Meet the Steering Group

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I’m Gill Newman (diocese of Chelmsford)

My calling to ordination came later in life following a career in education as an Early Years Teacher. I had started working as a Volunteer Chaplaincy Visitor at a hospital in East London and was humbled by the privilege of being able to ‘make the love of God visible’ at some of the most darkest moments of people’s lives. A desire to do this more fully began to grow within me and I entered the discernment process for ordination in the Church of England. During this process I felt very clearly that I was being called to the office of deacon rather than priest. I trained at St Mellitus in London, was ordained in 2017 and served my curacy at a church in Hackney. I currently live in Essex and am working part-time as Assistant Lead Chaplain at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. 


Deacon Mike Turnbull


I’m Mike Turnbull (diocese of Chichester). 

My Diaconal journey has its roots in my career as a neighbourhood Police officer. I served in West Yorkshire Police and later in Sussex Police, where I retired having completed 30 yrs service in 2008.  By then I was involved with church life and gradually felt drawn to explore ordained ministry in the Church.  

Right from the start of this process, I felt my eyes gazing beyond the church door and out into the community- “how does the church speak to those beyond its walls?” was the question that kept popping into my head and still does most days.  

After discernment, selection and training, I was ordained to the Distinctive Diaconate, at Chichester Cathedral, in June 2012. I moved into hospital Chaplaincy in Sept 2016, where I continue to reach out to those “beyond the church”. I also provide chaplaincy support to both serving and retired Police officers in East Sussex.

Deacon David Bean


Social media Twitter moderator @CofeDeacons

I’m David Bean (diocese of Southwell and Nottingham).

Ordained at Petertide 2018. I was the only distinctive deacon in the diocese for some time, but am delighted to be joined now by Angelika!

Self supporting – part-time day job with a local Almshouse Charity.

Ministry “portfolio”- Assistant Curate and NHS chaplain.

Member of Unite, the Union Faithwork Branch (Church of England Clergy Advocates).

Always up for a discussion about the vocation of Distinctive Deacons – get in touch!


Deacon Alison Handcock

I’m Alison Handcock (diocese of Bath and Wells).

I was ordained Deacon in 2015, and am passionate about reimagining the church, breaking the walls that divide us, and enabling Christians to be released in creative ways. I have recently become part of a peacebuilding team in our diocese to help us deal creatively with conflict, encourage unity in diversity and negotiate this time of loss and transition in the church.

Locally I describe myself as a ‘rambling chaplain’, working across our deanery. I create funerals mainly for unchurched families at the crematorium and have been training Readers in funeral ministry. I co-facilitate an ecumenical group GEMS, which Gathers, Equips, Mobilises and Supports women. I spiritually accompany ‘edgy’ and pioneering lay leaders and some folk who have left the church.

I ponder the ‘sacramental’ calling of Deacons, and what Church might look like if the ‘sacraments’ were released to the world.  What if every Christian was equipped and ‘sent out’ to participate in God’s mission with our communities, particularly the marginalised or forgotten? 


paul hollingworth

Social media:  Whatsapp GoDeacons group moderator

I’m Paul Hollingworth (diocese of Winchester)

I was ordained a permanent deacon (as the Catholic church calls its deacons) in 2010, but not long after, I started to question the RC Church’s teachings, which eventually led to seeking my return to the Church of England as a Deacon.  Romsey Abbey community, the ministry team and Bishop Tim welcomed me with open arms. 

I  felt clearly that my calling was to be a deacon, not a priest.  A deacon at ordination is told “Theirs is a life of visible self-giving.  Christ is the pattern of their calling and their commission; as he washed the feet of his disciples, so they must wash the feet of others.  Searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely…..into the forgotten corners of the world.”  Therefore, a Deacon is a humble servant reflecting Christ the servant to all, and normally comes out of and serves the community he or she is in.

I do have liturgical roles within the Abbey, to assist the priest and serve the congregation; but my main ministry is outside the building, acting as a town centre deacon, taking God to everyone, especially showing Christ the humble servant to those in need.


rachel fielding

Social media: Facebook moderator

I’m Rachel Fielding (diocese of Blackburn)

I spent many years working both part and full time as a Virger at Blackburn Cathedral – where I felt God had placed me. Following a chance conversation, I was led to question the role of Deacons outside of liturgy: the rest, you may say, is history. I am now in my 3rd year studying part time with Emmanuel Theological College and, God willing, will be ordained next Petertide. Having worked in Care Home Chaplaincy, I am now a Hospital Chaplain and handler of the Trust’s therapy dog. I am passionate about raising the awareness of the calling of Distinctive Deacon. 


abi davison 2

I’m Abi Davison (diocese of York)

I felt a clear calling to the diaconate while still at university: it took a little while to answer that call and it did get a little confusing when I was told the Church of England doesn’t have deacons!

I graduated, returned to York, married and became involved in the York Street Angels and then in York racecourse chaplaincy.  Here I met Deacon Liz who put me straight on the existence of Deacons in the CofE. 

I trained for ordination part-time while working in the NHS. I was ordained in 2018 in York Minster, where I then served my curacy (first post after ordination).  During curacy I moved to work in the local hospice and later changed posts to be Spiritual Care Lead which is where I have remained since. I also love working with the Scouts!



Website Manager

I’m Angelika Bocchetti (diocese of Southwell and Nottingham)

I felt called to a life of ministry early on as a child and have been on a discernment journey ever since. While completing my degree in Theology at the University of Aberdeen, I was drawn to the groups of people who might not feel like they are at the centre of church. As I was exploring ministry in the Church of England, I was drawn particularly to the call in the ordinal for deacons to be ‘searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world’. For me this has meant reflecting on how deacons can be bridgebuilders between church and world in their patch.
I trained at St Mellitus College, was ordained Distinctive Deacon in summer 2022 and am now serving a curacy in Nottingham while also serving as Senior Vocations Advisor for my diocese.



Community Educator, Common Awards Hub for diaconal formation resources

I’m Jonathan Halliwell (diocese of Europe)

With a background in teaching and research (PhD in Classics), I was ordained deacon in 2022 in Ghent (Diocese in Europe). I am also associate tutor in biblical Greek for the Eastern Region Ministry Course (ERMC).  I am serving my first year as assistant curate of St John & St Philip, the Hague, where I am enjoying a varied ministry as a DD representing the Church of England in Europe as a community educator (Faith & Order Commission). I am trying to be faithful to my ordination vow of “Reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible” by training as a port Chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers at Rotterdam.