Olivia Graham named Bishop of Reading


15 July 2019 – the Queen has approved the appointment of the Venerable Olivia Graham, the Archdeacon of Berkshire, as the next Bishop of Reading.

Olivia Graham at Christ Church Cathedral


Olivia at Christ Church Cathedral. Photo: Steven Buckley 

The Bishop of Oxford announced the news during a visit to Ranelagh School in Bracknell, where students had an opportunity to ask Olivia questions. Their visit was followed by a reception at Reading Minster.

Responding to today’s announcement, Olivia said; “I am delighted and energised to have been called to an episcopal role. It is a tremendous opportunity to bring together my passions for the Church and the wider world – for example to be able to encourage greater engagement between our church communities and secondary schools. The young people I encounter in our schools are serious and engaged with the world. We need to see how we can offer the resources of faith at a crucial time in their lives.”

Olivia’s early career was spent in teaching and international development, including a period working for Oxfam in Somalia. Ordained in 1997, she has served all of her ministry in the Diocese of Oxford, becoming Archdeacon of Berkshire in 2013.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft said; “One of the things that was apparent when we were listening and consulting about the new bishop was that people wanted somebody who really knew what it is like to be in ministry in this part of the world. Someone who knew what the pressures and challenges are. In this and many other areas, Olivia brings just what we need at this time. I am very excited about what Olivia’s appointment means for the Diocese.”

Olivia will succeed the Rt Revd Andrew Proud who retired from the role at the start of May this year. She will be consecrated in a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on 19 November.

Notes for editors
(updated following the announcement)

  • Brief biographical details below
  • When Olivia is consecrated in November, she will become the 24th female bishop in the Church of England and the first female bishop in the Diocese of Oxford.
  • The future is bright. Just over half (54%) of those entering training for ordination last year were women.
  • High resolution photographs available on request
  • Scroll down for a film of Olivia talking with Bishop Steven
  • A short documentary film from the day of the announcement is also available
  • For interview requests, please contact Steven Buckley on 07824 906839 or WhatsApp message.

Key dates and other information

  • Olivia will be consecrated at St Pauls on 19 November
  • Bishop Olivia will be welcomed to the Diocese at a service to take place at Reading Minster, 3pm 23 November. She begins her public ministry from that date.
  • The Revd Canon Stephen Pullin will be Acting Archdeacon of Berkshire from 1 September and until there is a new archdeacon in post.
  • Information relating to the appointments process.
About the Diocese of Oxford and the Reading Episcopal Area
  • The Diocese of Oxford is one of the largest Dioceses in the Church of England.
  • The Diocese of Oxford is divided into four ‘Episcopal Areas’, each overseen by their own Area Bishop.
  • The Reading Episcopal Area is larger than many dioceses in the Church of England. It extends from west Berkshire along the M4 corridor to Windsor encompassing very rural areas and large centres of population.
  • There are 170 churches in the Area, 70% of which are involved in social action. The Church is also the largest provider of out of school support for children and young people in Berkshire.
About Olivia
  • Olivia is married to Keith and they have three adult children. She is passionate about social justice and the interface the church has with the wider world.
  • In June this year she accompanied other faith leaders calling for government action on climate change and participated in the Mass Lobby of Parliament.
  • Olivia has also led the work on Flourishing in Ministry, a set of resources and a leadership approach that supports clergy to develop a healthy rhythm of prayer, work and rest.
  • 1974-1981 Volunteer teacher and schools worker, Kenya
  • 1984-1993 Overseas relief and development worker
  • 1997 Ordained Deacon
  • 1997-1998 Non-stipendiary minister, GARSINGTON
  • 1998-2001 Curate, PRINCES RISBOROUGH
  • 2001-2007 Team Vicar, BURNHAM (St Peter)
  • 2007-2013 Parish Development Adviser
  • 2012- Hon Canon, Christ Church Cathedral
  • 2013 – Archdeacon of Berkshire

Bishop Steven in conversation with Olivia

In a special edition of the My Extraordinary Family podcast Olivia talks about her Christian formation, a surprising response from the Church to her as a curate with a new baby , and her hopes for episcopal ministry. This film can be embedded on your site.

Bishop of Reading to retire in 2019


The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, has announced he will retire next year. His last official engagement

Unreported violence in Gambella

by the Rt Revd Andrew Proud

On Friday 15 April, Murle raiders crossed the border into Ethiopia from South Sudan to raid Lare and Niniyang, two Nuer towns I know well. 182 people, all ethnic Nuer, were killed; some were shot on the spot, others were pursued into the bush and gunned down. The under-resourced government hospital in Gambella town reported that it has treated 80 for severe wounds and official reports say 102 children were abducted and 2,000 head of cattle were taken in the raid.

Church members greet Bishop Andrew, running alongside his car on the cinder topped road at nininyang.

Church members greet Bishop Andrew, running alongside his car on the cinder topped road at Nininyang.


An Adult Nuer man who Bishop Andrew met recently.

This was a major incident, by any reckoning, but there were no mass protests with people carrying ‘Je suis Nuer’ banners and no one edited their Facebook photo to register their outrage. Amazingly, it made the BBC and, if you search for a few minutes, you can still find the occasional news piece, but none of them is particularly well informed. Why? Because the Gambella region of Ethiopia is still one of the most remote places on earth.

