London Vicar elected as Bishop in New Zealand
The Revd Dr Steven Benford, the Vicar of St Joseph the Worker, Northolt, has been elected as the next Bishop of Dunedin in New Zealand. Bishop-elect Steven has been part of St Joseph’s since 2014 and is also a Bishops’ Advisor for Ministry, a new incumbents’ ministry mentor and spiritual director.
The Archbishops Winston Halapua and Philip Richardson have confirmed Steven Benford’s election, after he was nominated by the Diocese of Dunedin’s Electoral College in May. It is an appointment which signals a return to New Zealand for the qualified doctor who worked in Otago in the early 1990s. His wife Lorraine was born in Dunedin.
Making the announcement, Archbishop Philip Richardson welcomed Steven’s appointment, saying:
“I look forward to welcoming Steven back to Aotearoa New Zealand. His experience of living a vocation in the service of others will be invaluable as he leads the clergy and people of Southland and Otago to develop creative ways of serving their communities in the Spirit of Christ.”
Steven comes to the Diocese of Dunedin with a commitment to find where God is already at work, and to look for where the church is offering loving service to the community. Talking about the move, he said:
“You don’t apply for the role of Bishop so I was highly honoured to have my name put forward, and then humbled and surprised to be appointed. I have loved being a part of the community here at St. Joseph’s, and although it will be very hard to say goodbye I hope I am answering God’s calling by moving to New Zealand.”
Steven Benford’s career has been shaped by a dual vocation to ministry and medicine. For 29 years he served as a medical doctor, specialising in anaesthetics since 1990. Steven’s medical career initially took him to Leicester, Leeds and Gibraltar. Then in the early 1990s, he and his wife Lorraine brought their young family to live in southern New Zealand. From 1991-95 Steven worked as a GP in Oamaru, where he also established a free clinic.
Despite his love of medicine, Steven felt God’s insistent call to the ordained ministry from a young age. In 1996, he entered the ministry discernment process in the Diocese of York and was ordained there in 2000. In his first four years as a priest, he served as a curate in a three-church rural cluster, while remaining a full-time specialist at Friarage Hospital, Northallerton in Yorkshire.
Steven’s Christian faith has led him to serve others using his medical skills. As well as his 19 years in rural health at Northallerton, in 2003 he travelled to Baghdad to work with a medical NGO after the allied invasion of Iraq. Later, he joined medical teams in Haiti, following the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2014.
The Revd Dr Steven Benford’s ordination as Bishop of Dunedin will take place in St Paul’s Cathedral Church, Dunedin, in September 2017.