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Bishops consecrated together announce mutual retirement

by Sophie Drew
Bishops of Selby and Whitby.png - Banner image
Diocese of York

Two bishops that assumed their roles simultaneously, in the same diocese, will now be retiring at the same time.

Both the Bishop of Selby, Rt Rev Dr John Thomson, and the Bishop of Whitby, Rt Rev Paul Ferguson have served within the Diocese of York for a decade after being consecrated in the same ceremony in 2014.

The service was led by the former Archbishop of York, Lord Sentamu, at York Minster.

Both bishops are set to retire in mid-2024.

Now – almost ten years on – the pair have decided to hang up their clerical robes together, too.

Bishop John – a keen cyclist who has come to be known as the “Biking Bishop of Selby” – has spent a considerable length of his ministry in the York diocese. He attended York University and spent time ministering in Sheffield and Doncaster.

Brought up in Uganda, he also spent time working in South Africa.

Bishop John said, “The past ten years have been a remarkable journey serving in this Diocese and it will be a huge wrench to leave even though the time to do so is right.

He continued: “Sue and I have loved living in the Selby area. Selby is a town of warm-hearted and delightful people hosting an internationally recognised iconic Abbey and set amidst wonderful countryside which has also provided great cycling for a middle aged man in lycra.

“We are grateful to God for the experience of living and learning in such a special place.”

Bishop of Whitby, Rt Rev Paul Ferguson, studied at Oxford and then Cambridge before serving as a chaplain at Westminster Abbey.

He then became a Canon Residentiary at York Minster before assuming the role of Archdeacon of Cleveland. He’s believed to be the first fellow of the Royal College of Organists to be consecrated as a bishop.

His wife, Penny, died in 2022. In a statement announcing his retirement, he thanked parishioners for their kindness and support following her death.

Bishop Paul said, “I get up every morning looking forward to a day’s work, which is a real gift: but the time comes when it’s right to move into the next phase of life and discipleship, so I shall be leaving my post as Bishop of Whitby next July when I shall be just 69.

“There will be opportunities then to thank friends in the diocese more fully for the pleasure of serving with you, and of course for your kindness around the time of Penny’s illness and death.

“It has been the greatest privilege to have a share in the mission of the diocese and its parishes, to work with wonderful colleagues, and to have particular areas of responsibility, especially in education.”

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