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Bishop of Reading, Olivia Graham, announces her retirement

The Bishop of Reading, Olivia Graham, has announced her retirement later this year.

The first female Suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Oxford will lay down her crosier on September 30 after five years of dedicated service.

Since her consecration in 2019, Rev Graham has championed efforts to support young people impacted by knife crime, as well as leading the diocese’s response to the climate crisis.

Bishop of Reading, Olivia Graham
Bishop of Reading, Olivia Graham

In this role, she attended the COP26 conference in Glasgow and worked closely with other faith leaders on environmental leadership.

She has also led an annual pilgrimage to Taizé, France with groups of young adults.

Reflecting on 27 years in ministry, she said: “It has been an absolute honour and privilege to walk alongside you as together we strive to live out God’s vision for a more Christ-like church in the Diocese of Oxford.

“I have shared in ministry over the years with outstanding colleagues, and their commitment, wisdom and friendship have been a constant inspiration to me.

“As I prepare to step back from this role, I do so with unshakable confidence in the goodness of God, who is always doing a ‘new thing’, worked out through God’s wonderful people in the diocese.”

The Rev Graham will be leaving her role as bishop after five years
The Rev Graham will be leaving her role as bishop after five years

Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, also paid tribute to her work. He said: “Bishop Olivia has been an outstanding servant leader in the diocese of Oxford throughout her ordained ministry serving in several parishes.

“Olivia has inspired love and confidence across the area and the wider diocese both inside and beyond the church.

“As bishop, she has put supporting parishes and clergy at the very heart of her ministry yet has also offered inspiring leadership on the environment, world mission and as lead bishop for safeguarding.

“I know Bishop Olivia and Keith will be greatly missed across the diocese and especially in Berkshire when Olivia retires, but I know Olivia will want to be fully engaged in supporting God’s mission in her remaining months in post.”

She also became the Archdeacon of Berkshire in 2013
She also became the Archdeacon of Berkshire in 2013

Rev Graham, along with two other bishops, led the national Church of England’s work on the environment.

She is a member of General Synod, having been elected as a suffragan bishop to the House of Bishops.

Her lifelong interest in international development and social justice inspired her to chair the diocesan Partnership in World Mission Council overseeing the relationships with its three link dioceses, Kimberley and Kuruman, Nandyal and Växjö.

She began her career in teaching and international development in Africa, including seven years working for Oxfam.

Ordained in 1997, she has since served in the Diocese of Oxford, in Garsington, Princes Risborough and Burnham before becoming a parish development advisor and then the Archdeacon of Berkshire in 2013.

Details of a farewell service and the appointment of the next bishop will be announced in the coming weeks.

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