Bishop of Blackburn Retires

Bishop of Blackburn Retires

Fond Farewell to a Bishop Who ‘Defied Narrative of Decline’   

By Ronnie Semley

The Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, and his wife Heather said farewell to The Church of England in Lancashire on Saturday during a service at Blackburn Cathedral which was, at turns, both moving and stirring.  

It was also an opportunity to celebrate what God has done across Lancashire during Bishop Julian’s tenure; particularly since the inception of our Diocesan ‘Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’.  

Hundreds of clergy and laity from parishes across the County converged on the Cathedral to say goodbye and thank you … alongside Bishop’s Leadership Team members past and present; Lancashire faith and civic representatives (including the Mayor of Blackburn Cllr Suleman Khonat); Bishops from neighbouring Dioceses in the North West and many more. 

All the hymns and songs were chosen specially for the service by Bishop Julian and Heather. Also present were the couple’s close family, including their three young grandchildren. A recording of the service was made and can be viewed online.

Bishop Philip North, Bishop of Burnley said, 

We are going through odd times in many churches in Western Europe, with many losing nerve and planning for decline, assuming the future is a smaller church.  

“I am massively grateful to Bishop Julian and to Heather, who has always supported him, because he has always defied that narrative; leading to the atmosphere of positivity that he has brought to this Diocese. 

“Every decision clearly and demonstrably springs from his faith. It’s that trust in Jesus Christ that has allowed him to take risks with strategy and appointments and is the driving force behind all that he does.  

“We have got a plan for growth; we are committed to maintaining clergy numbers; committed to resourcing the local church for growth and to reaching out into the community in service and proclamation.”