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'I'll ordain female priests' says new Bishop of Blackburn
NEW Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson, who was announced yesterday, immediately declared his intention to ordain women priests.
In a clear break with his predecessors, he used his acceptance speech to assert his support for females at all levels of the Church of England, including his new role.
The London-born 58-year-old was on only third visit to Lancashire when announced as new leader of the county’s 50,000 plus practising Anglicans.
Currently Archdeacon of Dorking, Rev Henderson made a departure from the two previous Bishops, Nicholas Reade and Alan Chesters, who did not ordain women priests leaving it to one of their deputies.
He said: “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.”
An Evangelical Christian, he said his experience of being curate in a deprived parish in London and vicar in a poor area of Hasting had prepared him for the challenges he would face in his new £40,000 a year job.
Rev Henderson, who has sheltered a homeless man rebuilding his life in his house for two years, said he chose Blackburn Foodbank for his unveiling to show his commitment to tackling poverty and deprivation in his new diocese.
He revealed as the former manager of a trophy-winning five a side football team in London, he was looking forward to visiting the county’s soccer grounds.
Accompanied by his teacher wife Heather, who was born in the jungle in Borneo, the father-of-two said: “To find that I am the person invited to become the next Bishop of Blackburn is extremely humbling. It is an honour to be entrusted with such an important and significant responsibility.
“I am very aware of the very significant challenges facing many in Lancashire at a time of austerity and cutbacks and a shortage of jobs. It is no coincidence that 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, including local Muslims and Buddhists and people of no faith who just 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.”
Rev Henderson is expected to be enthroned as Bishop in the Autumn.