Lancashire bishop to hang up his crook and mitre after nine-year stint

Rt Rev Julian Henderson, The Bishop of Blackburn, has announced he is to retire from the role after a tenure of nearly nine years.

By Charles Graham
Monday, 7th March 2022, 1:16 pm

He will leave in July, immediately after travelling to Canterbury for the international Lambeth Conference of all Bishops in the Anglican Communion.

The announcement of his impending retirement was initially made this morning via a letter to all parishes and schools in the Diocese of Blackburn, which covers most of the County of Lancashire.

Bishop Julian will delegate the diocesan bishop’s powers during the impending vacancy to Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley.

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It was October 2013 when Bishop Julian officially joined the Diocese after the initial announcement of his appointment in March of the same year. He was consecrated by Archbishop John Sentamu at York Minster. This was followed by an Installation Service at Lancashire’s Anglican Cathedral in Blackburn a few days later.

At the announcement in March 2013, Bishop Julian (then Archdeacon of Dorking) spoke to the media during a visit to a foodbank and pledged he was coming to the Diocese “in response to a call from God through His church to serve both His people and the whole wider community in Lancashire” and to be “a champion and spokesman for those whose voice is not often heard”.

Bishop Julian has fulfilled those promises in many ways since 2013, most recently after being appointed to the House of Lords, as one of the 26 Lords Spiritual in 2020, where he has spoken since on many topics, including in support of those living in deprivation in the County; on ending inequality; on the environment; rural communities and on law and order.

During his tenure as the ninth Bishop of Blackburn, Bishop Julian has overseen a huge transformative programme to reposition the work of the Diocese. Prayerfully, in 2015/2016, he led the launch of a new strategic approach to our work entitled Vision 2026, Healthy Churches Transforming Communities.

This Vision was embedded in the key principles of making disciples, growing leaders, being witnesses and inspiring children and young people for Jesus Christ and parishes were encouraged to engage with it in ways that suited their local settings. Six years on, and just past the halfway mark to 2026, the Diocese continues to drive forward with a recently refreshed Vision plan.

In his letter today, Bishop Julian says: “God willing, my plan is to lay down my Diocesan Pastoral Staff to the Dean in the Cathedral on July 16.

“I can't quite express how I feel about this, as I would love to stay, do more, be around for our forthcoming Diocesan conference in October and remain part of the extraordinary story of what God is doing in The Church of England in Lancashire in the ongoing implementation of Vision 2026.

“However, my plan all along has been to ensure the Vision is not tied too tightly to me as a person and is owned by the Diocese. I don't need to be present to see it continue. We have an amazing team who are more than able to carry on the next phase of the work.”

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