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Whitby’s new bishop set for life on the coast

The new Bishop of Whitby, the Venerable Paul Ferguson
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Picture by Scott Wicking

The new Bishop of Whitby, the Venerable Paul Ferguson w142107a Picture by Scott Wicking

Whitby’s new Bishop has spoken about how he hopes to become a “focus for unity” when he embarks upon his new role.

The Venerable Paul Ferguson, 58, is set to become the eleventh Suffragan Bishop of Whitby, replacing the Reverend Martin Warner, who departed in 2012.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity,” he said. “The Bishop of Whitby obviously doesn’t just do things in Whitby, but it’s a place of enormous historical importance and there’s a lot going on here in terms of church life and special events, such as the Blessing of the Boats.

The area covered by the Bishopric of Whitby stretches from the Tees to Robin Hood’s Bay and as far inland as Thirsk and Northallerton.

The area encompasses over 170 churches and parishes, but the Ven Ferguson also has special responsibility for education for the entire Diocese.

In appointing the Birkenhead-born priest, the Diocese of York has marked a change in policy for the Bishop of York.

The Ven Ferguson differs from the two bishops who preceeded him, the Rev Robert Ladds and Rev Martin Warner, as he believes there is a place in the ministry for women.

He said: “The previous two Bishops of Whitby are bishops who don’t believe that it is God’s will for the Church of England to have ordained women.

“It is not for me to comment on previous appointments but it is important to understand that people who accept the ordained ministry of women and people who don’t all have an honoured place in the church.”

In November 2012 a synod convened to decide whether female bishops would be accepted in the church, but was narrowly defeated.

In July a new reworked package is to be debated and The Ven Ferguson said he is hoping for a different outcome.

He explained: “I hope that it will be possible for the necessary steps to be taken so that women that God may be calling to his ministry can be bishops.”

Despite his reformative views, the Ven Ferguson hopes the position of Bishop of Whitby can still be a focus of unity for all who live within the archdeaconry.

He also impressed his belief that small parishes should be allowed to operate independently, adding: “The life of the small communities and churches is very important, but we don’t have the same boundaries that local authorities do which means that in terms of support and encouragement we can work together and learn from each other.”

 

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