First female Bishop of London appointed

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Image caption Sarah Mullally is a former NHS chief nurse

The Right Reverend Sarah Mullally has been named as the first female Bishop of London, becoming the most senior woman bishop appointed by the Church of England.

She takes over the role from Dr Richard Chartres, who retired in February.

Legislation to allow women bishops was formally adopted by the Church in 2014.

The Church consecrated its first female bishop in 2015 when the Rt Revd Libby Lane was made Bishop of Stockport.

The latest appointment means the former NHS chief nurse, who is currently the Bishop of Crediton in Devon, will hold the third most senior position in the Church of England.

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Image caption Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, hailed Bishop Sarah’s appointment as ‘wonderful news’

She became a priest in 2006, and has spent over 35 years in the NHS, including being chief nursing officer for England from 1999 to 2004.

Bishop Sarah, 55, – who was made a dame in 2005 for services to nursing – will be the third woman to run a diocese, and will take a seat in the House of Lords.

She said: “Having lived and worked in London for over 32 years, the thought of returning here is about returning home.

‘Wonderful privilege’

“I am often asked what it has been like to have had two careers, first in the NHS and now in the Church.

“I prefer to think that I have always had one vocation: to follow Jesus Christ, to know him and to make him known, always seeking to live with compassion in the service of others, whether as a nurse, a priest, or a bishop.

“To be given the opportunity to do that now in this vibrant world-city is a wonderful privilege.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, described the appointment as “wonderful news” in a tweet.

She will be installed as the 133rd Bishop of London at St Paul’s Cathedral in the New Year.

The Right Reverend Sarah Mullally

  • Bishop Sarah previously worked as a nurse in St Thomas’ and Royal Marsden Hospitals
  • In 1999 she was appointed the youngest chief nursing officer at the Department of Health
  • She was made a dame in recognition of her services to nursing and was made a fellow of London South Bank University in 2001
  • She was ordained in 2001 and left her Government post in 2004, taking up a full-time ministry in the London borough of Sutton
  • In 2012 she became Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral before becoming Bishop of Crediton in the diocese of Exeter in 2015
  • She married Eamonn Mullally in 1987. The couple have a daughter and a son
Image copyright PA
Image caption The position was previously held by the Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres

Acting Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, also welcomed the appointment.

“Bishop Sarah’s work in the public square uniquely equips her for the important outward focus that is required in leading the diocese in this great world-city,” he said.

“She also brings strong experience of parish and cathedral life, and sees her vocational experience as nurse, civil servant, priest and bishop as a totality.”

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