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Anglican Bishop of Lancaster to retire

The Anglican Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev. Geoff Pearson, has announced his retirement in the summer after nearly 43 years of ministry.

Speaking today Bishop Geoff, 65, who has held the Suffragan Bishop role for more than a decade, said: “I have a mixture of feelings as this announcement is made. There is a real sadness about leaving colleagues and being part of the momentum that is building around the Diocesan Vision 2026. 

“It has been a huge privilege to work in Lancashire with many lovely clergy and people … but I still have six months left to focus particularly on the Vision agenda and mission opportunities.”

Ordained in 1974, Bishop Geoff studied at St John’s College and Cranmer Hall, both in Durham. He was Curate of the parish of Kirkheaton in Wakefield Diocese from 1974 to 1977 before moving to Blackburn Diocese for the first time to be Curate-in-Charge and later Vicar of The Redeemer Church in Blackburn from 1977 to 1985.

In 1985 Bishop Geoff moved from Blackburn to London to work for one of the General Synod Boards - the Board for Mission and Unity – where he worked mainly with Diocesan Missioners and Evangelists. While there, he was also seconded to work as Evangelism Secretary for the British Council of Churches. That post took him around the UK as well as to Australia and the Philippines.

Another move then followed … to St Bartholomew’s Parish Church, Roby, in his native Liverpool where he was Vicar from 1989 to 2006; Area Dean from 2002-2006 and an Honorary Canon of Liverpool Cathedral from 2003-2006.

In 2006 Bishop Geoff was appointed to the role of Suffragan Bishop of Lancaster by the then Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev. Nicholas Reade.

Since 2008 he has also ‘doubled-up’ as Associate Priest for St James’ Church in Shireshead, near Forton, which is situated next to his house and office in the village. Bishop Geoff understands he is the only Bishop in the Church of England who also looks after a local church.

Married for 43 years to Jean, the couple have three children and four grandchildren.

Bishop Geoff continued: “My wife, Jean, has been a fantastic support throughout my ministry and she has helped with hospitality; leading retreats; developing a Quiet Garden as well as preaching, teaching and pastoral care for clergy spouses.

Reflecting on some of the highlights of 43 years of ministry, he said: “I have some wonderful memories of my time as Bishop of Lancaster and I give thanks to God for His call and His sustaining grace.

“Laying aside 43 years as Priest and Bishop will be a huge challenge but I am also excited to discover what God has for us in the next stage of our life and ministry.”

Bishop Geoff’s final farewell will be at the Diocesan Synod meeting on July 15, which will be followed by a farewell service in Blackburn Cathedral. More details nearer the time.

Commenting on Bishop Geoff’s announcement, the Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said today: “Bishop Geoff has given a lifetime of service to the Church, including more than a decade as Bishop of Lancaster. In terms of numbers of years since being ordained, Bishop Geoff is one of the longest-serving Church of England clergy currently in the Diocese.

"I am so grateful for his support during my first few years in the role of Diocesan Bishop. His experience has been invaluable and he will be really missed by me and the whole Diocese.

“There will be further opportunities to thank Bishop Geoff nearer the time of his departure but in the meantime we pray Geoff and Jean God’s blessing in these last few months in the Diocese."

And fellow Suffragan Bishop, Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, added: “Bishop Geoff has made a massive contribution to the life of the Blackburn Diocese and he will be missed enormously.

“His passion for the Gospel, his boundless enthusiasm and his passionate care for the clergy and lay people in his care have all contributed to a very precious ministry of love across Lancashire. I have learnt so much from his wisdom and experience and have been privileged to count him and Jean not just as colleagues but also as friends.’

Click below to listen to some of Bishop Geoff's faith story which he shared with Premier's Northern Correspondent Ian Britton.

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