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. She has demonstrated that she supports the archbishop's opposition to non-celibate gay and lesbian priests and gay marriage. 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."

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

A number of American liberal Episcopalians, gay and pro-gay, believe her appointment is inconsistent with his appointment of a Director of Reconciliation. "So much for reconciliation – another TEC hater," said one blogger.

I'm disappointed. I was hoping to be offered this job.

No. Seriously. It's true.

I think it's a good idea for a powerful person to appoint a sidekick who will certainly not agree with everything he believes and says and who is not impressed by fancy titles and a posh pedigree. I think it is a very bad idea for rulers to surround themselves with either yes-men or yes-women. I would have suited such an enlightened appointment perfectly.

Perhaps he thought I was too manipulative for the job.



  1. What I said in the comments at The Lead in the post on the appointment of the new chaplain:

    “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

    (Rabbi Hillel)

    I expect more attempts to throw the Episcopal Church under the bus, and I find myself caring less and less.

    We know the new ABC’s view on same-sex civil marriage, which is quite discouraging to those of us who believe in equality. Is the Rev Wells’ view likely to be different?

    If anyone can point me to more recent writing by the new chaplain, I’d greatly appreciate it. After having been scolded and corrected for 10 years by the previous ABC, some of us in the Episcopal Church are apt to flinch when we read similar criticism from a person recently appointed to a high office in the Church of England.

    And while I’m writing, I may as well get this off my chest, too.

    “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 Archbishop of Canterbury is the first among equals of the primates in the Anglican Communion. The autonomous churches of the communion are not under the “headship” of the ABC – at least not in my view.

    Besides, “headship” is a loaded term, often used by persons who wish to keep women in a subservient position.

    • I don’t think he will interfere in any other province. He is our bad news alone.

      We now have Welby and Frankie. Both are obviously incredibly good at appearing to care whilst believing that people should suffer if it says they should in an old book. I think that many people will be taken in by them both and they will do far more damage to movements for equality and inclusion than those last two clumsy, undiplomatic church leaders ever managed to.

    • They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.

      I think you are correct that the nice-seeming ones can do more damage. I’m sorry for you, but I hope he leaves us alone.

    • He’s a lot more savvy than Williams and will not pick a fight that he cannot win. This is because he needs to win (I know that from experience) and he knows that losing will result in him losing power, and he needs power.

    • Mimi, when the subject of Dr Wells came up at Episcopal Cafe/The Lead, quite a few U.S. Episcopalians (inc at least one gay one) wrote in to testify to her pastoral ministry from personal experience. I’m prepared to give her a chance.

    • JCF, I read all the comments at the Café. I have no choice but to give Dr Jo a chance. I can’t stop the appointment. After what she’s said publicly, I say, “Show me.” Show me you want equality for LGTB people. Show me you love The Episcopal Church.

  2. Don’t people get bored if they only listen to those with whom they agree? What a “thin” existence while marching into irrelevancy.