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Canterbury Diocese begins search for new Bishop of Dover

By Anna MacSwan

The search for a new Bishop of Dover has begun following the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott's retirement.

The post is responsible for the whole Canterbury Diocese, which also stretches across the districts of Maidstone, Swale, Thanet, Folkestone and Hythe and Ashford.

Holding the additional title of the Bishop of Canterbury, Bishop Trevor, 68, hit the headlines this summer for making outspoken comments on Universal Credit and urging the Government to "fix" its new benefit system.

The Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover
The Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover

A series of consultations is now underway to find his successor, an appointment which will ultimately need to be approved by the Prime Minister.

Anna Drew, the Diocese's director of communications, said that a wide range of views is being sought on who should next lead the Church of England's oldest see.

"The Canterbury Diocese is such a range of communities. We go from the Weald and all the way across to Maidstone, that's our eastern edge, and we also take in the coastline and the Isle of Sheppey," she said.

"You have got areas of really serious deprivation as well as coastal towns. It's a really interesting and diverse place, so it's important to get a range of views about what kind of Bishop we need.

"The Bishop is the spiritual leader for the area, but also provides political leadership. We've seen the Archbishop of Canterbury, for example, talk about how Brexit is going to affect Kent and how a no-deal Brexit could be disastrous for our community."

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

The process will be overseen on behalf of the Diocese by a Vacancy in See Committee, but a final decision will be taken by a body called the Crown Nomination Commission and the appointment will need to be ratified by Downing Street.

An outline timescale and a list of representatives who will sit on the Commission is expected to be published in the coming days.

Bishop Willmott, who served in the role for nine years, leaves in May and it is hoped that his successor will be in post by the end of this year.

A public consultation meeting is taking place tonight at 7pm in the Clagett Auditorium in the Canterbury Cathedral Precincts, CT1 2EH, which all are welcome to attend.

Views can also be emailed to the Archbishops's Appointments Secretary Caroline Boddington via caroline.boddington@churchofengland.org.

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