Social justice campaigning Bishop of Stepney quits over ill health
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The Bishop of Stepney is leaving through ill health after seven years as east London’s ‘campaigning church leader’ tacking the government for social justice.
The Rt Rev Adrian Newman is stepping down from all public duties at the end of October as head of one of the country’s most deprived diocese with its 70 churches in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington.
The bishop has struggled with frequent debilitating migraine attacks and has reluctantly decided on a period of complete rest.
“Migraines have been my thorn in the flesh for many years,” he reveals. “I’ve reached the point where they’re adversely affecting my ability to carry out the demanding role of a bishop in this part of London.
I hope a period away from the ‘front line’ will help me to recover and explore what God may be calling me to in the future.”
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The outspoken bishop hadn’t been in the post five minutes after being ordained at St Paul’s in 2011 when he took up battle for the people of the East End.
He addressed an anti-fascist rally at the London Muslim Centre by United East End just a week after his appointment and succeeded in forcing the government to ban a Far Right march through Whitechapel by the English Defence League.
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He led a march the following year from Whiterchapel to Hackney for a UK Citizens’ community campaign to regain the streets from ‘postcode’ gang dominance.
His most recent public duty was hosting the new Bishop of London’s first official visit two months ago to the East End for a housing campaign by parishioners at St George’s-in-the East who are setting up a social land trust at Shadwell.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Hon Rt Rev Dame Sarah Mullally, paying tribute today to Adrian’s firebrand ministry since 2011, said: “Adrian will be remembered as a campaigner for social justice, a voice for the marginalised in the East End and beyond.
“It was Adrian who took his place alongside our political and faith leaders at Finsbury Park Mosque when terror struck London in 2017, not for the first or last time, addressing the crowd at the vigil afterwards.”
He is also known for his picket line with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets outside the controversial ‘Jack the Ripper’ museum opening in Cable Street in 2015.
The bishop was picketing a year later outside Tower Hamlets Council’s Bethnal Green housing office protesting at the government’s housing bill going through Parliament.
Adrian and his young wife Gill, who live in their Manse in Bow, also campaigned for Syrian relief in 2013 to send schoolbooks and supplies to the children caught up in the civil war, loading up vans himself at the Spitalfields drop-off point ready for the 2,000 overland convoy.
But now ill health has forced him to take a back seat and he is moving to Essex to recuperate, his place taken by Bishop of Willesden Pete Broadbent as Acting Bishop of Stepney until a successor is appointed.