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Queen appoints first black female bishop ever as Bishop of Dover

A former chaplain to the Queen will become the first ever black female bishop when she takes one of the most prestigious roles in the clergy.

Jamaican-born Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin has been appointed as Bishop of Dover following the retirement of Rt Revd Trevor Willmott in May.

Having received her early education in the Caribbean country, she later studied at Birmingham University.

Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin has been appointed as the Bishop of Dover, making her the first black female bishop. Picture: Jim Drew (13117361)
Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin has been appointed as the Bishop of Dover, making her the first black female bishop. Picture: Jim Drew (13117361)

Her religious training commenced with the Church Army, later progressing to the Queens Theological College.

Ordained as a deacon in 1991, she became a priest in 1994 and served her title at St Matthew’s Church, Willenhall Road in the Diocese of Lichfield.

The mother-of-three then moved to Hackney and priested there for 16-and-a-half years, before being selected as a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen in 2007.

The former Bishop of Dover, Revd Trevor Wilmott retired from the position in May
The former Bishop of Dover, Revd Trevor Wilmott retired from the position in May

Three years later, Revd Hudson-Wilkin became the first female appointed to the position of the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Alongside this role, she took on the position of Priest in Charge at St-Mary-at-Hill Church in the City of London.

The eminent ecclesiastic has also served as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England also as one of the Panel of Chairs of the Synod.

Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin has served as the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons since 2010
Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin has served as the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons since 2010

She has twice represented the Church of England at the World Council of Churches and served as its priest representative on the Anglican Consultative Council for nine years.

Rose, whose husband Kenneth is a prison chaplain, was a member of the Broadcasting Standards Commission and has wide experience of media engagement including some religious broadcasting.

Her new position will see her lead religious operations in Canterbury, Maidstone, the Isle of Sheppey, Romney Marsh, Ashford, Faversham, Thanet, Sittingbourne and Dover.

"Rose is one of the warmest, kindest and most loving people I have ever met, so she will be sorely missed by members across the House, the staff and, especially, by me..." - John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: "Rose is one of the warmest, kindest and most loving people I have ever met, so she will be sorely missed by Members across the House, the staff and especially, by me.

"She has an unfailing sense of duty and an ability – more than she would herself ever know – to bring comfort in times of tragedy.

"Furthermore, her steely resolve when confronted with loss and evil, following the death of our dear colleague Jo Cox, and in the wake of the Westminster Bridge attack, was plain for all to see.

"Both in the celebration of happiness and in condolence and prayer, she has the most reassuring, fortifying presence anyone could want.

Rose Hudson-Wilkin with husband Ken. Picture: Jim Drew (13117719)
Rose Hudson-Wilkin with husband Ken. Picture: Jim Drew (13117719)

"Personally, I would like to thank Rose for her steadfast support and friendship over the last nine years. Our loss is certainly the Diocese of Canterbury’s gain. She will be the most excellent Bishop of Dover, and I will watch keenly the next stage of her spiritual journey."

The reverend said: “I am excited to have been called to be the next bishop of Dover in the Diocese of Canterbury with its long history of Christian witness.

"I am looking forward to journeying with the people of Kent, celebrating the good work that is already happening there and working together with its religious and secular leaders to ensure that the good news of hope, love and justice remains at the heart of our changed lives together.”

Welcoming the appointment, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Rose Hudson-Wilkin has, over the last nine years, been one of the most influential and effective ministers in the public square through her long service as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

"I have constantly been told that she has been an effective pastor in one crisis or another, especially in the last few years. Before that she was a parish minister of great impact.

"She has been described as prophet, pastor and evangelist. She has challenged the Church of England over its engagement with UK minority ethnic groups, and has spoken forcefully and effectively at many evangelistic meetings.

“I am absolutely delighted that she is willing to move from her current role to be the new Bishop of Dover. She will bring great energy and a profound commitment to collegial working, an outward looking approach to the mission of the church and a profound spiritual life.

"We pray for God’s blessing on her as she prepares to move.”

She will be consecrated in a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on November 19 and installed at Canterbury Cathedral on November 30.

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