Breaking News: New Bishop of Ely will be the Rt Revd Stephen Conway,suffragan bishop of Ramsbury

THE new Bishop of Ely will be the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, currently the Suffragan Bishop of Ramsbury in the Diocese of Salisbury where he has been serving since his consecration in June 2006.

The Bishop of Huntingdon, Dr David Thomson, made the announcement this morning and introduced Bishop Stephen to the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly, and other civic dignitaries, the Dean and Chapter of Ely Cathedral and other senior clergy, and members of the Diocesan Office staff.

Bishop Stephen (52) will become the 69th Bishop of Ely. He will be officially installed and take up office early next year on a date yet to be decided. He succeeds Bishop Anthony Russell, who retired in February 2010.

“I am thrilled at the prospect of serving as Bishop of Ely,” said Bishop Stephen. “It is a joyful prospect to serve among all God’s people in the region, to discover together what God is doing and to join in.”

“I am delighted Bishop Stephen is to be our new diocesan,” said Bishop David Thomson. “We were both Archdeacons in the Northern Province a few years ago and it will be very good to be able to work more closely with him now in the Diocese of Ely.”

Bishop Stephen is to you’re the diocese today. He is meeting parishioners at Hampton Vale who are planning to build a new church, a local farmer in Ramsey, staff at a Church School and a hi-tech business in Cambridge, and also members of the University of Cambridge. At the end of his tour he is attending Evensong at the Cathedral.

The Rt Revd Stephen Conway will move to the Diocese of Ely from Salisbury where he has been serving as Bishop of Ramsbury since his consecration in June 2006.

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He was ordained priest in 1987 and spent the whole of his parochial ministry in the Diocese of Durham - in urban priority area, town centre and suburban settings.

He first became acquainted with this part of the country when he trained for the priesthood at Westcott House, Cambridge, and read Theology in the University. He did a placement on an acute admissions ward at Fulbourn Hospital – an experience that inspired his passionate interest in mental health.

While serving in the North East, he was appointed as Diocesan Director of Ordinands and later as the Bishop of Durham’s Senior Chaplain and Diocesan Communications Officer. In 2002 he became Archdeacon of Durham and Canon Treasurer of the Cathedral.

As Area Bishop of Ramsbury, he has been sharing oversight with the Diocesan Bishop over the large part of Wiltshire that lies within the Diocese of Salisbury.

He has also been Warden of Licensed lay Ministers and Chair of the Learning for Discipleship and Ministry Council. He is the Sponsoring Bishop, responsible for ordinands and assistant curates.

Following Bishop David Stancliffe’s retirement in July, he took over pastoral responsibility for the whole of Salisbury Diocese and will remain in charge until he moves to Ely.

His acquaintance with agriculture and the farming community began during his time in the North East. Since moving to Wiltshire he has developed further his knowledge of the industry and has a high regard for the skilfulness of those who work on the land.

Since he was a curate, Bishop Stephen has been mentor and friend to clergy and lay people helping them to deepen their personal spirituality. He strongly believes that prayer and worship are at the heart of everything.

His understanding of church doctrine and liturgical practice were formed principally within the Anglican catholic tradition, but this has been enriched by the positive experience of other traditions throughout his ministry, such as the charismatic movement. As a child, he attended a Methodist Sunday School. He is firmly committed to being a bishop for the whole Church, regardless of tradition.

He has chaired a mission fund which gives grants to support Fresh Expressions, new forms of Church for today’s fast changing world.

He takes a keen interest in politics and community development. He has close links with the leadership of the Council and with other community leaders. He is a key member of the Wiltshire Assembly, a forum which debates and advises on project planning and decision-making within the county.

Bishop Stephen has played a major role in building up links with Churches overseas and has travelled to countries, such as Sudan and Latvia, to develop closer ties. He also helped to advance the friendship between Durham and the Church of North Elbe in Germany, which is also linked to the Ely Diocese.

Stephen Conway grew up in multi-cultural South London, where some of his family still live. He attended a Church of England grammar school next to the Oval cricket ground, with free views of test matches.

He was the first member of his family to attend university and went to Oxford where he read Modern History. He was selected for train for the ministry while he was still an undergraduate, but first trained as a teacher and taught History and English at an Anglican public school, Glenalmond College in Scotland.

He coached the school basketball team. At nearly six and a half feet, his height was a major asset. He also coached remedial rugby and organised the school’s community service programme.

Bishop Stephen upholds Christian family life. He is single and part of a wider loving family, which includes his mother and stepfather, his two married sisters, a teenage nephew and niece and a number of god children. He readily admits that he relies on his family, friends and colleagues for support and accountability.

He has been the carer of a close family member who had mental illness. He chairs a mental health charity and, more recently, became the Anglican bishop accompanying the L’Arche Community in the UK, which provides accommodation and support to people with learning disabilities.

He is a keen walker. He likes watching rugby and cricket, enjoys the cinema and is interested in the connection between faith and film. He reads theology, history and biography at anytime, and thrillers at the end of the day. He likes to travel and enjoys travel literature. He takes much pleasure in offering and receiving hospitality.

The new bishop said: “I thank God for calling me back to serve the region in which I studied for the ministry and where I was first sent out to preach the good news of Jesus. One strand of my family hails from the area and I am looking forward to my homecoming. With no spouse or children of my own, I have always sought in parish and diocese to serve the building up of extended family life. One of my treasured titles as a bishop is ‘father in God’ and I commit myself to being a passionate builder of community wherever people live, learn, work and pray.

“My prayer is that in this way people may trust our approach to them with the good news of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ. I look forward to getting to know you all.

“I have been fortunate to serve in two dioceses already where the cathedrals are centres of pilgrimage. I rejoice that has prepared me for my ministry to lead this next generation of pilgrimage to God’s kingdom in Ely, confident that we are accompanied by St Etheldreda and all the saints of our region.”

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