The new Bishop of Blackburn has been announced as The Venerable Julian Henderson, currently Archdeacon of Dorking.
The decision was taken by the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC) and the Archdeacon made his first public appearance at the Blackburn Foodbank.
He was welcomed by the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev. John Goddard, who has been covering the vacant role.
He said: “I am delighted to welcome The Venerable Julian Henderson as our next Bishop. He has the full support of the senior clergy in the Diocese, including myself, as he seeks to bring God’s Word to Lancashire in the years ahead. We are all looking forward immensely to this new era for Blackburn Diocese.”
The new Bishop visited Blackburn Cathedral where he met with the Dean of Blackburn Cathedral, The Very Rev. Christopher Armstrong, and Whalley Abbey where he met with senior Diocese clergy and senior Diocese staff.
The Archdeacon’s name was sent to the Prime Minister by the CNC at the end of January and then to the Queen, in her role as head of state and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, who recently gave the decision her final approval and ratification.
The Venerable Henderson said: “To find that I am the person invited to become the next Bishop of Blackburn is extremely humbling.
“I am aware of the significant challenges facing many in Lancashire at a time of austerity and cutbacks and a shortage of jobs. It is no coincidence this announcement is taking place at a foodbank, one of many round the country, each one a sign of the struggle it is for some to get through the next week. I would hope to be a champion and spokesman for those whose voice is often not heard.
“I am also aware this Foodbank has been supported by the whole community, not just the Christian community, including Muslims and Buddhists and people of no faith who want to help people in need.
“Our relationship as leaders sends a vital message to our separate communities about finding good ways of living alongside one another, respecting our differences and working together where we can for the common good.”
The new Bishop also commented on the emotive issue of the ordination of women and said he backed women becoming Bishops.
He added: “At another level I am aware of different deeply held convictions around the diocese on the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopate. 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.”