THE Bishop of Burnley, The Rt Rev John Goddard, has announced that he will retire in July.

Bishop John, 66, was consecrated as Bishop of Burnley in 2000 and is considered to be one of the most respected members of The Church of England’s House of Bishops.

He was ordained in the York diocese to the parish of South Bank in Middlesbrough in 1970 and at 28 was made vicar of The Ascension, Middlesbrough.

Then in 1982 he became vicar of the town centre parish of All Saints, Middlesbrough and also became Area Dean at the same time.

In 1988 he became vice-principal of Edinburgh Theological College in the Episcopal Church of Scotland before becoming rector of the Team Parish of Ribbleton in Lancashire in 1992.

Bishop John, who has 43 years experience as a clergyman and will lead his final service on July 19, said: “I just feel that this is the right time for me to go.

“My time here in Burnley has been a real blessing and I will miss the people who I have worked with above all.

“I wanted to be a parish priest since I was four-years-old and I always thought that that’s the role I would stay in.

“But when this opportunity was offered to me I just thought that it was a great way to serve God.

“Being consecrated bishop was an awesome feeling and I will now go forward and serve God in other ways.”

After becoming bishop, he worked with those of other denominations and other faiths to form ‘Building Bridges Burnley’ which became not only a forum for working across the faiths but also in opposing the BNP.