Hectic year for new bishop

Technology: Rt Rev Julian Henderson Bishop of Blackburn show how the church is using QR codes to keep people updated with churches, pictured here with Bishop of Burnley John Goddard and the Bishop of Lancaster Geoff Pearson
Technology: Rt Rev Julian Henderson Bishop of Blackburn show how the church is using QR codes to keep people updated with churches, pictured here with Bishop of Burnley John Goddard and the Bishop of Lancaster Geoff Pearson
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This time last year, the Blackburn Diocese’s new bishop was just starting off in his role. We take a look at a selection of the local news and events which took place in the Church of England in 2014.


The new diocesan bishop, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson was still getting to know the diocese and was continuing to meet and greet people in parishes and elsewhere.

Visits included trips to many of the football grounds in Lancashire, and at Blackpool Football Club he was presented with a ‘Bishop’ football shirt, courtesy of midfielder Neal Bishop, and signed by the whole team.

As January drew to a close, it was announced that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would visit Lancashire in April to present Maundy Money to pensioners from across the region at Blackburn Cathedral. The Dean of Blackburn, The Very Rev. Christopher Armstrong welcomed the news saying: “This is a huge privilege as well as a great responsibility.”


Teachers and parents from across the diocese came to the cathedral for a special service celebrating Education Sunday.

It was attended by representatives of all the local authorities, as well as representatives from many of the parishes in the diocese.

Later in the month, more than 100 young people were at the cathedral again for an all-night ‘lock-in’ called ‘Sanctuary’. This year’s ecumenical event was subtitled Love Never Ends and youngsters participated in a whole host of fun activities.


Bishop Julian embarked on a new series of deanery visits which will take place over 18 months and involve him visiting each area for up to four days, aiming to meet every clergyman and woman personally in their own parishes.

His first port of call was Chorley Deanery where his visit was facilitated by the Area Dean, Rev. Tim Wilby from St George’s Church, and took him to parishes in central Chorley as well as Euxton, Charnock Richard, Eccleston, Croston, Bretherton, Brindle, Appley Bridge, Coppull, Heapey and Withnell and Whittle-le-Woods.

And the Diocesan Directory went online, with QR codes in the printed version linking to the Diocesan YouTube channel.


April was dominated by the Maundy visit of The Queen. Her Majesty presented 176 Lancashire people with Maundy Money at a spectacular service at the region’s cathedral on April 17. The service itself lasted about an hour and saw each Maundy recipient have a treasured moment with Her Majesty as she presented the traditional bags of Maundy Money. After the service, the royal couple attended a reception and lunch with civic dignitaries from across the region at Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

Also this month The Church of England in Lancashire became home to six parishes from the old Diocese of Bradford on Easter Sunday.


In May, the three bishops – Bishop Julian, Bishop Geoff of Lancaster and Bishop John of Burnley – promoted the national WW1 poppy planting initiative, which included planting poppies at Bishop’s House near Ribchester and at the Diocesan Retreat and Conference Centre at Whalley Abbey.


It was in June that Bishop Julian became the first diocesan bishop in Lancashire to personally ordain women priests. The annual event for women and men ordinands, both deacons and priests, took place at the end of the month.


The Bishop of Burnley retired this month. Rt Rev. John Goddard, 66, who has 43 years of experience as a clergyman is one of the most respected members of The Church of England’s House of Bishops. Bishop John was honoured with a farewell service attended by civic dignitaries and people from parishes across the county.


In August parishes across Lancashire commemorated the outbreak of the First World War. The occasion was marked in a variety of ways across the county. Many churches conducted vigil services as they reflected on the suffering of war, both a hundred years ago and today, and prayed for the peace of the world.

During a County Service at Blackburn Cathedral, the area deans from across Lancashire collected candles. They were placed in each parish church throughout the diocese on 
August 4, where they were lit until 11pm when war was declared.


The Archbishop of York, The Most Rev. and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, visited Ripley St Thomas School in Lancaster this month to help the school celebrate its 150th anniversary.

The Archbishop and Bishop Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster, presided at a huge outdoor service in the school grounds in front of 2,000 pupils and teachers.


The Church of England in Lancashire launched a campaign to highlight the region to clergy or potential clergy at the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) in Manchester.


The Archbishop of York, The Most Rev. and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, visited Lancashire in early November. Among the places he visited were the University of Central Lancashire and Preston Minster.

The other big event was the announcement of the new Bishop of Burnley. The new Bishop will be the Rev.

Philip North, who is currently team rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras, a large inner city parish of four churches in the Camden area of North London.


Bishop Julian welcomed the announcement that the Rev. Elizabeth (Libby) Lane is to be the next Bishop of Stockport in the Diocese of Chester and thus the first woman bishop in the Church of England. Libby was ordained in the Diocese of Blackburn as a deacon in 1993 and as a priest 1994. She and her husband George served together as curates of St James’ Church in Blackburn from 1993 to 1996.