THE next Bishop of Blackburn is to be the Ven. Julian Henderson,
at present the Archdeacon of Dorking and chairman of the Business
Committee of the General Synod, it was announced last Friday.
His appointment was announced at the Blackburn Foodbank, which,
Archdeacon Henderson said, was no coincidence. "I am very aware of
the very significant challenges facing many in Lancashire at a time
of austerity and cutbacks, and a shortage of jobs," he said. "I
would hope to be a champion and spokesman for those whose voice is
often not heard."
Unlike his two predecessors - the Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, who
retired on 31 October, and the Rt Revd Alan Chesters - Archdeacon
Henderson is willing to ordain women as priests. He is in favour of
women's admission to the episcopate, but voted against the draft
women-bishops Measure in November (
News, 23 November).
A statement from Archdeacon Henderson said: "Let me be clear. I
am in favour of women serving as bishops, and will want to
introduce a change in the current diocesan pattern by ordaining
women as deacons and priests.
"But I hope my vote at General Synod last November will be a
reassurance to those opposed to this development, that I want to be
a figure of unity on this matter, and will ensure there is an
honoured place for both positions within the mainstream of the
Church of England. Might Blackburn be a model for the rest of the
Church of England!"
Speaking on Wednesday, Archdeacon Henderson said that the
legislation that came before the Synod in November did not contain
sufficiently "strong legal language to enable those who are opposed
[to women bishops] to find a safe place in the Church of England".
He did not want Anglo-Catholics and conservative Evangelicals to be
"We can and should find a better way than what was on the table
last November. I'm really keen, as chair of the Business Committee,
to find a way that we put something on the table in July which,
from the start, will command significant support . . . We can't
afford a second defeat."
Archdeacon Henderson said that there were "issues to be decided"
about his position as chairman of the Business Committee of the
Synod. "I've always argued that the chair of the Business Committee
should not be a bishop. There needs to be some level of
independence from the House of Bishops in that role."
In 2011, the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott,
withdrew from his nomination for the position of chairman of the
Business Committee after rum- blings among some members about its
being chaired by a bishop (
Synod, 15 July 2011). Archdeacon Henderson said that he did not
want such objections to be "dragged up again".
Archdeacon Henderson's appointment has been welcomed by the
Vicar of St Mary's, Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, who
co-ordinated a letter from Blackburn clergy urging the Archbishop
of York, Dr Sentamu, to ensure that the next diocesan bishop would
ordain women as priests (
News, 25 January). Mr Newlands said that the appointment would
be welcomed, "especially by the women priests of the diocese, who
will have, for the first time since women were ordained in the
Church of England, a diocesan bishop who fully affirms their
A statement from Forward in Faith also welcomed the appointment:
"Catholic Anglicans have reason to be grateful to Archdeacon
Henderson, as one of those members of the Synod who voted against
the women-bishops Measure, despite their own support for the prin-
"We welcome his commitment to ensuring that there is an honoured
place for both positions on the ordination of women within the
mainstream of the Church of England. Like him, we hope that
Blackburn might continue to be a model for the rest of the Church
of England in this regard, as it has been under his predecessor.
Whether that can be so will depend to a significant extent on
whether both views continue to be represented among the diocese's
Archdeacon Henderson, who is 58, has been Archdeacon of Dorking
since 2005. From 1992 to 2005, he was Vicar of Claygate, in
Guildford diocese. He is married to Heather, and has two grown-up
The date of his consecration has not yet been confirmed.