THE selection process for a new Bishop of Blackburn has started as the cathedral announces plans to celebrate the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade’s more than eight years as leader of the church in Lancashire.

A 25-strong committee of clergy and laity in the diocese is now drawing up a person specification for the new appointee, which six of them will take to the Crown nominations committee in January.

This national body will compile a shortlist of Suffragan Bishops and Archdeacons considered suitable for the post which will be whittled down to a preferred candidate and reserve to be sent to the Prime Minister.

He will select the candidate for final approval by the Queen.

Bishop’s chaplain Toby Webber hopes the appointment procedure will be completed in time to install a new bishop in the Spring or early Summer.

In the meantime, he is working on the bishop’s farewell service to be held in Blackburn Cathedral on Saturday October 20.

Among the invited guests are Lancashire MPs, including Blackburn’s Jack Straw and Burnley’s Gordon Birtwistle , other political leaders headed by Blackburn with Darwen’s Mayor Zamir Khan, the borough’s leader Kate Hollern and Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver.

Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire Lord Shuttleworth will head the list of guests from other aspects of public life.

Church of England and other Christian leaders will attend as will leaders of other faiths, including Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Salim Mulla.

The Vacancy in See committee, chaired by the Vicar of Fleetwood and Cathedral Canon John Hall, will compile a profile for a new Bishop.

Senior figures on the 25-strong body include the Bishop of Burnley John Goddard who will take the reins of the Diocese after Bishop Nicholas leaves at the end of October and the new incumbent arrives.

Also on the committee are the Bishop of Lancaster Geoff Pearson, the Dean of Blackburn Christopher Armstrong, the Cathedral Archdeacon John Hawley and the chairman of the diocesan House of Laity Jeff Warburton.