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NEWS: Bishop of Dorking announced

5th Bishop of Dorking: Jo Wells
Date: 24 March 2016

Jo at Guildford CathedralTHE NEW BISHOP OF DORKING will be the Revd Canon Dr Jo Bailey Wells, Downing Street has announced today. Jo is currently Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury. She is expected to begin her new role in August. As the news was announced, the bishop-designate arrived at a Diocese of Guildford primary academy, to participate in an Easter service and to wash the feet of two pupils.

> Photos (flickr)

Jo, 50, 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’s first day as Chaplain involved carrying the primatial cross at the inauguration of Archbishop Justin with a congregation of 2,000 in Canterbury Cathedral and an estimated audience of 20 million in all. She has accompanied Archbishop Justin at such events as the re-burial of Richard III and the baptisms of Prince George and Princess Charlotte – as well as the recent gathering of Anglican Primates from across the world.

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. Jo’s 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.

"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."

Speaking on the day of her appointment, Jo 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.”

The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, 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 the same warmth of welcome that Beverly and I received just over a year ago. We can’t wait to have her on board!”

JoWellsLambethThe 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.

“Under her oversight, the worshipping life at Lambeth Palace has been transformed, most notably by the arrival of the *Chemin Neuf community and the Community of St Anselm.

“All at Lambeth Palace will miss Jo greatly, but we know that the Diocese of Guildford will be blessed richly by her ministry as a bishop.”

“All at Lambeth Palace will miss Jo greatly, but we know that the Diocese of Guildford will be blessed richly by her ministry as a bishop.”

Jo Wells washes feet at St John's School DorkingToday Jo visited St John’s CofE Primary School, Dorking to meet with pupils, parents and staff, and to mark Maundy Thursday by washing the feet of staff and pupils just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on this day 2,000 years earlier.

St John’s has a tremendous track-record of improvement in the diocese’s Good Shepherd Trust, celebrating achievement and diversity in its children who come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Later in the day Jo attended a Chrism service at Guildford Cathedral, where a congregation of the diocesan clergy gathered as part of their observation of Holy Week.

The Bishop of Dorking is a ‘suffragan’ or assistant bishop for the whole Diocese of Guildford, whose role is to assist the Bishop of Guildford in leading the diocese. Jo 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.

Jo will be just the fifth Bishop of Dorking, following the retirement in the autumn of the Rt Revd Ian Brackley, who had served 19 years in the role.

The Diocese of Guildford covers Surrey and North East Hampshire, as well as parishes in West Sussex and the London Borough of Kingston. The diocese has 217 church buildings which see more than 25,000 people worshipping on an average Sunday, in addition to many thousands more of all ages who use those buildings or neighbouring church halls on week days for church activities and community clubs and meetings.

Jo is expected to be consecrated by Archbishop Justin on Wednesday 29 June in Canterbury Cathedral. Information for those wishing to attend this occasion will be released in due course.


Leave a comment
  1. karthik devuluri | May 19, 2017
    nice post
  2. codage | Feb 04, 2017
  3. Rev. Canon Colin Clay | Sep 11, 2016
    I have only just heard of your consecration as the 5th Bishop of Dorking and I am delighted to hear the news and wish you every blessing. I grew up in Ashtead and, after university, my theological education at Wells, in Somerset, was paid for by my home diocese - Guildford. But there was no residence available for a married curate so I was ordained in the Southwark Diocese in 1957 and emigrated to the Anglican Church of Canada in 1959 where I have ministered ever since - retiring in 2000 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. But I enjoy keeping in touch, especially with my old school, St John's, Leatherhead, and  look forward to hearing more about your ministry as Bishop of Dorking and will keep you in my prayers.
  4. Geoff heathcock | Jun 23, 2016



    ANN and GEOFF

  5. Doris Obiageri Owozu Oghagbon | Jun 03, 2016
    Congrats and may the almighty God continue to strengthen you as you move forward in life working in his vineyard. Remain blessed.   
  6. Beth Houdijk (née Abbess) | Apr 17, 2016

    Congratulations Jo on your appointment! I heard the news via the Clare College website. God bless you and all the family! Warm wishes from the Netherlands.

  7. Rev. Canon George Iype Kovoor | Apr 09, 2016

    Wonderful news  Jo ! Congratulations and every blessing.  Jo you will offer the Church a range of gifts and graces so important to the church and the world at such a time as this. Be assured of my prayers and the prayers of many as you assume this important office and ministry. This is a recognition of what God is doing in and through you Jo and I am absolutely delighted. God's calling on your life life is very clear you have the character, the competence and the charism's for this role. May God bless  you Jo  with His presence, and His favor. i will be praying for you. your family and the diocese of Dorking.

  8. Dr Christopher Grocock | Mar 31, 2016
    What super news! I look forward to our new bishop making it to the western extremities of the Diocese in Grayshott if we don't get the chance to meet her sooner!
  9. Paul Arnott | Mar 30, 2016

    Congratulations Jo. Wonderful news. Love and blessings from the Antipodes.

    In Christ

    Paul and Rosanne Arnott.

  10. Charles Michael Smith | Mar 26, 2016
    Wonderful news.  So happy for the Wells family.
  11. Charles Michael Smith | Mar 26, 2016
    Barbara joins me in extending congratulations to you, Sam, and the children.  Seems like only yesterday I was driving you & Sam around Duke in my VW convertible.  You've come a long, blessed way and we rejoice with you & your new diocese.
  12. Jean Hawthorn | Mar 26, 2016

    Jean Hawthorn /March 26th

    Congratulations on your appointment. Our small church, St Andrews Grafham has been praying for candidates  as well as for those bearing the responsibility of making the appointment and we shall continue to hold Dorking in our prayers. The great thing now of course is that we know who we are praying for. We send you our very best wishes.

  13. PHILIP BARRALET | Mar 25, 2016

    My wife and I would like to attend and would appreciate the information when it is available.

    I am a former Churchwarden at St Michaels, Pirbright and my wife is the current Sacristan

  14. anon | Mar 24, 2016
    Wonderful to have ​another ​woman in a senior clerical role in Guildford
  15. Gill Steeden | Mar 24, 2016
    May God bless you greatly in your new role as Bishop of Dorking, Jo. Congratulations, very exciting news!
  16. Pam Sharpe | Mar 24, 2016

    Congratulations Dr Wells.  You have been an outstanding Archbishop#'s chaplain, and the experience of the spectacular as well as the ordinary moments of your ministry will not be forgotten.

    Enjoy Surrey, a lovely county

  17. Janet Whitlock ( Pastoral Assistant St Christopher's Cove) | Mar 24, 2016
    Welcome Jo to the Diocese. I look forward to having the chance to meet you sometime. You have a sure place in my prayers. I guess it is not an easy job but as we say in church after pre service prayers " Go with God"
  18. Ruth Kightley | Mar 24, 2016
    Congratulations Jo Always thought you would go far with your gifts! Remember the Readers of Ely and our Board. Sadly David past away two years ago after an aggresive form of dementia. Best wishes and God Bless.
  19. Louise | Mar 24, 2016
    Congratulations Jo on your appointment, exciting stuff. What a wealth of experience you have to bring to this appointment. Hope you enjoy your day washing feet!
  20. Des Williamson | Mar 24, 2016
    Welcome to the Diocese Jo - looking forward to getting to know you and ministering together.

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