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Dame Mary Elizabeth Tanner, DBE (née Fussell; born 23 July 1938) is a British academic specialising in the Old Testament. She was European President of the World Council of Churches (WCC) from 2006 to 2013 and has been a member of the WCC Faith and Order Commission since 1974, serving as its moderator from 1991 to 1998.[1]


Early lifeEdit

Tanner was born on 23 July 1938 to Harold Fussell and Marjorie Fussell (née Teucher). She was educated at Colston's Girls' School, then an all-girls independent school in Bristol.[1] She studied theology at the University of Birmingham and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) degree.[1][2]


From 1960 to 1967, Tanner was a lecturer in the Old Testament and Hebrew at the University of Hull. From 1972 to 1975, she was a lecturer in the Old Testament and Hebrew at the University of Bristol. From 1978 to 1982, she was a lecturer in the Old Testament at Westcott House, an Anglican theological college in Cambridge. In 1988 and in 1998, she was a visiting professor at the General Theological Seminary, an Episcopal theological college in New York City, United States. In 2000, she was a visiting professor at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Pontifical university in Rome, Italy.[1]

Tanner has been involved in various ecumenical conversations on behalf of the Church of England, including the Anglican-Roman Catholic conversations. From 1982 to 1998 she was active in the Church of England body which ultimately became the Council for Christian Unity.[3]


In the 2008 New Year Honours, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) "for services to the worldwide Anglican Communion".[4]

In January 2010, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree by the University of Hull.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Tanner, Dame Mary (Elizabeth)". Who's Who 2015. Oxford University Press. November 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Dame Mary Tanner – Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa". Biographies of the honorary graduands. University of Hull. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  3. ^ Mary Tanner profile,; accessed 17 March 2014.
  4. ^ "No. 58557". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2007. pp. 6–7.

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