The Bishop of Peterborough

The Bishop of Peterborough

What does the Bishop of Peterborough do?

The Bishop of Peterborough leads the diocese in its work to bring all people to know Jesus. He is also a focus for unity in the diocese. As bishop he ordains new clergy each year and is responsible for appointing clergy to the diocese and caring for and supporting those who serve here. He takes services throughout the diocese, including confirmations. The bishop is assisted by his senior staff, called the Bishop’s Management Group (BMG), which includes the suffragan bishop, the dean, the diocesan secretary, the two archdeacons, his chaplain, his PA, and the adviser for women’s ministry. Along with 25 other bishops he is a member of the House of Lords. As a diocesan bishop he also holds national responsibilities.

Who is the Bishop of Peterborough?

The Rt Revd Donald Allister was installed as the 38th Bishop of Peterborough on 17th April 2010.

Bishop Donald was born in 1952 and spent much of his childhood on the Wirral, where he attended Birkenhead School. He was a choirboy and an altar server. He studied Theology at Cambridge, trained for ordination at Trinity College Bristol, and was deaconed and priested – all during the 1970s.

He served two very different curacies (as was normal then): at St George’s, Hyde (1976–79) and at St Nicholas, Sevenoaks (1979–1983). During his second curacy he was also part-time consultant editor of the Church of England Newspaper. These were followed by two very different incumbencies: as Vicar of Christ Church Birkenhead from 1983–89 (which involved part-time hospital chaplaincy) and Rector of St Mary’s Cheadle from 1989–2002. He was Rural Dean of Cheadle from 1999–2002 and served as Archdeacon of Chester from 2002–2010, after which he came to Peterborough as Bishop.

He has claimed, in all six of his church posts, to have the best job in the world. He loves ordained ministry, and encouraging others into it and in it. 

Bishop Donald has wide experience of the Church of England, and has served in its national and Diocesan structures as well as in parishes. In the Diocese of Chester he was the Bishop’s Adviser on Healthcare Chaplaincy, Chair of Chester’s Houses and Glebe Committee, Vice/Acting Chair of the Board of Education, and Acting Chair of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). He has been a member of General Synod since 2005, and has served on the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group and the Archbishop’s Council Finance Committee. He has been a member of the Council for Christian Unity from 2006–2018, including as Chair from 2013–2018. At the same time he was also one of the six bishops who sat alongside academic theologians on the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission. 

In November 2011, Bishop Donald was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Theology by the University of Chester, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Christian education.

Also in November 2011, Bishop Donald was commissioned as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Ely. This means that despite the Diocesan boundary running through the city, he now speaks for the Church of England on all Peterborough matters.

At the start of 2014, Bishop Donald was admitted to the House of Lords, where he speaks for the Church of England on matters to do with farming and rural affairs, prisons and criminal justice, mental health, and North and South Korea.

He was a member of the National Safeguarding Steering Group from 2017 to 2020.

Fortunate to have been born in Liverpool (though with Scottish roots), Bishop Donald has supported Liverpool FC for as long as he can remember. He has catholic tastes in music – encompassing Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, The Beatles, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. He is also a keen reader of science fiction, and enjoys hill walking in the Lake District and Scotland. Bishop Donald is married to Janice, a GP. They have three grown-up children – one of whom is a vicar in Nottingham – and three grandchildren.

Bishop Donald's contact details can be found here.