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See of Guildford is filled

by Rachel Harden


THE next Bishop of Guildford is to be the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, Bishop of Stafford in Lichfield diocese since 1996, it was announced on Tuesday.


It was exactly a year since the translation of the previous Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, to Chelmsford had been announced.


Speaking on Tuesday, Bishop Hill said: “Stoke on Trent and Guildford are quite different places, just as the dioceses are very different. Guildford is quite compact compared with Lichfield. Although I had an exhilarating time as a Bishop in Lichfield — apart from odd moments — it is always good to have a second phase that is rather different.”


Bishop Hill was Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs at Lambeth Palace , for the late Lord Runcie, from 1981 to 1989, before being appointed a Canon of St Paul’s.


Guildford was the first diocese to raise the clergy stipend beyond the national benchmark. Bishop Hill said that the diocese was committed to national mutual support for less well-off dioceses.


“The diocesan secretary is already involved in discussions on this, and I support that aspiration. Just as John Gladwin brought a bit of his Sheffield experience with him, so, without boring people, I will occasionally remind people about different parts of the country needing support.”


On homosexuality, Bishop Hill said that he stood by the House of Bishops report and study guide. But he believed that it was very important to encourage both sides in listening and “recognising the faith of Christ in each other”.


Bishop Hill said he would also put into practice his experience of ecumenical dialogue; and that he also hoped to lead congregations more into “modelling what it means to be human”. He was very concerned about the high divorce rate in Guildford diocese, and the Church could take a lead in promoting community and family times, he said.


Bishop Hill, who is married and has four grown-up children, lists industrial archaeology (railways and canals) and good food and wine among his hobbies. He said that his definition of good food was probably English or Italian, but that he had shared an excellent curry the previous week in Stoke on Trent with the country’s first Muslim Lord Mayor.

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