The next bishop of Hereford will be Richard Jackson. Bishop Richard, who is currently Suffragan Bishop of Lewes in East Sussex, will take up his role in the New Year and will be the 106th Bishop of Hereford, a church position that dates back to 676.
Bishop Richard said: ‘I am immensely humbled to have been chosen to become the next Bishop of Hereford. This beautiful diocese is in my DNA. I’ve traced my family tree and if I took a journey visiting churches from Leominster to the Welsh Border, I would be able to see the graves of my ancestors dating back to the 13th Century.
Hereford is a mainly rural diocese, covering Herefordshire, the south of Shropshire, a portion of Worcestershire and several parishes in Wales on the English-Welsh border. It includes the city of Hereford and the towns of Telford, Ludlow, Much Wenlock, Bridgnorth, Church Stretton, Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury, Leominster, Bromyard and Kington.
Bishop Richard, who is known for his work as a pastoral and teaching bishop, said: ‘I am looking forward to talking to the people of our diocese about the good news of Jesus Christ. In uncertain times, what the Bible says and the example of Jesus’s life are timeless, guiding us through our complex modern world.
‘I hope I can energise people to consider that the Christian life – with all its joy, peace and purpose – is for everyone, young and old. I would like to think that I could help, support and inspire people to follow Christ in their daily lives,’ he said.
Richard, who’s 58, is married to Deborah, a farmer’s daughter who grew up in the Cotswolds and is a learning support teacher. The couple have three children; Annabel, who’s a psychiatric nurse, Sam, who works in marketing communications and jazz musician, Charlie.
He grew up in Uxbridge, on the outskirts of London and came from a non-Christian family. But he says he had a dramatic conversion at the age of 17, when his sister took him to a church youth group in Ealing.
‘You could say I was a reluctant convert. I was dragged into the church by my sister,’ he laughed. ‘But at the youth group, I first encountered Christians living out their faith in a practical way. I know exactly the moment I gave my life to God – it was 10.28am on November 4th, 1978, while washing my granny’s car.’
Bishop Richard studied agriculture and forestry at Christ Church at the University of Oxford and completed a Master’s degree in soil and water engineering at Cranfield. He then worked in agriculture as an agronomist, advising farmers.
One summer, he attended a Christian summer conference: ‘It was there that I felt called to ordination,’ he explained. ‘It was another dramatic moment. It was something I resisted strenuously, but in the end God’s call was irresistible,’ he added.
Richard studied to become a vicar at Trinity College in Bristol. He served as a curate between 1994 and 1998 in the Parish of Lindfield in the Chichester diocese.
In 1998, he was appointed vicar of Rudgwick, near Horsham, and became Rural Dean of Horsham in 2005. From 2009, he was Mission & Renewal Adviser and Leader of the Church Growth Team for the Chichester Diocese.
He was installed as Bishop of Lewes in 2014.
In his five years in East Sussex, Richard Jackson has been affectionately known as the ‘biking bishop’ as a result of his passion for motorbiking on his ‘Fat Boy’ 1.4L Harley Davidson. On Twitter, he’s @rickthevic22 and is about to leap out of an aeroplane in a charity skydive for the Church Urban Fund.