Former Eden school pupil becomes a bishop

Date: Saturday 3rd January 2004

FORMER Appleby Grammar School pupil Canon James Bell has been appointed the 10th Bishop of Knaresborough in the diocese of Ripon and Leeds.

Canon Bell, aged 53, son of the late Mr. J. and Mrs. M. J. Bell, of Stone Croft, Bolton, near Appleby, was born in 1950 in Penrith and attended Appleby Grammar School.

He was ordained in the diocese of Oxford and served as chaplain of Brasenose College, Oxford, for six years. He was tutor in theology during that time and was elected to an official fellowship in 1979.

His training took place at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, where he studied for a degree in theology after completing a first degree in modern history at St. John’s College, Durham University.

In 1982 he moved to the diocese of London, where he served as rector of St. Mary, St. Richard and St. Hugh, Northolt, for 11 years, and as advisor for the ministry in the Willesden Episcopal area for 31⁄2 years. During that time he also served as area dean of Ealing. He moved to the diocese of Ripon in 1997 as director of ministry and training and as a residentiary canon of Ripon for 21⁄2 years.

Canon Bell, who is single and lists as his interests his family, walking his dog, reading detective fiction, DIY and entertaining, says that working in the diocese of Ripon and Leeds has the “added advantage of bringing me nearer to my roots in the Eden Valley”.

For the past four years he has been director of mission in the diocese of Ripon and Leeds and is delighted to become the 10th suffragan Bishop of Knaresborough.

He will be working closely with Bishop John Packer in serving a diocese which covers 1,359 square miles and a population of 780,000, including most of Leeds and the central third of North Yorkshire. He succeeds the late Rt. Rev. Frank Weston who died suddenly in April this year, shortly before his retirement.

Canon Bell will be consecrated at York Minster on 2nd March, and a service of installation and welcome will take place in Ripon Cathedral on Sunday, 14th March. His new home will be in the village of Exelby, near Bedale, in North Yorkshire.

Canon Bell has been director of mission in the diocese for the last four years, and says he is delighted to be invited to become Bishop of Knaresborough.

“I am thrilled to be asked to exercise the ministry of a bishop in the diocese which I know and love and with clergy and colleagues whom I value and respect highly. Being called to be a bishop in today’s church feels both very exciting and hugely challenging. It is a particular pleasure and privilege to be succeeding Frank Weston as Bishop of Knaresborough,” he said.

He will have a key role in the diocese of Ripon and Leeds with special concern for rural issues and evangelism. He will help develop the church’s ministry and mission for the people, countryside and economy of their part of Yorkshire.

He will also be concentrating on church growth, working with the Evangelism Task Group to capture the imagination of the Christians of its church communities to take responsibility for the ministry and mission of the church.

“My priorities will be to communicate something of the passion of God for his creation, to encourage confidence both through effective Christian nurture and renewed prayer, and to enable connections to be made between faith and life, worship and work, church and community,” said Canon Bell.