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February 3rd, 2011

An Associate Professor of Theology is hoping to encourage public debate about religion in his new role for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham.

The Revd Dr Simon Oliver has been appointed as Canon Theologian of Southwell Minster by the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham. He will be installed at Southwell Minster on Sunday13 February at 3.30pm.

Simon, who was born in Nottingham, said: “A Canon Theologian is a teacher of the Christian faith who encourages others to discuss and learn about our profound and crucial religious heritage. The role of religion in public life is much discussed today. I look forward to enabling a lively debate on these issues while making a clear contribution to that debate from the perspective of Christian faith.”

Simon’s father, Stephen, was curate in the Clifton Team Ministry. The family later moved to Plumtree where his father, who has retired as Bishop of Stepney in London, was Rector of St Mary’s and producer of religious programmes on Radio Nottingham.

Simon said: “I attended Crossdale Drive Primary School in Keyworth (where my eldest son is now a pupil) and, for three years, Nottingham High School before our family moved to Northamptonshire.”

Simon studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University before working as a teacher in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for a year. He then worked for a property company in Leeds before going to Cambridge to study Theology and train for the priesthood. He said: “I’d been considering a vocation to the priesthood from the age of 16. I was ordained in 1998 and worked as a curate in two parishes on the outskirts of Cambridge while pursuing further academic work at the University.”

In 2001 he became Chaplain of Hertford College, Oxford, and, in 2003, to Douglas House, a hospice and respite centre. In 2005 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of Wales. He returned to Nottingham in 2009.

Simon is very active within the Church, is Assistant Priest at All Saints’, Cotgrave, and sits on various Church of England and Anglican Communion commissions and committees.

He is married to Jayne, a paediatric speech and language therapist, and has two sons, Benedict, seven, and Samuel, four. Simon said: “I am, and have always been, a fanatical Nottingham Forest fan. I took my first communion in the City Ground during a big open-air service! Now that we’ve returned to Nottingham I’m able to go to plenty of games. There would be nothing better than to see Forest back in the Premiership.”

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