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Next Bishop of Guildford named

03 October 2014


THE Bishop-designate of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, has echoed the Archbishop of Canterbury's call for the Church to work with Muslims to counter radicalisation and the appeal of jihadism.

Bishop Watson, who is currently Suffragan Bishop of Aston, in the diocese of Birmingham, said last Friday, the day his nomination was announced, that Christians should engage with the issue of radicalisation of Muslims. "On the ground, one of the questions is whether people are listening to their imams or to messages from out of the internet. I think a fair amount of the latter is going on."

Archbishop Welby said earlier in the day, during a House of Lords debate on airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq, that there needed to be an "ideological and a religious response" to the IS (News, 26 September).

Bishop Watson said that both he and the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, had been invited to speak to Muslims during Ramadan this year. "That was coming out of a sense in the Muslim community that we do need to work closer together ... to discourage radicalisation."

Moving to the diocese of Guildford from the West Midlands would be a culture shock in many ways, he said, as it was a wealthier part of the country. "Guildford is obviously a diocese which has fantastic resources in all kinds of ways. My vision is releasing the tremendous potential here to be a blessing locally and across the country."

One of his proudest achievements in Birmingham, he said, was the initiative Transforming Church. "Churches can either be salt and light, but lacking evangelism; or the other way round. Across the board of churchmanship, where churches are seeking to be both, they are growing."

Bishop Watson took part in the shared conversations on sexuality in the College of Bishops meeting last week ( News, 19 September). He said that he had mixed feelings, but was convinced that it was the only way forward. "It is going to be important to keep the sense that we are having this discussion within the family context rather than manning the barricades," he said.

He was also looking forward to the entry of women into the College of Bishops in the near future. "[They] will have a positive and encouraging effect on the workings of the College, as well as being excellent on the ground."

Before moving to Birmingham in 2008, Bishop Watson, who is 53, studied at Corpus Christi College and Ridley Hall, in Cambridge, was an assistant curate in Worcester and London dioceses, and then Vicar of St Stephen's, East Twickenham, in London diocese. He will be enthroned in Guildford Cathedral in February.

He is married to Beverly, who is also ordained, and they have four children. Besides being a keen amateur musician, Bishop Watson enjoys walking and is the author of three books.

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