Former volunteer teacher and schools worker in Kenya named first female bishop of Reading

Olivia Graham
Olivia Graham. Photo: Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford

The Queen has approved the appointment of the Venerable Olivia Graham, the Archdeacon of Berkshire, as the next Bishop of Reading.

Succeeding Rt Revd Andrew Proud, Olivia has been serving as the Archdeacon of Berkshire over the past six years.

The Bishop of Oxford announced the news during a visit to Ranelagh School in Bracknell, where students had an opportunity to ask the Venerable Graham questions followed by a reception at Reading Minster.

Olivia Graham
The Ven Olivia Graham has been appointed Bishop of Reading. Photo: Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford

Responding to the announcement, Olivia said; “I am delighted and energised to have been called to an episcopal role. It is a tremendous opportunity to bring together my passions for the Church and the wider world – for example to be able to encourage greater engagement between our church communities and secondary schools. The young people I encounter in our schools are serious and engaged with the world. We need to see how we can offer the resources of faith at a crucial time in their lives.”

Olivia Graham
The Ven Olivia Graham has been appointed Bishop of Reading. Photo: Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford

Olivia’s early career was spent in teaching and international development, including seven years as a volunteer teacher and schools worker in Kenya from 1974 to 1981 followed by 9 years as an overseas relief and development worker which included a period working for Oxfam in Somalia.

Ordained in 1997, she has served all of her ministry in the Diocese of Oxford, becoming Archdeacon of Berkshire in 2013. She is married and with three adult children,

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, said: “One of the things that was apparent when we were listening and consulting about the new bishop was that people wanted somebody who really knew what it is like to be in ministry in this part of the world.

“Someone who knew what the pressures and challenges are.

“In this and many other areas, Olivia brings just what we need at this time. I am very excited about what Olivia’s appointment means for the Diocese.”

Olivia Graham
The Ven Olivia Graham has been appointed Bishop of Reading. Photo: Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford

The Venerable Graham will succeed the Bishop Andrew, who retired in May, at a special service to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday, November 19. She will become the 24th female bishop to be installed in the Anglican Church and the Diocese of Oxford’s first.

The Reading Episcopal Area extends from west Berkshire along the M4 corridor to Windsor and comprises 170 churches.

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