‘Mixed emotions’ as Father Rob bids farewell to Hackney

Rev Rob Wickham

Rev Rob Wickham - Credit: Archant

A rector who has brought “real energy and verve” to his post and helped rebuild the community after the 2011 London riots is set to become the youngest Bishop in the country.

Father Rob at the Urswick School awards

Father Rob at the Urswick School awards - Credit: Archant

The Queen has approved the nomination of Rob Wickham to serve as Area Bishop of Edmonton, and his last service at St John in Hackney in Lower Clapton Road will be on September 6.

He will be consecrated at Canterbury Cathedral on September 23, before taking on the new role overseeing 100 parishes in Camden, Enfield, Barnet and Haringey.

Richard Brown, headteacher of The Urswick School in Paragon Road, where Father Rob is vice chairman of governors, said “everyone is incredibly proud of Rob” and that his appointment is “testament to the fantastic work he has done in Hackney”.

He said: “To go from a position of being Rector of Hackney to take on the responsibilities that go with being a Bishop shows the value the church place on him.

“Appointments are always based on merit but he wouldn’t fit the norm of what you might expect a Bishop to be – let’s face it the church is often wrongly accused of being out of touch with people, but the work Rob has done shows he is in touch and the fact the Church of England has promoted him to such a senior position shows they value the need to connect with the community.

“I think they have noted the real energy and verve he brings to his role and they hope he can do that on a bigger stage.”

Most Read

Since he became Rector of Hackney in 2007 Father Rob has become a pillar of the community and the church has trebled in size. Last year 40,000 went through its doors, some for worship and others to attend community events such as concerts by Elbow and Coldplay.

Mr Brown noted how Father Rob is a “focal point, not just for people of the Christian faith but people of all faiths”,

He said: “He has an instinctive understanding of the local community and what makes it tick, and a sense of the barriers some people face and how organisations like the church and school can over come those barriers.

“I think he understands the vibrancy and excitement of living in Hackney but also understands we do have people living in poverty.

“The children are excited by this idea of him becoming a Bishop, he will very much be missed by the Urswick community and we wish him all the best in his new role.”

Father Rob admits he had “mixed emotions” when he discovered he had secured the post.

“On one level I was extremely overjoyed, and on another level I was thinking this is actually a daunting task,” he said.

“The principle difference is a measure of responsibility, my job really is to encourage the growth of the church and keep the rumour of God alive in the public square and support those clergy and help people flourish in the Ministry of Jesus Christ.

“It’s been a real pleasure and a privilege to be part of the journey of St John at Hackney.”