Peter Hancock to be next Bishop of Bath and Wells

Bishop Peter Hancock and his wife Jane

The Right Reverend Peter Hancock has been announced as the next Bishop of Bath and Wells.

The 58-year-old is currently Bishop of Basingstoke, a role he has held since September 2010.

He said he was delighted to be coming to the Diocese of Bath and Wells, saying the countryside was a "real passion" of his.

"It's a wonderful part of the country," he said.

"It will be a great privilege to meet all who live and work here in Somerset, to hear people's stories and to discover all that God is doing in their lives.

"The mission of the diocese is 'Changing Lives, Changing Churches for Changing Communities'. The good news of Jesus is life-changing and I look forward to seeing the lives of individuals and communities continuing to be transformed by his grace and his love."

Bishop Hancock describes the "three threads" of his ministry as concern for rural and environmental issues, encouraging children and young people, and supporting the homeless and most vulnerable in society.

"When ordained, bishops are called to have a special care for the poor, the outcast and those who are in need," he has previously said.

"They are called to proclaim the gospel boldly, to confront injustice and to work for righteousness and peace in the world."

His short tour of the Diocese of Bath and Wells today takes in visits to a school and a charity working with the homeless, as well as meetings with business owners, communities, church leaders, school children and the media.

The Right Reverend Peter Maurice, Bishop of Taunton, has warmly welcomed the announcement of Bishop Hancock's appointment.

He said: "We all very much look forward to welcoming Bishop Peter and [wife] Jane into the life of the diocese.

"Bath and Wells has a culture of partnership in ministry, and Bishop Peter takes up the leadership here with the prayers of us all as we work together to face the challenges that await us.

"We strive to be an outward-facing church, and Bishop Peter's background in mission and ministry will be an encouragement to us in our parishes, schools and chaplaincies. I know he will also want to engage with the wider communities of Somerset when he takes up his new role with us."

Bishop Hancock will be formally enthroned at Wells Cathedral in 2014. He will work at the Bishop's Palace alongside the Bishop of Taunton.