The Anglican Bishops in the North West have welcomed the appointment of the Rev Dr Michael Leyden as the first Dean of Emmanuel Theological College, the new theological college announced in July 2020.
Michael (pictured top) will be supported by the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Mark Tanner (pictured below video), as Chair-elect of the Emmanuel Theological College Board of Trustees.
Together they will be charged with delivering outstanding formational and vocational training for lay and ordained church leaders, in what is expected to be a nationally recognised centre of excellence for theological education.
Emmanuel Theological College will celebrate the rich breadth of traditions in the Church of England and enable access for students from a variety of backgrounds, so all may learn, grow, and flourish together as they are formed in Christ’s service.
The wealth of experience and knowledge of theological education that both Bishop Mark and Michael bring will be invaluable to the team developing the college’s training pathways, which will combine theological excellence with a rigorous formational programme. This will be crucial to making a reality the North West Bishops’ vision of forming theologically literate lay and ordained leaders who are able to grow healthy churches and transform communities.
The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev Philip North, who is leading the work to establish Emmanuel Theological College on behalf of the North West Bishops, explained: “The work to establish the new college is going extremely well and we have made excellent progress in all areas, including the appointment of Michael as the first Dean of Emmanuel Theological College and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Mark Tanner, as Chair-elect of the Board of Trustees.”
Settling on the name ‘Emmanuel Theological College’ was a process of careful discernment, according to the Chair-elect, the Rt Rev Mark Tanner.
He explained: “We considered a range of options but were excited by the simple, faithful claim of ‘Emmanuel’, God with us: God with us across the North West in every place and community. It is testimony to what we see every day – the Lord Jesus at work bringing hope in everyday lives, building up his Church, and expanding his Kingdom for the transformation of our communities. We believe that Emmanuel Theological College is part of that work of God.”
The new Dean, the Rev Dr Michael Leyden, is currently the Director of St Mellitus College, North West, and is well known in the region and the wider sector. He grew up on an urban priority area estate in Huyton, near Liverpool, before studying at Oxford University. He has served as a parish priest on the edges of post-industrial towns in both the Dioceses of Liverpool and Chester.
Speaking about his appointment Michael said: “I am so very honoured to be asked to become the first Dean of Emmanuel Theological College: to help enact the vision to train and equip Christ-centred, mission-minded, and hope-filled leaders for our region is thrilling.
“I’ve seen the impressive work that has already been done to prepare for our first intake of students in September 2021, and I’m delighted to be joining such a high-calibre team. Together, under God, we will make Emmanuel Theological College an outstanding place to train lay and ordained leaders of all traditions and backgrounds to serve the mission of God in the north west.”
Welcoming Michael, the Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Rev Dr Emma Ineson, who is overseeing the development of the academic programme and staffing of Emmanuel Theological College, added: “Michael has an impressive track record as a theologian and educator, and he is also deeply grounded in ministry in the region, all of which will make him an excellent Dean of Emmanuel Theological College.”
Welcoming the latest news Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, added: “This is an important next step as we move forward with our exciting new plans for Emmanuel Theological College.
“The College will serve the rich breadth of traditions in the Church of England and I am delighted Rev Dr Michael Leyden has been appointed as the first Dean.
“I’m sure I speak on behalf of the whole Diocese when I say we will be praying for Michael and the whole team working to establish the College in the months ahead.”
The Church of England Bishops of the six north west Dioceses (Blackburn, Carlisle, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester and Sodor and Man) announced on July 1 this year that they had decided to work towards the formation of a new theological college for the region. You can read about that initial announcement here.
This decision reflects their commitment to the provision of outstanding theological training and formation for lay and ordained leaders and followed a prolonged period of careful discernment, including detailed research by the Rt Rev Graham James and others.
The Bishops have commissioned a multi-disciplinary team led by the Rt Rev Philip North to establish the new college, which will begin training its first students in autumn 2021.