The Bishop of Kingston, The Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham, announced today that he will be concluding his term of office on 17 October 2022, the 20th anniversary of his consecration. He is one of the longest-serving stipendiary bishops in the Church of England.
“It has been a great privilege to serve the Diocese of Southwark for the last 20 years,” said Bishop Richard. “The Kingston Episcopal Area, covering five London boroughs from Kingston to Waterloo, is a wonderfully interesting and diverse part of London, full of many fine examples of mission and ministry. It is served by very committed and able clergy and laity and their faithful and imaginative responses and adaptations to the many often rapid changes in communities during the last 20 years have been inspirational. I have also been privileged to engage with its many excellent institutions and organisations in the wider world on matters of common concern such as the environment, education and interfaith relations.”
When he retires, Bishop Richard will continue his work as a Co-Director of Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS) and also as a member of the newly established Anglican Communion Science Commission. He said: “Amongst other activities, I hope to have more time for research, for writing and speaking on the relationship between science and religion, to spend more time with family and friends and, health permitting, to improve my tennis beyond its current rudimentary level!”
The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said: “Bishop Richard has been a faithful and valued member of the episcopal team serving the Diocese and bringing his many distinctive gifts to the task of leading the Kingston Episcopal Area for 20 years. We have all benefited from his theological insight and the broad range of his interests. I am very glad that he will continue to work on national and international projects on science and religion and help to shape the Church’s thinking in this important apologetic task. I commend Richard and Felicity to your prayers and wish them well for all that lies ahead.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “Congratulations on your extraordinary and varied episcopal ministry as Bishop of Kingston over these past nearly 20 years. You have been a blessing to the people and churches of your area and the Diocese of Southwark more widely, and your contributions in the areas of interfaith, environmental and science issues have been immense.”
Bishop Richard was born in Leicester, and then lived south of Manchester, but moved to Surbiton in 1966 aged 11 and attended Kingston Grammar School before reading physics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. After staying to take a PGCE, he taught physics at a large comprehensive school in North Yorkshire and at Eton College, and spent two years as an investment analyst in the City.
After ordination training at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, he was ordained deacon in 1987 and priest in 1988 and served his curacy in Newcastle. In 1990 he moved to the Diocese of St Albans as Vicar of St Augustine, Limbury, Luton. He became Area Dean of Luton in 1995 and in 1999 he was made Archdeacon of St Albans. During the 1990s he successfully undertook a part-time PhD at King’s College, London researching understandings of religious belief in public contexts via the lens of collective worship in schools.
Since coming to the Diocese of Southwark as Bishop of Kingston on 17 October 2002 he has been Chair of both the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education and of the Church of England’s Continuing Ministerial Development Panel. He was also Acting Bishop of Southwark for almost a year during the vacancy in See in 2010-11. He leads the Diocese’s work on the environment and on interfaith relations. He served as a member of the University of Roehampton’s Council and is President of the St Paul’s Group (previously the SW London branch) of the YMCA. He is also the long-standing and active Patron of the Fircroft Trust, an independent charity in Kingston which supports people with mental health and learning difficulties to live well in the local community. He has worked to develop relationships with the Diocese of Matabeleland in Zimbabwe, the Diocese of Jerusalem, the Anglican Church in Jamaica and Barbados, and in South Korea.
Bishop Richard is deeply interested in issues around truth and truth claims and, in particular, in developing better understandings in interfaith relations and of the relationship between science and religion. He has been Anglican President, and then Co-Chair, of the national Christian Muslim Forum, a member of the Foundation and Executive of St George’s College, Jerusalem (and Chair of its British Regional Committee), and a member of the Church of England’s Environment Working Group. He is Co-Director of the Templeton-funded project, Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science and is a member of the newly established Anglican Communion Science Commission. He has been an Honorary Research Fellow at King’s College London since 2011 and Whitelands Professorial Fellow in Christian Theology and Contemporary Issues at the University of Roehampton since 2013.
Bishop Richard is married to Felicity and they have two adult children and five grandchildren. He played hockey for the England U19s team, for the University of Oxford and for the British Universities. He continued playing both hockey and squash until very recently and was Club President of the Old Kingstonian Hockey Club for several years. His continuing involvement in sport is today reflected in his love of walking, cycling and swimming, and his desire to keep playing tennis for as long as possible!