New Bishop of Gloucester Rachel Treweek: 'The Church is in a very exciting time'

Rachel Treweek will be the first woman bishop to sit in the House of Lords.

The first diocesan woman bishop in the Church of England has said that the "Church is in a very exciting time", and said that she has "a lot to learn" in her new role.

The Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney, was speaking exclusively to Christian Today on the day that Downing Street confirmed she is to be the next Bishop of Gloucester.

With a ministry that is traditionally Christ-centred and having earned a reputation as a phenomenally successful leader, pastor and senior woman priest in the London diocese, she also made clear that she welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury's overt drive for growth in the Church.

Archdeacon Treweek said: "Lots of people have spoken about it as if it is about saving the Church of England."

But it is not about this, she insists.

"It is about us gaining more confidence with what God is doing in growing His kingdom. I do not start from a place of a failing institution. For me it is not about starting from a place of fear and anxiety, but starting in a place of hope and confidence. I do feel hugely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. The Church is in a very exciting time."

Passionate about faith and about the message Jesus had for society at large, she is not frightened either to discuss politics from an overtly-Christian, though not party political view. She will be the first woman bishop to sit with the 26 diocesans in the House of Lords, giving her voice additional significance and making her a woman to watch as well as listen to on the part of both secular and religious leaders.

The recent 52-page open letter published by the Church's bishops was condemned as left wing by opponents. It called for a "fresh moral vision" to help voters negotiate "dangerous times". The letter said: "We are not made in isolation. We belong together in a creation which should be cherished and not simply used and consumed."

Archdeacon Treweek echoed this tone. "There has been a lot of controversy around the pastoral letter the House of Bishops put out. But I think it is fantastic because what it is really saying is that followers of Jesus need to be involved with people at every level of life. This gives us a huge opportunity to say what kind of society we want to live in. It is not about aligning ourselves with one political party, it is saying we need to be speaking up about the kind of society we want to be living in, that we are not just self-seeking for the individual."

In her Twitter profile @VenRachel, she describes herself as "more vulnerable than venerable". This is apparent in the generosity and enthusiasm with which she talks. "My desire is to work with people here, to grow in our confidence, to share the good news of Jesus with people and connect with people where and whoever they are, whatever their concerns. In the early days I am going to listen, I have got a lot to learn. I have got a real interest in enabling people to stand together in a place of difference. I am looking forward to discovering the diversity of the diocese and working to share the good news as we stand together."