Church appoints second woman bishop

The new Bishop of Hull Reverend Canon Alison White and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, with her husband Bishop Frank White, at Bishopthorpe Palace, near York.
The new Bishop of Hull Reverend Canon Alison White and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, with her husband Bishop Frank White, at Bishopthorpe Palace, near York.
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Hull’s new Bishop will be the second woman to be appointed by the Church of England.

The Reverend Canon Alison White, who is currently priest-in-charge of Riding Mill in the Diocese of Newcastle, will be taking up the role, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu announced today.

The Rev Canon White said: “In 2010, I was privileged to be invited to take part in the York Diocesan Clergy Conference where I got a profound sense of a Diocese with faith and hope.

“I know that there is a real vision to be generous churches making and nurturing disciples and can’t wait to be part of loving God and growing the Church in this great part of Yorkshire.”

The Rev Canon White, who became a priest in 1994, will be consecrated on July 3 at York Minster.

She succeeds the Right Rev Richard Frith, who became Bishop of Hereford in November 2014. She is married to Bishop Frank White, Assistant Bishop of Newcastle.

The Church’s General Synod formally approved plans late last year to ordain women bishops after years of division and in the face of stiff opposition.

The Church of England’s first woman bishop was The Rev Libby Lane, who consecrated as the eighth Bishop of Stockport at York Minster in January.

The Archbishop said: “This is a joyous day! I am delighted to be welcoming Alison as the next Bishop of Hull.

“Whilst she will be working with others across the Diocese of York encouraging faith in urban life, she will have particular responsibilities for the vibrant city of Hull and the glorious coastline and countryside of the East Riding.

“Alison is a person of real godliness and wisdom - it is fantastic that she has accepted God’s call to make Christ visible together with all of us in this Diocese of York.”

The Rt Rev Martin Wharton, the recently retired Bishop of Newcastle, said: “I am thrilled that Alison’s priestly and personal gifts have been recognised by the wider church and believe she will be an outstanding bishop who will quickly endear herself to the people of Hull and the East Riding. As the second woman to be appointed Bishop in the Church of England, we rejoice with her and pray for her.”

Speaking after a short service at Bishopthorpe Palace, outside York, the new bishop said she knew Bishop Lane and was hoping to take some time to swap notes with her.

But she said she hoped her appointment was the next step to making woman bishops an everyday part of Church life.

She said: “I’m hugely grateful to Libby. I don’t think I would have wanted to be the first woman to be called into this ministry.

“Libby has taken that on with such grace and joy.”

Rev Canon White said: “She’s doing a fantastic job and it’s always nicer to have somebody alongside you, isn’t it? So I think we’ll take the first opportunity we can to meet up and close the doors and swap notes.”

She added: “Won’t that be wonderful when, in the best sense, it isn’t newsworthy because we’re women, it’s newsworthy because of what we’re called into. It’s step by step in making it business as usual.”

Rev Canon White said she was “absolutely excited” about her new role.

“I feel I amazed. What a surprise. I didn’t see this one coming at all.”

She also said she was “really excited” about learning about Hull, adding that, with the city gearing up to be the UK City of Culture in 2017, it was the “perfect time”.

She said Hull is “a place that’s got a big story and a lot of challenges and, I think, immense potential”.

Rev Canon White laughed when asked if her bishop husband had given her some good advice.

She said; “I think he hasn’t so much given me advice so much as, as ever, his endless kindness and support. And knowing that, here we are, we’re in it together.”