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Migraines force Bishop of Stepney out of office

23 July 2018


The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian Newman, and the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally

The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian Newman, and the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally

THE Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian Newman, is to “step back from full-time ministry” on health grounds, it was announced on Monday.

Bishop Newman will be resigning as the Bishop of Stepney and withdrawing from public duties at the end of October, because of “debilitating” migraines. The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, will serve as Acting Bishop of Stepney until a successor is found.

Speaking on Monday, Bishop Newman, who has served exactly seven years in the post, said: “Migraines have been my thorn in the flesh for many years, but I have reached the point where they are adversely affecting my ability to carry out the demanding role of a bishop in this part of London.

“I hope that a period away from the front line will help me to recover and explore what God may be calling me to in the future.”

He continued: “It has been a huge privilege to be Bishop of Stepney, serving one of the most diverse and vibrant communities in the whole of the country.

“I have been blessed to work alongside a terrific group of clergy, and to be part of a diocese filled with creativity and godly ambition. I will miss the role enormously, and carry such a host of rich memories from my time here.”

Bishop Newman recently chaired the Church’s Cathedrals Working Group, which produced a report about reforms this year (News, Comment, 18 January).

His decision to “put his health forward” was fully supported by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally.

Bishop Mullally said: “We speak about taking seriously the wellbeing of ordained ministers and, whilst I will miss working with Bishop Adrian in the future, I fully support his decision to put his health first.

“I am sure everyone in Stepney and in London will join with me in thanking Bishop Adrian and praying for him, and for Gill and his family, as he makes this life-change.”

In an open letter to clergy in Stepney, Bishop Newman revealed that he has been suffering from “debilitating headaches” for 12 years, and that medication that helped with them caused him to suffer from anxiety as a side-effect.

He wrote: “The long and short of it is that I have reached the point where I feel I need to step aside and see if I can recover my health. I’ve looked at various ways of stepping back but eventually decided that I needed to stop entirely (rather than take sabbatical leave), so my intention is to give myself six to nine months of recuperation and see if I can recover.”

Bishop Mullally said: “Bishop Adrian will be remembered in Stepney above all as a campaigner for social justice, so often providing a voice for the marginalised in the East End and beyond.

“When terror struck London — not for the first or last time in 2017 — it was Bishop Adrian who took his place alongside our political and faith leaders at Finsbury Park Mosque, addressing the crowd at the vigil afterwards with the cry, ‘an attack on one faith is an attack on us all’” (News, 23 June 2017).

Among the social campaigns Bishop Newman was involved in was a push for more affordable housing in London (News, 24 November 2017), and a call for more government action on child poverty (News, 11 November 2016).

He was praised for helping during the London riots of 2011 (News, 20 June 2012), and led the Church’s involvement in the Olympics in 2012 (Gazette, 8 February 2012).

Bishop of Newman was consecrated Bishop of Stepney in St Paul’s Cathedral on 22 July 2011, and now intends to move to Essex, with his wife Gill, to focus on his health.

Bishop Mullally said: “I am sure you will join with me in thanking Bishop Adrian and praying for him, and for Gill and his family, as he makes this life-change.”

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