New Bishop announced for ancient city of Ripon

The new Bishop of Ripon  the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley on her first visit to Ripon Cathedral yesterday.
The new Bishop of Ripon the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley on her first visit to Ripon Cathedral yesterday.

She was the first female priest in the Church of England to become a bishop and currently presides over a diocese on the other side of the world.

Now, The Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley has returned to her northern roots after being named as the next suffragan Bishop of Ripon.

Today the new bishop was introduced in person at the headquarters of the Diocese of Leeds, by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines.

She was then taken on a whirlwind tour of North Yorkshire, before ending her journey at the iconic Ripon Cathedral.

She told The Yorkshire Post: “I’m looking forward to discovering all of the wonderful charms of Ripon. Already I can feel a real sense of place, a sense of history, and a real sense of community. It’s very grounded.

“I have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome, I have enjoyed every part of it. I feel honoured to be in this position.”

Bishop Helen-Ann, 44, is currently the Bishop of Waikato, in New Zealand, an office she has held since 2014.

She was born in Edinburgh in 1973 and grew up in north-east England. She is the fourth generation of her family to be ordained, and was priested in 2006 in the Diocese of Oxford.

The bishop worked as one of a team ministering to 12 rural parishes in Oxfordshire before being appointed as the Director of Biblical Studies and a lecturer in the New Testament at Ripon College Cuddesdon, near Oxford.

Along with her husband Myles who is a musician and church organist, she went to New Zealand in 2010 to undertake research at St John’s College and returned there in February 2011 to take up the position as Dean.

In 2014 she became joint diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki, unique in the Anglican Communion with two equal bishops sharing jurisdiction across the whole diocese.

Bishop Helen-Ann, whose interests include the night sky, contemporary fiction and visual arts, going to the gym, and watching netball, said: “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 Yorkshire Dales brings with it a deep sense of coming home.”

Bishop Helen-Ann succeeds Bishop James Bell, who retired earlier this year, and will officially begin her ministry on February 4, 2018 when she will be welcomed and installed at a service in Ripon Cathedral.

The Dean of Ripon Cathedral, the Very Rev John Dobson, said: “I am delighted that Bishop Helen is joining us. We are looking forward to welcoming people for the installation and welcome service.”

Today, following the announcement of the appointment, Bishop Helen-Ann donned her blue wellies and headed to Manor House Farm, in Rylstone, where she met Jim and Mary Caygill, whose family have farmed there since the 1600s. St Peter’s Church is on their land and Mr Caygill was churchwarden there for 25 years.

She then visited pupils at Richard Taylor School, in Harrogate, before travelling to Ripon Cathedral to meet clergy, church and civic leaders.

Finally she took part in a ceremony on the cathedral walls to bless three new gargoyles, two of which have been designed by local school children.

Diocese

The Anglican Diocese of Leeds came into being at Easter 2014, the first new diocese in the Church of England since 1927, and one of the largest.

The Rt Revd Nick Baines is the Diocesan Bishop, and known as the Bishop of Leeds.

The suffragan (or area) Bishop of Ripon will oversee the Ripon Episcopal Area, one of five areas in the Diocese of Leeds.

The Episcopal Area covers the North Yorkshire part of the diocese with 141 parishes and 100 licensed clergy, an area of approximately 1,581 square miles and a population of 282,000.

It includes the city of Ripon and the major towns of Harrogate, Knaresborough, Settle, Wetherby, Skipton, Barnoldswick and Richmond.