The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham welcomed the new Bishop of Sherwood (designate), the Revd Dr Andrew Emerton in a special, online licensing today this week as he returns to the Midlands to take up his role, having started life in Leicester and Stafford (see Q&A below).
Ordained as a Priest in the Church of England (CoE) in 2006, he has ministered among and served communities in Glasgow, Guildford and most recently in London as Dean of St Mellitus College. In Nottinghamshire, he is particularly looking forward to raising up and supporting leaders and serving deprived communities across the diocese.
Bishop of Sherwood (designate), Revd Dr Andrew Emerton shared: “I’m really excited at having the opportunity to serve right across Nottinghamshire in all its diversity. “I am passionate about developing leaders who are able to offer healthy and effective leadership for the long haul, making a real difference on the ground to the communities they serve, whether within or outside the church”
He will be a suffragan Bishop, appointed to help the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Right Revd Paul Williams, who will lead the licensing online in front of local Clergy and Lay people. Andy will then introduce himself to the Diocese, which serves a population of 1.1m across 320 churches and 75 church schools, via a Facebook Live event.
He is married to Liz, who is Assistant-Head with responsibility for safeguarding at a school in London, and they have three school age children, sons aged 14 and 12 and a daughter aged 10. He has a brother already living near Southwell and will move his own family to Notts over the summer.
As well as getting to know the region he says he is looking forward to enjoying the area’s rich sporting heritage: “I love sport, especially playing tennis and golf and watching anything involving a ball. I’m particularly looking forward to visiting Trent Bridge and the Nottingham football grounds, although as a Liverpool fan I’m not sure what kind of reception I can expect!”
The title of the Bishop of Sherwood takes its name after the Royal Forest of Sherwood in Nottinghamshire and was established in 1965. Andy Emerton succeeds the Right Reverend Anthony Porter BA MA who retired on 22nd March 2020.
Statement from Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Right Revd Paul Williams
“I am delighted that Andy Emerton has followed God’s call us to serve alongside the dedicated clergy and congregations of this diocese in making the good news of Jesus known in every community. While living through a deeply challenging time for our country through the pandemic, we remain hopeful and confident that as we work with other churches and partners we can continue to make a bigger difference for the benefit of all who live and work in our great county and city of Nottingham.
Andy will bring with him considerable experience from 12 years supporting the nurture and development of hundreds of future clergy and other leaders. I know he will receive a very warm welcome to the East Midlands where he will find there is a creative and dynamic culture bringing growth and new opportunity to an exciting and expanding region of the country.”
Revd Dr Andrew Emerton writes:
“I’m really excited to be beginning my ministry in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham as Bishop-Designate. I’m looking forward to getting to know people and having the opportunity to serve right across Nottinghamshire in all its diversity. This is a unique season in the life of the Church and it’s a privilege for me to be supporting +Paul in his leadership of the diocese at this time. Despite significant challenges, clergy, lay leaders and Christians across the country have been working incredibly hard to reach out in practical ways to their neighbours and local communities, as well as reimagining what church looks like in the online space. As we begin to emerge from lockdown, I’m keen to get involved and support the work that is being done to share the love of Christ in this region and beyond”
About Andy Emerton
Andy was educated at York University, and Queen’s College, Oxford and has a background in scientific consultancy and youth ministry prior to training for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at Holy Trinity Brompton in the Diocese of London and was ordained Priest in 2006.
Prior to his appointment as Bishop of Sherwood (designate) Andy has been part of the leadership of St Mellitus College for the last 12 years, serving as Dean since 2015. He is married to Liz, who is Assistant-Head with responsibility for safeguarding at Kensington Park School London, and they have three school age children.
Question & Answer with new Bishop of Sherwood, Andy Emerton
Q1: Can you give us a brief outline of what your new role of Bishop of Sherwood will involve?
I’m really excited about taking on the role of Bishop of Sherwood and having the opportunity to serve people across Nottinghamshire.
I’ll be working closely with Bishop Paul to oversee the life of a large diocese with over 320 churches, so the remit could be quite broad!
Alongside the usual duties of a Bishop, leading worship, preaching and teaching etc, I will have particular responsibility for overseeing the Discipleship and Ministry team. This will include vocations work – seeking to help people to discern what God is calling them to and how they can use their particular gifts and passions to serve their communities, workplaces and the church.
It also involves raising up younger leaders, supporting, training and looking after the wellbeing of our clergy, lay leaders and their families working faithfully across a diverse range of contexts, city, rural and post-industrial. I will seek to encourage evangelism, discipleship and mission: including church planting, new worshipping communities and innovative engagement with approaches to church.
I will also hope to be involved with other local faith leaders, civic leaders and others who are working to see the region thrive and local residents flourish.
As a Bishop I also have a duty of care to those outside the Church, particularly those who are on the margins, whether that’s through poverty, discrimination, under-representation or any number of other causes.
