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Church gets new chief

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:17 06 July 2010

Richard Butler.

Richard Butler.

The new man in charge of the Church of England's assets in Norfolk says he wants to increase giving to the church as well as reaching out to non-churchgoers.

The new man in charge of the Church of England's assets in Norfolk says he wants to increase giving to the church as well as reaching out to non-churchgoers.

Richard Butler is taking over as chief executive of the diocese of Norwich - also known as diocesan secretary - which means he has to manage the church's business. He is in charge of an annual turnover of more than £11m, an investment portfolio worth £12.5m and assets, mostly land and property, worth £125m.

He takes over from Canon Richard Bowett, who retired due to ill-health earlier this year. He starts his new role on October 5. As well as the diocese's 650 churches Mr Butler will be in charge of its head office, which is Diocesan House in Easton, the diocesan training centre at Emmaus House in Cathedral Close, and a residential youth activity centre at Horstead, near Coltishall.

Mr Butler said: “The goal we have in the church, and that I am committed to, is increasing the giving we as individuals give to the church. We are not a rich organisation, we might be asset-rich but we are cash-poor. It is only by giving that we keep the church going.

“The diocese is one of the largest businesses in Norfolk and the Church of England faces the same struggles in the downturn of the world economy as other organisations.

And he said he was keen for the church to reach out and serve new people. “We want to take the message to young people and adults that the Church of England is not just there for the members.”

Mr Butler, 53, is currently the chief executive of Mobilise, the charity which promotes mobility for disabled people, and was previously director of business and finance for the Benjamin Foundation, the North Walsham-based charity for young people.

The father-of-two is from west Norfolk originally and now lives near North Walsham. He is also county commissioner of Norfolk Scouts and until recently he was a trustee of the UK Scout Association. He is a deputy lieutenant of Norfolk and is chairman of the Red House Trust, a grant-making body.

The bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said: “Richard Butler brings to this senior post a wide knowledge of Norfolk and Waveney and its people, a rich experience in the public, commercial and voluntary sectors, and a great deal of enthusiasm for the task.”

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