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Home News Karen Gorham to be New Bishop of Sherborne - UPDATED

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Karen Gorham to be New Bishop of Sherborne - UPDATED

by Gerry Lynch last modified 03 Dec, 2015 05:09 PM

Archdeacon of Buckingham to be consecrated on 24 February

Number 10 has announced this morning that the Ven Karen Gorham, currently Archdeacon of Buckingham, is to be the 36th Bishop of Sherborne and the 9th in modern times. The Bishop of Sherborne works in the Diocese of Salisbury with responsibility mainly for parishes in Dorset.                                 

Karen said, “It has been a real privilege to serve the church in Buckinghamshire and work in the Diocese of Oxford. I now look forward to getting to know the people and places of Dorset, an area I have loved since childhood holidays.”

Bishop Nicholas added, “Karen has experience and brings gifts to help us with Renewing Hope: Pray, Serve, Grow. I think St Aldhelm would be pleased with her appointment, the first woman to the See of Sherborne which he founded. She emerged as the right person for this post from a company of excellent men and women considered equally. The Anglo-Saxon Church included women in authority as well as men, like St Cuthberga of Wimborne and St Edith of Wilton. Karen’s appointment is good news for Salisbury and for the Church of England.”

Speaking on behalf of the Diocese of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, Acting Bishop of Oxford, said, “As a Bishop’s Staff we will miss Karen’s presence very badly. Her passion for mission and her acute analytical ability, coupled with her concern for clergy well-being and her creativity have contributed a great deal to our life together. We and the Diocese as a whole, owe her a tremendous amount. Our loss is Salisbury’s gain and we wish her well in her new role.”

Karen holds a BA from the University of Bristol and trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. Prior to ordination she worked as an administrator with BTEC and the Royal Society of Arts and as a Pastoral Assistant in Essex and Hull.

She served her title at Northallerton with Kirby Sigston in the Diocese of York from 1995 to 1999. She was ordained priest in 1996 and in 1999 went on to become Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s, Maidstone in the Diocese of Canterbury. During this time she was also Assistant Director of Ordinands and Area Dean of Maidstone. In 2006 she became an Honorary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral. She took up her current role as Archdeacon of Buckingham in 2007. Karen has been a member of the Church of England General Synod for twelve years, and for the last two has served as a member of the Panel of Chairs.           

Her interests include travel and walking, the coast and Celtic spirituality. She enjoys days out with friends and an occasional visit to a good restaurant to sample the taster menu.

Update - 8.45 pm, Thursday 26 November

Karen was introduced to the Diocese at Salisbury Cathedral by Bishop Nicholas, the Dean, the Archdeacons of Dorset and Sherborne, and the Diocesan Secretary. The introduction was carried out at Walking Madonna, Elizabeth Frink's 1981 statue of a woman going out from the Cathedral into the world: an apposite model for the Diocese's first woman bishop.

Karen and Bishop Nicholas then travelled to Sherborne Abbey, where they attended the daily Eucharist, presided by Vicar Canon Eric Woods, which today was from the Book of Common Prayer. A healthy congregation had gathered on hearing news of her appointment to wish her well.

Karen then visited Youngs Endowed School, a Church of England Voluntary Aided primary school in the village of Trent, between Sherborne and Yeovil, where she met staff and pupils.

Her final engagement of the day was in Poole's Old Town, where she visited Routes2Roots, a homelessness project with a Christian ethos. Among others she met Steve, who spent 5 years sleeping on the streets before being helped into living independently by the project, and he was lived in his own home for 3 years. She also met Eddie and Susan, volunteers who have cooked Christmas lunch at the project every year for the past 8 years.

A gallery of photos from the day is available here.

Karen spoke to BBC Radio Solent's the Revd Tim Daykin when her appointment was announced. Listen to the interview here.

Writing on her appointment

She has written in more detail about her thoughts on her appointment, as follows:

“Dorset is a place of story, from Enid Blyton to Thomas Hardy, whose poetry I particularly enjoy, and we all have a unique story to tell, as individuals and as Christian Communities, of God’s love and grace. That’s our witness to the world, and our biggest challenge is to have the confidence to share it.

“My own story began at the age of twelve, when, having grown up in a Christian home, I volunteered to sharpen pencils for the junior Sunday school at Christ Church, Billericay. It was something I could do, and God honoured that by gradually giving me the ability to do all sorts of other things I never thought possible. These varied from teaching and eventually leading the Sunday School to ministry in the North of England; from leaving school at 18 with some typing skills to becoming an administrator; and from being someone who picked up various responsibilities in a parish to becoming an Archdeacon.

“Though I almost always felt inadequate for the task before me, I always found God in Christ there too. It’s with that same trepidation that I prepare for the next task as Bishop of Sherborne, confident that the God of the past and present will have exciting things in store for the future.

“I have always given myself wholeheartedly to God’s call on my life, to go wherever he calls me and as someone who has not married, over the years I’ve discovered the importance of friendship. Knowing the support of others throughout life is vital for us all, and in all the places I have lived and served I have been sustained through some particular friendships, people with whom I go on being able to share the joys and sorrows of day to day life with as well as hobbies and interests.

“I very much enjoy exploring new places and new challenges. This has involved walking some long distance footpaths, such as the Ridgeway, Mendip Way and Thames Path; overseas travel; and this year included the opportunity to drive a racing car around Brands Hatch.

“I also enjoy creative writing, poetry and Celtic spirituality however my real passion is for the local church, whether rural, urban or market town, and to encourage its ministry to flourish in practical and pastoral ways. There are many creative things going on in the diocese of Salisbury, and I am looking forward to joining a talented team and seeing how we can further encourage and equip the church to be all that God wants it to be.

“I am also keen to get to know those who live in the conurbations, seaside towns, highways and byways of Dorset who might be seeking and searching, in need of support or help, to see where we as Christians can make connections, to ensure that God’s love, hope and grace is shared abundantly. In the wider diocese I will have responsibility for lay ministry and chaplains, two areas vital to the Church’s ministry in the 21st century, and I also look forward to seeing how that work can continue to thrive through support, encouragement and training.

“There is much for me to learn. Please pray for me as I embark on this next stage of my journey.”

If you would like to read more about Karen’s thinking, she maintains an occasional blog at archdeaconkaren.blogspot.co.uk, and tweets infrequently @Archdeaconkaren.

Karen’s consecration will take place on 24 February at Westminster Abbey before she joins the Diocese formally in March.

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