He will come from London to be the next Bishop of Dunedin - but Steve Benford is no stranger to the city.
Archbishops Winston Halapua and Philip Richardson have announced the election of the Rev Dr Steven Benford as the next Bishop of Dunedin.
Bishop-elect Steven, who is 56, currently serves as vicar of St Joseph the Worker, Northolt, in the Diocese of London, where he is also a Bishops’ Advisor for Ministry, a new incumbents’ ministry mentor and spiritual director.
The archbishops today confirmed Steven Benford’s election, which has been ratified by General Synod, after he was nominated by the Diocese of Dunedin’s Electoral College held from May 26-27.
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.
“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.”
Archbishop Philip recently met with Bishop-elect Steven in London. The new bishop describes himself as a ‘people person’.
“Steven is a very warm and engaging priest with a heart for mission,” said Archbishop Philip.
“He will be sadly missed in Northolt, whose people speak highly of his leadership, hard work and creativity.”
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 Lorraine – who grew up in Gore – 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. Over those years, he kept his hand in hospital-based medicine, working one day a week at Dunedin Hospital. In the family’s last six months in New Zealand, Steven served in the emergency department at Tokoroa Hospital.
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.
(This is the Official Media Release, also at Taonga, where the suggested headline in the media release is followed, "Dunedin Elects New Bishop".)