Alumnus Bishop's new role feels like 'coming home'

26 Feb 2010 00:00:00.000

PA 34/10

An ex University of Nottingham student will take on a senior role in the Church of England tomorrow when he returns to the county and is welcomed as the new Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham — with responsibility for some 150 clergy and more than 300 churches.

The spotlight will be on the Rt Revd Paul Butler, during a special service at Nottinghamshire’s Cathedral — Southwell Minster, where he will be welcomed by more than one thousand, two hundred invited guests representing the clergy, people from parishes, along with community and business leaders, friends and colleagues from across the country.

Bishop Paul, who was previously Bishop of Southampton, has strong Nottingham connections. He graduated from The University of Nottingham with a combined English and History degree in 1977. He stayed on in the city for three years and, as a social work assistant, he spent time with the elderly, families and individuals in several areas including some of the county’s former coalfield communities.

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He was appointed as the new Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham in June last year, when he spent the day touring the area and meeting people on an old Nottinghamshire double decker bus. He said:

“I have returned to a county I grew to love — I have a feeling that this is a ‘coming home’ — there is a sense of completeness to returning to the diocese in which my vocation and calling were developed. People at Christ Church, Chilwell, where I worshipped whilst at the University, have prayed for me ever since I left and I’m enjoying meeting up again with old friends and colleagues.”

Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, Professor David Greenaway, said: “I am delighted that Bishop Paul is returning to Nottinghamshire and would like to congratulate him on his appointment. I look forward to welcoming him back to The University of Nottingham when he visits us on campus in the near future.”

Drummers, dancers and children waving flags will all form part of the colourful and dramatic service at Southwell Minster tomorrow afternoon, which will include the Bishop’s arrival, when he knocks on the huge West doors of the Cathedral, to be welcomed by the Dean. Later in the service the Bishop will be placed in his own chair or ‘cathedra’, symbolising his role as teacher and towards the end of the service he will be handed the ancient diocesan pastoral staff — made from a narwhal’s (arctic whale) tusk for the very first Bishop of Southwell. This crosier, or Bishop’s crook, will be a symbol of his role as leader and pastor of Christ’s flock in this area.

Bishop Paul said: “My new job represents a huge challenge and I relish it. I want to be out and about across the county and city learning what is happening in both church and community amongst every section of the community. The good news of Jesus Christ is transforming for both individuals and communities; I long to share in the task of making this good news known to people of all ages and backgrounds.”

There will be further opportunities for people to meet Bishop Paul at two additional welcome services in March. The first will be at St Mary’s, Nottingham on Sunday 7 March and the second will be at Worksop Priory on Sunday 14 March — both services will start at 4pm and all are welcome.



Bishop Paul trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford from 1980–1983. He served his curacy between 1983 and 1987 at All Saints with Holy Trinity in Wandsworth, in the Diocese of Southwark. He then moved to become Inner London Evangelist for the Scripture Union, where he helped churches of all denominations developing outreach work with children, young people and families. His work included time on a range of inner London estates and working with the black majority churches.

He was then appointed deputy head of Mission at the Scripture Union in 1992 and was also a non-stipendiary minister at East Ham St Paul, in the Diocese of Chelmsford. In 1994 he went back into parish work full-time as Priest-in-Charge of Walthamstow, St Mary with St Stephen, and of Walthamstow St Luke; becoming Team Rector of Walthamstow in 1997 until 2004. He was also Area Dean of Waltham Forest between 2000 and 2004.

Bishop Paul has always been passionate about being part of the world church, with a particular interest in and commitment to Rwanda and Uganda. He served on the Council of the Rwanda Mission/Mid Africa Ministry from 1988–99 and 2000–1. In 2001 he became a Trustee of CMS and was appointed as an Honorary Canon of Byumba, Rwanda. He has been out to visit Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi almost every year since 1997, a connection which started from a friendship with a Ugandan at theological college. His work with children has spanned the whole of his ministry and he ran (until 2004) an annual Scripture Union camp for children each year in Kent, which he said was instrumental in helping his own children and many others establish their faith. In 2005, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited him to become an ‘advocate for children’ on behalf of the Church of England’s bishops — a role he will continue in the new diocesan post.

Bishop Paul is an author; he has published a number of booklets and three books: Reaching Children (1992), Reaching Families (1995) (both Scripture Union); Temptation & Testing (SPCK 2007) and is a contributor to Through the Eyes of a Child (Church House 2009). He has been a Trustee of CMS (Church Mission Society) since 2000, and Chair since 2008.

He is married to Rosemary, a nurse and midwife by profession who in recent years has been working as a Teacher Assistant and Art Technician. They have four children: Caroline, an Archaeologist; David and Andrew at university and Sarah studying for her GCSEs. His interests include reading, writing, travel, gardening and music. He has played cricket for Winchester Diocese in the last few years and wonders if there might be a clergy cricket team in Southwell & Nottingham in the future. He enjoys watching most sports when he has the time and is engaged in social networking through the internet with his own Facebook page.

— Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.

The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.

Story credits

More information is available from Rachel Farmer Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham on +44 (0)1636 817 218, rachel@southwell.anglican.org

Emma Rayner

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.rayner@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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