Former Tok’ doctor is bishop of Dunedin
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.