Leadership

We have a senior leadership team of senior clergy and lay officers who have oversight and leadership in the Diocese.

The Diocese of Rochester is served by the Bishop of Rochester who is assisted by the Bishop of Tonbridge. The Diocese is divided up into three areas called, Archdeaconries, each of which is led by an Archdeacon.

The Archdeacons are a source of advice, guidance and support to the bishops, clergy, churchwardens and the people of the parishes. They help with the appointment of parish clergy and sit on the key committees of the Diocese. They do not have their own parish but travel around the very many parishes of their Archdeaconry.

The Diocesan Secretary is the lead officer within the Diocesan administrative structure to help serve the parishes and people of the Diocese.

You can find out more about our senior leadership team below.

Bishops
Bishop of Rochester

The Rt Rev Dr Jonathan Gibbs is the Bishop of Rochester. He was welcomed and installed as the 108th Bishop of Rochester in September 2022 Read more

Jonathan grew up in Cheshire and then studied at Jesus College, Oxford for his MA in Philosophy and Politics and Jesus College, Cambridge for a PhD on the Theology of Work.

He trained for ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his curacy in the Diocese of Chester at Stalybridge, Holy Trinity and Christ Church from 1989 -92. He was Chaplain at Basle with Freiburg-im-Breisgau, in the Diocese of Europe from 1992 – 98 and was Rector of Heswall in the Diocese of Chester from 1998 until 2014.

Jonathan was consecrated as Bishop of Huddersfield in York Minster on 17 October 2014. He currently holds the national church portfolio of Lead Bishop for Safeguarding and will continue in that role until the end of March 2023, completing his three-year term.

He was formerly a member of the Clergy Discipline Commission and is a member of the General Synod and of the Meissen Commission, linking the Church of England with the Evangelical Church in Germany.

He is married to his wife Toni, and they have three grown-up children. His interests include walking, usually accompanied by their Cocker Spaniel, and rummaging in second-hand bookshops.

Bishop of Tonbridge
The Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones is the Bishop of Tonbridge. Simon is the seventh Bishop of Tonbridge, having been consecrated at St Paul’s Cathedral exactly twenty-five years to the day since being ordained for the first time. Simon was born and brought up in Fleetwood, Lancashire, studied law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and worked as a researcher and political campaigner before ordination.

He trained at St John’s College, Nottingham and was ordained as Deacon in the Diocese of Blackburn in 1993, becoming Team Curate at St Peter, Darwen and St Paul, Hoddlesden (1993-96) and has served in the Diocese of Rochester as Curate of St Mark, Biggin Hill (1996-98), Priest in Charge and then Vicar of St Mary, Bromley (1998-2005), Area Dean of Bromley (2001-2006), and Rector of St Nicholas, Chislehurst (2005-2010) before being appointed Archdeacon of Rochester (2010 – 2018).

As Bishop of Tonbridge, he focuses on evangelism and growth, rooted in Called Together, the Diocese of Rochester’s vision. He also has oversight and leadership of the education, youth and children, and community engagement work of churches across the Diocese of Rochester. In relation to education, he chairs the Diocesan Board of Education, supporting the work of the 89 Church of England schools within the Diocese.

His role will be to provide leadership, ideas and insight for the diocese as it pursues the vision embodied in Called Together.  Helping people to express their faith openly and kindly, and thinking through what it means to be disciples of Christ in today’s complex and volatile world will be an important component of this role – keeping the Church especially mindful of the challenges of children and young people growing up within it.

Simon is married to Julia and they have two children, Tim and Helena and a daughter in law, Aislinn.  He is a lover of contemporary literature, indie cinema, theatre, rock music – notably U2 – and lots of sports, greedily supporting three football teams in Fleetwood, Blackpool and Liverpool.  He was an early adopter of TV’s The West Wing and wishes he could have worked in the Bartlet administration – or at least have every conversation of his scripted by Aaron Sorkin. 

He has spent far too much of his life watching The Simpsons and his only real achievement has been to get a quote in an all-time book of cricket quotations.  However, he piggybacks on the recent revelation that one of his ancestors baptised William Shakespeare.  Some people say he has a lovely voice, which is a polite way of saying he has a face for the radio.

Archdeacons
Archdeacon of Bromley and Bexley, the Venerable Katrina Barnes (Interim)
Archdeacon of Rochester, the Venerable Andy Wooding Jones

Ordained in 1991, Andy served in parochial roles in Welling and Sheffield before being Resident Director of Ashburnham Place from 2000 to 2012.  He then moved to Birmingham for two years, where he was Chief Executive of the World Prayer Centre, living as part of the Lee Abbey Small Missional Community in Aston. 

During this time he also assisted at Aston Parish Church and with the Birmingham Diocesan ‘Transforming Church’ programme.

Andy has wide experience of organisational and project management in a Christian context, skills which he has been using in local and national consultancy roles since 2014.  This has included managing the establishment of the St Benedict’s Centre at Malling Abbey and giving consultancy support to the Lee Abbey movement.  For a time Andy has also acted as Interim Co-ordinator for IME2 and CMD in our diocese.

Andy began his ministry as Archdeacon of Rochester in September 2018.

 

Archdeacon of Tonbridge - The Venerable Sharon Copestake

The Venerable Sharon Copestake was welcomed into her new role as the Archdeacon of Tonbridge in January 2022.

Sharon comes to the role having served as Vicar at St Francis, Strood for over six years, and as Area Dean of Strood for almost five. Read more about Sharon.

 

Area deans
Tonbridge
Diocesan Secretary

Diocesan Secretary

Matthew Girt is the Diocesan Secretary - a role rather like a chief executive - and has been in post since 2019. 

Matthew first joined the Diocese in December 2014. As Director of Strategy & Implementation and has led and coordinated major capital projects and strategic developments within the Diocese, particularly around Called Together.

He is a member of the Bishops Leadership Team and has been in role since the beginning of September 2019, prior to that as Acting Diocesan Secretary since the end of May 2019.

Matthew has a background in government, town planning and major regeneration projects, and was previous to his role in Rochester part of the Senior Management Team at the Diocese of London leading on the churches response to new housing areas and the building of its first new church in a new place for over 40 years.

 

Full contact details for the Bishop's office, the Diocesan Office, and other Diocesan staff can be found at Contact Us

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