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New Bishop for Bath and Wells

13 December 2013


THE Bishop-designate of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock (above), has said the long journey towards women bishops is nearing an end.

Bishop Hancock, whose appointment was announced on Tuesday, said: "It seems we have been travelling for a long time, and I'm delighted we are on the last part of that journey. Sometimes we do not always handle [these issues] very well."

Bishop Hancock, who has been the Bishop of Basingstoke since 2010, said that a car-bumper sticker with the slogan "Are we nearly there yet?", which he had spotted in Lambeth Palace, summed up the frustration with the sluggish progress towards allowing women into the episcopate. He said he was thrilled that one of the eight women observers who joined the House of Bishops for the first time this week, the Ven. Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells, was from his new diocese.

"This is a very critical time for the Church and for society," Bishop Hancock said. "One of the things I want to do is to help society shape itself around commonly held Christian principles." This was true for Bath & Wells as well as the wider country, he said. "There are huge opportunities for the Church to share our resources, but also to listen and learn from the communities we serve."

The sense of responsibility in taking on the 1104-year-old diocese was very evident, Bishop Hancock said on Wednesday. He was thankful, however, for the legacy of the Bishops who had served the diocese before him. His immediate predecessor, the Rt Revd Peter Price, who retired in June, was both a personal friend and an "inspiration".

Bishop Hancock, who is 58, read natural sciences at Cambridge before studying for ordination at Oak Hill Theological College. He served his title in the diocese of Salisbury, as Assistant Curate of Radipole and Melcombe Regis. In 1987 he became Vicar of Cowplain in the diocese of Portsmouth, before becoming Archdeacon of The Meon. He also spent three years as diocesan director of mission.

Bishop Hancock is married to Jane, and has four adult children.

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