The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is the new Bishop of Oxford

The new Bishop of Oxford is to be the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Downing Street announced today. Bishop Steven succeeds the Rt Revd John Pritchard, who retired in October 2014 after seven years in post.

Bishop Steven, who is 58, is currently Bishop of Sheffield, a role he has held since 2009. He serves on the Archbishop’s Council and Chairs the Ministry Council of the Church of England. He has been a member of the House of Lords since 2013.

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft

He has a passion for mission and evangelism and for finding creative ways of sharing the Gospel. He is the co-author of the Emmaus and Pilgrim courses, both of which are resources to help people engage with the Christian faith.

The Bishop of Oxford leads the Church of England in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, supported by the Area Bishops of Dorchester, Buckingham and Reading. The Diocese is one of the largest and most complex in the Church of England, stretching from Milton Keynes in the north to Newbury in the south; from the Cotswolds in the west to Slough in the east.

The Diocese has a population of 2.3 million people, more than 800 churches and almost 600 parochial clergy. It also includes 12 secondary and 270 primary church schools.  As the senior bishop in the Diocese, Bishop Steven will lead a large team and is expected to have a wide ranging role across the Thames Valley alongside his national responsibilities.

Bishop Steven has personal connections with Oxford: he is a graduate of Worcester College, Oxford, and met and married his wife Ann in the city. The family lived in Oxford from 2004 until 2009 when Bishop Steven was leading ‘Fresh Expressions’, an initiative aimed at encouraging new forms of church for the 21st century.

Speaking about his appointment, Bishop Steven said: ”I am looking forward enormously to a new challenge and new responsibility in the Diocese of Oxford and to working with the senior team and many others to serve the local communities and to build up the life of the Church. There are many signs of God’s grace at work across the Diocese and immense potential for the future.  I would ask for the prayers of the Diocese in the coming weeks and months for all that lies ahead.”

The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, who is serving as Acting Bishop of Oxford during the vacancy, said: “Today is a great day for our Diocese as we welcome the announcement of the next Bishop of Oxford.  As both a diocesan bishop and as a parish priest Steven has shown a passion for sharing the good news of Christ in both traditional and innovative ways. Link that to his wide experience of training men and women for a variety of ministries and you can understand there will be much rejoicing around the Diocese today. ”

During the announcement day Bishop Steven will travel across the diocese, visiting all three counties of his new diocese. The day begins with breakfast with colleagues in Bicester, an area of significant new housing development, and end with Evening Prayer at the Cathedral.

“Today will be just a whistlestop tour but I’m very much looking forward to making longer visits to all corners of the diocese when I take up office later in the year,” he said.

The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, said: “The Cathedral very much looks forward to welcoming Bishop Steven to Oxford, and to the wider diocese.

“Bishop Steven comes with a wealth of experience in ministry, mission  and in theological education, and the diocese will welcome the many gifts that he will bring to our work across the cities, communities and counties of the diocese.  The diocese – like its cathedral – is both complex and unique, and we look forward to the distinctive gifts that Bishop Steven will bring to us in our shared vocation.”

Bishop Steven expects to take up office in the early autumn.