The next Bishop of Peterborough will be the Right Reverend Debbie Sellin Downing Street has announced today. Bishop Debbie, currently Bishop of Southampton, will be installed at a service in Peterborough Cathedral in early 2024.
Today (28 September), we welcome Bishop Debbie and her husband Paul to the Diocese starting at William Law Primary School where Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough, will formally welcome her and she will lead a short harvest reflection. Following this Bishop Debbie will visit Grange Park Church in Northampton to see how Christians from different denominations have been working together to impact their communities. Later, she will visit The Chapel Gym in Corby, to see how the gym changes lives for the better by offering the potential to improve both physical and spiritual health. The day will conclude with evensong at Peterborough Cathedral.
Bishop Debbie discussed her appointment with Steve Benoy, Bishop's Chaplain.
It was important to Bishop Debbie to announce her appointment among young people. Her own commitment to faith developed at a Crusaders youth group and she started full-time ministry as a Children and Families Worker. Debbie was brought up in a rectory surrounded by church life, but a clear calling to ordained ministry came later in life, being drawn initially to work in a caring profession which resulted in a career in NHS Management.
It was whilst Bishop Debbie was caring for her own young family that she felt a definite call to ministry which deepened over time, leading her to begin her ordination training in 2004. Whilst serving in parish ministry she also took on the additional role of Area Dean, something that gave her a wider perspective and introduced her to the workings of the Diocese. From these roles, she was appointed Bishop of Southampton, something she describes as ‘exciting and daunting at the same time’, but felt ‘a deep sense that this was what God wanted for me that only grew stronger and stronger’.
During her time as Bishop of Southampton, Bishop Debbie has been involved in a variety of roles. As non-executive chair of Love Southampton, her passion for seeing social transformation through ecumenical outreach and community engagement was enhanced. She has also been an Ambassador of the Rose Road Association which provides direct care for children and young adults with complex physical and learning disabilities and support for their families.
The role of Diocesan Bishop is not completely new to Bishop Debbie who has been the acting Bishop of Winchester following the retirement of Bishop Tim Dakin in February 2022. In an unsettled environment, Bishop Debbie spent time listening and understanding the challenges that people were facing, whilst working towards building reconciliation and unity.
One of Bishop Debbie’s priorities has been to encourage parishes to thrive. In her current diocese there is a rich variety of landscapes from urban to very rural, coastal and the new forest and she is dedicated to helping parishes in all these different contexts be the best they can be; guiding them through vacancies, celebrating those who are flourishing and coming alongside those who would welcome additional support.
Welcoming Bishop Debbie to her new role, John Holbrook, Bishop of Brixworth said; ‘I am thrilled that Debbie has agreed to serve as the next Bishop of Peterborough. She has great experience of bringing unity and identity to a large and diverse diocese, a heart to champion young people and support those at the margins of society and a mission to see our parishes and their communities thrive’.
Debbie is married to Paul, a Professor of Physics, and has two grown-up sons. In her rare downtime she enjoys cooking, reading and craft, spending time with family and taking coastal walks.