The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, has announced with great sadness the death of his colleague, The Rt Revd Dr Karowei Dorgu, Bishop of Woolwich. Bishop Karowei died peacefully after a long struggle with his health on Friday 8 September in the presence of his family at King’s College Hospital.

There are a number of opportunities for people to give thanks for Bishop Karowei’s life and ministry among us:

  • On Saturday 23 September at 6pm, there will be a Service of Songs in Nigerian style at Southwark Cathedral.
  • On Wednesday 27 September, Bishop Karowei’s body will be received into the Cathedral and there will be the opportunity for prayer and silent reflection between 6pm and 7:30pm
  • On Thursday 28 September at midday, Southwark Cathedral will host Bishop Karowei’s funeral, which is be livestreamed via the Cathedral’s Youtube channel.

Please note that there will be a very large number of people wishing to pay their respects – and therefore we ask parishes to consider how you might host your own acts of remembrance – perhaps through gathering together to watch the livestream of the funeral in your churches or hosting your own prayer vigil on Wednesday evening.

Speaking of Bishop Karowei’s death, Bishop Christopher said: “There will be a time for proper tributes to be paid in due course – but for now I wish to convey my deepest sympathy to his wife Mosun, son Timi, twin sister Collette and the whole family. I express my gratitude for Bishop Karowei’s friendship and inspirational ministry – latterly as Bishop of Woolwich – where he brought much joy in his passion for the Gospel and loving encouragement to all whom he encountered. It was a privilege to join the family at his bedside and anoint him in his last hours, and I am grateful that the Archbishop of Canterbury came to pray with the family. We have lost a dear friend, brother and colleague and we will miss him greatly. I commend Bishop Karowei and his family to your prayers. May he rest in peace.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “Bishop Karowei was a truly holy man, full of the Spirit and of grace, who simply radiated the joy of Christ. To be in his presence was to know a little of that joy, and so he was adored everywhere. The Church will be much poorer for his loss. However, he leaves us with a great legacy. May we continue to be inspired by his passionate commitment to evangelism and his passion for nurturing and developing new leaders. We know that Christ mourns with us, as we hold his family and all who loved him in our prayers.”

“This is a sad day for our Diocese and for the Church,” added Diocesan Secretary Nicola Thomas, “Bishop Karowei’s love of God and his passion for social justice and for mission were utterly irrepressible – and we have been so blessed to know and work with him.”

Southwark Cathedral will stay open for a short vigil of prayer this evening between 6pm and 7.30pm. Details of Bishop Karowei’s funeral will be shared in due course.

Bishop Chrisopher commends the following prayer, written by the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, for use in parishes – particularly in the Woolwich Episcopal Area – on Sunday:

Loving God,
who brings us to birth, holds us in life
and takes us through death to new life in you;
embrace our brother Karowei,
your child and servant, our brother and bishop,
who has died in you and lives for your eternity.
Comfort his family, especially Mosun, Timi and his twin sister Collette;
hold us in our grief
and give us thankful hearts
that we have known and loved
one who followed you
with humble thankfulness
and a generous spirit
and showed us the pilgrim path to heaven
which he now treads with Jesus Christ,
your risen Son, Our Lord.


About Bishop Karowei:

Bishop Karowei was ordained Deacon in 1995 and Priest in 1996. His curacy was at St Mark, Tollington Park, followed by, in 1998, building the community of faith at St John, Upper Holloway, before being consecrated Bishop of Woolwich in 2017.

Born and brought up in Nigeria, Bishop Karowei worked as a medical doctor before ordination. He studied theology (BA Hons) at London Bible College. He trained for ordained ministry at Oak Hill College, Southgate, and undertook his postgraduate theological research for MA Missiology at All Nations College, Ware. He was always keen to share the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. He had a deep concern for mission and regularly led open-air evangelism in his parish which saw his church grow remarkably.

Bishop Karowei also had a keen interest in training candidates for lay and ordained ministry, offering his expertise as a tutor on a number of training programmes. He was for many years Assistant Director of Post Ordination Training in the Stepney Area. Prior to his appointment as Bishop of Woolwich, he was a Prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Bishop Karowei is survived by Mosun, a Consultant Child Psychiatrist, their adult son Timi and his twin sister Collette.