Rose Hudson-Wilkin to become Church of England's first black female bishop

Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin(Photo: Jim Drew)

Rose Hudson-Wilkin has been appointed as the next Bishop of Dover, making her the Church of England's first black female bishop when she takes up the position in November.

She succeeds the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott following his retirement last month. 

Rev Hudson-Wilkin is highly regarded as the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, a key pastoral role in Parliament that she has held for nearly a decade.

She will be consecrated in a service at St Paul's Cathedral on 19 November and installed at Canterbury Cathedral on 30 November.

In addition to being Chaplain to the Speaker, Rev Hudson-Wilkin, who was born and raised in Jamaica, has served until now as Priest in Charge of St Mary-at-Hill, in London. 

"I am excited to have been called to be the next bishop of Dover in the Diocese of Canterbury with its long history of Christian witness," she said.

"I am looking forward to journeying with the people of Kent, celebrating the good work that is already happening there and working together with its religious and secular leaders to ensure that the good news of hope, love and justice remains at the heart of our changed lives together."

Welcoming the appointment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said he was "delighted" she was moving into the new role as Bishop of Dover. 

"Rose Hudson-Wilkin has, over the last nine years, been one of the most influential and effective ministers in the public square through her long service as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons," he said. 

"I have constantly been told that she has been an effective pastor in one crisis or another, especially in the last few years.

"Before that she was a parish minister of great impact. She has been described as prophet, pastor and evangelist. She has challenged the Church of England over its engagement with UK minority ethnic groups, and has spoken forcefully and effectively at many evangelistic meetings."

He added: "She will bring great energy and a profound commitment to collegial working, an outward looking approach to the mission of the church and a profound spiritual life. We pray for God's blessing on her as she prepares to move."

Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, thanked Rev Hudson-Wilkin for her "steadfast support and friendship" over the last nine years.

"Rose is one of the warmest, kindest and most loving people I have ever met, so she will be sorely missed by Members across the House, the staff and especially, by me," she said. 

"She has an unfailing sense of duty and an ability – more than she would herself ever know – to bring comfort in times of tragedy.

"Furthermore, her steely resolve when confronted with loss and evil, following the death of our dear colleague Jo Cox, and in the wake of the Westminster Bridge attack, was plain for all to see.

"Both in the celebration of happiness and in condolence and prayer, she has the most reassuring, fortifying presence anyone could want." 

He added: "She will be the most excellent Bishop of Dover, and I will watch keenly the next stage of her spiritual journey."

Rev Hudson-Wilkin is married to prison chaplain Kenneth Wilkin and they have three adult children. 

Her extensive ministry in the UK started in 1982 when she was commissioned as a Church Army evangelist before being ordained as a deacon in the Church of England in 1991, and then as a priest in 1994.  She went on to serve as a priest in Hackney for over 16 years before, in 2007, being appointed as a Chaplain to the Queen. 

In 2010, she became the first female appointed to the position of the 79th Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

She has been Priest in Charge of St Mary-at-Hill near Monument, in the City of London, since 2014.