Friday, 11 April 2008

A New Bishop of Stockport.

You can see Fr Atwell just to the left of the vice, as Deacon.
The Anglican Wanderings newsdesk has been alerted to the fact that our Diocese to the south, Chester, has appointed a new Suffragen Bishop for Stockport. We note that he is looking forward to a pint of Robinsons bitter, something which the Anglican Wanderings team of reporters sometimes can be found indulging in around the back streets of that Town. Indeed, sometimes the team can be found on the Anglican Wanderings table in the Crown Inn under the viaduct on Folk Night drinking their way through the huge variety of beers on offer. We are pleased that a man of talent, who knows his amice from his burse, has been appointed to the Episcopate and we make no other comment about ecclesiology, lest we be thought of as uncharitable.
Here is what Chester Diocese have to say, all we add is that the Anglican Wanderings budget will stretch to another pint of best if need be and we recommend a pint at the Crag Inn after a walk up (and down) Shuttlingslow.
THE Revd Robert Atwell , an author, spiritual director and former monk, is to be the new Bishop of Stockport.

His appointment was announced on Monday 7 April by the Prime Minister’s office with a simultaneous launch attended by civic and faith leaders in Stockport. He will begin preparations within the next few weeks for his role as a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester.

Fr Atwell is single and aged 53. He was born and raised in Ilford, Essex, and is currently the Vicar of St Mary’s in Primrose Hill, north London.

Before becoming a vicar in 1998, he spent six years as Chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge, and ten years as a Benedictine monk in Burford Priory in the Cotswolds.

Speaking at Stockport Town Hall, Fr Atwell said: “I am delighted to be coming to such a diverse area and look forward to working in partnership with local people. I want the Church to be at the heart of our local communities, not the periphery.”

He added: “I’m also keen to engage with the questions that people are asking today. When you travel on the Tube in London, at a number of stations you hear the announcement, ‘Mind the gap!’ And there is a credibility gap we need to face.

“For example, in spite of the pockets of acute poverty in our country, we are now wealthier per head of the population than we’ve ever been. And yet, according to all the surveys, we are also more miserable.

“One in five of the population is on some form of anti-depressant or tranquilliser; rates of depression are high; and burn-out among young professionals is running at an all time high. Something has gone seriously wrong and we need to find a better way of living.”

In his new role Fr Atwell will work predominantly in the eastern half of the Diocese of Chester, comprising Stockport and Macclesfield boroughs, parts of rural and south Cheshire, some of the urban areas fringing the south of Manchester, and a small part of Derbyshire.

During his ministry in Primrose Hill, Fr Atwell extended the church building to create community facilities and he set up a social inclusion project working with some of the most disaffected and marginalised young people in the London Borough of Camden. Under his leadership St Mary’s congregation has grown considerably.

He has published extensively, most recently three anthologies: Gift, Love, and Remember – readings respectively about birth, marriage, and death and bereavement. He also compiled the readings Celebrating the Saints and Celebrating the Seasons to accompany the Church of England’s calendar.

The Bishop of Chester, The Rt Revd Dr Peter said: “Robert Atwell will bring to the Diocese of Chester a rich experience of ministry in a range of places, from a Cambridge college, a monastic community, and a busy north London parish. He has published influential books in Christian spirituality, and will be well placed to join the leadership of the Church of England in this Diocese. I welcome his appointment and look forward to his consecration in York Minster on 24 June.”

John Schultz, the Chief Executive of Stockport Council, added: “I am sure that Robert Atwell will enjoy what I hope is a very fruitful association with Stockport and the surrounding area. He will definitely find a warm welcome here when he arrives as bishop, and a willingness on the part of the Council and our partners to work with him and other faith leaders in creating a good and sustainable society where people have the help and services they need to live in safety, and with dignity and respect.”

Fr Atwell believes that it is only by going deeper and discovering the presence of God that we can find that inner peace and contentment for which we long.

He will be ordained a bishop in York Minster on 24 June, and be welcomed to the Diocese of Chester on 29 June at a special service in Chester Cathedral.

A keen hill-walker, Fr Atwell said: “I relish the opportunity to immerse myself in some of the spectacular local landscapes. And as someone who enjoys traditional English beer, I am also very pleased to be moving to an area known for its brewing excellence. I am particularly keen to try a pint of Robinson’s bitter.”