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Former Archbishop's chaplain appointed as Ridley Hall's new principal

by Ros Mayfield
Rev Dr Isabelle Hamley.png - Banner image
Church of England

A former chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev Dr Isabelle Hamley has been appointed as the next Principal of Ridley Hall. 

The theological college in Cambridge trains people for ordained ministry in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion, alongside training for youth, children and sports ministries for students from all Christian denominations and traditions.

She is a well-known speaker and writer, and is a regular presenter on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day and the Daily Service, including Sunday Worship.

For the last three years, Rev Hamley has been a theological advisor to the House of Bishops on matters including deliverance ministry, the Living in Love and Faith process regarding the status of same-sex relationships, and mental health, as well as a theology for the vision and strategy of the Church of England.

She was the Chaplain to Most Rev Justin Welby from 2017-2020, and is described by Ridley College as someone of “excellent academic credentials, a strong intellect and a national understanding of the Church of England.”

The college adds that she is known to be “a superb preacher and teacher and a gifted biblical scholar with a deep evangelical foundation and a passion for scripture. She has strong pastoral skills which will be of great benefit to the Ridley Hall community and the Cambridge Theological Federation.”

Rev Hamley said: "I am really excited about joining Ridley Hall, and working with staff and trustees in shaping theological training for the next decade. I am looking forward to nurturing a community of people who love and want to follow Jesus, who pray and worship together daily and look out for ways to grow in faith, mission and ministry. It is a real privilege to be invited to take on this role."

The Archbishop of Canterbury described her someone with “deep wisdom” and “profound theological understanding”, who shows an “abiding concern for the vulnerable”, saying:

"Isabelle is a strategist of supreme and remarkable theological skills, a communicator of exceptional ability with a soft heart and great efficiency. I am so delighted she will be bringing the same gifts she shared with us to the next generation of ordinands at Ridley Hall.”

She grew up in France, and her listed interests include questions of identity, gender, and violence as well as trauma and mental health.  She has authored books including God of Justice and Mercy: A Theological Commentary on the Book of Judges; Embracing Justice; and, together with C. C. Cook, The Bible and Mental Health.

Rev Dr Helen Dawes, who leads the neighbouring theological college Westcott House, also in Cambridge, celebrated the announcement posting on Twitter/X:

"This is great news - very much looking forward to working with Isabelle in @CamTheoFed!"

Rev Hamley replaces Rev Dr Michael Volland, who was installed as the Bishop of Birmingham at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday.  She will take up the role of Principal in April 2024.

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