Bishop Paul welcomes experienced team to lead new theological college

Photograph of Michael Leyden
The Anglican Bishops in the North West have welcomed the appointment of the Revd Dr Michael Leyden as the first Dean of Emmanuel Theological College, the new theological college announced in July 2020.

Michael will be supported by the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Mark Tanner, 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 Revd 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 Revd 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 Revd 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 Revd 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 Revd Dr Emma Ineson, 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.”

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, commented: “I have seen the fruit of Michael’s ministry over many years, especially his commitment to training candidates from previously excluded groups, and I am delighted that he has accepted our invitation to lead the new college.”