Alumnus to be next Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham

30 Jun 2009 15:07:00.000

PA 183/09

A University of Nottingham graduate and a ‘children’s advocate’ has been appointed to the top Church of England job in Nottinghamshire.

The Right Reverend Paul Butler, who graduated with a combined English and History degree in 1977, will take up his post as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham after Christmas.

Bishop Paul, who is currently Bishop of Southampton, has strong Nottingham connections. After graduating he stayed on in the city for three years.  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 then began working for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF), for two years when he travelled across the Midlands, the north of England and Northern Ireland supporting the organisation’s work among students. It was during this time that he began to explore his calling to ordination and went on to train 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 said the biggest joy in his time in the parish was seeing people come to and grow in Christian faith, and developing lay involvement on a wide level, with the greatest challenge being how to live a distinctively Christian life in a multi-faith setting. He was also Area Dean of Waltham Forest between 2000 and 2004.


He traces his call to ordination back to his years in Nottingham, when he attended Christ Church, Chilwell. He has been actively involved in ministry to children throughout his life and 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 said: “Seeking to help children and young people discover who God has made them to be, and how much He loves them, has been a key part of my whole Christian life since I came to a personal living faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager. I long that every child can grow up fulfilling their God given potential. In being given the enormous honour of becoming the next Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham I greatly look forward to working with both church and community to see this happening. I am returning to a county I grew to love in my previous years living here. I will seek 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.”


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.


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.


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.”


Bishop Paul is married to Rosemary, who is currently an art technician, volunteer in a local Christian bookshop, and a care-assistant. She is a nurse and midwife by training. They have four children; Caroline (23) who is soon to commence a Masters in Professional Archaeology at Oxford. She graduated from The University of Nottingham in Archaeology in 2007 and has since worked as an archaeologist; David (22), who is about to study for a Masters in Environmental Studies having just completed a psychology degree at the University of York; Andrew (20), who is studying English Language and Sports and Coaching Studies at Oxford Brookes and Sarah (15) who is currently at school studying for her GCSEs. His interests include reading, writing, travel, gardening and music — he enjoys Coldplay, Elbow, Genesis and Eric Clapton alongside some classical favourites like Handel, Bach and Beethoven. He has played cricket for his current Diocese in the last few years and wonders if there might be a team in Southwell and 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.


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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 (  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 at the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham on +44 (0) 1636 814331,

Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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