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New Assistant Bishop Appointed: And She Gets Straight Down To Work On Maundy Thursday

Published on: 24 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 29 Mar, 2016

The Diocese of Guildford has today (March 24) announced a new bishop to its fold.

And although she does not take up her role officially until August, she has immediately got to work this Maundy Thursday, washing the feet of staff and pupils at a Surrey school, just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on this day 2,000 years ago.

The Rev'd Cannon Dr Jo Bailey Wells has been appointed the new Bishop of Dorking.

The Rev’d Canon Dr Jo Bailey Wells has been appointed the new Bishop of Dorking.

She is the Revd Canon Dr Jo Bailey Wells, aged 50, who will be the new Bishop of Dorking – a ‘suffragan’ or assistant bishop for the whole Diocese of Guildford.

Her role is to assist the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, in leading the diocese. She will have a particular focus on education and also the recruitment of clergy, amid provision from the Church of England for a 50% increase in new trainee-vicars by 2020.

Bishop Andrew said: “I’m delighted that Jo has accepted the invitation to become the new Bishop of Dorking and I’m really looking forward to working together as we seek to release the full potential of this remarkable diocese.

“Jo’s abilities, both academic and pastoral, were discerned at an early age, and the depth of her faith, the richness of her experience, and her global outlook will be huge assets to us all.

“I am excited about the energy and passion Jo will bring to the role, and am sure that the people of our diocese will afford her and Sam [her husband] the same warmth of welcome that my wife and I received just over a year ago. We can’t wait to have her on board.”

The appointment was first annonced by Downing Street and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “During the three years Jo has been at Lambeth Palace her outstanding gifts as a pastor, scholar and strategist have been a huge blessing to me and to the wider Church. While serving as my chaplain with tireless dedication and immense skill, she has, in the grace of God, taken forward my first ministry priority of the renewal of prayer and the religious life.”

She was ordained in 1995 in the first wave of female priests. Between 1995 and 2001 she served as chaplain and then dean of Clare College, Cambridge. Roles followed as pastoral tutor at Ridley Hall Cambridge, director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies and Associate Professor of Bible and Ministry at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina and, most recently, chaplain to Archbishop Justin Welby, where responsibilities have included the founding of the Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace. She is also Canon Theologian at Liverpool Cathedral.

Jo is married to Sam, who is vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, central London, and they have two children, Laurence, 13, and Stephanie, 12.

Her interests include art, renovation and textiles. In her own journey of faith she owes much to sojourns in Uganda and South Sudan, most recently supporting the work of theological education across the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

She said: “I am both honoured and humbled at the prospect of living and serving in the Diocese of Guildford as the next Bishop of Dorking. I am excited to get to know the area and its people: to discover what God is up to and to share God’s abundant blessings within and beyond the church.

“I’ve always found immense joy in nurturing disciples and teaching the faith. I shall look forward to opportunities for this around the diocese – particularly with young people through its many thriving schools and colleges – that each may discover the fulfilment and joy which Jesus offers to everyone. At the same time I expect to learn a lot – as well as laugh a lot – through this new opportunity for serving together.”

Her school visit today was to St John’s CofE Primary School in Dorking. Later today she will attend a service at Guildford Cathedral, where a congregation of  clergy in the diocese will gather as part of their observation of Holy Week.

She is expected to be consecrated Bishop of Dorking by Archbishop Justin Welby on Wednesday, June 29, in Canterbury Cathedral.

The previous Bishop of Dorking was the Rt Revd Ian Brackley who retired last September after 19 years in the role.

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Responses to New Assistant Bishop Appointed: And She Gets Straight Down To Work On Maundy Thursday

  1. Pete Brayne Reply

    March 24, 2016 at 4:47 pm


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