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Former Mirfield principal to be Bishop of Burnley

22 March 2024

Diocese of Blackburn

The Revd Dr Joe Kennedy

The Revd Dr Joe Kennedy

THE next Suffragan Bishop of Burnley, in the diocese of Blackburn, is to be the Vicar of St Saviour’s, Oxton, in Chester diocese, the Revd Dr Joseph Kennedy, Downing Street announced on Friday morning.

Dr Kennedy, who is 55, will succeed the Rt Revd Philip North, who was appointed Bishop of Blackburn last year (News, 13 January 2023).

Dr Kennedy has been in his current post since 2011, and, since 2021, he has served as Rural Dean of Birkenhead. From 2008 to 2011, he was the principal of the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, and previously held college chaplaincy posts in Cambridge.

He was ordained in 2002, having trained for ordination at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, where he met his wife, Emily, with whom he has two children. He served his title in the Stratfield Mortimer Benefice, in Oxford diocese, and then served a second curacy in the Benefice of Abingdon-on-Thames, also in Oxford diocese.

He completed degrees in mathematics and in theology at Edinburgh University, and was awarded a D.Phil. in theology from Keble College, Oxford.

Dr Kennedy said on Friday that he hoped to offer an episcopal ministry that was “confident in God, rooted in prayer, focused on pastoral care and on mission; and which offers a focus for unity across the diocese”.

He spoke of the “rich variety of experience” in the diocese: “Urban and rural areas and their parishes, post-industrial towns and coastal regions, schools and chaplaincies, coupled with the diversity of traditions in the Church of England — different ways of worshipping, of serving communities, and of seeing things.”

Bishop North described Dr Kennedy as someone who had “overseen a period of significant congregational growth in his current parish, and loves to see lives changed by the gospel”.

He continued: “The advisory panel that met to interview candidates for the post was an extremely diverse one, in which all traditions were well represented. The unity of mind that this group reached was extraordinary, and it was incredibly beautiful to discern together a deep sense that Joe was the one whom God was calling.

“Joe brings experience and expertise in parish renewal, and in starting new local congregations which will feed into his role in leading across the diocese and overseeing the ‘Being Witnesses’ portfolio — part of our Vision 2026 work. Joe also has experience of theological education.”

Dr Kennedy will be consecrated in York Minister on 19 July.

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