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Grantham bishop climbs to Derby

THE NEXT Bishop of Derby is to be Dr Alastair Redfern, at present the Suffragan Bishop of Grantham, Downing Street announced on Monday. Dr Redfern will succeed the Rt Revd Jonathan Bailey, who retires in May.

Dr Redfern, who is 56, said this week that the two dioceses, despite being part of the same region, could not be more dramatically different.

"In my part of Lincoln there are the flat fenlands, with not a lot of urban buzz. Derby itself is a city with new industry and an ethnic-minority population of 12 per cent - and, of course, it is surrounded by the Peak District."

Nevertheless, there was considerable rural poverty in the old mining areas, where much work was being done on regeneration.

He was aware that churchgoers across Derby were unsettled by a radical rethink of clergy deployment announced last year (News, 26 March  2004). "We have got to make these shifts: that is the world we are operating in. But I am a tremendous advocate of the parish system: that is the strength of the Anglican Church."

He spent Monday touring the diocese. No one asked him about the Windsor report and his views on homosexuality, he said. "We have had the report and the meeting at Newry, and we remain in conversation. Where we differ from the world is that we believe it is important to have prayer and reflection on issues, and wrestle with them."

Dr Redfern  is widowed and has two grown-up children. He trained for the ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge, and Queen's College, Birmingham. After serving his title in Lichfield, he became a lecturer and then vice-principal at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, before becoming a residentiary canon at Bristol Cathedral, where he was also diocesan director of training. He has been Bishop of Grantham since 1997, and Dean of Stamford since 1998.

He describes his football support as catholic - his father-in-law was a keen Derby County supporter, he says, but he is also aware there are other teams in the diocese.

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