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Bishop of Newcastle, who campaigned for LGBT and women's rights, to retire

by Kelly Valencia

The Right Rev Christine Hardman will step down as the Bishop of Newcastle on 30th November after leading the Diocese since 2015. 

During a farewell service at Newcastle Cathedral, Bishop Christine said it had been her "pleasure" to serve the church. 

"I am profoundly grateful for the six years I have served this Diocese, the depth of welcome and relationships in this region has been inspirational and encouraging. We have all been called to minister together, lay and ordained, at a time of extraordinary challenge, and I am very proud of the way in which our clergy and laity have responded to this. I give thanks for all of you. It has been a privilege to be your Bishop."

As a member of General Synod, Christine, who was consecrated the 12th Bishop of Newcastle, had been instrumental in drawing up legislation to allow women to become bishops.

Bishop Christine has also been a Church Commissioner and Chair of the Archbishops' Pastoral Advisory Group, a group set up to advise dioceses on pastoral responses to issues that arise concerning LGBTI+ clergy and lay people. 

Bishop Christine played a crucial role in the decision by the Church of England to accept gay marriage if one person transitions after the wedding which was taken in 2019. 

The 70-year-old also mentioned during her thanksgiving service the great progress made in achieving equal rights for men and women in the church leadership but warned more needed to be done. 

"The church does feel like a different place now and it's not about women's rights, it's about men and women being equally represented in the leadership of the church," she said.

"Men and women equally are made in the image of God, so it just isn't about women in the church it's women everywhere. We still have much work to do in the church, for example working in diversity in terms of ethnicity. There's no place for us to sit back and be complacent."
Bishop Christine was ordained Deacon in 1987, serving in the Diocese of St Albans. In 1996, she was appointed Vicar of Holy Trinity and Christ the King, Stevenage, also Rural Dean of Stevenage in 1999, and in 2001 served as Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich in the Diocese of Southwark.

 In 2012, she retired only to return to active full-time ministry when she was consecrated Bishop.

Archbishop of York, Most Rev Stephen Cottrell said: "Christine Hardman has been an outstanding Bishop of Newcastle, bringing hope and purpose to the parishes and communities she serves and becoming a trusted and respected voice for the Christian faith in the North East, but also in our national life through her work and witness in the House of Lords. As she approaches retirement, I wish her and Roger every blessing. We thank God for her tenacious faithfulness.

Suffragan Bishop of Berwick, the Right Rev Mark Wroe, will lead the Diocese of Newcastle through the process of appointing Bishop Christine's successor.

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