By Mark Michael

The Rt. Rev. Emma Ineson, Bishop of Penrith, will play a central role in charting the Church of England’s post-COVID future and developing the program for the 2022 Lambeth Conference. The former theological college principal who has written widely on strategic leadership will serve as Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York from June 1, Lambeth Palace announced today. The London-based reconfigured role replaces the Bishop at Lambeth, whose current occupant, Bishop Tim Thornton, will be retiring soon.

Ineson, 51, has served for two years as Bishop of Penrith, a suffragan see in the Diocese of Carlisle. She grew up in Kenya, where her parents were missionaries, and holds a doctorate in liturgy from the University of Birmingham.

She studied for the ministry with her husband, Mat, at Trinity College, Bristol, an Anglican seminary associated with charismatic evangelicalism, and later taught pastoral theology there. After serving for three years as chaplain to prominent evangelical bishop Mike Hill in Bristol, she became Trinity’s principal in 2014, a post that had been held earlier by Archbishop George Carey.

Ineson said: “I am absolutely delighted to be taking up this new role at such a time of great opportunity and challenge for the Church of England, as we emerge from the Covid pandemic. I am very much looking forward to working with the Archbishops and their teams at Lambeth and Bishopthorpe to enable the work of healing, renewal and hope that will be needed in the Church, and in wider society, in the coming years. We have good news to share in Jesus, and it will be a privilege to play whatever part I can in ensuring that good news is heard and received by all.”

Configuring Ineson’s role as a senior advisor to both of England’s archbishops underscores the close cooperation between Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell that has emerged since the latter assumed his role in June 2020. Cottrell, who developed a reputation for cost-cutting as Bishop of Chelmsford, is chairing a controversial vision and strategy group tasked with charting a way forward for the Church of England in the face of declining attendance and congregational giving.

In addition to being the first woman to serve in this senior advisory role, Ineson is only the second bishop from the northern province to assume the role since the Bishop at Lambeth post was created nearly forty years ago. Her most recent book Ambition: What Jesus Said About Power, Success and Counting Stuff (2019) defends the focus on church growth and strategic leadership principles imported from the business world that has played an sometimes-criticized role in Welby and Cottrell’s approach.

Ineson will also have just over a year to prepare for the 2022 Lambeth Conference. Her deep exposure to international Anglicanism in youth and her background as a seminary principal equip her well for the task, and she was the Church of England’s only representative on the Lambeth Design Group, and has chaired the conference’s working committee for the past year.

The Bishop at Lambeth role was created in 1984, and has largely been focused on leading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff team and serving as a senior advisor and host, as well as guiding the appointments process for bishops and other senior clergy within the Church of England. Most Bishops at Lambeth have been senior diocesan bishops, who hold the job for a few years prior to full retirement. Past Bishops at Lambeth have also overseen Anglican chaplains to the armed forces and Anglicans in the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory off the coast of Argentina that is home of the world’s southernmost Anglican cathedral. Others will be tasked with these roles.

Archbishop Welby said “I am truly delighted to welcome Bishop Emma to Lambeth Palace. I know she will bring her considerable wisdom, humor and humility to the role, as well as her wealth of experience as a chaplain, teacher and outstanding preacher. Archbishop Stephen and I are looking forward to working with Bishop Emma on issues relating to the Emerging Church, the role and nature of bishops meetings and the priorities we face.”

Bishop Ineson was the author of TLC’s most recent Catholic Voices selection, an Easter meditation titled, “A Living Hope in a Heartsick World”.