New deputy Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich appointed

The Rev Canon Dr Mike Harrison, Suffolk's new Bishop of Dunwich, at Felixstowe Academy - picture by Keith Mindham ANL-151216-104225001

The Rev Canon Dr Mike Harrison, Suffolk's new Bishop of Dunwich, at Felixstowe Academy - picture by Keith Mindham ANL-151216-104225001

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A clergyman who has been working in one of the fastest growing Church of England dioceses has been chosen to serve as Suffolk’s new Bishop of Dunwich.

Downing Street announced today that The Queen has approved the nomination of the Revd Canon Dr Mike Harrison to succeed the late Rt Revd Clive Young, who retired during 2013 as Bishop of Dunwich.

Growth is a key focus for Suffolk’s St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese and Canon Mike, currently Director of Ministry and Mission in the Diocese of Leicester where he has a key role in helping the diocese grow, is in Suffolk today.

During his visit he was due to see how the Church is working with young people at state schools at Felixstowe, in rural communities near Eye where facilities are limited, and in busy market towns at Stowmarket where the parish church last year attracted 30,000 visitors with its annual Christmas tree festival.

Canon Mike, 52, is married to Rachel, an Occupational Therapist and they have four children, aged 13 to 21. He studied at Cambridge, Oxford, London and Bradford universities, gaining his doctorate from King’s College, London.

He has worked as a management consultant and social worker before becoming a clergyman and enjoys running, completing marathons, swimming, cycling and gym work.

He is a passionate supporter of Bolton Wanderers having been born in Bolton and enjoys live comedy.

Canon Mike said: “It has been a huge privilege to be involved in the development of mission and evangelism in the Leicester Diocese during the last decade and to serve as Director of Mission and Ministry.

“I’m delighted that this new role will enable me to continue to work in this area, while taking on wider responsibilities as Bishop of Dunwich.”

The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich traditionally has two Bishops, the diocesan Bishop, the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, and his deputy, the suffragan Bishop of Dunwich.

Bishop Martin said: “Mike is warm and outgoing with a deep spirituality as well as a creative intelligence. He is a fine teacher, preacher and pastor and I look forward to welcoming him and his family to Suffolk.

“What Mike brings to our county in particular is experience of the growth and renewal of the rural Church in Leicestershire, the second fastest growing diocese in the country. 

“Mike has experience with young people’s programmes, youth projects and church schools and will aim to strengthen that work in our county too.

“I am delighted he could see at firsthand today some of that work at Felixstowe Academy undertaken by the chaplain, working with young people there in a state school.”

Joshua Hunt is full-time Chaplain to Felixstowe Academy working alongside students and staff exploring faith, and building a sense of community.

His lay chaplaincy is an example of a partnership with a state academy and church. Joshua said: “We are delighted to welcome Bishop Martin and the soon to be new Bishop of Dunwich to Felixstowe Academy.

“Here we have a great example of the Church serving the town’s young people in a practical way that makes a positive impact day-in, day-out.”

Later today Canon Mike is due to visit the Wetheringsett coffee morning, near Diss where the Church is working to combat rural isolation and build a sense of greater community.

The Revd Julia Lall, from Stanwell Green, near Eye, said: “The coffee morning has been going for a number of years, and is held every Wednesday morning in the church from 10.30am to 12pm.

“It provides a vital meeting place for people to get together, especially as Wetheringsett is a very long village with a number of small hamlets. There is no pub or shop, and the Village Hall has limited availability during the day in term time, since it is used by the school. 

“The coffee morning offers a great opportunity for the vicar and police support officers to drop in and meet people. This week is the last one before Christmas, so there will be carol singing, and Father Christmas will put in an appearance.”

After meeting staff at the diocesan offices in Ipswich town centre, Canon Mike will go to Stowmarket to see the Christmas Tree Festival, now in its 11th year.

The church is situated in the heart of the town, is full of trees decorated by groups and organisations in Stowmarket, and last year attracted more than 30,000 visitors.

Canon Mike will be made a Bishop during a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London on February 24 and be installed as Bishop of Dunwich during a service at the Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday, February 27.