The new Bishop of Jarrow Designate, The Venerable Canon Sarah Clark, was announced by Downing Street today.
Currently Archdeacon of Nottingham, in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. Sarah was licensed to her current post in October 2014, having previously held several appointments in the Diocese since her ordination at Southwell Minister in 1998.
Prior to training for ordination, Sarah was a career Civil Servant in the Department for Employment having been through their graduate training program in the West Midlands where she went on to hold a range of management roles. She gained an MBA in 1994 and her MA in Theology in 1997.
Sarah is from an ex-mining community in the South Wales Valleys, something that she hopes gives her a great affinity for the people and places in the Diocese of Durham. She commented: “I grew up in South Wales in the ’70s and early '80s, and I was the first generation to go to university, which is why I left. My grandfathers were miners and so was my father in his 20's until he went to work for ICI. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in, in the same community that my father went onto represent as a local Councillor.
“I was taught the importance of giving to your community and looking out for those who were struggling long before I came to faith in Jesus Christ. When I was growing up, open cast mining had been finished for some years but as usual, the slag heaps or the waste as we called it remained. It’s all grown over now with its own beauty and I was strongly reminded of home (except for the sea!) when I recently visited Easington pit top.”
Talking of the further parallels between her current role and the challenges she will face here in the Diocese of Durham, Sarah said: “In my current role, I have had responsibility for the development of 25 of our larger local churches across the whole Diocese to be resourcing churches who grow with the aim of giving themselves away through planting new worshipping communities and helping to resource the renewal of existing churches. All this we do as we seek to serve our communities and welcome new disciples of Jesus into our Christian family.
“I am very much looking forward to using those experiences in my new role and in helping the Diocese of Durham in its vision to ‘Bless our communities in Jesus’ name for the transformation of us all. That resonates so strongly with me and I will work and be witness to that vision in all I am and all I do as Bishop of Jarrow.
Commenting on the announcement, The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said: “I am delighted that the Queen has confirmed the appointment of Sarah as the next Bishop of Jarrow Designate.
”I had the pleasure of working with Sarah whilst I was Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and I know that she will be a great advocate for the communities of our diocese, bring with her a tremendous set of skills and experiences that will help us in our ambitions.
“I know Sarah will bring rich gifts in helping people discover and discern their God-given calling, including to ordination. She will also bring a deep commitment to our 3 priorities of children and young people, tackling poverty together and growing the church in depth, engagement with communities and number.”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “I am most grateful to Her Majesty The Queen for her approval of the Venerable Sarah Clark as the new Bishop of Jarrow. We warmly welcome Sarah to the North East. Sarah is deeply committed to serving local communities, serving local people and will be sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all whom she encounters”.
Sarah added: “I am most looking forward to getting to know the different communities and churches across such a diverse Diocese full of character and with such a rich spiritual heritage. I walked Cuthberts Way as a pilgrim for my sabbatical in 2014 and deeply appreciate that heritage as a vital part of the renewal of faith in the North East.”
Sarah says she is delighted to be part of the continuing renewal of the ministry of the Diocese of Durham and joining those that are strong advocates of the North East. Adding: “As part of my preparation for being interviewed I spoke with a colleague in Durham who advised me that if I wasn’t coming to join in fanning the flames of hope and life in the Diocese not to bother coming at all!
“Jesus Christ’s resurrection means that new life and new hope are always possible for every person and every community. I have experienced this in my own life and in communities I have served in. Being a Christian has changed my life and knowing that what I do can make a lasting difference in our communities is central to my ministry.”
As Bishop of Jarrow, Sarah will take on responsibility for those considering and in training for ordination within the Diocese she commented: “I deeply believe that God has a purpose for the life of every person and discerning what that is, enables lives to be as fruitful as God intended them to be. I am especially passionate about the increase of ordained vocations from our more deprived communities and groups.”
Sarah will be formally consecrated as Bishop by the Archbishop of York at 10 am on the 27th February 2019 in York Minster. She will then be formally welcomed into the Diocese in at a service of welcome in Durham Cathedral during a setting of Evensong on April 7th at 3.30 pm.
Click below to hear Sarah’s first media interview with Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton
Picture By Keith Blundy