A new post of Bishop for Episcopal Ministry in the Anglican Communion has been created to build on the success of this year’s Lambeth Conference. The Right Revd Dr Jo Bailey Wells, currently Bishop of Dorking in the Church of England’s Diocese of Guildford, has been appointed to the post and will begin her new role in January 2023.
The Lambeth Conference is a once-a-decade gathering to which all bishops in the Anglican Communion are invited. Around 650 bishops from around the world took part in this year’s event.
At the Lambeth Conference, bishops took part in worship, prayer and Bible studies, and discussions on a range of issues facing the church and the world, including mission and evangelism, discipleship, climate change and the environment, science and faith, safeguarding, and human dignity.
Lambeth Conference participants and organisers say that relationships across the Anglican Communion have been rejuvenated as a result of the gathering. One unplanned outcome of the Lambeth Conference is a boost to the Anglican Communion’s Companion Link programme – partnerships between individual dioceses with other dioceses in different parts of the world. More than 200 bishops at the conference expressed the desire to create new formal Companion Links as part of their commitment to “Walk Together”.
The new post, Bishop for Episcopal Ministry in the Anglican Communion, was agreed by the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee when it met in London last week. The post is designed to “foster a collaborative, engaged, enriched fellowship among the bishops of the Anglican Communion, inspiring ever greater companionship, learning and interchange between provinces,” the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Right Revd Anthony Poggo, said.
“This will build on the outcomes of Lambeth ’22, taking forward the Lambeth Conference Calls as well as the renewed relationships between bishops across varying provinces,” he added. “It will also help to equip bishops for ministry, supporting them not only in their particular contexts but also for engaging in the wider Communion.
“I am delighted that Bishop Jo will be joining us at the Anglican Communion Office, as we take forward the outcomes of the 2022 Lambeth Conference.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “This year’s Lambeth Conference has been remarkable in renewing friendships, relationships and connections across the Anglican Communion. The appointment of Bishop Jo Bailey Wells to this new post of Bishop for Episcopal Ministry in the Anglican Communion will take advantage of the renewed determination of bishops to unite in living out our call – in our many cultures – to be God’s Church for God’s World.
Bishop Jo Bailey Wells said: “Having first encountered the diversity and dynamism of the Anglican Communion as my vocation emerged in the Church of Uganda in the 1980s, I am awed by the sense of God’s invitation to this newly created role.
“I am full of joy to be working with Secretary General Bishop Anthony, having first met one another in South Sudan many years ago. I greatly look forward to journeying with bishop colleagues across the Communion as we work out how we witness together through the Calls, enhancing the friendships and fellowship forged at the recent Lambeth Conference.”
Bishop Jo Bailey Wells will leave her current post as Bishop of Dorking in the Diocese of Guildford to take up this new role. The Bishop of Guildford, the Right Revd Andrew Watson, said: “Bishop Jo has been an outstanding Bishop of Dorking, bringing a freshness and energy to the role, not least from her extensive experience of the worldwide Church. This has really put our own issues in perspective, and helped us not to take ourselves too seriously (a favourite theme).
“Her teaching and preaching gifts have brought real joy to the diocese, as have her wisdom and discernment and her passion for our church schools. She's been a delightful colleague, and will be very much missed as she takes on this exciting new role. The Anglican Communion is blessed indeed!”
This year’s Lambeth Conference, delayed from its original 2020 setting because of the Covid-19 pandemic was designed in three phases.
Phase one – listening together – involved bishops taking part in small online discussion groups.
Phase two – walking together – was the physical in-person gathering of bishops in Canterbury in July and August.
Phase three – witnessing together – will see bishops and their dioceses taking the Lambeth Calls – a series of texts discussed by the bishops at the Lambeth Conference – forward for discussion and potential implementation in their dioceses in partnerships with Anglicans around the world.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will write shortly to the bishops of the Communion with an update on phase three. In her new role, Bishop Jo will play a significant part in phase three of the Lambeth Conference.
“I look forward to working closely with Bishop Jo to facilitate and enable ongoing conversation, study, and prayer amongst bishops, alongside supporting the dissemination of the Calls throughout the Communion,” the Secretary General, Bishop Anthony Poggo, said.
“I am also pleased that Bishop Jo will be looking at current programmes for Bishops’ formation and development and finding ways of learning from each other across the Anglican Communion,” he added. “She brings with her a great deal of experience, gifts, and talents, as well as a deep knowledge of the Anglican Communion, not least from her time at Duke University. I very much look forward to welcoming Bishop Jo to the Anglican Communion Office when she joins us in January.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby added: “I am delighted that Bishop Jo will be taking up this role as we move into phase three of the conference, and she will play a key role in that.
“I know Jo well through her time as my former chaplain. She is an inspirational and deeply committed disciple of Jesus Christ, and I know that she is well placed to take on this new ministry in service to the Anglican Communion.”