His first career was in commercial management with British Petroleum before studying at Ealing Technical College Business School where he received a Bachelor of Arts business studies in 1977. From 1982 to 1984, he trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, an evangelical Anglican theological college.
Urquhart was ordained a deacon at Petertide on 1 July 1984 by John Habgood, Archbishop of York, at York Minster. He became a priest the next year, and served in Hull before becoming the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Coventry in 1992. For his last year in Coventry, he was an honorary canon of the cathedral.
Urquhart was appointed suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead in the Diocese of Chester in 2000. He acts as the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy to China and accompanied him on a visit to China in October 2006. Urquhart was appointed Prelate of the Order of St Michael and St George in 2005 and holds the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral.
His appointment as Bishop of Birmingham was announced in 2006 and he was enthroned on 17 November 2006, succeeding John Sentamu after Sentamu's appointment as Archbishop of York. Around 800 people attended his enthronement in Birmingham Cathedral. Urquhart was introduced as a Lord Spiritual to the House of Lords on 26 October 2010. He became the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual on 18 May 2015. In the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours, was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG) for services to international relation; as a clergyman, he does not use the title sir.
In April 2022, it was announced that he would be retiring as Bishop of Birmingham on 18 October 2022.
At his enthronement Urquhart was presented with a cope which incorporated various images related to his life and the city of Birmingham. These included a bagpiper, signifying his birth and upbringing in Scotland, a motorcycle which represents one of his hobbies and the emblems of Aston Villa and Birmingham City, the two most prominent football teams from the city. The cope also features a passage from the Bible, which reads "You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets to dwell in." (Isaiah 58:12). The passage was written in English, Mandarin, Hebrew and Luganda. During the ceremony in Birmingham Cathedral, Urquhart smashed a large clay pot with a mallet to signify the fragility of human life and our world.
In a message to his new diocese shortly after his enthronement, Urquhart thanked the people of Birmingham for the warm welcome he had received. He cited his desire for the diocese to engage in "worship, making disciples and prophetic witness".
Inequality and social exclusion is something that we should not easily accept in a rich country and a city like ours. Our aim is to bridge the gap between the disadvantaged and the powerful, so that more people can participate in the economic and social opportunities at work, home and play.
In December 2018, Urquhart was cited in an independent review of the ten-year handling of an abuse case in the Birmingham diocese. The report, seen by Channel 4, found the church "fell short on a number of basic standards of complaint handling” and delivered damning findings about the Bishop of Birmingham's response in 2011. It said he “lacked adequate knowledge of safeguarding and the capacity to manage the process". The survivor claimed she had been warned by an unnamed bishop not to talk to the media as it wouldn't be “very godly”. She was also forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement before seeing the review into her own case. Urquhart apologised to her and her husband “for the upset and anguish that you both have suffered as a result of the mistakes I have made in the handling of your complaint”.
- The Reverend David Urquhart (1984–1999)
- The Reverend Canon David Urquhart (1999–2000)
- The Right Reverend David Urquhart (2000–2018)
- The Right Reverend David Urquhart (2018–present)
- Church of England — New Convenor of the Lords Spiritual announced (Accessed 18 May 2015)
- "Diocesan Bishops". www.peterowen.org.uk. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
- "Urquhart, David Andrew". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. Vol. 2015 (November 2014 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 7 November 2015. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "David Andrew Urquhart". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
- "Petertide ordinations". Church Times. No. 6334. 6 July 1984. p. 4. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 13 May 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
- ""Notes from China", Archbishop of Canterbury official site, October 2006". Archived from the original on 16 November 2006.
- "No. 57654". The London Gazette. 31 May 2005. p. 7053.
- ""New Bishop of Birmingham appointed", Office of the Prime Minister, 23 May 2006". Archived from the original on 11 December 2006.
- ""Wirral honours civic leaders", Wirral Council press release, 6 November 2006". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
- "No. 58024". The London Gazette. 21 June 2006. p. 8460.
- Diocese of Birmingham — A cope of Many Languages for the Ninth Bishop of Birmingham
- ""Birmingham's new bishop is named", BBC News, 23 May 2006". 23 May 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- UK Parliament — Lords Calendar
- "No. 62310". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 June 2018. p. B3.
- "Bishop of Birmingham". Diocese of Birmingham. 13 April 2022. Archived from the original on 19 July 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
- ""A cope of Many Languages for the Ninth Bishop of Birmingham", 17 November 2006, Diocese of Birmingham website".
- ""Bishop of Birmingham Inaugurated", Diocese of Birmingham, 17 November 2006".
- Why David Urquhart is a man for our times
- "Exclusive: Church of England gags abuse victim with NDA". Channel 4. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
- "Case of vicar said to have stripped off clothes in front of woman 'hushed up by Church of England'". The Telegraph. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
- "Birmingham diocese defends gagging order for survivor". Church Times. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
- "Church cover-up claims over 'sex pest Harborne vicar who walked around naked'". Birmingham Mail. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.