Congratulations to the Rt Revd Philip North who was announced on 10 January as the next Bishop of Blackburn. Currently serving as the Bishop of Burnley in the same diocese, he succeeds the Rt Revd Julian Henderson who retired earlier this year, and will now lead the whole diocese, serving people and communities across Lancashire. He will be the second traditionalist diocesan bishop in the Church of England now, alongside the Rt Revd Martin Warner in Chichester.

‘I believe with all my heart that God has called me to carry Jesus across Lancashire, to bear witness to his love and peace here in this county,’ Bishop Philip said, as his new role was made known at St Christopher’s CofE High School in Accrington. ‘I have done that for the past eight years as Bishop of Burnley, and I will go on doing that as Bishop of Blackburn. I am delighted to be staying in a county that I love very deeply indeed, delighted also that we will be able to carry on the work here in Blackburn Diocese.’

‘There are three things for which I will be labouring tirelessly in the years to come. Firstly, I am committed to continuing the growth of the church in Lancashire, helping to build joyful Christian communities. Secondly, I would love to see the Church of England in Lancashire being an ever-stronger voice for justice, especially for the poorest.

‘And thirdly, I believe children and young people need to be at the very heart of all that we do. The current generation of young people is such an impressive one, with a real desire to build a better world. Yet at the same time I know that life is not always easy for them. There are such exciting opportunities for young people in Lancashire – we need to see more.

‘There is so much going for the Diocese of Blackburn – inspirational schools, great parishes, vibrant chaplaincies, committed clergy, a wonderful leadership team. I know that, with God’s help, we can do something amazing here. I look forward to working together with people across the county to celebrate Christ in Lancashire, so that everyone can know his love and his peace and his justice.’

Accompanying him, his episcopal colleague, the Rt Revd Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, who chaired the local consultation process that led to this nomination, added: ‘Philip North is a prophetic leader and a tender-hearted pastor who loves Jesus and loves the people of Lancashire.’

‘I have found much joy in serving alongside Philip as a fellow suffragan bishop for the last five years. He has inspired me, encouraged and greatly supported me. And I believe that Philip is called for such a time as this to lead the Diocese of Blackburn, cherishing the diversity of opinion, theology and background that our county has always welcomed. He loves to see others flourish and find their voice – especially young people and those on the margins. I am delighted and relieved that he will succeed Bishop Julian as the tenth Bishop of Blackburn. May he serve our county with great joy.’

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, said: ‘Bishop Philip comes to this new role already knowing and loving the Diocese of Blackburn. He respects and understands the diversity of the diocese and is committed to growing a church where all can flourish both ordained and lay alike. As an evangelist, he will also strive to share the Christian faith with others. As a friend of the poor, he will be a voice for the most hard pressed and excluded in our society. I am hugely excited about his appointment and ensure him and the diocese of Blackburn of my support and prayer.’

Bishop North was educated at the University of York and trained for ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served his title at St Mary the Virgin in the Diocese of Durham and was ordained priest in 1993. In 1996, he took up the role of Vicar at Holy Trinity and St Mark’s Hartlepool and was also appointed Area Dean of Hartlepool in 2000. In 2002 he became Priest Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, in Norfolk, and from where many in the Catholic wing will know him, before being appointed Team Rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras, in the Diocese of London, in 2008. From there he was consecrated to the See of Burnley in 2015 and was the first traditionalist bishop after the Consecration and Ordination of Women Measure (2014) with its initial appointment of the Rt Revd Libby Lane to the See of Stockport.

It is anticipated Bishop Philip will formally take up his new role in May or June 2023. We send him our hearty congratulations.