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Diocese of Exeter
World News

Farewell service for Bishop of Exeter after nearly a decade in the role

by Kelly Valencia

A farewell service is scheduled to take place at Exeter Cathedral on Sunday to bid farewell to Rt Rev Robert Atwell, who is stepping down from his role as the leader of the diocese.

Earlier this year, the 69-year-old announced his retirement from the position after nearly a decade. At the time, he expressed his gratitude for the privilege of ministering in the county.

“It has been an honour to serve as Bishop of Exeter in this beautiful county with so many historic and amazing churches, served by faithful congregations. I have been blessed with a fantastic team of clergy colleagues and diocesan staff and I will miss working with them.

“I know the people of the diocese will continue to live out our vision to grow in prayer, make new disciples and to serve the people of Devon with joy,” he said.

In 2021, Bishop Robert joined the House of Lords as a member of the Lord's Spiritual and currently serves as the Chair of the Church of England's Liturgical Commission and as the lead bishop for Rural Affairs.

As a student he pursued theology at St John's College, Durham, and received ordination training in Cambridge. He began his ministry as a curate in the Diocese of London before returning to Cambridge, where he served as the chaplain of Trinity College for six years and taught on early Christian life and thought.

He also spent ten years as a Benedictine monk in Oxfordshire, returning to parish ministry in London’s Primrose Hill and was  appointed Bishop of Stockport in 2008.

Throughout his tenure as Bishop of Exeter he championed the role of the rural church, launching projects such as the 'Growing the Rural Church' initiative and most recently editing the book 'How Village Churches Thrive'.

The Bishop of Crediton, Rt Rev Jackie Searle, will take over as acting Bishop of Exeter, until a new bishop is appointed.

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