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Bishop Butler of Durham to retire next February

17 July 2023

Diocese of Durham

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, during his annual prayer walk in May. This year’s was in Sunderland

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, during his annual prayer walk in May. This year’s was in Sunderland

THE Rt Revd Paul Butler has announced that he will retire in February 2024, when he will have served as Bishop of Durham for ten years. He is 68.

Bishop Butler has spoken frequently in the House of Lords, where Bishops of Durham sit as of right, and his speeches have touched on a wide range of subjects, but particularly the refugee crisis and education.

He is the Church’s official advocate for children (he was the lead safeguarding bishop from 2010 to 2016) and chairs the board of the National Society. He has also chaired the trustees of the Church Mission Society, and served as president of the Scripture Union (2012 to 2019).

Bishop Butler has contributed to several books and papers on these subjects.

Commenting on his retirement, announced on Friday, Bishop Butler, said that being called to the diocese was “an unexpected and challenging step”, but that he and his wife, Rosemary, had “loved the variety, beauty, and challenges of this diverse diocese. It is my hope and prayer that my ministry has helped God’s Church truly be a blessing to our communities for the transformation of all from the Tyne to the Tees and the Dales to the sea.”

After training at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, he was ordained deacon in 1983, and priest in 1984. He served his title at All Saints with Holy Trinity, Wandsworth, before serving as a non-stipendiary minister at St Paul’s, East Ham, until 1994. During this time, he also ministered for the Scripture Union in inner London. From then, he served in parish ministry in Walthamstow, in Chelmsford diocese, for ten years, until his consecration as the Suffragan Bishop of Southampton, in Winchester diocese, in 2004. He was appointed an Honorary Canon of Byumba, in Rwanda, in 2001.

He was translated to Southwell & Nottingham in 2009, and succeeded Archbishop Welby at Durham in 2014.

He is the first Bishop of Durham since Michael Ramsey in 1953 to have served, according to custom, as one of the Bishops Assistant to the monarch at a coronation.

When he retires, the Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Revd Sarah Clark, will be Acting Bishop. She was “thankful for his wise and challenging strategic leadership, prayerful care, and utter commitment. . . We are particularly grateful for his leadership in the hard times of the pandemic where his love for all our communities put people at the heart of all we did.”

The Archbishop of York said that he had been “active in the diocese and the region, but also playing a full and effective part in the national life of the Church. His lifelong commitment to ministry with and for children and young people is now reflected in the national strategy of the Church of England.”

He concluded: “First and foremost, Paul is a follower of Jesus. He has been a compelling and consistent voice for the Christian faith. Many of us have learned so much about Christian discipleship from him. We thank him and his wife, Rosemary, for their incredible service to the Church and the gospel.”

Bishop Butler and his wife have four adult children and two grandchildren.

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