For­mer Tok’ doc­tor is bishop of Dunedin

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Dr Steven Ben­ford has taken a long and ad­ven­tur­ous jour­ney from the emer­gency de­part­ment of Toko­roa Hospi­tal to be­ing the new Bishop of Dunedin.

The 56-year-old, cur­rently serves as vicar of St Joseph the Worker, Northolt, in the Dio­cese of Lon­don, where he is also a Bish­ops’ Ad­vi­sor for Min­istry, a new in­cum­bents’ min­istry men­tor and spir­i­tual direc­tor.

It is an ap­point­ment which sig­nals a re­turn to New Zealand for the qual­i­fied doc­tor who worked in Otago in the early 1990s. His wife Lor­raine was born in Dunedin.

Mak­ing the an­nounce­ment, Arch­bishop Philip Richard­son wel­comed Steven’s ap­point­ment.

‘‘I look for­ward to wel­com­ing Steven back to Aotearoa New Zealand.’’

Steven Ben­ford’s ca­reer has been shaped by a dual vo­ca­tion to min­istry and medicine.

For 29 years he served as a med­i­cal doc­tor.

Steven’s med­i­cal ca­reer ini­tially took him to Le­ices­ter, Leeds and Gi­bral­tar. Then in the early 1990s, he and Lor­raine – who grew up in Gore – brought their young fam­ily to live in south­ern New Zealand.

From 1991-95 Steven worked as a GP in Oa­maru, where he also es­tab­lished a free clinic. Over those years, he kept his hand in hospi­tal-based medicine, work­ing one day a week at Dunedin Hospi­tal.

In the fam­ily’s last six months in New Zealand, Steven served in the emer­gency de­part­ment at Toko­roa Hospi­tal.

De­spite his love of medicine, Steven felt God’s in­sis­tent call to the or­dained min­istry from a young age.

In 1996, he en­tered the min­istry dis­cern­ment process in the Dio­cese of York and was or­dained there in 2000. In his first four years as a priest he served as a cu­rate in a three­church rural clus­ter, while re­main­ing a full-time spe­cial­ist at Fri­arage Hospi­tal, Northaller­ton in York­shire.

In 2004, Dr Ben­ford re­duced his hospi­tal hours to half, to be­gin min­is­ter­ing as a half-time priest in the York city parish of St Luke.

As well as his 19 years in rural health at Northaller­ton, in 2003 he trav­elled to Bagh­dad to work with a med­i­cal NGO af­ter the al­lied in­va­sion of Iraq. Later, he joined med­i­cal teams in Haiti, following the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quakes in 2010 and 2014.

Steven be­lieves his faith gave him per­spec­tive in his work as a doc­tor.

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