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Bishop Olivia announces her retirement

The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, has announced she will retire later this year.

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

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, paid tribute to her work: “Bishop Olivia has been an outstanding servant leader in the Diocese of Oxford throughout her ordained ministry serving in several parishes; as a Parish Development Advisor; as Archdeacon of Berkshire and in these last five years as the Bishop of Reading. 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.”

Reflecting on 27 years in ministry, Bishop Olivia said it had been a privilege to be a part of so many milestone moments in people’s lives. 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 has 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.”

Since her consecration in 2019, Bishop Olivia has been a champion for young people in particular the impact of knife crime, as well as leading the diocese’s response to the climate crisis. 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 in France with groups of young adults.

Along with two other bishops, she also 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.

Bishop Olivia’s lifelong interest in international development and passion for social justice also inspired her work at the diocese. She chairs the diocesan Partnership in World Mission Council overseeing the relationships with our three link dioceses, Kimberley and Kuruman, Nandyal and Växjö. She has also led the work on Flourishing in Ministry, a set of resources and a leadership approach that supports clergy to develop a healthy rhythm of prayer, work and rest.

Ordained in 1997, Olivia 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. Olivia was announced as Bishop of Reading in July 2019 and welcomed in a special service at Reading Minster later that year.

Bishop Olivia began her career in teaching and international development in Africa, including seven years working for Oxfam. She is also trained as an Ignatian spiritual director and leads retreats and quiet days. Bishop Olivia is married to Keith, and the couple have three grown-up children. 

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

Listen to Bishop Olivia talk about her time as Bishop of Reading on our Soundcloud

Page last updated: Friday 2nd February 2024 4:41 PM
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