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From Waikato to Leeds: Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley moves diagonally

Posted on: November 10, 2017 12:49 PM
The Bishop-Designate of Ripon, Helen-Ann Hartley, meets pupils at the Richard Taylor C of E Primary School in Harrogate, yesterday, as her appointment was announced.
Photo Credit: Diocese of Leeds

The Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand is to return to her roots after being named as the new Bishop of Ripon in the Church of England’s Diocese of Leeds. In 2014, she became the first female priest from the Church of England to be consecrated as a bishop, when she was elected Bishop of Waikato in the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki. She was already serving in New Zealand as dean of the Pakeha tikanga (European-descent cultural stream) at St John’s College in Auckland. Originally ordained in the Diocese of Oxford, she served curacies in Wheatley and Littlemore before becoming New Testament lecturer and then director of biblical studies at Ripon College, Cuddesdon ahead of her move to New Zealand.

“I am delighted to welcome Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley as the new Bishop of Ripon,” The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, said. “She brings expertise as a theologian, and episcopal experience from the wider Anglican Communion. She will add great strengths to the leadership and ministry of this diocese.”

The Diocese of Leeds is the largest – and newest – in the Church of England. It was established on Easter Day 2014 by the amalgamation of the former dioceses of Ripon & Leeds, Wakefield, and Bradford. It serves some 2.3 million people through 656 churches across 2,425 square miles. It has three cathedrals of equal-status, in Ripon, Wakefield and Bradford; and five episcopal areas: Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon, and Wakefield. The diocese also has a suffragan bishop of Richmond, whose role is primarily to act as an assistant to the diocesan bishop in the Leeds episcopal area.

Her current diocese will have the opportunity to say goodbye to Bishop Helen-Ann at a special Eucharist service in St Peter’s Cathedral in Hamilton at 11 am on 16 December. The diocese of Waikato-Taranaki is unique in the Anglican Communion in having two bishop of equal status. With the Bishop of Taranaki, Archbishop Philip Richardson, she will preside at the Midnight Christmas Eve Eucharist in St Peter’s, and her final service in the diocese will be at St David’s with St George’s, Dinsdale on Christmas Day. She will be installed as Bishop of Ripon at a service in Ripon Cathedral on 4 February.

Archbishop Philip, one of the Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, said: “while this call on Bishop Helen-Ann's life and ministry has come more quickly than I expected, it has all the marks of the work of the Holy Spirit. She has given herself wholeheartedly to leadership in this diocese and across our Province and I am deeply grateful for her partnership in ministry. I wish her God's richest blessing in her future role with all of the challenges of that large and busy region of the Diocese of Leeds.”

“I am excited, delighted, surprised and deeply humbled by the call to take up the role of the Bishop of Ripon,” Bishop Helen-Ann said. “I look forward to getting my feet on the ground, listening and learning, and helping to root and grow the vision that Bishop Nick has for the Diocese of Leeds in the Ripon episcopal area. I rejoice in joining a dynamic episcopal team, and look forward immensely to working alongside my brother bishops.

“Both my husband Myles and I have firm roots in the north: Myles in Cumbria, and myself in the north-east. Returning to the north, and to the beautiful North Yorkshire Dales brings with it a deep sense of coming home, and I thank God for this call.”

Yesterday, on the day that her appointment was announced by the British Prime Minister’s office, Bishop Helen-Ann under-took a whistle-stop tour of her new Episcopal Area, which included a stop at the Richard Taylor C of E Primary School in Harrogate, where she met teachers and pupils.

“I have enjoyed supporting our Anglican schools, encouraging them in their work, and getting alongside the pupils and sharing in their lives – which has included activities like mountain biking and surfing, which I was not very good at! Sometimes all it takes is a mustard seed for the Kingdom of God to take hold.

“I hope that I have planted some seeds which in due course God will help flourish! It is wonderful that there will be a major lay conference in Harrogate in 2018, and I look forward to that important gathering.”

Bishop Helen-Ann was a member of the Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC) group from 2010-2012. She has published with SPCK, and is a regular contributor to the Daily Reflections series for Church House Publishing. She has also contributed to the Pilgrim course.