Despite investment in a new road which will take you from Addis Ababa all the way through to South Sudan, Gambella still feels a little like a wild-west town and I love it. The town, which is home to Annuak and Nuer, as well as many who have settled, or been resettled there, from the Ethiopian highlands, hums with life and energy. Eighty years ago the river here was navigable all the way through to Khartoum. It is still used for trade, but you can no longer reach Khartoum that way, so the main route into South Sudan is the wide, cinder-topped road that sweeps through Lare and Niniyang. There are Anglican thriving congregations in both towns and I have stayed with friends there many times. Believe me, there can’t have been anywhere for them to run to and nowhere to hide.

Talk to anyone in the Gambella regional state, particularly my friends among the Annuak, in Dimma (two days’ drive from there) and they will tell you that Murle tribesmen have been raiding across the border for years, stealing cattle and abducting children. Some believe the children are forced into marriage; others that they are sold on to slavers. We cannot begin to imagine how anyone could talk about that as if it were just a fact of life, but they do. So far, these raids have been small-scale but I know that they have been terrifying.
This raid was of a different order of magnitude entirely. They came in force, they were very well armed, they had plenty of ammunition, wore combat clothing and they were brutal. Speculation is rife and fear is running very high. Several of the raiders were killed and whilst some of the tribal markings [scarification] were definitely Murle, others were more ambiguous, which has fed memories of other ethnic conflicts. It also looks as if these raiders avoided the main road, but had made a long detour through the bush to avoid conflict-ridden, contested areas in South Sudan.

The people of the Gambella region are deeply shaken, the Addis government is about to send troops into South Sudan to deal with the raiders and the people in these towns and villages will be getting on with life as best they can, constantly looking over their shoulders as they collect firewood or walk to School or Church. They know we are praying; they would love us to stand in solidarity with them, too. Perhaps I shall change my cover photo now.

The Rt Revd Andrew Proud is the Bishop of Reading.

Help prevent the spread of Ebola

CHURCH members are being urgently asked to pray, give and act to support people working non-stop for an end to the deadliest ever Ebola outbreak.

Medical staff from the UK are particularly being called on to consider whether they could join teams to staff treatment centres in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Janice Proud, the Relief and Programmes Manager of the Anglican Alliance, reported that there have been nearly 5,000 reported deaths from the virus so far.

“The epidemic is critically serious,” Janice said. “Despite the current international response the number of people infected is expected to continue to increase. Other countries are preparing in case Ebola spreads further afield.”

Janice, who is married to the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, the Bishop of Reading, noted that the UK is not at risk because we have strong health care systems compared to the under-resourced areas affected.

Churches take action

Churches in the affected countries are already taking action. They have strong grassroots links, and church leaders are working to spread correct Ebola-prevention messaging, to promote safe burial practices, to help people deal with grief in communities when traditional funeral rituals are not possible, and to prevent stigmatisation of survivors.

In addition they are supporting medical work. Janice reports that the Bishop of Freetown has provided land for the construction of an isolation unit; the Diocese of Liberia has provided food for patients at a clinic in Monrovia; and the Diocese of Guinea, with the support of Anglican mission agency Us, has been distributing protective kits and equipping church clinics.

Milton Keynes based World Vision is one of many charities working to combat Ebola. Justin Byworth, its Chief Executive, noted: “World Vision have been working to educate people and tackle the stigma as well as providing thousands of sets of protective gear to front line health workers.”

To illustrate the scale of the issues, he told the story of Sarah from Sierra Leone who went to a clinic with her four-year-old son. “Sarah was unconscious for three days but when she came round she learned her child had died. ‘I don’t know what happened to him or how his body was buried. They gave me a certificate to say I was Ebola free, and I came home but my neighbours have told me they don’t want me here,’ she said.”

Justin said World Vision teams were also working non-stop to provide burials for victims. He quoted a member of one team, who said: “It is heartbreaking to watch these families but all we can do is ensure people are buried safely and with some dignity.”

Meanwhile Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood launched an appeal for young reporters in Liberia to save lives through the Children’s Radio Foundation. The President and Executive Chair of the Foundation is the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker, who is a priest in Summertown in Oxford. Colin said: “The Children’s Radio Foundation has a unique network of young radio journalists and radio stations across five African countries including Liberia, the epicentre of the disease. These young reporters can play a vital role in the fight against the epidemic – helping to bring life-saving information to their communities. Radio is the best way to get through to people.”


Crowd gathers for ‘IF’ launch


THE Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, the Mayor, Jenny Rynn and MP Alok Sharma officially launched the ‘Enough Food For Everyone – IF’ campaign at St Laurence’s Church last month.

The crowd celebrate the 'IF' launch at St Laurence's, Reading.

The crowd celebrate the ‘IF’ launch at St Laurence’s, Reading.

A crowd of people gathered as students from Leighton Park School played an especially composed tune for the local launch of the national, multi-agency campaign.
The idea behind IF is that the world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food. It is estimated that almost 900 million people, about one in eight human beings on our planet, suffer from chronic hunger. IF brings together more than 100 charities and faith groups (including the Church of England) and is asking for change in four areas, some directly related to food production and distribution and some where the general improvements made could help improve people’s access to food as well.
At the same time, the Oxford Diocese’s Food Matters campaign was launched in an event at New Road Baptist Church in Oxford.

Read a full report on the launch of Food Matters.