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After more than nine years in the role, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, is preparing to enter the final weeks of his ministry as The Church of England’s Diocesan Bishop for the County of Lancashire.  

Bishop Julian retires this summer and 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). 

For the Deanery visits he will travel to all points on the compass ... from Pendle Deanery in the East to Blackpool Deanery in the West and from Tunstall Deanery in the north to Chorley Deanery in the south of the region. Full list below. 

There will also be a series of other ‘final events’ for the Bishop coming up, including a variety of meetings and services to attend. These include the 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. 

Later on the same day as the Synod meeting, July 16, Bishop Julian’s final farewell service will take place, from 2pm at Blackburn Cathedral. This will be a major County event and is open to all. The service will be followed by refreshments. 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.

In addition, there will be 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 events will take place in a marquee sited in the grounds. 

Despite all these upcoming events however, 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 today 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 also plan 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."

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.

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. 

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.  

  • There is an open invitation to people of ALL parishes in each Deanery area to any of the 14 services; plus anyone else who would like to attend and take this opportunity to say farewell to the Bishop. Put them in your diary; the full list is below ... 

The full list of Deanery services; dates and churches where they will be held are as follows: 

16 June 

  • 10.30am: Service to be held in Slyne with Hest St Luke’s  
  • 12 noon: Service in St Thomas', Lancaster 

5 July 

  • 1pm: Service at Leyland St James'  
  • 3pm: Service in Chorley St Laurence  
  • 5.00pm: Service at Blackburn Cathedral  

7 July: 

  • 10.30am: Service in Accrington St Andrew  
  • 12.30pm: Service in St Stephen’s, Burnley 
  • 2.30pm: Service in St Anne’s, Fence  
  • 4pm: Service in West Pendleside 

13 July

  • 9.30am: Service in St Stephen’s Church, Preston 
  • 11am: Service in Wesham Christ Church 
  • 12.30pm: Service in St Mark's Layton 
  • 2.30pm: Service at St John’s Little Thornton  
  • 4pm: Service in Garstang St Helen's, Churchtown 





Ronnie Semley, June 2022