The Revd Canon Sophie Jelley announced as the next Bishop of Doncaster


Canon Sophie Jelley in the College at Durham Cathedral

The next Bishop of Doncaster will be the Revd Canon Sophie Jelley Downing Street has announced today. The Revd Canon Jelley is currently the Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Durham, and Canon Missioner at Durham Cathedral, a role she has held for four years.

The role of the Bishop of Doncaster has been vacant since the retirement of the Rt Revd Peter Burrows in September 2019.  Sophie will be the seventh Bishop of Doncaster in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, said:

“I am truly delighted that Canon Sophie has accepted the invitation to be the next Bishop of Doncaster.  She is a devoted disciple of Jesus and a highly gifted priest, with an almost uncanny ‘fit’ to the role description we drew up.  She has a wealth of experience, as an incumbent, a residentiary cathedral canon and a member of a bishop’s senior staff team.  Her energy, creativity and passion will enrich our Diocese, and I am looking forward hugely to forging a collaboration with her.”

Also speaking about the appointment is the Revd Amanda Barraclough, Dean of Women’s Ministry, and member of the advisory panel that interviewed the candidates.  She said:

“I am thrilled to be welcoming the Revd Canon Sophie Jelley as the next Bishop of Doncaster. This appointment ensures the Diocese of Sheffield more fully reflects the rich spectrum of ministry as we are growing to experience it across the Church of England. Sophie brings with her many gifts which will enable the whole church to engage with the diverse communities which make up the Diocese, and in particular the archdeaconry of Doncaster.  I look forward with great joy to be ministering alongside Sophie.”

The Revd Canon Sophie Jelley trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall theological college where she gained an MPhil in Theology (Modern Christian Doctrine) from the University of Oxford. Sophie was ordained deacon in 1997 and priested in 1998, in the Diocese of Bradford, serving her title post at St Peter’s Church in Shipley. Sophie worked with Church Mission Society, serving at Uganda Christian University for three years before returning to the UK to become resident minister of St John the Evangelist, Churt in the Diocese of Guildford.  In 2010, Sophie became Vicar of St Andrews in Burgess Hill in the Diocese of Chichester. She was appointed Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in 2013 in addition to her role. In 2015 Sophie was appointed Diocesan Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry and Residentiary Canon Missioner at Durham Cathedral.

Sophie is married to Chris and they have three children together.  Sophie plays the violin and viola and is a soprano singer and has been a keen runner for many years.  Speaking about her appointment, Sophie said:

“I am delighted to have been invited to become the next Bishop of Doncaster in the Diocese of Sheffield. I so look forward to getting to know the people of South Yorkshire and East Riding and to working with Bishop Pete and his team. I have sensed a strong call from God to this role in this particular place at this time with all the challenges and opportunities it brings. I have loved my years in Durham and will greatly miss the people of the North East in both Diocese and Cathedral. The Northern province has become ‘home’ and it will be a great privilege to continue to minster here and serve God through his church and wider community.”

The role of the Bishop of Doncaster was created in 1972 and has been occupied almost continuously since that time.  The ministry of the Bishop has traditionally given honour to, and has focused the commitment of the Church on, the lives and communities of those who live in the Archdeaconry of Doncaster.  It is a Suffragan role, that in simple terms, means ‘assistant’ to the diocesan bishop.  While having a primary focus on Doncaster, Sophie will work across the Diocese with the Bishop of Sheffield.  She will also form a part of the wider bishop’s staff team, and will chair the Board of Education.

On hearing the news, many of Sophie’s friends and colleagues, both past and future, across the two provinces have been lining up to offer their congratulations.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “I am delighted that Her Majesty The Queen has accepted the nomination of the Reverend Canon Sophie Jelley, from the Diocese of Durham, to the Suffragan See of Doncaster in the Diocese of Sheffield. Sophie has a real heart for mission and communities, helping people to connect with the Good News of God in Jesus Christ.”

Fr Carl Schaeffer “The members of the Hickleton Chapter warmly welcome the new Bishop od Doncaster and look forward to working with her in the interests if mutual flourishing.  She can be assured of the prayers of the Chapter over the coming months”.  Bishop Glyn Webster has also warmly congratulated Sophie Jelley on her appointment, assuring Sophie of his prayers as she prepares to move to Sheffield and serve God’s people as a Bishop.  In his capacity as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Durham, Glyn already knows Sophie, and has experienced at first-hand her ministry, which she exercises energetically, warmly and lovingly.  Glyn is looking forward to continuing to serve with Sophie in the Diocese of Sheffield.

The Rt Revd Rod Thomas, Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone, and an assistant Bishop in Sheffield Diocese, commented:

“I would like to offer my warm congratulations to the Revd Canon Sophie Jelley on her appointment as the next Bishop of Doncaster. The aim of ‘mutual flourishing’ is something that is being pursued vigorously within the Diocese and so, as an Assistant Bishop in Sheffield, I very much look forward to working with Bishop-designate Sophie.”

The Bishop-Designate will spend her first day in the Diocese visiting Rossington All Saints Academy, where she will meet with young people studying at the Church of England school.  Following that, Sophie will visit the parish of Bentley, affected by the recent floods, before going on to lunch with civic, business and faith leaders at Doncaster Minster.  She will then visit Rotherham Minster and the diocese’s central administrative office Church House.  Sophie’s first day in the diocese well end with Evening Prayer at Sheffield Cathedral at 17.00.

The Bishop of the sending diocese, the Rt Revd Paul Butler has said:

“I am thrilled that Sophie has been announced as Bishop of Doncaster. She has been outstanding as our Diocesan Director of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry leading her team with vision, clarity, care and by example. She has also served wonderfully well in our Cathedral. Sophie loves God wholeheartedly, is prayerful, shares Jesus with others and is a great colleague. She is very well supported by her family whom she loves deeply.  We will miss her but believe she will be an excellent bishop.”

The Revd Canon Sophie Jelley will be consecrated at York Minster in the spring of 2020.  Following her consecration, she will look to start her new role fully by Easter.

Bishop Pete concludes:

“I would like to say how grateful I am to the advisory panel (to the Revd Amanda Barraclough, Dr Sue Gentle, Mrs Pam Liversidge and the Revd Canon Ian Smith) who joined me in mid-October to meet with the candidates we had invited for interview, and to the candidates who took the costly step of making themselves vulnerable in engaging in this discernment process with us.   Thank you, too, to those of you who took it upon yourself to be surrounding that process with your prayers — they were answered.  I believe the Lord has blessed us with an inspired and inspiring appointment.”