The Archbishop of York has announced he will be retiring from his post – the second most important in the Church of England.
Dr John Sentamu was enthroned as archbishop in 2005.
On Monday, he announced he will retire on June 7 2020 – three days before his 71st birthday.
In a statement, Dr Sentamu said: “I will be retiring from my post as Archbishop of York in June 2020.
“I have decided to announce my retirement now in order to provide the Church of England with the widest possible timeframe to pray, discern with wisdom and insight and put in place a timetable for my successor and to consider fully the work they will be called to do in service to the national church, the Northern Province and the Diocese of York.”
He added: “I am full of joy and expectation to see all that God is doing and will be doing in this diocese and in the Northern Province over the coming months.”
Dr Sentamu, who fled his native Uganda in the 1970s before studying at Cambridge University, was once tipped for the top role of Archbishop of Canterbury but commentators agreed his time had passed after Justin Welby was given the top job in 2013.
As he announced his retirement, he said he would continue to work in the “facilitation of conversations” as Yorkshire tried to find a devolution arrangement acceptable to towns and cities in the region as well as the Government.
Dr Sentamu also thanked the Queen for allowing him to remain in the role beyond his 70th birthday, the point at which it is customary for a bishop to retire.
He will also have the opportunity to continue leading missions in the Northern Province of the Church of England in Liverpool, Southwell and Nottingham, and York.
Paying tribute, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said that Dr Sentamu’s service was something to “rejoice in with great gratitude”.
In a later tweet, he told the retiring bishop: “Be assured of my prayers – and those of the whole Church – for you and Margaret during our continued partnership in the gospel, and over the coming transition period.”
Dr Sentamu, 69, made history in 2002 by becoming the Church of England’s first black senior bishop when he was made the Bishop of Birmingham.
He had previously been Bishop of Stepney, and had served in a succession of London parishes.
He is now set to expand his Young Leaders Award programme into schools in the Southern Province of the Church of England, and will continue to lead missions in three Provinces of the Anglican Communion.