Steven Buckley

One of longest-serving bishops to retire

Tue 05 Nov 2019
By Tola Mbakwe

The longest serving suffragan bishop in the Church of England has announced he is set to retire next year.

Rt Rev Colin Fletcher OBE, Bishop of Dorchester will have served for 20 years when he leaves the role in October 2020.

He told Premier it has been a privilege to service in the Diocese of Oxford and his most memorable moments are often in "the small things".


"It's a Confirmation Service where you see in the eyes of someone that they've come to a fresh experience of Christ, particularly adults, that can be enormously exciting," he said.

"Seeing parishes over time transforming and growing and developing, both spiritually and numerically."

Bishop Colin added one the great challenges he's had over the years is to do with appointments.

"I've now appointed a huge percentage of the clergy who work in this part of the world and something I've come to recognise is that you make a good appointment, both the parish the person concerned flourish," he said.

"Make a bad appointment and both the individual and the parish suffers as a result. One of the great challenges is to really focus on those appointments and try as best we can to use prayer and discussion to get them right for all concerned."

Bishop Colin's work involves him supporting about 200 churches in Oxfordshire. He also has strong links with a variety of groups, such as Creation Theatre Company, Oxford Inspires and Bible Reading Fellowship.
He said one of the beauties of serving in the area is the variety of the job.

"Oxford includes areas of considerable deprivation in places like the edge of Banbury, as well as places of huge wealth in many of our villages and towns, and of course beautiful countryside all around. So every day is different," he said.

"Much of it is with Church things, but much of my time is spent with links to the community, whether the public sector or the voluntary sector, and I always find that very energising."

Steven Buckley


Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford said Bishop Colin has helped to shape the Diocese of Oxford.

“The Dorchester Area is itself larger than many dioceses of the Church of England," he said. "Colin has also served with distinction as Acting Bishop of Oxford during two long vacancies in see.

“He is known and loved across the communities and churches of Oxfordshire for his kindness, wisdom, good humour and sound judgement. Colin has been deeply committed throughout his ministry to the mission of God. He led Cutting Edge Ministries in the early 2000s as the Diocese experimented with fresh expressions of Church."

Bishop Colin said his hopes are that the Diocese of Oxford continues to flourish.

When Bishop Colin retires in October 2020 he plans on moving house, spending time with his eight grandchildren and having free time on the weekends.

Before becoming a bishop, he was appointed Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1993.

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