Announcement of the death of
the Rt Revd Derek Rawcliffe OBE

It is with sadness that we inform you of the death of the Rt. Revd Derek Rawcliffe OBE at the age of 89. The former Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway died at his home in Leeds on Tuesday 1 February. Derek Rawcliffe had remained active in ministry and on the day of his death he attended a church service at his home church of St Aidan’s, Leeds where he read the lesson.

Bishop John paid tribute to Derek: “I was very sorry to hear of the death of the Rt. Revd. Derek Rawcliffe. Derek has contributed substantially in Leeds, both to our worship, through St. Aidan’s, and to the care of and concern about asylum seekers. He has worked to help those in poverty and has also been concerned with ecumenical relationships in the City, and regularly contributed to the work of Leeds Churches Together in Mission.”

A Requiem Mass is planned to be held at St Aidans Leeds (this Sunday). An online book of condolence is being opened on the website of ST. AIDAN'S CHURCH. (Canon John Carter)


Derek Rawcliffe, the first Church of England bishop to be open about his homosexuality, has died at age 89.

Rawcliffe disclosed his homosexuality on television in 1995, when he was serving as an honorary bishop in Ripon and Leeds diocese. He was dismissed the following year for conducting blessings of same-sex couples. However, he remained active in ministry at the Leeds church (where he worshipped) and was allowed to preside at some confirmation services.




  1. I was confirmed at St Mary’s Glasgow by Derek in 1988 (Pentecost or Whitsunday) when I was an 18 year at the University of Glasgow. He was a nice man but a very complicated man.

    At the time of the conformation (1988) he wasn’t yet out. Derek was, though, very in to the charismatic movement (speaking in tongues and such.) Fr Malcolm was the Provost of the Cathedral (Kelvin’s predecessor) and Fr. John Turner was the chaplain at the University. They wanted nothing of the speaking in tongues bit and gave the bishop a good talk that none of that would be in the service. (Oddly enough, I remember that the service from the Canadian prayer book was used. No idea why.) Nonetheless, as Derek worked down the line at the altar rail, doing the confirmation bit, he added in a few mumbled gibberish words in tongues for each of us. Fr John was not happy with that.

    Derek, on the other hand, didn’t think that St Mary’s did a good job preparing us for confirmation, so he told Malcolm to have us all at St Mary’s the night before the service so that he could quiz us. We all passed. It was basic questions on the bible and such for about an hour. At the end he added this long talk against horoscopes and ouija boards and made us promise to never touch the things. The batch of us went out for drinks afterwards, wondering what we had gotten into.

    Years later Derek came out, and was brave to do so. But at the time of my confirmation he was still mourning the recent death of his wife. Much of the sermon that Pentecost sunday wasn’t a traditional Whitsunday sermon. It was more about love and marriage and the promise to care for someone until death and such. Odd at the time, though I think I can see a connection.

    I remember him as a nice man, though a complicated man. Perhaps other OCICBW readers would have more stories or memories of him.

  2. well I just saw the mistake above. I was a first year, only 18years old, not an 18 year! I can’t imagine what being an 18 year at university is like (though God knows, I’ve tried to find out) but it sounds painful.

    I really should proofread what I write before hitting submit.