Bishop Victoria Matthews has announced her resignation.
She will step down on May 1 this year after almost 10 years as the Bishop of Christchurch.
Bishop Matthews describes her time leading Christchurch as “an extraordinary privilege”, and she thanks her people for their faithful service.
"This beautiful Diocese has been through many challenges brought about by earthquakes, wind, fire and floods," she said in a special edition of Christchurch's 'E-life' newsletter.
"But through it all, people have been their best selves by helping others, working together and finding new ways of doing things.”
In a message broadcast to her diocese Bishop Victoria says she is stepping down simply because she believes her Lord told her to do so.
"I have discerned in my prayers that I am called by God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, to lay down this particular position of leadership."
"I’m not retiring and I’m not in ill health, I am merely following where my Saviour is leading me, wherever that may be.”
She also says that she is "happy the Cathedral reinstatement is going ahead. I am particularly pleased we opted to put restoration of our relationship with the wider community in first place.”
"Her personal courage and resilience..."
Archbishop Philip Richardson relayed the news of Bishop Victoria's resignation to her colleagues in the House of Bishops earlier this afternoon.
"I know you will join with me," he told them, "in giving thanks to God for Bishop Victoria’s faithfulness to Christ and her personal courage and resilience through a time of unprecedented challenge in the life of the Diocese of Christchurch and of our Church as a whole.
"I know also that you will pray for her as she seeks to discern God’s calling on her life and ministry."
Meanwhile, the Diocesan Chancellor Jeremy Johnson – its chief legal adviser – says that, in many respects, it will be 'ministry as usual' when Bishop Victoria steps down.
'Everyone would accept," he says, "that after an extraordinary 10 years as bishop, that Bishop Victoria is entitled to move on.
"Bishops never last forever, the diocese goes through this periodically, and the church has systems in place to ensure that the ministry carries on."
"Ministry as usual"...
Two things will now happen, he says.
"The first is that after the bishop's departure, the Archbishop of New Zealand (Archbishop Philip) becomes, in effect, a kind of acting bishop with some help from people in the diocese.
"And then an electoral process is gone through for the election of a new bishop. That's all spelled out in our canons."
A new bishop is chosen by an electoral college – a meeting of laity and clergy from across the diocese – who gather to pray, discuss, and ultimately vote for a new bishop.
They make a nomination – and that nomination then goes to the House of Bishops and then General Synod for sanctioning.
When might that happen?
"Based on past experience," says Mr Johnson, "it normally takes about nine to 12 months from the announcement of the resignation of a bishop to the installation of a new one.
"But with Archbishop Philip there, and with help from the diocese, it will be: ministry as usual while we go through the process."