Jo Bailey Wells named chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed the Rev. Dr. Jo Bailey Wells, currently director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina, as chaplain of Lambeth Palace. From Anglican Communion News Service:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of the Reverend Dr Jo Bailey Wells as his new Chaplain, based at Lambeth Palace. Her primary focus will be for the spiritual life at Lambeth Palace and for supporting the Archbishop’s pastoral and liturgical ministry.

Speaking about her new position, Dr Jo Bailey Wells said: “I am honoured and delighted to be joining Archbishop Justin’s team at Lambeth as he takes on a heavy but exciting mantle. I look forward to supporting him personally and pastorally – above all by praying for his flourishing in that role – and so to facilitating the wider flourishing of God’s people in God’s church.”

Read more here.

In a March 2010 story about the election of Mary Glasspool, a lesbian, as suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Wells offered the following to Daniel Burke of Religion News Service:

“The Episcopal Church, by its actions, is demonstrating that it no longer values its place under the historic headship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and therefore the Anglican Communion,” Wells said.

The confirmation of a second openly gay bishop is even more significant than the first, Wells said, since the consequences—widespread dissent in the communion and persecution of Anglicans in countries where homosexuality is reviled—are clear.

Welby recently appointed a canon for reconciliation. Is the appointment of Wells consistent with reconciliation? In March 2009, in an article in The Durham News, Wells sounded like a reconciler (continues below the fold):

“The Episcopal Church has come to see gay rights as an issue on par with the civil rights of the ’60s, an issue that must be acted upon now,” says Wells. “There’s a sense in which Episcopalians have been in a hurry to progress on this front and because Episcopalians have led the way, other denominations have stood back and watched. Here at Duke Divinity School, there are plenty of students who watch what goes on and definitely seek to learn from it.”

“We try our best to understand each other,” said Sam Keyes, 27, a postulant for holy orders in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, one of the dioceses that has split from the national Episcopal Church [The Episcopal Church has a diocese of the same name]. Keyes will graduate from Duke Divinity School this spring. “There’s a commitment from the start that we’re going to maintain our friendship and manage our disagreements in peace. We do talk and get angry sometimes. But it’s important not to act as if the disagreements don’t exist.”

Many attribute the continued openness between the Anglican (sic) and Episcopal students to the leadership of Wells, who was recruited from her native Great Britain three and a half years ago to form AEHS. She is widely praised among students for her ability to remain neutral and serve as a bridge between students with traditionalist and liberal viewpoints at the divinity school.

“She makes a particular effort to see that we have honest and often challenging conversations about our differences,” said Ross Kane, 29, a master’s student from Virginia who hopes to be in parish ministry in the Episcopal Church following his graduation in May. “I think that goes a long way because it prevents us from seeking only like-minded people. Division becomes much easier when you don’t have to face the person you disagree with … .”

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