The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, has announced he will retire next year. The longest-serving Suffragan Bishop in the Church of England, Bishop Colin will lay down his crosier on October 4, 2020. “Bishop Colin has helped to shape the Diocese of Oxford as much as anyone across the last 20 years,” says the Bishop of Oxford.

In a letter sent to clergy and parishioners across the Dorchester episcopal area on Tuesday, Bishop Colin writes that he feels tremendously grateful for the many partnerships between Church, local government and civil society. He says: “There is something heavenly in being able to engage with people’s ordinary lives, and the church has responded to changing needs over the last 20 years with love, just as it always has. It has also been my privilege to ordain, baptise and confirm many people over the last 20 years, and a great joy to be involved in the appointment of nearly all of the clergy who currently serve the 326 churches in the Dorchester Area.”

“Bishop Colin has helped to shape the Diocese of Oxford as much as anyone across the 20 years he has served as Bishop of Dorchester,” says the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft. “The Dorchester Area is itself larger than many dioceses of the Church of England. Colin has also served with distinction as Acting Bishop of Oxford during two long vacancies in see.

“He is known and loved across the communities and churches of Oxfordshire for his kindness, wisdom, good humour and sound judgement. Colin has been deeply committed throughout his ministry to the mission of God. He led Cutting Edge Ministries in the early 2000s as the Diocese experimented with fresh expressions of Church.

“Colin has consistently championed Messy Church and BeSpace in Schools. He led a pioneering partnership between churches and local authorities to save children’s centres across Oxfordshire following the local authority cuts. Colin led the Diocesan office move from North Hinksey to Church House Oxford in Kidlington. More recently, he has chaired a key strand of our common vision process, looking at how the Church can make a bigger difference in the world. He has been a pastor and friend to many, including to me, and he will be greatly missed.

“There will be many occasions to express our appreciation to Bishop Colin and to his wife Sarah, over the coming year before his retirement in October. It is very good news that they will continue to live in Oxfordshire, and that they will continue to be part of the communities to which they have given so much.”

Details of the timetable for consultations and the appointment of Bishop Colin’s successor as Bishop of Dorchester will be announced by the Diocese of Oxford in due course.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • High resolution photos for press use are available to download
  • A tea party followed by a farewell service for Bishop Colin will take place on 4 October 2020 at Dorchester Abbey.
  • The Diocese of Oxford is divided into four smaller ‘episcopal Areas’. The Bishop of Dorchester is one of three Area Bishops who serve under the Bishop of Oxford. With 326 churches in the area, the Dorchester Episcopal Area is larger than many dioceses in the Church of England. The Dorchester Episcopal Area encompasses all of Oxfordshire, except for the city of Oxford.
  • In July Bishop Colin hit the headlines when he became the first bishop in the Diocese of Oxford, and possibly the Church of England, to switch to an electric car.
  • A vacancy in see is the period between the diocesan bishop moving on and another one being appointed. Bishop Colin became the Acting Bishop of Oxford on four occasions, most recently when the Rt Revd John Pritchard retired, until the Rt Revd Steven Croft took up his post as the Bishop of Oxford.

Biography

Bishop Colin was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. George Carey, at Westminster Abbey on 4th October 2000. Educated at Trinity College, Oxford, Colin undertook ordination training at Wycliffe Hall and was ordained deacon in 1975. He served his first curacy at St Peter’s Shipley in the Bradford Diocese. His second curacy was at St Andrew’s Oxford which he held simultaneously with being a tutor at Wycliffe Hall Theological College for five years. Following nine years parish ministry in the Diocese of Canterbury, Colin was appointed Archbishop’s Chaplain in 1993, serving in that post for seven years before returning to Oxford as Bishop of Dorchester. In 2000 he was also made an OBE for his work in co-chairing the group that advised the Government on the faith aspects of the Millennium Celebrations. Bishop Colin is the longest serving Suffragan Bishop in the Church of England. He has been the Acting Bishop of Oxford four times for periods of three months to two years. He was awarded the Cross of St Augustine by Archbishop Rowan Williams for his work on the Design Group for the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Bishop Colin, please contact Steven Buckley on 07824 906839 or Jo Duckles on 07880 716761.

Photos

Click here to download hi-res versions of these images for press use.