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New Bishop of Rochester must be a 'rock star'

WANTED: A new Bishop of Rochester, also known as "lead singer of a rock band".

That's the plea after the diocese announced current title holder, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, will be retiring next month.

Video explaining what the church is looking for

The church is asking the public to help find a replacement for the high-profile role.

In a short film to help explain more about what a bishop does and why this process matters, the assistant Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones, said: "A diocesan bishop is basically like the lead singer in a rock band.

"A front man or woman who shapes the band's identity and brand.

"They are visible and performative. They get others involved, giving them a sense that they are part of it all, bringing them into the fold.

The Bishop of Tonbridge, the Right Rev Simon Burton-Jones
The Bishop of Tonbridge, the Right Rev Simon Burton-Jones

"A rock star rouses people to sing along. A diocesan bishop gets people to sing the song of Jesus and to find joy in doing so.

"If you could ask A God anything, what would it be?"

That is just one of the questions the diocese is hoping members of the public will answer, to help identify the qualities needed in their new bishop.

As a leader in the Church of England and supporter of communities across Medway, north and west Kent, and the London boroughs of Bromley and Bexley, the church wants to know what their top priorities should be.

What are the challenges and opportunities facing people, churches and communities across these areas, particularly in light of the pandemic?

Wanted poster for new bishop
Wanted poster for new bishop

Interviewers have already been out on the streets in towns like Gravesend, Tunbridge Wells and Bexleyheath, asking people their views.

But now the diocese is inviting KentOnline readers to get involved.

It's easy to do. You can take a short survey by clicking here before midnight on Sunday, or register to join an online public meeting on Thursday, July 15 at 7.30pm. It is hoped that a new bishop will be appointed next year.

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