A FORMER rugby player has swapped the pitch for the pulpit as he takes up his new position as Bishop at the Mormon Church in Solihull.
Hesekaia Fakatou, ex-professional rugby player from Tonga, will now be known as Bishop Fakatou to his congregation at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hampton Lane, Solihull.
Bishop Fakatou’s appointment follows the relocation of the church’s former Bishop, Andrew Corbishley, to Hinckley.
The 43-year-old has represented his home country, Tonga, in international rugby 12 times – including in the 1999 Rugby World Cup against the All Blacks.
Since moving to Solihull with his family 16 years ago he has played professionally for Leeds and Birmingham/Solihull and still plays rugby socially for Bournville.
And as Bishops in the Mormon Church is unpaid, he will have to juggle the needs of his congregation with the demands of his full-time job in the construction industry.
Describing his appointment as Bishop as ‘an honour and privilege’, Bishop Fakatou said: “As well as serving the needs of our own congregation, we want to work closely with the community in the Solihull borough.
“I believe there are many service opportunities in Solihull where our members can work together with others in the community to make a difference in people’s lives.”
The Hampton Lane church is the neighbouring congregation to the church in Chelmsley Wood where Mormon Bishop David Charmbury was critically injured two weeks ago when his car was stolen.
He remains in the high dependency unit in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, where he is recovering from surgery.