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New Archdeacons of Carlisle and Westmorland and Furness

The Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – has made two new appointments to its senior leadership team.

The Rev’d Lee Townend has been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Carlisle and the Rev’d Vernon Ross will become the next Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness.

Lee is currently the Diocesan Missioner in the Diocese of Derby and will begin his ministry in Cumbria early next year. The Ven Chris Sims will continue as interim Archdeacon of Carlisle until Lee’s move.

Vernon is currently the Mission and Ministry Advisor for the Barking Episcopal Area of the Diocese of Chelmsford. He will take up the post following the retirement of the current Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness, the Ven Penny Driver, in February 2017.

The Rt Rev’d James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, said: “We are delighted that both Lee and Vernon are to join us here in the diocese.

“Both have shown they have tremendous and demonstrable talents for missional and spiritual growth as well as strategic oversight in order to bring new people to discipleship in Jesus Christ.

“Through our ecumenical God for All strategy we remain committed to giving as many people as possible the opportunity to know God and God’s purpose in their lives. Part of that is being played out by the creation of mission-focussed Mission Communities across the county.

“Both Lee and Vernon are committed to leading that vision forward ecumenically, acting as the principal Strategy Development Officers for those mission communities. They and their families will be in our prayers as they prepare for the move north to take up God’s work here in Cumbria."

The Rev'd Lee TownendLee, aged 51, was ordained in 1998 and served his curacy in the Buxton Team Ministry. He served as Vicar and Assistant Rural Dean in the Canterbury Diocese from 2001 to 2008 and Vicar of All Saints’ Ilkley for four years. From 2012 he has been the Diocesan Missioner for the Diocese of Derby, including roles as ecumenical officer, rural officer and weddings officer. Prior to ordination he worked in sales management and also ran a garden design business.

Lee, is married to Liz, who is a primary school teacher. They have two children, Joe, 28, and Megan, 26, and the couple will be based in Plumpton, near Penrith.

Lee said: “I have a massive sense of excitement about the God for All vision. It is breath taking but I also don’t see any reason as to why this is not achievable. It is the best vision for mission that I have ever seen.

“I hope to bring a lot of experience of achievable mission in the local church context though the strategic work I have been doing with the Diocese of Derby, particularly with regard to the roll out of Mission Action Planning and our Church Growth Conference.”

The Rev'd Vernon Ross and his wife FrancescaVernon, aged 59, is married to Francesca who is a part-time artist and illustrator. They have two grown up children, Sam and David. He has a background in nursing – acute care and hospice - prior to coming to ordination in 1991. Following a curacy at St John’s Fareham in Hampshire, he was Priest in Charge of the Witheridge Group in Exeter Diocese for six years, becoming Team Rector of Barnstaple in 2000 and eight years later was appointed Priest in Charge of the Fyfield Benefice in the Diocese of Chelmsford. That position included allocated time as Mission and Ministry Advisor which became a full time post in 2015.

Vernon, who will be based in Lindale in south Cumbria, said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Diocese. When I was in Cumbria I heard so much to be excited about. There’s a real focus on mission, evangelism and discipleship and the desire to work across cross-denominational boundaries is really welcome.

“It’s clear that the Diocese of Carlisle is being proactive with the challenges that the Church of England is facing nationally. The Archdeacon’s role has a real missional focus to it and the team will be a great one to work with.”

Both Lee and Vernon will be ‘collated and installed’ (or admitted) as Archdeacon at a special service in Carlisle Cathedral on a date yet to be fixed.

Notes to editors

1. Role of an Archdeacon
An Archdeacon is responsible for the administration of an Archdeaconry which is part of an Episcopal Area and comprises a number of Deaneries. In the Diocese of Carlisle responsibilities also include overseeing and supporting the development of Mission Communities and growth of the Church.

The Archdeaconry of Carlisle comprises the Deaneries of Appleby, Brampton, Carlisle and Penrith.

The Archdeaconry of Westmorland and Furness comprises the Deaneries of Barrow, Furness, Kendal and Windermere.

2. God for All

For more on God for All visit


For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at

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