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Surfing Bishop-to-be 'catches a break' into Birmingham diocese

by Ros Mayfield
The Revd Dr Michael Volland-THUMB.jpg - Banner image

The Reverend Dr Michael Volland has been announced as the new Bishop of Birmingham.  He’ll replace The Right Reverend David Urquhart, who retired last October.

Dr Volland will move to the Midlands from Cambridge, where he’s been Principal of Ridley Hall, the Cambridge University college which trains CofE clergy for ordination, and where he was once a student himself.  

At a welcoming event in the Cathedral The Rt. Revd Anne Hollinghurst, who’s Bishop of Aston, and has been Acting Bishop of Birmingham in the lead up to his appointment said: “We look forward to welcoming Michael to the wonderfully diverse city-region that we serve as the Church of England, Birmingham. We pray for him as he prepares to join us in our calling to be a transformed and transforming church at the heart of our communities."

Michael has been at Ridley since 2017.  Before moving to Cambridge, he taught mission, evangelism and church planting to ordinands at Cranmer Hall in Durham.  He led the East Durham Mission Project, and served as chaplain to Durham Army Cadet Force.  As young boy in Reading, Michael Volland spent evenings and weekends with the Boys Brigade and Army Cadets. Before being ordained, he worked as a youth and children’s worker for six years.  

Although one or two in the Church expressed surprise over his new appointment; he’s not the first person, nor the first Principal of Ridley to become a Bishop without directly leading a church himself.   

Dr Volland has a Masters from Kings College London, focused on youth ministry and theological education.  His doctorate, at Durham University, was in the areas of fresh expressions, entrepreneurship in ministry and leadership.  At a time when the Church of England attendance is in decline, membership is ageing and morale among clergy is reported to be at an all-time low – such skills and passions can doubtless be put to good use.

Described by the Church of England as a “keen runner”, he’s done a number of ultramarathons, raising funds for causes such as the Christian homeless charity, Shelter, and he’s been a member of Christian Surfers for almost 30 years.

Speaking about his appointment, Dr Volland said: “I am excited to be following the call of God to serve the city and region as the next Bishop of Birmingham. The family and I are looking forward to making our home in Birmingham, getting to know and love people and communities, and to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ alongside Christians across the Church of England Birmingham. Please pray for us as we prepare to move into God’s hopeful future.”

He will continue to lead Ridley Hall, to the end of 2023, and is expected to be installed in his new position in the new year.

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