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Our Bishops

Bishops are leaders in mission, in teaching and in building the unity of the church.

The Archbishop of York and the Bishops of Selby, Hull and Whitby

In addition to holding the leading role in the Province of York (the twelve northernmost dioceses in the Church of England), the Archbishop of York as Diocesan Bishop is the most senior bishop in the Diocese of York itself.

The Archbishop’s ministry within the Diocese of York is supported and extended by the Suffragan Bishops of Selby, Hull and Whitby.

Each Suffragan Bishop ministers primarily within one of the three Archdeaconries; the Bishop of Selby in the Archdeaconry of York, the Bishop of Hull in the Archdeaconry of the East Riding and the Bishop of Whitby in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland.

The Bishop of Beverley is a fourth Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of York, but as Provincial Episcopal Visitor (PEV) in the Province of York, ministers across the Province to those parishes who for reasons of conscience are unable to receive the ministry of their own diocesan bishop.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell

Archbishop of York

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Born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in 1958, Stephen Cottrell was educated at Belfairs High School, Leigh-on-Sea, and the Polytechnic of Central London. He found faith as a teenager through the work of youth organisations in his local church.  After a brief spell working in the film industry, and at St Christopher’s Hospice in South London, he began training for ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, in 1981 and was ordained deacon at the age of 25. He later studied for an MA with St Mellitus College.

Serving his curacy in Christ Church and St Paul’s, Forest Hill, south London, in the mid-1980s he was priest-in-charge at St Wilfrid’s, in Parklands, a council estate parish in Chichester from 1988 to 1993. He also served as Assistant Director of Pastoral Studies at Chichester Theological College at the same time.

He then moved to West Yorkshire, as Diocesan Missioner and Bishop’s Chaplain for Evangelism in the Diocese of Wakefield and in 1998 he also became a member of Springboard, the Archbishop of York and Canterbury’s team for evangelism. Throughout this time he adopted Huddersfield Town as his team alongside his beloved Spurs.

In 2001, he was called south to become Canon Pastor of Peterborough Cathedral and three years later was consecrated as Bishop of Reading. He became Bishop of Chelmsford in 2010 and served there until 2020 when he became the 98th Archbishop of York. 

Author of more than 20 books including children’s books, Stephen enjoys poetry, music and art.  He has undertaken several walking pilgrimages, including twice walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, as well as pilgrim routes in England. You can read about this in his book, Striking Out, poems and stories from the Camino. In 2002 he walked from Durham to York with young people from his church youth group.

A founding member of the Church of England’s College of Evangelists, he has also chaired a group of bishops with an interest in the media and is one of the authors of the Church of England’s Pilgrim course, a major teaching and discipleship resource. He is President of the College of Preachers.  

Stephen is married to Rebecca who is a potter and they have three sons, two grandchildren and a dog.

The Rt Revd Paul Ferguson

Bishop of Whitby

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Paul Ferguson was born and brought up in Birkenhead on Merseyside – a town which, he says, is as near to the north-west’s equivalent of Middlesbrough as can be.

As a youngster he began to play the piano and the organ, which led to him going to New College, Oxford as Organ Scholar where he studied music.

He trained as a teacher and briefly returned to his old school as a staff member. But alongside his organ playing and teaching he had the opportunity to see closely the daily work and ministry of a parish priest, and so it was that he went to Westcott House, Cambridge as an ordinand, taking a theology degree at King’s College.

Paul was ordained to a title post at St Mary’s, Handbridge, Chester. He went on to Westminster Abbey, where he was first Chaplain (where his duties involved the pastoral care of staff and worshippers) and then Precentor (with responsibility for the Abbey’s daily and special services). In 1995 he came to York Minster as Precentor and Residentiary Canon, and in 2001 was appointed Archdeacon of Cleveland on the retirement of Christopher Hawthorn. He was consecrated as Bishop of Whitby in June 2014.

He is a member of the Church of England’s Porvoo Panel which oversees links with the Scandinavian and Baltic Lutheran churches. He is author of Great is the Mystery of Faith: exploring faith through the words of worship (Canterbury Press). Paul is Chair of the Diocese of York Educational Trust (DYET).

