THE next Suffragan Bishop of Hull in the diocese of York is to be Dr Eleanor Sanderson, Downing Street announced on Wednesday.
Dr Sanderson has been the Assistant Bishop of Wellington in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia since 2017. She succeeds the Rt Revd Alison White, who retired in February after seven years in office, and will be the second bishop translated from New Zealand in recent years. (The first was Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, who was the Bishop of Waikato before her installation as Area Bishop of Ripon in 2018.)
The Bishop of Hull is one of three suffragans of the Archbishop of York, and has particular responsibility for the archdeaconry of the East Riding, which includes the city of Hull, the East Riding of Yorkshire, and part of the North Yorkshire coast, including Scarborough and reaching as far north as Ravenscar.
Dr Sanderson said on Wednesday that she was “excited and humbled” by her appointment. Of the diocese of Wellington, she said: “I have been deeply struck by how readily people here can testify to the hope of Christ visible around them. It will be an honour to interweave my own strands of faith, hope, and love with the faith, hope, and love lived so vibrantly within the diocese of York.”
She was ordained in 2005 in the diocese of Wellington, where she was later appointed Canon Theologian and went on to serve as Vicar of St Alban’s, Eastbourne, and chaplain of Wellesley College, an Anglican boys’ preparatory school. She became the first woman bishop in the diocese, and the fourth in the country, when she was consecrated in 2017.
Dr Sanderson was born in Hinderwell in North Yorkshire in 1977. She grew up in Derbyshire and came to faith at the University of Bristol, where she read geography; this was the start of an illustrious academic career. She then studied at Victoria University, Wellington, for a Master’s degree in development studies in 2003, and for a doctorate in geography in 2006, before completing a further Master’s degree in theology in 2013, through the University of Otago. She is a Fellow in Public Theology at the Centre for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, and remains a Research Associate at Victoria University.
Dr Sanderson is the author of Our Hearts are our Homes: Reflections and prayers from members of the Mothers’ Union in Tanzania (2005) and has contributed to dozens of journals and books.
She is married to Tim, and has two sons, aged 12 and 14. The family, who have lived near the University of Wellington, have recently participated in building a residential Christian community for young students, which has now grown to five houses with house leaders, daily prayers, and weekly patterns of mission.
Dr Sanderson said: “Living and breathing this community has been an important part of role-modelling and supporting missional discipleship in my role as bishop in the last five years. It will be really hard to leave these folk, but the community is at a good stage of being led without us now.”
Welcoming her appointment, the Archbishop of York said: “She has a great zest for life, and the joy she finds in her faith just shines out of her. . . Ellie has her feet planted on the ground and her eyes on Jesus as she rolls up her sleeves to get involved with God’s people.”
The Bishop of Wellington, the Rt Revd Justin Duckworth, said that the diocese was saying farewell with “great heaviness of heart”, but was also “certain that God will do great things with them in the diocese of York. . . We are excited to see the missional discipleship adventure unfold.”
The Primate of New Zealand (Pakeha), the Most Revd Philip Richardson, said: “She has brought her unique gifts to bear in a period of significant transformation in the focus of mission within that diocese. She has become a respected and highly valued member of the House of Bishops in this Church. As such, we will be extremely sad to see her go, but we genuinely rejoice in the discernment that God is calling her to serve.”