Bishop Sarah becomes Acting Bishop of Durham

The Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Sarah Clark has become Acting Bishop of Durham following last week’s retirement of the Right Reverend Paul Butler.

Bishop Sarah will lead the Diocese of Durham while the process of identifying a successor to Bishop Paul is underway.

Bishop Paul retired as Bishop of Durham on 29 February 2024 after 10 years in the role.

Following historical precedent dating back to the thirteenth century, the Chapter of Durham Cathedral has written to the Archbishop of York informing him that they wish Bishop Sarah to serve as Acting Bishop of Durham while the role is vacant.

The Vacancy in See Committee, which meets to start the process of appointing a new diocesan bishop, will now begin consulting on the desired profile for a new bishop and electing local representatives to the Crown Nominations Commission to identify potential candidates. You can find out more about this process here.

Bishop Sarah said:

“I give thanks to Bishop Paul for the ten years he has given to this diocese, and I feel both the honour and the responsibility of serving both those within the church family and in our wider communities as your Acting Bishop of Durham.

I am deeply committed to living this role prayerfully as a steward of our life and mission. Building up a picture of the shape and purpose of the next Bishop of Durham is the key task for all of us over the next few months and we will be consulting widely across the diocese to hear what our diocesan family has to say. We want to listen and hear especially from those whose voices can be harder to hear.”

Welcoming Bishop Sarah into the role while the appointment process gets underway, the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell said:

“I am delighted that Sarah will be leading and supporting the Diocese of Durham through this interim period. Since being appointed Suffragan Bishop of Jarrow, Sarah has shown great leadership and compassion, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society, and my prayers are with her as she takes on the role as Acting Diocesan Bishop.”

The Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Dr Philip Plyming said:

“I am delighted that Bishop Sarah will be serving as Acting Bishop of Durham while a successor to Bishop Paul is being sought. At Durham Cathedral we take our role in making this nomination very seriously, and we will be praying for and supporting Bishop Sarah in the months to come. We are particularly looking forward to Bishop Sarah joining us for our services throughout Holy Week and Easter.”

You can find out more about Bishop Sarah here.