The next Archdeacon of Sunderland will be formally welcomed and installed as Archdeacon in the Diocese on the 3rd July at the 5.15pm Evensong in Durham Cathedral.
The Revd Canon Bob Cooper, 50 who has been Vicar and Area Dean of Pontefract in the Diocese of Leeds for the last 12 years becomes the next Archdeacon of Sunderland following the decision of The Revd Canon Stuart Bain to move to Sunderland Minster earlier this year.
Revd Cooper, who will be titled The Venerable Bob Cooper, Archdeacon of Sunderland after his installation, was ordained in 1993 after studying for ordination at Lincoln Theological College. He has held parish ministry positions in the former Dioceses of Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield (now the Diocese of Leeds) and was also a school chaplain in Leeds before spending a year as a chaplain in a school in Essex.
Commenting on what attracted him to consider coming to be Archdeacon of Sunderland Bob said: “I was excited at the opportunity and the similarities of Pontefract to Sunderland albeit that Sunderland is a much larger area, and I wanted to be in a place where I felt both challenged and comfortable.
“The place just grabbed me; the people are friendly warm and welcoming. I think there is enough challenge here to get my teeth into, the gospel needs to be lived and taught and breathed, and people need to be encouraged to do that – something I look forward to doing.”
“I have always been a mission focused priest, helping churches grow and develop and this is the focus of this role. Sunderland Archdeaconry has mainly post-industrial areas, looking to find a new purpose, I very much want to be part of that helping to find new purpose – something I have been doing in Pontefract for the last 13 years. It about the church being embedded in those communities, it’s about the church being part of what regrows from that post-industrial canvass.”
Bob has a very eclectic set of interests from Rugby which he says he is a big fan of having played as a prop for 30 seasons until five years ago. He says: “I loved being in there, in-amongst it, a fearless prop if you like – maybe a good grounding for being a vicar!”
As well as sport, Bob is a big fan of music, but an even bigger fan of Film, something he has taught and used in his ministry. He says his desert island film would have to be ‘Casablanca’ – a film with great political intrigue, a great music score, great acting, hidden meaning, a story of hope and love as well as being a terrific film.
The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said: “I am looking forward to formally welcoming Bob to the Diocese on the 3rd of July. His unique set of skills and experiences gained in his ministry in Yorkshire are going to be very useful here in the Diocese of Durham and particularly in the Archdeaconry of Sunderland which covers the City of Sunderland, Gateshead, Chester-le-street, South Tyneside, Wearmouth and Jarrow. I am looking forward to his contribution to the Senior Team and the wider Diocese as we seek to bless our communities in Jesus’ name for the transformation of us all.”
Bob who is married to Kate, has four children Ruth, Jacob, Isaac and Samuel, will become an honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral at his installation – something he says he could never have imagined when he was a lad.