Meet the Steering Group

deacon self

I’m Gill Kimber (diocese of Exeter). 

I’ve been a distinctive deacon for 30 years:  prior to this, I was a mission partner in Northern Nigeria, and subsequently with the Church Mission Society in Romania.  This gave rise to my MPhil ‘Mission Impossible?’ about the challenges of interconfessional mission.  I was Warden of the College of St Philip the Deacon, diocese of Exeter, for 7 years and am currently national coordinator of the CofE Network of Distinctive Deacons.  I’m a diocesan assessor for distinctive deacons. I attend a small FEx church on an estate, run by a Church Army lay captain.  And I’m retired.  Allegedly!

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 gill newman

I’m Gill Newman (diocese of Chelmsford).

I started to sense a calling to ordination whilst volunteering as a chaplain at a London hospital. Shortly after entering the discernment process I realised, to my surprise and joy, that my call was to be a Distinctive Deacon. I trained at St Mellitus college in London and was ordained as a DD in 2017. I currently work as a hospital chaplain at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.


Deacon David Bean

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

Ordained at Petertide 2018. Currently the only Distinctive Deacon in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham– but not for long!

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

Ministry “portfolio”- one third Town Centre Chaplain, one third Assistant Curate and one third 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 Liz Carrington

I’m Liz Carrington (diocese of York).

I lead the Green Group at my church, which has gained Silver Eco-Church status, and am part of the Diocesan Environment Group. Aside from taking part in services, I visit the local business community in the parish and take communion to older people in sheltered accommodation. With others from local churches I am part of ecumenical group prayer, walking around churches in the locality. Outside the parish, I coordinate the chaplaincy team at York racecourse, volunteer with YOYO (York Schools and Youth Trust) and have recently stepped down from Street Angels in York after ten years. At the kind invitation of the Methodist Diaconal Order I join in with the Yorkshire and Humberside Area Group. In between, I am a personal tutor for students from my local Theological Training Institution (St Hild’s Mirfield).


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? 


Deacon Jessica Foster

I’m Jessica Foster (diocese of Birmingham)

Whilst working for a Bishop I became very interested in the diaconate, as a concept. I felt we should have a hundred deacons in the diocese! I realised I had a call to become a deacon myself rather than talk about it to everyone else.

My calling became clear to me when I was asked where I saw myself standing in church. I said, I don’t see myself standing at the altar but at the door. I see my calling as enabling people to come into church, but also enabling people to go out into the community to build relationships that are mutually transformative.

I love seeing what happens when you put down your own agenda and pay attention to God. For me I’ve loved every minute of it and feel I’m in the right place. There are lots of different ways to serve God. I’d advise someone considering vocation not to try to do something that isn’t the right fit. Jesus came that we might be free, and if you’re not free, if you’re not excited and liberated then maybe you’re not in the right place.


Deacon Sue O'Loughlin

I’m Sue O’Loughlin (diocese of Carlisle)

I’ve been part of the ministry team at St Mary’s Kirkby Lonsdale for eight years. Before I was ordained, I held administrative posts including working for British Airways’ Pension Fund, before retiring. I trained as a Church of England reader before applying for ordination as a Distinctive Deacon, a ministry with a focus ‘on the margins’ and to people who are outside church.
I am a member of the Anna Chaplain Advisory Group for the Carlisle Diocese. I look forward to exploring new ways of reaching and serving the older people in our communities. It is good to be picking up and starting some new things as the pandemic restrictions end, such as a bereavement support group, Julian Meetings, Taketime, as well as being invited back into one of our care homes for a memorial service.  It is such a joy to be able to continue with visits and services again!
The following verse has particular resonance for me. “…in quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15)