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New Bishop of Waikato

New Bishop of Waikato

Media Release 5th September 2013

Anglican Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki

A new chapter is beginning for the Anglican Church of Waikato and its next bishop, the Rev'd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley.

Helen-Ann sees the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki as having a richness that she wants to explore and know more of as she joins its journey of faith.

‘I am greatly looking forward to putting on my tramping shoes and gumboots, getting to know people where they are, and finding out more about the landscapes and industries that are integral to life and ministry in the Diocese,' says Helen-Ann.

Helen-Ann will be the 7th Bishop of Waikato and the first woman to hold the office. An approach from people in the Waikato for her name to go forward is described by Helen-Ann as unexpected.

The Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki is a dual episcopacy, a style of leadership with two co-equal bishops sharing jurisdiction. The model is unique in the Anglican Communion.

Helen-Ann will lead the Diocese with Philip Richardson, the Bishop of Taranaki, he is also Archbishop of the New Zealand Dioceses.

‘This is an exciting moment in mission for the Diocese, an ancient mission and yet ever renewed. Helen-Ann will bring new strengths and gifts to a strong and diverse Diocese. I am looking forward to discovering, in new ways, what partnership in leadership as bishops can mean,’ says Archbishop Philip.

Helen-Ann, aged 40, has been working and living in New Zealand since 2011. She is currently the Dean of Tikanga Pakeha students at St John's College in Auckland.

Helen- Ann is the fourth generation on her father's side to be ordained in ministry. She will be the first woman priest, ordained in the Church of England, to be a bishop. Women bishops are not allowed in England.

‘I hope my election as a bishop will be a sign of encouragement for supporters of the ordination of women to the episcopate. All, irrespective of gender, are able to witness to the gospel, both women and men are entrusted with that sacred task,' says Helen-Ann.

Helen-Ann was ordained in 2005 and began ministry, working in 12 rural parishes, near Oxford. She also brings years of experience in theological education to her new role.

'’My first task is to listen to what has been achieved in this Diocese so far and its potential. Being a disciple of Christ is about learning alongside others. Education has at its heart the idea of ‘drawing out,’ of enabling everyone to fulfill their potential and so will be a strong foundation for my work, says Helen-Ann.

Bishop Victoria Matthews, of Christchurch, says theological education is important for both clergy and laity and has been emphasized in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“The election of Helen-Ann adds a new strength to this conversation in the House of Bishops.  Helen-Ann also brings a perspective that is Communion wide working with students from across the world in her teaching and administrative roles. I warmly anticipate and welcome her presence as an episcopal colleague in the House of Bishops,’ says Bishop Victoria.   

Prior to working and living in New Zealand, Helen Ann was Director of Biblical Studies and lecturer in the New Testament at Ripon College Cuddesdon, near Oxford in the U.K. She studied theology in the United Kingdom and the United States and completed her doctorate at Oxford.

Helen Ann is married to Myles; he is a church organist and musician in Auckland.

The ordination of Helen-Ann as a bishop, and her installation as the 7th Bishop of Waikato, is expected in February next year. Until ordination and installation Helen-Ann is known as the Bishop-elect.


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