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Church's only Asian bishop set to retire

PUBLISHED: 16:17 01 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:34 23 August 2010

LEAVING: The Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

LEAVING: The Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

THE Bishop of Rochester has announced he is to retire in September. Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Church of England s first non-white and only Asian bishop, announced his retirement last Friday after 15 years in the position. After his last service at Roch

THE Bishop of Rochester has announced he is to retire in September.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Church of England's first non-white and only Asian bishop, announced his retirement last Friday after 15 years in the position.

After his last service at Rochester Cathedral on September 12, the 59-year-old will work in communities where Christians are in the minority.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Rochester said: "Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation.

"Details of this arrangement are still being worked out."

Dr Nazir-Ali was born in Karachi, Pakistan to Christian parents.

He attended the Roman Catholic-run St Patrick's school in Karachi and began attending Roman Catholic services at the age of 15.

He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1976 and worked in Karachi and Lahore becoming the first Bishop of Raiwind in West Punjab 1984, at the time the youngest bishop in the Anglican Communion. He became the 106th Bishop of Rochester in 1994.

In 1999 he entered the House of Lords as one of the Lords Spiritual.

Throughout his tenure as Bishop of Rochester, Dr Nazir-Ali has proven to be an outspoken and controversial figure. In February last year he was placed under police protection after his family received death threats in response to his claims that some areas of the country have become 'no-go areas' for non-Muslims.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said: "Bishop Michael's decision to undertake this new and very challenging ministry will leave a real gap in the ranks of English bishops. His enormous theological skill, his specialist involvement in the complex debates around bioethics, his wide international experience and his clarity of mind and expression have made him a really valuable colleague, and he has served the church and the wider society with dedication and distinction.

"In his new work with churches in minority situations, he will need all our prayer and support. It is a courageous initiative and a timely one. I am personally very glad that I shall still be able to draw on his expertise and friendship, and wish him every strength and blessing in his work."

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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