The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, was introduced as a member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, earlier today. From its earliest days as an advisory council to monarchs, the House of Lords has included Church of England bishops amongst its membership. Today, 26 bishops are included amongst its members: the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of London, Winchester and Durham. The remaining 21 are chosen by seniority, in the order that they first became diocesan bishops. In a ten-year transition arrangement, eligible female bishops will be appointed to the House of Lords ahead of eligible male bishops. But as Bishop of one of the top five sees, Sarah Mullally becomes the most senior female bishop in the House of Lords.
Bishop Sarah, formerly the Chief Nursing Officer for England, was named as Bishop of London, in succession to Richard Chartres, last December. She had already been consecrated and was serving as Bishop of Crediton in the Diocese of Exeter at the time of her appointment. She was installed at a service in St Paul’s Cathedral on 12 May – International Nurses Day.
“Today as I respond to the Call of Christ to a new ministry I recall my first calling to follow Christ; to know him and make him known to the world,” she said. “In the words of St Augustine ‘For you I am your bishop but with you I am a Christian’”
In her sermon, she spoke of the importance of building relationships, saying: “If we want to improve public health today, if we want to improve the life chances of those who are still left behind and failed by our education system, if we want to reduce the horrifyingly high number of young deaths from knife and gun crime occurring in this wonderful city, we have to build relationships, and if we want to see more people transformed by the love of God then we have to reach out, to build relationships.
She asked the congregation to join her in fostering in the Diocese of London “a church which is rooted in scripture and tradition but not afraid to re-imagine the future”.
On appointment as Bishop of London, in addition to becoming a member of the House of Lords, she will also be a member of the Privy Council – the ancient body that still advises the monarch and which retains limited power to legislate outside of Parliament.