The Rt Revd James Langstaff has been Bishop of Rochester since November 2010; he had previously been Suffragan Bishop of Lynn in the Diocese of Norwich since June 2004. In that role he had oversight of parishes in north and west Norfolk and also led the Diocese’s engagement with social and community concerns.
For the previous 18 years Bishop James served in the Diocese of Birmingham in both inner urban and more suburban communities, as incumbent successively of St Matthew’s, Nechells and Holy Trinity, Sutton Coldfield. For three years he was Chaplain to the then Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd Mark Santer. He also served on various diocesan bodies and was for a time Vice-Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance. Before moving to Birmingham in 1986, Bishop James was Curate at St Peter’s Farnborough in the Diocese of Guildford, having trained for ordained ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham. His first degree was in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford.
During his time in Birmingham, Bishop James developed a particular interest in urban regeneration initiatives and began a long-lasting involvement in social and affordable housing. He continued this as Chair of Flagship Housing Group from 2006-2010 – Flagship is a social housing organisation with over 20,000 properties in the Eastern Region. While in Norfolk, Bishop James supplemented his previous urban experience with a growing engagement with rural issues, serving for a number of years as a Trustee of the Norfolk Rural Community Council.
Of his time as Bishop of Lynn, Bishop James says: “I especially valued and enjoyed the opportunities to visit parishes and get to know the clergy and lay leaders. The concept of a Christian presence in every neighbourhood is one that I greatly value, and it has been a great encouragement to see people working that out at local level. Another highpoint for me was our link with the Anglican Province of Papua New Guinea – it has been a huge privilege to develop friendships with Christians in a very different culture, from whom I have learnt so much.”
As Bishop of Rochester, Bishop James has oversight of a diocese which covers West Kent, Medway and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley – this includes much of the Kent Thames Gateway area. He is at present engaged on a programme of visiting every part of the diocese in order to meet all the clergy one-to-one, and also begin to understand the variety of places in which they serve. He is also beginning to build relationships in various sectors of civil and public society in the area. As in Norfolk, he is keen to see the church expressing Christian presence in each setting through its parishes and chaplaincies; he is also looking for opportunities to foster the engagement of the churches with wider social and community life.
Bishop James is married to Bridget who, having worked previously as a nurse practitioner with homeless people and then as head of healthcare in prisons, is now Regional Development Manager with the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, working especially in prisons. Bridget was for 14 years a lay member of the General Synod for the Diocese of Birmingham. Their son, Alasdair (27) is a chef; he is married to Kate and lives in Birmingham. Their daughter, Helen (25) is doing postgraduate studies in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.
Bishop James enjoys choral singing and is beginning to find openings for that in Kent. He and Bridget enjoy entertaining and being entertained; walking, skiing, theatre and concert going, reading and travel also feature among their interests.