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Bishop of Guildford announces retirement

Date: 28 May 2013
THE BISHOP OF GUILDFORD, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill has today announced that his retirement has been accepted by The Queen and he will step down from his position as head of the diocese in September, after nine years in the role.

Bishop Christopher, who turns 68 in October, is one of 26 bishops who sit in the House of Lords. He is the ninth Bishop of Guildford since the formation of the diocese in 1927, which covers most of Surrey and North East Hampshire – and one parish in West Sussex.

  • Bishop Christopher was educated at King’s College, London, and served his first curacy at Tividale in the Diocese of Lichfield in 1969.
  • From 1974 to 1981 he was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assistant Chaplain for Foreign Relations and from 1982 to 1989 the Archbishop’s Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs, when he was also Honorary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral.
  • He was a Residentiary Canon and the Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral from 1989 and the Bishop of Stafford from 1996, until be came to Guildford in 2004.
  • He was Chaplain to The Queen from 1987 to 1996 and is currently Clerk of the Closet to The Queen (responsible for advising the Private Secretary to the Sovereign on the names for candidates to fill vacancies in the Roll of Chaplains to the Sovereign).

Ecumenical spokesman

Bishop Christopher has been a leading international figure on ecumenical (interfaith and cross-denominational) affairs throughout his ministry. He was a founding co-secretary of ARCIC (Anglican — Roman Catholic International Commission) in 1970, and in 2013 attending both the inauguration of Pope Francis and the enthronement of Archbishop Justin Welby, which took place in the same week. Upon his retirement, he will also step down as Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Law Society.

Bishop Christopher is married to Hilary with whom he has four children and three grandchildren. Bishop Christopher and Hilary will retire to the forest of Dean, where he will continue to undertake some work for the Church of England nationally.

Bishop of Dorking to lead Diocese

The Bishop of Dorking, the Rt Revd Ian Brackley will lead the diocese while a successor is selected. Bishop Ian has experience in this capacity, having led the Diocese of Portsmouth during its vacancy between 2009-10. Ian has been Bishop of Dorking since 1996.

Bishop Christopher says: “My hugely enjoyable ministry in Guildford is and has been concerned with people’s growth into God, the building up of the Church and helping the Church to reach out into the margins of our community with the love of Christ.”

“I will leave this diocese with huge respect for its communities, and have been constantly impressed by their level of commitment to the common good. People here have a deep Christian conscience which I have seen lived out each day.

“Some of my happiest moments have been the many Baptism and Confirmation services throughout the diocese, involving so many children and adults from all walks of life – it is truly inspirational to be at the focal point of people coming to faith.

“There is much to be done before I leave, and the hard work will continue as usual, but I can honestly say that this has been a most enjoyable place to be both a bishop and a disciple.”

“I am looking forward to spending more time with my grandchildren, and certainly more time than I was able to give to my children while engaged in a busy life in ministry,” he said.

“I am completely confident that the Bishop of Dorking will do an excellent job leading the diocese and we also have a new Dean of Guildford, the Revd Canon Dianna Gwilliams, joining us just before I retire from my ministry here in September.”

Bishop Christopher’s farewell service of thanksgiving will be held at Guildford Cathedral on 28 September at 3pm. Further details will be announced in due course.

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