THE new Bishop of Dover is to be the Rt Revd Trevor Wilmott, it was announced on Monday. He has been Bishop of Basingstoke since 2002, and succeeds Dr Stephen Venner, who retires in November.
Although officially of a suffragan, the appointment carries delegated responsibility for the diocese of Canterbury on behalf of the Archbishop. Dr Williams described Bishop Wilmott on Monday as “an experienced pastor, with a powerful vision for the Church in contemporary society”.
Bishop Wilmott studied theology at St Peter’s College, Oxford, before training for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge. He worked as a chaplain in Oslo and Naples, and was officiating Chaplain to HM and American Forces in Southern Europe, before returning to England to be Rector of Ecton and Warden of Peterborough Diocesan Retreat House from 1983 to 1989.
He remained in Peterborough as Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Director of Post-Ordination Training until 1997, during which time he was made Canon Residentiary and Precentor. He is a prominent spokesman in the areas of social reform, criminal justice, and rural affairs.
Much of his passion for justice came from his background, he said on Tuesday. His father was in the Indian army for most of his life and returned to take a very ordinary job in the West Country. “I was the first member of my family to be encouraged to go on to university. My parents and my brother and sister made huge sacrifices to enable me to do that. That’s a critical issue for me.”
He relishes the opportunities in Kent, an area with its own challenges in the poverty of its rural communities and among asylum-seekers. “The Church has a critical role to play in being a welcoming society to people who come to live among us.”
He spoke of his admiration for Dr Williams. “There is in Rowan an extraordinary kindness.”
The new Bishop was welcomed with a garland of Kentish hops at Chalkpit Farm in Bekesbourne, Canterbury on Monday by the farmers Amanda and Mike Barker, and their son, Harry. The Bishop describes himself as “a real foodie, who enjoys cooking”, and is looking forward to “eating oysters at Whitstable, drinking fine English wine from the Weald, and visiting the hop festival at Faversham”.
He is married to Margaret, a school-finance consultant. They have a grown-up daughter.