Q2: What special interests are you bringing with you to Nottingham?
I love sport, especially playing tennis and golf and watching anything with a ball on tv. I’m particularly looking forward to visiting Trent Bridge and the Nottingham football grounds, although as a Liverpool fan I’m not sure what kind of reception I can expect!
I am passionate about developing leaders who are able to offer healthy and effective leadership for the long haul, making a real difference on the ground to the communities they serve, whether within or outside the church. That includes leaders from all sorts of diverse backgrounds, BAME, white working class etc.
Given recent world events this is a hugely important topic for the church and I hope to see change in these areas in particular. I am hugely encouraged by the diocese’s priorities for growing new followers of Jesus Christ, and I’m looking forward to engaging with that over the coming weeks and months.
Before working for the Church, my background was in technical consultancy so I’ve also got a particular interest in strategic leadership and organisational health. One of things I really enjoy is removing roadblocks, making it possible for people, communities and organisations to flourish. I learnt lots about this in my previous role at St Mellitus College and I hope to be able to bring that learning and expertise to my role in Nottinghamshire.
Q3: Nottingham has one of the youngest populations in the country, can you tell us more about your work with youth?
My call to full-time ministry began back when I was a student and involved in mission and ministry in one of the outer-ring council estates in the city of Glasgow. My connection with the estate continued for eight years and included taking groups of young people from churches in Oxford and Guildford to serve and learn in that context.
Following that experience it was perhaps no surprise that my first full-time church role was in youth work, which I did for four years before going on to train for ordained ministry, and it’s something that I’ve always seen as a priority. One of my early responsibilities at St Mellitus College was establishing a Theology and Youth Ministry degree which combines practical on the ground ministry experience with an academic accredited curriculum.
One of the most energising things about working with young people and young adults is helping them to explore God’s call on their lives and navigate what that might mean for them.
I hope that through my role and the work of the Discipleship and Ministry team, we will see more young people in Nottinghamshire coming to faith in Jesus Christ, recognise their own callings and vocations, particularly those from more diverse backgrounds and who are under-represented in the Church and leadership, whether that’s with regards to race, ethnicity, socio-economic backgrounds or educational achievement.
Q4: How do you feel about meeting the people of Nottingham?
My family and I are really looking forward to getting to know the area and meeting people from across Nottinghamshire. When my appointment was announced in early March (just before lockdown hit) I got to meet a few people from different communities across the diocese, including civic leaders, school leaders, and some people from local churches in Mansfield. It was a privilege to hear their stories, to listen to them, to find out a little of what they love about the area and what they are passionate about. I am so looking forward to doing more of that as Bishop – it has to be one of the best parts of the job.
Although I can’t quite say that I am returning to my roots, I did spend some of my early years in the Midlands. I was born in Leicester and we lived in Stafford till I was 10. The mix of different contexts in the region, rural, post-industrial, university, city, gives the area real richness and I’m excited to discover more of that.
Q5: What challenges are you especially looking forward to working on?
The current context we find ourselves in is challenging in so many ways, but it is also full of opportunity.
Covid-19 has meant that the church has had to learn to engage in new ways and there is a whole lot of brilliant innovation and creativity in evidence as people reimagine what community and community engagement looks like in this season. One of the best things the church has done is reach out in practical ways to our neighbours through food banks and neighbourhood schemes, as well as the new initiatives that have emerged.
Maintaining the digital connection that the church has established is going to be an important area over the coming weeks and months as well as how we reach those outside the church and engage with younger audiences.
Of course one of the particular challenges we are facing is how as the church we make real and meaningful change in terms of diversity, the responsibility we have as white people and the need for systemic transformation, all of which has been highlighted again by the tragic death of George Floyd and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Q6: Can you tell us a little about your family, are they excited about bringing their lives to the East Midlands?
I’m married to Liz, who is currently part of the Senior Leadership Team with responsibility for safeguarding and Head of Science at a school in London. We’ve been married for 15 years and have 3 children, sons aged 14 and 12, and a daughter aged 10.
Although the challenges of moving house, schools and jobs has been compounded by lockdown, we’re excited to be moving to North Nottingham and settling in to the area. My brother lives near Southwell so I’m pleased to be moving closer to him (although he may feel differently!) and it will be lovely for the children to see more of their cousins.
Q7: Will you be based in Sherwood, or does your role cover a wider area?
My role covers the whole of the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, which encompasses communities right across Nottinghamshire and a few communities in South Yorkshire. It’s a hugely diverse area, both demographically and geographically.
Q8: What are you most looking forward to when you take up your role?
In my role as Dean of a national training college, it’s been a real privilege to be involved in the work of the Church across the country. What I’m really looking forward to here is the opportunity to invest deeply into one particular geographical region and to get to know and love the local churches and communities over a sustained period of time. Hopefully I can make a bit of a difference.