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This is the main 'landing page' for the retirement of Bishop Julian and Heather.

There are links to other stories from this page or they can also be accessed via this website's news section.

This page will also be anchored at the top of the news section until after July 16 as well as being available under 'news and events' on the website homepage. 

After more than nine years in the role, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev. Julian Henderson will shortly retire as The Church of England’s Diocesan Bishop for the County of Lancashire.  

Bishop Julian will move with his wife Heather to Sussex to be closer to family at the end of July, before attending the Lambeth Conference.

Heather has also served the Diocese in a variety of ways since 2013 - see more below. 

As he prepares to retire, Bishop Julian is also making visits to every 'Deanery area' across the County – 14 of them – for a series of farewell prayer services which are open to everyone; all this prior to the final Farewell Service at Blackburn Cathedral (details further below). 

There have been (and still are to come) a series of other ‘final events’, including a variety of meetings and services to attend.

These included the Bishop's last ordination weekend in early July; two 'Primary Visitations' to swear in churchwardens across the County; a final week in the House of Lords as one of the ‘Lords Spiritual’ and a last Diocesan Synod meeting on the morning of July 16. 

In addition, there was a ‘tent week’ at Bishop's House near Ribchester at which the Bishop and his wife Heather will have chance to say a proper goodbye to many of the people they have known and worked with over the past nearly-decade in Lancashire. 

The tent week events took place in a marquee sited in the grounds and invited guests included clergy and laity from parishes; Mothers' Union; county faith leaders; county civic leaders including Mayors and MPs; ordinands prior to their ordination and many more. 

Ongoing coverage of the retirement

  • Click here and here for more on the Deanery farewell visits
  • Click here for more on the Bishop's final week in the Lords and valedictory speech
  • Click here for coverage of the Bishop's final ordinations 
  • And click here for coverage of the 'tent week' at Bishop's House and watch a video of Bishop Julian speaking at one of the 'tent week' events below: 

Archbishop of York tribute

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, paid a warm tribute to Bishop Julian and Heather at this week's General Synod. 

Go to this page for a link to written version of the tribute and watch the video of the tribute below (video will start at exact point) ...


Farewell service for Bishop Julian and Heather

On the same day as the Synod meeting, July 16, the final farewell service for Bishop Julian and Heather will take place; from 2pm at Blackburn Cathedral.

It would help to the Cathedral to manage numbers if you could book in advance via Eventbrite using this link. This is not essential however and people can also turn up on the day.

  • The Farewell Eucharist Service on Saturday July 16 will be a major County event and will be attended by many civic and faith leaders from across Lancashire.
  • Also in attendance will be current and former members of the Bishop’s Leadership Team; former Bishops and Archdeacons plus clergy and parishioners from churches across the whole Diocese.
  • Social media: We will be live tweeting on our Twitter account @cofelancs and posts will also appear on Facebook/BlackburnDiocese
  • The service will be livestreamed here on the Blackburn Cathedral YouTube channel ...

Focus on scripture

Despite all these upcoming events, Bishop Julian wants to ensure the focus remains firmly on God throughout this final period of his tenure and he particularly wants to affirm, once again, that the Bible must be taken seriously.  

Speaking recently he said: “In 2013, I began my time as Bishop with a short prayer visit to each Deanery. I will do the same as I approach my retirement. 

This will be to give thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed in the last nine years and to look to Him afresh for what lies ahead.  

“I will to affirm my message that we must take the Bible, as the revealed word of God, seriously; ‘useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’.

"It will be a joy to be able to spend time in each Deanery one more time before I leave and I look forward to seeing as many people as I can from our parishes and the many local communities across Lancashire at each of the services. 

"As I travel round this beautiful County which has been home to me and my wife Heather for nearly 10 years, I will be praying for the people who live here. Lancashire will always hold a special place in our hearts."

Transforming communities; transforming the Diocese

During his tenure as the ninth Bishop of Blackburn, Bishop Julian has overseen a huge transformative programme to reposition the work of the Diocese.

Most notably and prayerfully in 2015/2016, he led the launch of a new strategic approach to our work entitled ‘Vision 2026, Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’.  

This Vision was embedded in the key principles of making disciples, growing leaders, being witnesses and inspiring children and young people for Jesus Christ and parishes have been encouraged ever since to engage with it in ways that suited their local settings.

Read more about our Vision 2026 here

Grateful thanks to Heather

Bishop Julian has been supported since his appointment as Bishop of Blackburn in 2013 by his wife Heather.

Heather accompanied Bishop Julian in walking down the aisle at his enthronement service in Blackburn Cathedral; emphasising they were coming to serve the Diocese together as a team. 

The couple are pictured here at Bishop Julian's consecration service at York Minster in October 2013. 

Heather has also made a significant impact across the Diocese in her own right over the past decade; working closely with our church schools as a Schools Adviser.

In this role, Heather supported schools in upholding their Christian ethos and church school distinctiveness. She has also provided pastoral support to headteachers and school staff as well as to clergy spouses across Lancashire.  







Ronnie Semley, June and July 2022