has very considerable ministerial experience, both rural and urban," he said.

"Throughout his ministry he has made a significant contribution to the welfare of wider society. This is a very exciting appointment and I look forward greatly to working with him for the good of the people of the Diocese of Worcester."

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Martin Wharton said: "I am delighted that the wider Church has recognised the gifts and qualities of Canon Graham Usher, who has served the people of Hexham and the ministry of Hexham Abbey superbly well over the last nine years.

"He will move to be Bishop of Dudley with our gratitude for all that he has given to the life of this Diocese, and we assure him, together with Rachel and their children, of our prayers and very best wishes."

Graham will be ordained bishop at St Paul's Cathedral on 25 March and be will begin his public ministry in the Diocese of Worcester after Easter.

There will be a service of welcome at St Thomas's Church, Dudley at 4pm on Saturday 3 May and he will be installed as an Honorary Canon of Worcester in the Cathedral at 4pm on Sunday 4 May.