Ian Britton

Trailblazing bishop in Ripon move

Thu 09 Nov 2017
By Alex Williams

Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, the first female Church of England priest to become a bishop, has been named the next Bishop of Ripon.

Currently the Bishop of Waikato, the new position will require Dr Helen-Ann to relocate than 11,000 miles away from her current home in New Zealand.

Raised in Sunderland, Dr Helen-Ann told Premier the move feels like "a return" for her, and also for her husband, whose family come from Cumbria.

Ian Britton


She said: "For both of us, this is very much a return [or] a coming home in really deep sense, so it's really good to be back in the North."

Born in Edinburgh, the 44 year old was ordained as a priest in 2006 and became first female bishop in the international Anglican Church in 2014 - before the Church of England had passed legislation pathing the way for women bishops.

Describing her style of leadership, Dr Helen-Ann said: "I'm used to getting my wellington boots on... and having a walk around; feet-on-the-ground is how I like to be a bishop, getting to know the people and places."

Succeeding Bishop James Bell, who retired earlier this year, an installation service for Dr Helen-Ann will be held at Ripon Cathedral on 4th February 2018.

Dr Helen-Ann added: "It [the bishop role] just seemed like such an amazing fit.

"I think that the way I've been able to come into this role, at every step, it's felt like God has been calling me and the Holy Spirt has been very much moving and enabling this to happen - which I rejoice in very much."

Click here to listen to a special report by Premier's Ian Britton:

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