The Queen has approved the appointment of the Venerable Gavin Collins as the next Bishop of Dorchester.

Due to lockdown restrictions, the Bishop of Oxford is announcing the news at an online meeting to be streamed from Dorchester Abbey with over 100 civic leaders and local clergy in attendance.

The online announcement will be followed by a visit to St Mary’s Church in Chipping Norton later today, where volunteers are supporting over 200 families during lockdown through an initiative called Mary’s Meals.

Responding to today’s announcement, the Venerable Collins, who has been Archdeacon of The Meon in the Portsmouth Diocese, said: “I am thrilled and humbled to have been invited to serve as the next Bishop of Dorchester and look forward to joining the Diocese of Oxford in the New Year."

Oxford play Portsmouth away tonight and the new Bishop, a lifelong Brighton fan, said he would be supporting Oxford in the game.

He added: "It will be a privilege to work and worship alongside the people of these churches as, together, we serve the communities of Oxfordshire.”

The new Bishop is one of the convenors of the Evangelical Forum on Synod and has served as a trustee of Latin Link mission agency and of the London School of Theology.

He is deeply committed to the mission and growth of the Church and said: "My priorities in ministry have always been to enable the church to grow in unity, in confidence, in numbers and in the depth of our experience of the love of God.

“Throughout lockdown, churches across Oxfordshire have shown us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and our calling to show and share that love with the communities around us.

"Jesus’s promise is that he came to give us life in full abundance, and, as Bishop of Dorchester, it will be a joy to play a part in helping the Church to grow into and live out that abundance of life."

The Venerable Collins, 53, was educated in Law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He then worked as a solicitor in the City of London before training for ministry at Trinity College Bristol. Having grown up in Sussex, he is a life-long and active supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion, which he says, proves he is a person of great faith.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft said: "I am delighted that Gavin has accepted the invitation to be the next Bishop of Dorchester.

"Gavin is known for his warmth and approachability, and he is passionate about the mission of the church.

"He’s experienced in bringing churches, local authorities and civil society organisations together for the good of all, and is clear about the issues rural communities and towns face. I am very excited about what Gavin’s appointment means for the Diocese of Oxford.”

The Venerable Collins will succeed the Rt Rev Colin Fletcher who retired from the role in November. He will be consecrated on January 28.

The Diocese of Oxford is one of the largest Dioceses in the Church of England and is divided into four ‘Episcopal Areas’, each overseen by their own Area Bishop.

The Dorchester Episcopal Area is larger than many dioceses in the Church of England.

The area covers all of Oxfordshire, apart from the City of Oxford. It extends from the Cotswolds in the west, Bicester in the East and all the way down to Henley-on-Thames.