Bishop of Dunwich to be Next Bishop of Exeter

One of Suffolk’s most senior clergy has been appointed by His Majesty the King to become the next Bishop of Exeter, 10 Downing Street. The Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich, the Rt Revd Dr Mike Harrison, will succeed the Rt Rev Robert Atwell, who retired last September.


Bishop Mike’s last Sunday in Suffolk will be on 29 September and he will be installed at Exeter Cathedral during the autumn. Bishop Mike, 61, took up his current role as a suffragan Bishop, which is effectively a deputy bishop to a diocesan bishop, in 2016 and lives in Ipswich. The Church of England has more than 130 bishops, including suffragan bishops.

He said: ‘‘I am delighted and excited to be the next Bishop of Exeter. It will be a wrench to leave Suffolk and I do so with deep gratitude and affection for the diocese and county. It has been a joy to serve in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich these last eight years. I have been in a privileged position of seeing the difference the Church makes to so many across Suffolk, as well as seeing people come to faith, commit publicly to their faith and to grow in faith across such a wide variety of contexts, and church traditions.’’


He added: ‘‘I am so grateful to colleagues and congregations for their witness, wisdom and companionship on the way, all of which have been formative as a bishop. I now feel ready to take the next step, going from a suffragan bishop to taking on the added responsibilities that come with the diocesan bishop’s role.”


As suffragan bishop, Bishop Mike has been the right hand man for the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley. Bishop Martin welcomed his new appointment as the 72nd Bishop of Exeter.


He said: ‘‘When Mike came here he had a keen focus upon mission and evangelism, discipleship, engaging children and young people, and cultivating vocations. He has admirably delivered on these promises and his care and compassion for the communities in Suffolk have shown through – particularly during the challenging years of the pandemic, economic downturns and international conflicts. Mike and I have enjoyed working together very much, helping each other to navigate testing times while finding much to celebrate. I will greatly miss his companionship, his humour and his sharply intelligent faith. Mike goes to Devon, where he has long-standing connections, with all my support and my blessing.’’


The Rt Revd Jackie Searle, the current Acting Bishop of Exeter, said “I warmly welcome this announcement today, and congratulate Bishop Mike on his appointment. He comes with wide and varied experience that is hugely relevant to our diocese, a lively and attractive faith in Jesus Christ, and a gift for leadership in mission. He will be a superb Bishop of Exeter and I look forward to working with him.”


Bishop Mike has been a clergyman for 34 years, serving first as a curate in south London from 1990-1994, as a university chaplain in Bradford West Yorkshire from 1994-1998, and as a vicar in south London from 1998-2006, Director of Mission and Ministry 2006-2016, and then Bishop of Dunwich.