The Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Rt Revd Harold Miller, has announced he is to retire after more than 22 years in the post.
He made the announcement during his address to the Diocesan Synod on Thursday 20 June.
The bishop will stand down on 30 September this year.
“The calling to be bishop of Down and Dromore was one which I didn’t expect,” he said.
“The diocese was one which, at the time, I didn’t really know but which has now become my home.
“Those 22 years have provided me with both joy and pain, comfort and challenge, success and failure, as is true of any ministry in the history of the church.
Bishop Harold is 69 and celebrates 43 years of ordained ministry next week.
He is the longest serving Bishop of Down and Dromore since Bishop Robert Knox who retired after 37 years in 1886.
Bishop Harold looked back with gratitude over his episcopal ministry and spoke warmly of the diocese and its people.
He said, “As I look back over two decades, I truly give thanks for you, followers of Jesus Christ, in the diocese of Down and Dromore, whom I have had the privilege of getting to know and serve alongside. We have loved one another as a family, and it has been a joy to call this wonderful diocese my home.”
Reflecting on his decision, he explained that he felt it was time to “hand over the reins to someone fresh and new”.
He added: “I don’t think I ever imagined continuing in active ministry to the age of 69.
“On a few occasions I thought of retiring earlier, but the Lord seemed to close the door. I am grateful that he has given me the health, strength and refreshment of continue to now.”
The bishop will give his farewell charge to the diocese at the annual Bible Week in Shankill Parish Church Lurgan, from 27–30 August.