The next Bishop of Doncaster designate will be the Revd Canon Sophie Jelley Downing Street has announced today. Sophie 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.
The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham 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 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, the Revd Amanda Barraclough, Dean of Women’s Ministry 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, Church 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, she 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 minister here and serve God through his church and the 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 of Sheffield 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.
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.”
The Rt Revd Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Durham 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, Bishop 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 Very Revd Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham said: “The whole community at Durham Cathedral is delighted to hear the fantastic news of Canon Sophie Jelley’s appointment as Bishop of Doncaster.
“As Canon Missioner at Durham Cathedral since 2014, Sophie has been an outstanding colleague on Chapter and has led our missional engagement on those festival occasions, such as the Lumiere light festival, when thousands of people flock into the Cathedral.
“Her support for diocesan evangelistic initiatives, like the Talking Jesus mission, made a huge impact on how the Cathedral and Diocese have worked as partners in mission.
“Sophie has been a blessing to the communities of Durham and we pray God’s richest blessing on her new ministry in the Diocese of Sheffield.”
Revd Canon Jelley will be consecrated as Bishop on the 25th March 2020 at York Minster. Following her consecration, she will look to start her new role fully by Easter.
After growing up in Brighton, Sophie read a degree in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds where she met her husband Chris and graduated in 1993. They married in 1994 when Sophie began training for ordination at Wycliffe Hall theological college in Oxford 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. Sophie served her title post at St Peter’s Church in Shipley until 2000 when she and Chris became mission partners with Church Mission Society, serving at Uganda Christian University after the birth of their first child. Returning to the UK in 2003 and after the birth of their second child, Sophie became resident minister of St John the Evangelist, Church in the Diocese of Guildford where their daughter was born in 2006. 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 plays the violin and viola and is a soprano singer. She has been a keen runner for many years and is training for the London marathon in support of Mencap in April 2020. In her spare time, Sophie enjoys films, novels, and a nice glass of white with friends!