The Bishop of Durham will sign off from his role at a special service tonight.
The Right Reverend Justin Welby will be officially installed as Archbishop of Canterbury next Monday – ending a 14-month stint at Durham Cathedral.
Downing Street revealed the former oil industry executive as successor to Dr Rowan Williams in November.
Speaking at the time, Bishop Welby said: “To be nominated to this post is both astonishing and exciting.
“It is something I never expected, and the last few weeks have been a very strange experience.”
Tonight’s service for Bishop Justin and his wife Caroline will be held at 7.30pm, at Durham Cathedral, and is expected to draw a large congregation from across the region.
It will also be attended by Lord Lieutenant Sir Paul Nicholson.
“One of the hardest things will be to leave Durham,” Bishop Welby added.
“I work with a group of wonderful senior colleagues and remarkable clergy and lay people.
“It is an astonishing part of the country, one which as a family we were greatly looking forward to living in for many years.
“The people are direct, inspiring and wonderfully friendly.
“In many ways it has been the ancient cradle of British Christianity.
“It is a place of opportunity and an even greater future than its past.
“The work we have started in Durham will be continued by the team led by the Bishop of Jarrow and I want to add my thanks to him for once again agreeing to step in and hold the fort while my successor is found.”
The Bishop of Jarrow, Mark Bryant, said: “This is an historic occasion as never before, as far as we know, has a Bishop of Durham moved straight to be Archbishop of Canterbury.
“It would be wonderful to have hundreds of us there in the cathedral to pray with and for Bishop Justin.”
Bishop Welby will have the title of Archbishop of Canterbury legally bestowed on him at a formal service in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, at noon next Monday.
His public ministry will be inaugurated at an enthronement service at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday, March 21.