A FORMER chaplain to Blackpool Tower Circus has been consecrated as the new Bishop of Penrith at a ceremony in York Minster.

The Venerable Robert John Freeman took up the role on Friday following a service led by the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu.

Mr Freeman was previously Archdeacon of Halifax where he had a particular involvement with various initiatives to help churches strengthen their sense of purpose and mission, and look for ways to serve their communities and make their activities and worship more accessible.

He has a particular enthusiasm for helping people outside the church explore and discover Christian faith.

This is reflected by his involvement for many years with the website www.rejesus.co.uk and more recently with the national Christian Enquiry Agency.

Before ordination Mr Freeman studied psychology and he still has an interest in science.

For many years he has been fascinated by computer technology and the internet, and the openings these bring within church life to improve organisation and communication.

Following ordination Mr Freeman worked as a curate in Blackpool where part of his role was chaplain to the Tower Circus and Winter Gardens.

He also served in Chigwell in north east London and as a vicar for 14 years in inner city Leicester.

From 2003 he was the National Mission and Evangelism Adviser for the Church of England.

His work included editing a ground-breaking report for the Church of England, aimed at encouraging different styles of church life and making church more accessible.

The report led to the Fresh Expressions initiative, an ecumenical movement to stimulate new ways to approach church life alongside affirming more conventional approaches.

Mr Freeman is married to Chris and they have three daughters and a very recent granddaughter.

They have moved to Cumbria from Brighouse. Mr Freeman replaces the Rt Rev James Newcome in the role.