The Right Reverend Canon Graham Usher (81-89), 43, has been confirmed as the new Bishop of Dudley. He replaces the Right Reverend David Walker, 56, who was announced as the new Bishop of Manchester in June 2013.
Graham, who was ordained in 1996, is currently rector and lecturer of Hexham Abbey in the Diocese of Newcastle, a position he has held since 2004. Under his leadership, the abbey congregation has grown and developed links to support an area of regeneration and a domestic violence charity. The abbey has been involved in a food bank for West Northumberland, and some 2,000 school children are welcomed each year for activity days linked to the National Curriculum.
Another achievement has been the reunion of its former monastic buildings taken by Henry VIII, and the raising of £3.2m to develop a new visitor centre, refectory, education rooms and meeting spaces.
Prior to joining Hexham Abbey, Graham was vicar of a parish in Middlesbrough, which is in the bottom two per cent of England’s most deprived communities. There, he chaired the neighbourhood management group and developed an innovative arts based project to divert young people from crime.
Graham has also lived in Ghana, Africa.
He said he was “honoured, delighted and not a little daunted” by his new position.
Despite the nerves, he revealed his excitement at the prospect of working alongside the Bishop of Worcester, the Right Reverend John Inge: “I am greatly looking forward to getting to know the people and places of the Black Country and the wider Diocese of Worcester, as well as working with and learning from Bishop John.”
Bishop Inge praised Canon Usher’s previous work: “He is an exceptionally able priest who, though relatively young to become a bishop, has very considerable ministerial experience, both rural and urban.”
“Throughout his ministry he has made a significant contribution to the welfare of wider society. This is a very exciting appointment and I look forward greatly to working with him for the good of the people of the Diocese of Worcester.”
The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Martin Wharton said: “I am delighted that the wider Church has recognised the gifts and qualities of Canon Graham Usher, who has served the people of Hexham and the ministry of Hexham Abbey superbly well over the last nine years.
Graham will be ordained bishop at St Paul’s Cathedral on 25 March 2014. Peter Edwards (former teaching staff, 80-13) will be in attendance to represent the school and the OP Association.
Graham will will begin his public ministry in the Diocese of Worcester after Easter. There will be a service of welcome at St Thomas’s Church, Dudley at 4pm on Saturday 3 May and he will be installed as an Honorary Canon of Worcester in the Cathedral at 4pm on Sunday 4 May.
Graham is married to OP Dr Rachel Thomson (84-86), a GP, and they have two children. After his time at Pocklington, Graham studied ecological science at the University of Edinburgh and then theology at Corpus Christi College Cambridge. He trained for the ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge
Sources: BBC News, Christian Today, Thinking Anglicans