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Bishop of Salisbury to retire after 10 years in the role

by Will Maule

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, has announced that he will be retiring after serving for a decade in the job. He will retire on 3rd July, just before his 67th birthday.

In a statement, Bishop Holtam said that serving in the role had "been a privilege and a joy" but that the timing of his retirement - considering the ongoing pandemic and its impact - had "not been an easy decision". 

"The impact of the pandemic is going to be felt for a long time," he continued. "The Diocese is developing a Mission and Pastoral Plan and we have an agreed financial framework with which to face the future with confidence. We continue to be about Renewing Hope as we Pray, Serve and Grow." 

“This is a testing time and the life of the Church has never been more important as a witness to Christian beliefs and values for the sake of God’s world. In many ways the Diocese of Salisbury is one of God’s small miracles. The energy, variety and resourcefulness of our churches, chaplaincies and schools are just three of the reasons why being the Bishop is a joy.

"I am full of admiration for our cathedral, for clergy colleagues and for the people of the Diocese who have been extraordinarily resilient and creative in the adaptation of continued ministry and mission." 

Bishop Nicholas praised his wife for her contributions to the life of the diocese during their time in Salisbury.

"She has supported me particularly through hospitality and fundraising in The South Canonry and in the beautiful garden, notably running the Sudan fete," he said. "She has maintained her Quaker membership at Salisbury Quaker Meeting throughout our time here. She established a weekly origami workshop for prisoners at HMP Erlestoke selling their cards to raise funds for prisoner rehabilitation.

"Helen has been a major part of what I have been able to do and I am grateful for her and our family’s support. We look forward to retiring to Brighton to be closer to our children and grandchildren.”

The Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Karen Gorham who will be the acting Bishop of Salisbury during the vacancy, spoke on behalf of the Diocese saying: “Bishop Nicholas has brought a rich and wise attentiveness to the Diocese of Salisbury over the last ten years for which we are extremely grateful. His vision to renew hope has led to a sharing of his interests in the environment, inclusion, and the arts with us all. 

“Nick is held in high regard across the Church of England and his national roles have informed us locally. His thoughtful faith continues to inspire people across Wiltshire, Dorset and beyond and his deep commitment to us all and the local church has enabled the Diocese to remain resilient in spirit during challenging times.  

“Helen has had her own ministry which has also been much appreciated with many enjoying her warm hospitality, care, origami and baking.  We are pleased to have them with us for a little while longer and shall miss both of them very much, wishing them a very happy retirement in July.”

The Bishop of Ramsbury, the Rt Revd Andrew Rumsey, said: "Bishop Nicholas has led the Diocese of Salisbury with wisdom and unstinting devotion. The news of his forthcoming retirement will be greeted with sadness yet also much gratitude - for his deep confidence in the local church and the Godliness and generosity of his vision. He and Helen will be greatly missed. 

“I look forward to working with Bishop Karen - and the Dean, Diocesan Secretary and Archdeacons - to renew hope at a time of unprecedented transition. Our Lord is near." 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, thanked Bishop Nick for his work leading the Church of England’s Environment programme, saying: “During Bishop Nick’s tenure as lead bishop for the environment, his moral clarity and Christ-centred vision for the Church’s role in tackling the climate crisis have shown themselves time and time again. We are all the beneficiaries of his leadership, and I give thanks for the legacy he leaves: from the Church’s first ever Green Lent campaign, to initiatives aimed at helping parishes reduce their carbon footprint. Most enduringly, I hope, we have Bishop Nick to thank for a landmark General Synod motion in 2020 setting a target of net zero across the whole Church by 2030.

“I am deeply grateful to him for his tireless work and colleagueship as a fellow bishop, and for leading the Church’s Environment Programme through a time of enormous growth. Both he and his family will be much in my prayers as he prepares for the next stage of his ministry, as will everyone in the Diocese of Salisbury as they prepare to say farewell to Nick in the summer.”


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