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One of the Chaplains of the Guild of St Bride has created a piece of Church of England history. The Rev Dr Christopher Cunliffe , whose wife Helen is Archdeacon of St Albans, has been appointed to a similar post at Derby. They are the first husband and wife archdeacons in the Church of England and there is now a strong possibility that either, or both, could eventually become Anglican Bishops.
Currently Chaplain to the Bishop of Bradwell in the Diocese of Chelmsford, which covers Essex and parts of East London, Christopher will be licensed as Archdeacon at an installation service in Derby Cathedral within the next few months, when his new title will be 'The Venerable.' He became one of the Guild Chaplains more than 10 years ago, and has been a frequent worshipper in St Bride's, together with Helen when she held a post of Canon Residentiary at nearby Southwark Cathedral. The Cunliffes, who live within the shadows of St Albans Cathedral, have two children - Edward (22) and Jacob (17).
The Cunliffes are no strangers to Derby. Both their families are from the area. Christopher still has two aunts living locally and Helen's mother lives in Derby. "We know the area well, so it feels a very familiar and secure place to both of us," said Christopher.
He began his ordained ministry in the Diocese of Derby when he was assistant curate in Chesterfield at the church with the famous crooked spire from 1983-1985. He worked alongside his wife who was also a curate at the church, in one of the first job-share arrangements in the Church of England. In recent years, he has held important posts in the Diocese of London and was previously Chaplain of Lincoln College, Oxford.
Dr Cunliffe, who is 50, will have oversight of half of Derbyshire's Anglican churches and will relate to 143 parishes in the southern half of the county.