Donald Allister

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The Right Reverend                   
Donald Allister
Bishop of Peterborough
Diocese Diocese of Peterborough
Installed 17 April 2010
Predecessor Ian Cundy
Other posts Archdeacon of Chester (2002–2010)
Ordination 1976
Consecration 25 March 2010
Personal details
Born (1952-08-27) 27 August 1952 (age 69)
Liverpool, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Denomination Anglican
Residence Bishop's Lodging, The Palace, Peterborough
Spouse Janice
Children 1 son, 2 daughters
Alma mater Peterhouse, Cambridge

Donald Spargo Allister (born 27 August 1952[1]) is a Church of England bishop. He was the Archdeacon of Chester from 2002[2] to 2010 and on 5 November 2009 was nominated as the next Bishop of Peterborough. He was installed on 17 April 2010.

Allister served in parish positions in Hyde, Greater Manchester; Sevenoaks, Kent; Birkenhead, Merseyside and Cheadle, Greater Manchester. While at Sevenoaks he also served as a consultant editor of the Church of England Newspaper and in Birkenhead he was also a part-time hospital chaplain. He has been a member of the General Synod of the Church of England since 2005 and was on the committee which drafted proposed legislation regarding the consecration of women as bishops. He is also a member of the Council for Christian Unity.

In 2001 Allister attracted media attention after it was reported that he had refused to allow a couple to have the hymns "Jerusalem" and "I Vow to Thee, My Country" at their wedding. He has also spoken out about baptising the children of unmarried couples and also on sex outside of marriage more generally.

Early life

Allister was born in Liverpool, Lancashire (before Merseyside was created) in 1952,[3] the son of a manager in the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and a nursing sister.[4] The family soon moved across the Mersey to Birkenhead on the Wirral peninsula.[4] Later they moved to Bromley, Kent, before returning to the Wirral when they settled in Heswall, before finally returning to Birkenhead[4] where he attended Birkenhead School.[3] In his childhood he was a choirboy at several churches and also an altar server for his uncle from whom comes his middle name of Spargo.[5]

Allister then went up to Peterhouse, Cambridge to study medicine, later changing to theology. After graduation, he undertook further theological studies at Trinity College, Bristol.


After ordination Allister served as a curate at St George's Church, Hyde from 1976 to 1979 and at St Nicholas' Church, Sevenoaks from 1979 to 1983. During this period he was also a consultant editor of the Church of England Newspaper. He was then appointed vicar of Christ Church, Birkenhead in 1983, also working as a part-time hospital chaplain.[5]

In 1989 Allister became rector of St Mary's Church, Cheadle,[5] and took on the additional position of rural dean of the Cheadle deanery in 1999.[6] In 2001 he received media coverage when it was reported that he had refused to allow a couple to have the hymns "Jerusalem" and "I Vow to Thee, My Country" sung at their wedding.[7] He later said:

I never banned the hymn. But most people who come to be married ask for it so I do encourage them to choose something else. In this case the bride-to-be phoned the church while I was on holiday and spoke to the organist who mistakenly said the hymn was not permitted. It was blown out of all proportion.[8]

He had previously also refused to baptise the children of unmarried parents and condemned sex outside marriage.[7]

In 2002 Allister was appointed as the Archdeacon of Chester.[5][9] In this position he has also chaired the diocesan committees on education, houses and glebe. He also acted as the bishop's adviser on healthcare chaplaincy. He became a member of General Synod in 2005 and was appointed to the commission drafting legislation relating to the possible consecration of women as bishops in 2006, serving until it delivered its proposals in 2008.[5][10]

On 5 November 2009 it was announced from 10 Downing Street that Allister had been nominated as the next Bishop of Peterborough.[11] The see had become vacant with the death of Ian Cundy in May 2009.[5] The announcement was followed by a press conference in Peterborough.[12] The Congé d'Elire officially authorising his election as bishop was issued by Queen Elizabeth on 1 December 2009.[13] He was consecrated as a bishop in St Paul's Cathedral on 25 March 2010[14] and was enthroned as Bishop of Peterborough in Peterborough Cathedral on 17 April 2010.[5]

On 4 November 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in theology by the University of Chester "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Christian education".[15]

Personal life

Allister is married to Janice, a general practitioner. They have one son and two daughters. Their son, John, is also ordained and is now a vicar in Nottingham. Their elder daughter is a veterinarian in Edinburgh.[5]



  1. Who's Who 2010 – Peterborough, Bishop of
  2. Ellesmere Port Pioneer
  3. 3.0 3.1 Donald Allister at Burke's Peerage
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Dunn, Justin (5 November 2009). "Birkenhead-bred Archdeacon of Chester appointed new Bishop of Peterborough". The Wirral Globe. Retrieved 6 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 "The Ven. Donald Allister". Diocese of Peterborough. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  6. "Church news" (Features). The Times (London). 30 July 1999. p. 26.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Brockes, Emma (10 August 2001). "Vicar with attitude—He condemns sex before marriage and the baptism of children born out of wedlock. But there's more - this week he refused to let a couple play Jerusalem at their wedding. The Reverend Donald Allister tells Emma Brockes why, yet again, he is right". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Dye, Stuart (27 September 2002). "Diocese's new man puts record straight ; Archdeacon denies he ever banned Jerusalem". Liverpool Daily Post. p. 7. Archived from the original on 27 September 2002. Unknown parameter |subscription= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Church news; The Register" (Features). The Times (London). 27 August 2002. p. 28.
  10. Gledhill, Ruth (28 August 2008). "Report sets out roadmap for women bishops". The Times. Retrieved 6 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Diocese of Peterborough". Website of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Meet the next Bishop of Peterborough". Diocese of Peterborough. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  13. The London Gazette: no. 59262. p. 21165. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  14. "Monthly news - March 2010". Diocese of Peterborough. Retrieved 5 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "The Right Rev. Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, is receiving a Doctor of Theology". University of Chester. Retrieved 14 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Church of England titles
Preceded by
Ian Cundy
Bishop of Peterborough