The Bishop of Newcastle has announced he is to retire.
The Right Rev Martin Wharton will bow out of the role he’s held for 17 years with a farewell service in St Nicholas’ Cathedral in September.
After his retirement, the Right Reverend Frank White - currently assistant bishop - will lead the diocese.
In a message sent to the people and clergy of the Diocese, he said: “Many of you will know that I reach my 70th birthday in August, when I will have served for 17 years as your Bishop.
“I am writing to let you know that Her Majesty the Queen has graciously accepted my resignation.
“It has been a privilege to serve the people and communities of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland as your Bishop since 1997 and over these years I have formed a deep and lasting attachment to so many people in the parishes and deaneries.
“I wish to invite as many of you as possible to join me in the Cathedral at 4pm on Sunday, September 21 2014, to say goodbye and to give our thanks for God’s gracious love to us all. No tickets are required and all are welcome.
“Bishop Frank will lead the Diocese during the vacancy, ably supported by the Dean and the Archdeacons and the dedicated team at Bishop’s House and Church House.
“Please pray for them as they carry extra responsibilities during the coming months.
“Marlene and I have been constantly humbled and encouraged by the faithful dedication and service of the clergy and laity of the Diocese.
“You have been the greatest support to us in countless ways and it has been a joy to serve as your Bishop.
“We will always treasure the friendships we have made and will continue to hold this wonderful Diocese and its people in our prayers during these coming months as the process begins for the appointment of the twelfth Bishop of Newcastle.”
The Right Rev Martin Wharton became 11th Bishop of Newcastle in 1997 in succession to the Right Reverend Alec Graham.
Since moving to the North East with his wife Marlene, two sons and daughter, he has been a long-suffering season ticket holder at Newcastle United and has seen eleven managers come and go in his time here.
He has served in the House of Lords since 2003.
He is Chair of the Newcastle Council of Faiths, a trustee of St Hilda’s Trust, the Northumbria Historic Churches Trust, the Hild Bede Trust, the Shepherds Law Hermitage Trust and the Newcastle Diocesan Society. He served for 10 years as Chair of Governors of St Chad’s College, Durham and is president of Norcare, a member of the Court of Newcastle University, and a Patron of the West End Refugee Service, the People’s Kitchen and Azure.