The new Area Bishop of Stafford will be The Venerable Matthew Parker, who is currently serving as Archdeacon of Stoke-upon-Trent.
No 10 Downing Street announced today that the Queen has approved Matthew’s nomination in succession to the Right Revd Geoff Annas, who retired as Bishop of Stafford last year.
Matthew has a strong affinity to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent having served in the area for 20 years. He will join the Area Bishops of Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury in an episcopal team led by the Bishop of Lichfield. Matthew will have responsibility for the pastoral oversight of churches, ministers and communities in the towns and villages of Stoke-on-Trent and North and East Staffordshire including Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stafford and Burton-upon-Trent.
Matthew (57) trained for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, a theological college in the evangelical tradition of the Church of England, after studying at Manchester and Cambridge Universities. Following ordination in 1988, Matthew served as curate in Twickenham, London, before various roles in Stockport, including school chaplain and team vicar. He moved to the Diocese of Lichfield in 2000 as Team Rector in Leek, also serving as Rural Dean of Leek from 2007, before becoming Archdeacon of Stoke-upon-Trent in 2013. As archdeacon, Matthew has played a major strategic role in steering the direction of travel of the diocese, and has made significant contributions to the Diocesan Boards of Finance and of Education. He also sits on the Academy Council of St Peter's CofE Academy in Stoke-upon-Trent.
By becoming a bishop, Matthew follows in the footsteps of his namesake Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559-1575, who was one of the most influential architects of Reformed Anglicanism.
Matthew said: “I came to Staffordshire 20 years ago as a parish priest knowing very little about the City of Stoke and the County and have come to love this part of the world so much that I decided I needed to stay! I love the variety, the warmth, the beauty and the grit. In my new role as Bishop of Stafford, I look forward to joining with brothers and sisters in Christ as we share the good news of God’s love for the world revealed in Jesus. These are challenging times, not only for the church, but for the whole of society. There is much that threatens to divide us and we are fearful about the future. My prayer is that, in partnership with others, the church in this area will continue to be a sign of unity, joy and hope.”
Matthew is married to Sarah who works as a Research and Development Officer of a national charity and they have three grown-up children Sam, Lizzie and Anna. They keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Bruno. Matthew plays the electric guitar when no one else is around, loves to read and listens to blues and Americana.
The Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, said: "After a rigorous and testing discernment process, Matthew has been clearly discerned as the next person to serve as Area Bishop of Stafford. I value highly his firm biblical faith, strategic insight and pastoral kindness, and I know that his ministry is very widely appreciated in the Stafford Episcopal Area and wider diocese. I and my fellow bishops look forward to working with him in a new way as an episcopal colleague. Please pray for him as he prepares for this new ministry among clergy and parishes that he already knows well.”
The Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson also welcomed the appointment in a video message:
As the announement was made, Matthew met church leaders representing various denominations in Stoke-on-Trent hosted by Pastor Marcus Chilaka at the Redeemed Christian Church of God for which he is National Ecumenical Officer and Pastor Alison Price, who has just been appointed lead pastor of Potter's Methodist Church as well as key anglican clergy, Revd Shaun Morris (area dean) and Revd Andrew Wickens (rector, Stoke Minster). Following an interview with Lamont Howie for BBC Radio Stoke, he met civic leaders for Staffordshire at St Mary's Church in Stafford:
- Charles Bagot Jewitt (High Sheriff of Staffordshire)
- Revd Preb Richard Grigson
- Cllr Kath Perry (Chairman of Staffordshire County Council)
- Cllr Gareth Jones (Mayor of Stafford Borough)
- Will Morris (House of Bread)
Matthew's appointment was widely welcomed, both on social media and by those he met:
We have an album of photos from the day on Flickr.
Matthew is set to be consecrated as bishop on 28 January. He is due to be installed at Lichfield Cathedral on 7 February followed by a welcome service in the Staffordshire episcopal area.
Interim arrangements for the role of Archdeacon of Stoke-upon-Trent will be announced shortly.