Rt Rev Rob Wickham announced as CUF CEO

Date Posted: Feb 21, 2023.

The Rt Rev Rob Wickham, the Bishop of Edmonton, has been appointed as new Chief Executive of CUF, as we strive to expand upon our work tackling poverty and exclusion across England.

The announcement was made at a Places of Welcome project in Walsall, which is part of the network of 610 Places of Welcome we support with Together Network partners. Established in St Gabriel’s Church last year, the project offers members of the local community a place where they can feel safe to connect, belong and contribute.

Bishop Rob will take up the role of CEO on 10 July 2023.

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Speaking about his appointment, Bishop Rob said:

"The command of Jesus to "feed my lambs" has been instrumental in my ministry as a parish priest and as a Bishop for the past 25 years. I am delighted to be appointed as the Group CEO of CUF, and I look forward to working with dioceses, churches, different Christian denominations and networks, alongside other faith communities, praying that, together, this command will be fulfilled.

"The pandemic and so much more has revealed excessive inequality in England on many different scales, yet the hope-filled call of Jesus remains the same. I look forward to working with the CUF family in helping to shape a collective response to these challenges and opportunities. I thank too the everyday pioneers and heroes across the Edmonton Area, in Hackney and in Kings Cross who have prepared me for this new role.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury is President of Church Urban Fund.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“I warmly welcome the appointment of Bishop Rob Wickham as the new CEO of the Church Urban Fund. The Church Urban Fund plays a crucial role in working with some of the most marginalised communities in our society. As the country copes with food and energy inflation and tens of thousands of people struggle financially, CUF’s involvement is needed now more than ever. Likewise, their work in bringing together different faiths in their Near Neighbours programme is invaluable.

“Bishop Rob brings to CUF many years of deep engagement with hard-pressed communities and a profound theological understanding of Christian social action. I pray that he, and CUF, will continue to flourish and will keep the Church at the forefront of positive change when it comes to poverty and exclusion.”

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, said:

“Bishop Rob is a gifted leader who has done so much to revitalise the communities he has served in London. As he takes on this new national role, I know he will bring to it the wisdom, determination and energy with which he approaches every challenge, and will continue to build on the fantastic achievements that the Church Urban Fund has made over the last several years.”

Prior to being appointed as the Chief Executive of CUF, Bishop Rob served as the Bishop of Edmonton in the Diocese of London since 2015.

Speaking about his appointment The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, said:

“Rob has simply been an inspiration for so many years, whether as Bishop, Area Dean or Vicar, across the West, East and North of the Diocese of London. His enthusiasm, his warmth, his commitment to our parishes, our clergy and the people they serve, have all made him a much-loved figure here. Equally, his energetic presence has been channelled into our partner work with the Anglican Church in Angola and Mozambique and his work with the London Diocesan Board for Schools, and the 55,000 pupils across the capital it supports every day. I know that he will continue to inspire at CUF, and am sure that CUF will thrive under his leadership. While I will greatly miss our work together, he leaves with my prayers, gratitude and best wishes.”

Andrew Barnett OBE, Chair of Trustees, Church Urban Fund, said:

“Rob brings to the Church Urban Fund more than 25 years leadership experience at a national and a local level, within the Church and wider civil society, as a charity trustee and chair. The Church of England’s parish network is one of the country’s greatest assets – deeply rooted in every community – with 16,000 churches many offering support such as foodbanks and winter night shelters. Rob’s appointment enhances both our national connections and our understanding of the local context as we focus on delivering on our refreshed purpose of empowering people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs to serve, lead and speak. This could not be more important in such challenging times.”

About Bishop Rob

Before his appointment as Chief Executive of CUF, Robert Wickham served as the Bishop of Edmonton since September 2015.

He was a Curate in the Parish Church of Willesden, a Team Vicar in the Parish of Old St Pancras, with a particular responsibility for St Mary’s Somers Town, and then for nine years as Rector of St John at Hackney, latterly becoming Area Dean of Hackney.

Rob grew up in suburban Surrey, and attended Hampton School. He then went to University in Durham, where he studied geography, especially urban regeneration, and perceptual geography. He then studied for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.

Since ordination Rob has completed an MA in Theology, Politics and Faith Based organisations from King's College.

His thesis, now published, was based upon the political theology of Joshua Watson, the great Church Schools pioneer from the eighteenth century. In addition, a period of study leave led Rob to write a theological thesis on the creative use of church buildings.

Indeed, whilst Rector of Hackney, the Church of St John at Hackney was reordered so that most aspects of Hackney life could be experienced, from concerts by Coldplay, Gary Barlow and Emilie Sande, jobs fairs, credit unions, to the most used knife amnesty bin in London.

The reordering led to a reordering of its relationship with the local community, which became so needed in the aftermath of the disturbances in 2011.

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Bishop Rob web crop