Bishop Eleanor to lead new residential community near university

The first details of Bishop Eleanor’s episcopal ministry are taking shape, and are expected to draw on her strengths in theology and academic research, as well as her strong relationships with Victoria University of Wellington.

Bishop Eleanor talks of her discernment process with Bishop Justin: “The style of leadership needed in this season is embodied Kingdom examples of deep, Christ-shaped community and deep, missional discipleship alongside the usual episcopal calling within the office of a Bishop.”

Such embodiment couldn’t be plainer, as Bishop Eleanor prepares to share a new residence in the university suburb of Kelburn with a community of young adult leaders, and later, tertiary students.  This new ministry prepares a space for young students to step into deeper Christian community for the first time.  Ellie explains: “the intention is to launch a new residential and non-residential community that has a sister relationship with the Community of St Anselm, formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.”  This community has brought a profound influence to the ministry of Lambeth Palace already, and when Ellie travels to the UK this Christmas, she will be spending time with the community at Lambeth Palace to build relationships.

Bishop Justin says “I am so thankful for the Sanderson family for taking on the adventure of this next season.  Together we want to be wholehearted followers of Jesus, seeking fresh partnerships for the Gospel.”  Ellie adds that she is so thankful for the growing number of people in the diocese who want to be a part of this ministry, which is shaping up to be a truly team effort.

Such a community will operate at the crossroads of the capital city, government, academia and the future leadership of our country and our church, Ellie says.  “Justin and I both recognise the significant leadership gap in the future of the church,” Ellie describes, explaining that the church’s current leaders are from a generation that is largely missing in the demographics of the church.  “We are both committed to ensuring that our own episcopal ministry is spent deeply investing in the next generation of leaders, forming them in deep mission and discipleship and the capacity that they themselves will then be able to multiply and invest in growing leadership and Christ-shaped community beyond themselves.”

Both Ellie’s move to Kelburn to establish this community and Bishop Justin’s move to Whanganui to add energy and focus to the north of the diocese represent the next phase of their episcopal leadership together.  They look forward to sharing more details in an early New Year edition of Bishops’ News.  Until then, please continue to cover Ellie and her family in prayer as they adjust to their new season, also Justin and his family as they prepare to return to New Zealand and make their own move north.

Bishopscourt, the official episcopal residence situated next to the Anglican Centre, will remain diocesan property and will remain the hub for an amazing ministry providing emergency accommodation and wrap-around support to at risk youth, run by Amber Leonard and Robbie Schoss.  Amber was herself a foster child of Bishop Justin and Jenny Duckworth in the past, and their ministry continues to grow from strength to strength as they develop strong relationships with social and government agencies in the youth development sector.

Addendum, 20th December 2017: In gathering files from the Anglican Chaplaincy recently, Bishop Ellie discovered that the reason for AngChap being the only Anglican chaplaincy in the country (as opposed to ecumenical) is that Kelburn Parade, the street where the university is based, was the site of the original Assistant Bishop’s residence.  The chaplaincy was established on that site by a decision of Synod in the late 1950s, and Peter Stuart was installed as the first chaplain by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey – hence the chaplaincy building now bearing the name Ramsey House.  It appears that the threads being drawn together now go down deep into this diocese’s heritage!