After a 444-year gap, Berwick gets a bishop

Queen Elizabeth I was still on the throne, having survived a plot to overthrow her by the Percys of Northumberland, when the first Bishop of Berwick was in post.

Saturday, 10th September 2016, 7:33 am
The new Bishop of Berwick, Rev Canon Mark Tanner and his wife Lindsay.

However, the ecclesiastical title has now been resurrected for the first time since 1572 following the retirement of the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Frank White.

His successor, Rev Canon Mark Tanner, was announced by 10 Downing Street on Thursday after approval from the Queen.

He will bear the title Suffragan Bishop of Berwick, a title created in 1537 and held by the Rt Rev Thomas Sparke until his death in 1572.

The title fell out of use but remained legally in existence, so that Bishop Frank was able to propose its revival for his successor.

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In practice, there will be little difference between the work of a Suffragan Bishop and a full-time Assistant Bishop, with Rev Canon Tanner sharing the work and ministry of the Bishop of Newcastle across the Diocese of Newcastle, framed by the Rivers Tyne and Tweed.

Canon Tanner, who will leave near Morpeth, said: “It’s a huge honour to be nominated as the next Bishop of Berwick, and I am thrilled to be moving to the Diocese of Newcastle.

“We love Northumberland, and I am very much looking forward to working with Bishop Christine and the team to support communities within the diocese.

“We have a vision of growing communities and bringing hope. It must be the case that the church and communities are working closely together.”

Canon Tanner, 45, studied at Christ Church, Oxford, and served as a youth worker at Holy Trinity, Coventry before training for ordination at Cranmer Hall.

Ordained in 1998, he was Curate at St Mary, Upton (near Birkenhead) and went on to be appointed Vicar of St Mary’s, Wheatley (Doncaster) in 2001. In 2005 he was awarded Master of Theology from Chester College, University of Liverpool, and in 2007 became Vicar of Holy Trinity, Ripon, North Yorkshire, until returning to Cranmer Hall as Warden in 2011. He became an honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral and was elected to the Church of England’s General Synod in 2015.

He is married to Lindsay and they have two teenage children and a dog, Barley. He enjoys vehicles (especially motorbikes, Land Rovers, and a 1951 BSA Bantam he is rebuilding).

Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Rev Christine Hardman, said: “I am delighted Mark has accepted the invitation to be the Bishop of Berwick. I know that he will be a great blessing to the whole Diocese of Newcastle. He brings a wonderful range of experience in ministry and is a person of great insight, integrity and warmth. I am looking forward tremendously to our work together as we face the exciting challenge in this diocese of growing the church and sharing the depth of God’s love in ways that bring hope and touch the reality of people’s lives.”

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said, “He and Bishop Christine will make a remarkable team. Berwick has had 444 years to wait for its new Suffragan Bishop – I join the whole Diocese of Newcastle in rejoicing!”

Canon Tanner will be ordained and consecrated a bishop at York Minster on October 18. He will be welcomed to his ministry at services in St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle, on December 3, and at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh, on December 4.