New Bishop of Plymouth is Coming Home
The Rev’d Prebendary James Grier has been appointed as the new Bishop of Plymouth.
James grew up in Plymouth and has already served in the Diocese of Exeter for a number of years.
He said: “I cannot think of a greater privilege than to become the Bishop of Plymouth.
“For so many Plymothians, Plymouth always holds a very special place in our hearts which you never lose, wherever you live. I can’t quite believe that I will be returning home to Plymouth as bishop.
“I look forward to playing my part in expressing the love of Jesus at a time of difficulty and uncertainty for so many.
“The church may face many challenges, but I believe that now is a time for renewed faith, deeper prayer and continued serving. Christ offers hope, transformation and healing which is good news for us all.
“I look forward to supporting church leaders and members. I commit to love and serve the people of this wonderful part of Devon both within and outside the church and to pray for them.”
James, 47, is currently the Mission Enabler for the Diocese of Exeter and has a broad range of urban and rural ministry experience, with a particular focus on youth and pastoral care as well as mission.
He is married to Dr Liz Grier, an academic and musician who is currently training for ordination herself. The couple have two sons, aged 18 and 20.
The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell, said “James Grier brings a combination of energy, life and love for people to his work which will stand him in good stead as the next Bishop of Plymouth. He is a real ‘can do’ person. Born in Plymouth, he knows and loves Devon and will serve its communities with joy.”
James succeeds the Rt Rev’d Nick McKinnel, who is retiring as Bishop of Plymouth after 42 years of ordained ministry.
David Fursdon, the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, said “It was always going to be a challenge to select a successor to the excellent current Bishop of Plymouth, but the Diocese of Exeter has done a fine job in appointing James Grier.
“Born, brought up and schooled in the city, he will have an instinctive ‘feel’ for Plymouth which, coupled with his understanding of young people and his communications skills make him entirely suited for his new role.”
The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Rev’d Jackie Searle, said “Congratulations to James, I look forward greatly to working with him in his new role as Bishop of Plymouth. He brings experience of church planting and work with young people, along with his knowledge of the diocese. He is a natural leader of mission with a deep love for God and the church.”
James will be consecrated as a bishop at Southwark Cathedral on 29 September, with an installation service at Exeter Cathedral on 9 October.
James was born in 1974. His father was an NHS GP, and his mother was a nurse who went on to become President of Plymouth Age Concern. He grew-up in the suburb of Tamerton Foliot, helping at the local church as an altar server. He attended the youth group at the minster church of St Andrew’s before starting his own youth group at his home church, St Mary’s, Tamerton Foliot.
He studied Theology at Oxford University before training for ordination at Wycliffe Hall, becoming ordained in 1998.
He was a curate in Oxford, before moving to Birmingham to work as an Associate Vicar.
James returned to Devon in 2007 to become Team Vicar of a group of rural churches, centred around Rockbeare in East Devon, alongside being Youth Church Advisor for the Diocese.
In that role James, along with Liz, set-up Unlimited Church in Exeter, a multi-generational church plant with missional focus on young people who have no interest in, or experience of faith. Unlimited Church was made a Bishop’s Mission Order (BMO) church in 2012.
Since becoming the Diocesan Mission Enabler in 2019, James has led on mission outreach projects, the Thy Kingdom Come wave of prayer and church planting strategy. He has also been a key part of the diocese Next Steps initiative to help Devon’s 600 Anglican churches thrive into the future.
In his spare time, James likes spending time out and about in the South-West with his family – whether surfing in Cornwall or enjoying a coffee at one of the region’s cafes. He is also a keen DIY enthusiast.
Tour of the Plymouth patch
The bishop-elect spent the day of his announcement visiting some of the key projects and places in the Plymouth episcopal area, which stretches from the River Tamar in the west to midway across Dartmoor and Torbay in the east.
James and his family started the day by arriving in Plymouth’s Royal William Yard by landing craft courtesy of 47 Commando Royal Marines and the chaplaincy team at RM Stonehouse.
He then met students at All Saints Church of England Secondary Academy in Plymouth, before touring Plymouth Aid Redistribution Centre (ARC), which works with supermarkets and local charities to supply food to people in need.
The new bishop also popped into Pennywell Farm, near Rattery, to meet agricultural and tourism representatives and local parish priests.
He spent the afternoon touring Brixham Fish Quay to touch base with members of the fishing community and local clergy before travelling to Exeter to meet elected church members from across Devon.
He ended the day by helping-out at Exeter Cathedral’s Wednesday Kitchen which give meals to people living on the streets.