WORSHIPPERS from across the North East have bid an emotional farewell to the Bishop of Durham.
The Right Reverend Justin Welby, who will be officially installed as Archbishop of Canterbury next week, signed off from his role at a special service in the city attended by hundreds of well-wishers.
The event at Durham Cathedral for Bishop Welby and his wife Caroline, which drew visitors from across the region, was his last public appearance before the former oil executive moves on to his new post.
Saying goodbye to the region, he even joked that being seeing the Black Cats recent win over league champions Manchester City was one of the highlights of his time here.
“Being at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day to see Sunderland beat Manchester City was one of the highpoints,” he said.
“It was memorable match.”
The London-born father-of-five said he was sad to be leaving the North East after his 14-month stint as bishop.
“This was a service I was not looking forward to,” he said.
“It is never easy to say goodbye.
“But I’ve loved my time here. I’ve met so many different people and visited so many special places.
“It’s impossible to pick out one. I want to come back and visit them all.”
Last year, Downing Street revealed the 57-year-old, who spent 11 years as an oil executive and became group treasurer for FTSE 100 oil exploration group Enterprise Oil Plc before becoming an Anglican priest, as successor to Dr Rowan Williams.
“It will be a challenging role, but one I’m looking forward to,” he said.
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 on Monday.
His public ministry will be inaugurated at an enthronement service at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21.
The new Bishop of Durham is expected to be announced later this year.