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From Manchester to Baghdad

15 August 2007

by Gerald Butt, Middle East Correspondent

Facing a unique challenge: the Rt Revd Michael Lewis

Facing a unique challenge: the Rt Revd Michael Lewis

A NEW Bishop in Cyprus & the Gulf has been appointed. It is to be the Rt Revd Michael Lewis, who is currently Bishop of Middleton in the diocese of Manchester. He plans to move to his base in Nicosia, Cyprus, in mid-November.

The diocese in Cyprus & the Gulf is one of four in the province in Jerusalem & the Middle East, which stretches from Algeria to Iran, and from Lebanon to the Horn of Africa. The diocese includes the Gulf states, Iraq, and Yemen. Bishop Lewis is to replace the Most Revd Clive Handford, who was also Presiding Bishop in the province, who retired in April.

Bishop Lewis, who is 54, has been Bishop of Middleton since 1999. He trained at Cuddesdon, and served in Worcester during the early part of his ministry. Since moving to the Manchester diocese, he has chaired its Board of Education, and also, since 2005, the higher-education panel on the national Board. He is Warden of Readers in the diocese, and has had a long-standing interest in the Middle East.

Bishop Michael said his new post presented him with “a unique challenge. It will be a fascinating and humbling ministry, covering a part of the world where the great questions of the day are focused.”

He said that the work would involve travelling to “Christian communities, talking, and getting to know the politics of the region. I greatly look forward to carrying on my interest with other faiths, particularly Islam. I also look forward to working with the Eastern Orthodox Church.”

One of his biggest challenges will be in helping the beleaguered Christian community in Iraq. In July, Canon Andrew White, and two of his assistants from St George’s, Baghdad, were forced to flee the Iraqi capital because of “serious terrorist threats”. The church itself has frequently been damaged, both by warfare and as a result of deliberate attacks on Christian property.

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