WATCH: New Bishop of Peterborough talks about why city excites her - and the role of the church in modern life
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The new Bishop of Peterborough has said moving to the city ‘excites her,’ after she was announced in the post at an assembly in a city school.
Right Reverend Debbie Sellin will officially take over in the new year at an installation service at the city Cathedral.
On Thursday, she visited William Law Primary School in Werrington, where she led the Harvest Festival assembly after it was announced she would become the first female Bishop of Peterborough.
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, Rt Rev Sellin, the current Bishop of Southampton, said she was excited by the move to the city.
Bishop Debbie, who was a family and children’s worker before taking a role in the ministry, said coming to the school ‘showed children are close to my heart,’ saying: “Peterborough excites me for a number of reasons. It is a very diverse and rich area. The diocese covers three different counties, and there is rural, urban, beauty spots. There is that sense of diversity I love that sense of difference, every day will different and every context will be different, which really excites me.
“I am also really excited about the focus in Peterborough on youth and children, having been a family and children's worker myself.
“As a Church of England we long to see more and more children come to know Jesus, and Peterborough has been focusing on that for some time, which really excites me.”
There are just a handful of female ‘diocese’ bishops across the country – but Bishop Debbie said she expected that number to increase.
She said: “For vicars, (being female) is the day to day, we probably have almost 50 per cent men and women who are clergy.
“That percentage is not as strong amongst bishops, but we have not been able to have women bishops for such a long time, I think there are currently six and I think I will be seventh of diocese bishops.
"As God calls he calls men and women and it just takes a while for people to be in the roles to have the experience to be able to become bishops.”
Despite falling church attendance, Bishop Debbie said there was a big place in the city for religion, as people ‘looked to belong.’
She said: “What we see in our society today, there is a lot of spiritual hunger, people are looking for value, they are looking to belong, and that is the whole reason for the church to exist.
"We believe God wants us all to have a relationship with him. Now not everyone thinks of the church as a place to explore that, so I think as a church we need to do better at showing at what we can do.
"We are not just there on Sundays, we are out and about in local communities, particularly in things like church schools. There are 20,000 children we have contact with across Peterborough diocese in church schools, and then different churches have lunch clubs, toddler groups, debt advice centres. All of this is happening, and we are not always good at telling those stories.”