Paul was married to Penny, who died in January 2022. He has three grown-up children and five grandchildren. His interests include music, walking, and Scandinavian language and culture.

The Rt Revd Dr John Thomson

Bishop of Selby

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John Thomson studied at York University and then trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his curacy at Ecclesall, in the Diocese of Sheffield from 1985 to 1989.

From 1989 to 1992 he went to South Africa to be a Tutor at Saint Paul’s College, Grahamstown and from 1990 to 1992 was also an Assistant Priest at St Bartholomew, Grahamstown and from 1991-1992 an Assistant Lecturer at Rhodes University. From 1993 to 2001 he was Vicar of St Mary Doncaster, in the Diocese of Sheffield and did his PhD at Nottingham University. In 2001 he was appointed as Director of Ministry in the Diocese of Sheffield and an Honorary Canon of Sheffield Cathedral.

John was consecrated as Bishop of Selby in July 2014, and as part of his ministry, is the Diocese’s ambassador for Rural Life and Faith .

John was brought up in Uganda, is married to Susan and they have two adult children. His interests include cycling, choral singing, cooking and gardening. His published work explores the calling of the Church today in conversation with the Theological Ethicist, Stanley Hauerwas.

The Rt Revd Dr Eleanor Sanderson

Bishop of Hull

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The Rt Revd Dr Eleanor Sanderson (née Grourk) was Assistant Bishop of Wellington in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, from June 2017 until 2022. Eleanor was the first female bishop in the Diocese of Wellington and the fourth in New Zealand. She was born in Hinderwell, near Whitby in North Yorkshire in 1977, and spent her childhood at the family’s home of over four centuries in Tideswell, Derbyshire; the first Bishop of Hull, Robert Pursglove, was a native of Tideswell and is commemorated in the Parish Church.

Her husband Tim is from Wellington and works as a mechanic; this is his first time living away from Aotearoa New Zealand. Their sons are Joseph (Joe) and Zachary (Zach).

Eleanor came to faith whilst a student at Bristol University, where she studied geography. This discipline, along with International Development and the intersection of spirituality and faith, have been close to her heart since that time: leading into a Master of Development Studies (2003) and PhD in Geography (2006), both at Victoria University of Wellington, and a further Masters in Theology (2013) through the University of Otago. She is currently Fellow in Public Theology within the Centre for Anglican Communion Studies at the Virginia Theological Seminary, and remains a Research Associate at Victoria University of Wellington.

Eleanor was ordained in 2005 in the Diocese of Wellington and served in a wide range of roles within academic and not-for-profit development organisations. Prior to commencing her role as Assistant Bishop, she was Vicar of the Parish of St Alban’s, Eastbourne and Chaplain to Wellesley College, and the Diocesan Canon Theologian.

Within Wellington Diocese, she led intentional discipleship programmes to resource Christians to go deeper in their relationship with God and equip them to build up mission and discipleship with others.

Recently the family participated in building intentional Christian communities for young adults. They lived near the University of Wellington and took part in building a residential community with students which grew to five houses, each with house leaders, daily prayers, weekly discipleship night and weekly patterns of mission together.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia consists of three tikanga or cultural streams: Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia.

The Rt Revd Stephen Race

Bishop of Beverley

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Stephen was born in Zimbabwe during the struggle for Independence and was raised in the Anglican Provinces of Central and Southern Africa. His commitment to social justice took root while he was still at primary school in South Africa during the anti-Apartheid struggle, but it was during his O Level year as a sixteen year old in Botswana that he first felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit that ultimately led to his ordination.

Graduating from Durham University he qualified as a teacher and following time working in both Kenya and Somerset he went to St Stephen’s House, Oxford in 2000 to begin his formational training.  Ordained both deacon and priest in Carlisle Diocese, Stephen has spent his entire ordained ministry in the north of England as a Parish Priest, Area Dean and Diocesan Director of Ordinands. 

He has continued as a Bishops’ Adviser in the national discernment process and also keeps himself involved with education as a trustee of a Multi-Academy Trust. He is also a trustee of a charity that helps people with a variety of disabilities access welfare and social support.

Stephen met and married Jane while they were at university. Jane is a full time primary school teacher and they have four adult children.