Paul Butler announced as next Bishop of Durham

Bishop Paul Butler(Photo: Keith Blundy)

The Right Reverend Paul Butler has been announced as the next Bishop of Durham.

He is current Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and succeeds the Most Reverend Justin Welby, who stepped down after just a year as Bishop of Durham to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bishop Butler was consecrated at Southwark Cathedral on 24 June 2004 and served as Bishop of Southampton until his move to Southwell where he was installed on 27 February 2010.

He said it was a "huge surprise" and a "privilege" to be appointed Bishop of Durham, although he added it would be sad to leave Southwell and Nottingham.

"This ancient Diocese goes way back before England was a united nation. The heritage is extraordinary.  Each new Bishop of Durham stands on the shoulders of some of the greatest Christians in this country's long and proud history," he said.

"I am delighted to be coming to Durham and the North East at a time of significant change that is both exciting and challenging in equal parts. I come here to serve and to seek to enable the continual renewing of the faith and our engagement with all people in every community."

Although he is new to the area, he said he was "deeply aware" of the challenges facing the region and that he looked forward to continuing the work of renewal in the diocese started by Archbishop Welby.

He said his first priority would be to get out and meet people on the ground in order to hear about their lives and their communities.

"I want to get to know the area and being out and about is the only way to do so. I will want to build relationships with the clergy, local community leaders, local and national politicians and business leaders."

Bishop Butler said young people, poverty and growth were all important issues for communities in the North East, and that he was looking forward to being an advocate of the North East in the House of Lords.

"I have a strong commitment to engaging with children and young people, through schools, in church and community based activities. I have a particular concern around child poverty, social, economic and spiritual," he said.

"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 Paul Butler(Photo: Keith Blundy)

"I recognise that it is found in urban and rural communities. In my role in the House of Lords I will want to speak up strongly for this region, advocating for its specific needs.

"This is beautiful area of the country, full of great people and great places. We need to work together to attract people here. People who will visit as tourists; people who will bring business and employment, and in church terms people who will serve as leaders in our churches. I come with a priority to renew and grow the church. I do so not for the church's sake but convinced that the renewal of the church leads to the renewal of the whole community. This renewal depends on prayer, on teaching the faith and on serving all people.

"I love Jesus Christ. I love the church of Jesus Christ, and in particular the Church of England. I love the C of E for its commitment to the good news of God in Jesus Christ; its breadth and its continuing engagement in the life of the community at every level, and that is what will drive me in my ministry here in Durham."

The Right Reverend Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, said he was "absolutely delighted" by the appointment of Bishop Butler.

"I know that he has always had a deep interest in and concern for the communities in which he has worked and I know that he will bring that to the North-East," he said.

"I know too that he has a deep passion for helping churches to grow and make a real difference to the lives of individuals and communities and that will be a real help to us in the churches in the Diocese of Durham."