Steven Croft was born in Halifax in 1957. He read classics and theology at Worcester College, Oxford from 1976- 1980 and went on to study for the priesthood in Durham at Cranmer Hall, St John’s College. It was there that he was awarded his doctorate on the Psalms in 1984.
After being ordained in London in 1983 he served as Curate of St. Andrew’s, Enfield before returning to Yorkshire as Vicar of Ovenden in Halifax in 1987. Ovenden is a parish of large council estates where Steven’s father grew up and where his grandmother still lived. Under his leadership, the church established a large network of community groups and grew in size to over 400 people of all ages, largely through adults coming to faith.
Steven became Warden of his old theological college in 1996 and returned to Durham to lead the training of men and women for Anglican and Methodist ministry. He wrote widely about his experiences as a parish priest and began to express increasing concern about how urgent is the task for the Church to re-engage with huge swathes of the population which it had completely lost touch with the Christian faith.
Shortly after Rowan Williams was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, Steven was appointed as Archbishops’ Missioner and Leader of the Fresh Expressions team. He and Ann returned to live in Oxford with their family from 2004-2009. The family were part of St Andrew’s Oxford, their parish church and Steven also assisted regularly at St. Michael’s, Summertown.
For four years he oversaw the emergence of Fresh Expressions – an initiative of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in conjunction with the Methodist Church aimed at encouraging new ways of being church in the 21st century. Steven appointed and grew a team of twenty full and part time staff. Fresh expressions of church are now a significant and growing part of the life of every diocese in the Church of England and the principles and materials developed by the team have been applied in many other denominations and across the world.
In January 2009 Steven was consecrated Bishop of Sheffield and began public ministry in May of that year. His aim in the first two years was to get to know the Diocese, which included spending time with each deanery, visiting the clergy in their homes, as well as becoming familiar with the hospitals, prisons and schools of the Diocese.
At the heart of Bishop Steven’s ministry in Sheffield has been a desire to connect the Church across the Diocese more deeply together as one body with a common sense of mission and purpose and to enable the diocese to re-engage with mission in the wider community with confidence and hope. He has engaged and worked creatively with Anglicans of all traditions in a very diverse Diocese.
Together with the Bishop’s Council and the senior team, Bishop Steven has led the development of a strategy for evangelism and growth across the Diocese which is bearing significant fruit. The strategy is rooted in an annual ten days of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost and an annual cycle of sharing and teaching the faith in every parish. Steven has overseen the release of £1 million of historic reserves for a project that will have a positive impact on 4,000 young people’s lives, begun the development of St Peter’s College, a virtual hub for learning across the Diocese; developed a six year project to deploy Development Workers in mission partnerships in poor communities to release the energy of the clergy for mission; encouraged and nurtured church plants and fresh expressions of church and overseen the launch of the new Common Fund.
In his seven years in Sheffield, the central services of the Diocese have been transformed to serve the diocesan vision with the creation of a new Parish Support team and a significant and effective investment in communications. Over 80 per cent of parishes now have mission action plans. The diocese has a growing number of ordinands and candidates for lay ministry. The Cathedral has been completely re-ordered. In 2014 the Diocese of Sheffield celebrated its centenary with a series of conferences, celebrations and teaching events. In 2015, the Sheffield welcomed Her Majesty the Queen for the Royal Maundy, held its first Diocesan Conference for 12 years and hosted the first Northern Bishops Mission with 22 bishops from every Diocese in the northern province sharing faith in over 100 parishes.
Bishop Steven is one of two Bishops elected to the Archbishops Council and is Chair of the Ministry Council of the Church of England. In that capacity he oversees all selection and training for ministry in the Church of England. Over the last six years he has led the development of the Common Awards in theological education and is a key part of the national Renewal and Reform programme.
Bishop Steven was a member of the Sheffield Fairness Commission in 2012-13, chairs the Faith Leaders’ group in Sheffield and became a member of the House of Lords in October 2013. He is patron of a number of charities including St Luke’s Hospice, the Cathedral Archer Project, Assist and Hope for the Future, a local charity which campaigns on climate issues. In 2012 he represented the Archbishop of Canterbury at the worldwide Synod of Bishops on Evangelisation in Rome and speaks and teaches widely in the United Kingdom and overseas.
Steven is married to Ann who is originally from Bristol. Ann trained as a nurse at the John Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. Steven and Ann were married in St Ebbe’s, Oxford in 1978 and lived the first two years of their married life in Jericho. Ann retrained as a nursery nurse in mid life and over the last five years has led an innovative parent and toddler group which meets in the nave of Sheffield Cathedral Steven and Ann have four adult children: Paul, Andy (married to Beth), Amy (married to Simon) and Sarah. Their first grandchild, Josiah, was born in February 2015. Steven is a keen cook and bakes his own bread.
Bishop Steven is a co-author of Emmaus: the way of faith (1996-2003), a set of resources for Christian nurture widely used in the UK and across the world and one of four lead authors of the new Pilgrim resource to help adults explore faith. He is author of a number of books including Ministry in Three Dimensions (1999 and 2008). His first novel for children and adults, The Advent Calendar was published in 2006. In 2009, Jesus’ People: What the Church should do next challenged the reader to rethink both the role of Jesus in the Church and that of the Church in today’s society and culture. He writes regular Bible notes for Reflections for Daily Prayer and is currently working on a book of ten biblical reflections on leadership for people in every walk of life, to be published in September. In November, his blog won the Premier Digital Award for the most inspiring leadership blog of 2015.
Bishop Steven can be found on Facebook (Bishop Steven Croft) and Twitter (@Steven_Croft). His blog can be found at www.blogs.oxford.anglican.org.