New Bishop of Exeter: +Robert Atwell

robert_atwellPRESS RELEASE

New Bishop of Exeter announced today

The next Bishop of Exeter is the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, currently Bishop of Stockport in the Diocese of Chester. His appointment was announced this morning by the Prime Minister’s office.

Bishop Robert will become the 71st bishop of the Diocese of Exeter which comprises more than 500 parishes across the county of Devon.

Aged 59, he spent ten years as a Benedictine monk at Burford Priory in Oxfordshire, and then served as a parish priest in London before becoming Bishop of Stockport in 2008.

He said: “I’m immensely honoured and a little bit daunted to be chosen as the next Bishop of Exeter. From family holidays I know Devon to be a beautiful county, large and full of variety, and I’m looking forward to getting to know it better and above all getting to know the people of the county.

“I realise that the picture postcard image many have of Devon isn’t the whole truth. There are communities facing great hardships, through poverty and lack of employment, as well as the recent flooding which has affected many people and caused problems for the farming community. I’ve been moved by the stories I’ve heard of churches and individuals across the county getting stuck in and helping people.”

He pledged to spend time listening to people and explained that his priority will be to lead the Diocese in prayer, witness and service.

He said, “My ten years as a Benedictine monk taught me that all growth is rooted in prayer. God doesn’t want us just to exist or to fritter our lives away. He wants us to be fully alive and to serve people with joy.”

He is passionate about the church’s role in providing education for all, and looks forward to supporting the 130 church schools serving families all over Devon.

In his spare time he enjoys gardening and writing. He is the author of a number of books, including Pilgrim: a course recently launched by the Church of England to encourage people to explore the Christian faith.

Bishop Robert will spend the day visiting communities across Devon, including a church-run debt counselling centre in Plymouth, a foodbank in Okehampton and a farm in Iddisleigh, before attending evensong at Exeter Cathedral. For the full itinerary and photo opportunities see programme below.

Bishop Robert will be installed in Exeter Cathedral in July and will be living in Exeter. He succeeds Bishop Michael Langrish, who retired last year.



Media are invited to send reporters/photographers to any of the events below.

1000 HOURS St Budeaux Church, Plymouth to meet staff and volunteers at the debt counselling centre. The Diocese of Exeter recently gave the church £93,000 to set up the counselling centre with the charity Christians Against Poverty. The choir from St Budeaux Foundation School will greet the new Bishop.

12 NOON Okehampton Foodbank, the Baptist Church, Okehampton. The Foodbank in Okehampton is run by volunteers, many of them from local churches. Bishop Robert will listen to the stories from volunteers and make a donation of food, including Cheshire cheese.

1325 HOURS West Park Farm, Iddesleigh  (EX19 8BE) to meet with farmers Peter and Henry Banbury and hear about the difficulties faced by farmers in Devon.

1500 HOURS St Peter’s School, Exeter. Bishop Robert will meet acting head Lyn Bourne and spend time with pupils in a science lesson.

1730 HOURS EVENSONG AT EXETER CATHEDRAL. The Bishop will light a candle during a special evensong in the Cathedral, marking the week of Christian Unity. Representatives from other Christian churches will be present.

For further information call Rebecca Paveley on 07971 637150 or 01392 294905.