Group Conveners


The Revd Dr Michael B Thompson is Associate Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Mike is an Episcopal priest originally from North Carolina. His special interests are Pauline theology & ethics and guitar playing. After teaching at St John’s College, Nottingham for seven years, he returned in 1995 to Cambridge, where he continues to lecture in New Testament and Greek for the Cambridge Theological Federation.


Dr Alison Farnell's early career in education was as a secondary school teacher in three different state schools teaching geography, geology and maths. During that time she was both a head of department and tutor responsible for the 6th form.  Subsequently, in a break from teaching bringing up three children, she became involved in school governing, a commitment which continued for 37 years in various church schools in Coventry Diocese where she lives and worships.

She later changed career direction, becoming departmental manager for Care for Education, a department of CARE (Christian Action Research and Education). While working there, she was responsible for all their education publications and resource production for schools, regularly speaking at events around the UK. She then joined the staff of The Stapleford Centre, a national charity producing Christian resources for teachers to use in schools in RE, collective worship and other subjects in the curriculum. She had overall responsibility for curriculum development, oversaw the commissioning, editing and production of over 100 publications for schools, and regularly led in-service training events for teachers.

After her retirement from The Stapleford Centre, she worked part-time as a training consultant for Coventry DBE, where she initiated and developed the Coventry Diocese Church School Leadership course, a part-time M level qualification, successfully completed by 72 new church school leaders during 4 one-year cohorts. The doctoral research she then undertook to discover why the course was apparently so successful, has contributed to the Church of England Education Office Foundation for Educational Leadership’s guidance for dioceses planning training for church school leadership, and has shaped the new national Church of England Professional Qualification for Headship (CofEPQH), which is being piloted during the 2016-17 academic year.


Matthew Kirkpatrick is Lecturer in Ethics and Doctrine, and Tutor for Graduates, at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford. He teaches a wide range of subjects across ethics, Christian doctrine, and philosophy, and teaches at graduate level for the University in both ethics and doctrine. Among his wide interests includes particular attention to the interplay of existentialism and Christianity, sexual ethics in relation to the identity of children, concerns about death and end of life care, and the wider thought of Kierkegaard and Bonhoeffer. He is author of 'Engaging Bonhoeffer: The Impact and Influence of Bonhoeffer's Life and Thought' (2016) and 'Attacks on Christendom in a World Come of Age: Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer, and the Question of ‘"Religionless Christianity"’ (2011). For Grove he has also written 'Bonhoeffer's Ethics: Between Pacifism and Assassination' (E163), 'Søren Kierkegaard' (E171), and 'How to Live a Good Death' (E183).

Matthew kirkpatrick

Mission and Evangelism

Colin Smith is the Dean of Mission Education at the Church Mission Society. His role involves him in the preparation and training  of  mission partners and he also teaches on the Pioneer Mission Leadership course. Having initially training as a social worker, Colin spent two years in India as a CMS volunteer before returning to the UK and embarking on ordination training.  He has worked in parishes in Bermondsey and Forest Hill and also taught on a locally ordained ministry scheme. From 1999 to 2014 Colin was a CMS mission partner in Kenya where he taught at Carlile College and headed up the Centre for Urban Mission, a ministry of Church Army Africa, based in Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi. Colin has a particular interest in mission in urban contexts and his postgraduate research explored the role of Pentecostal churches in urban transformation. He has a doctorate in missiology from the University of South Africa.


The Revd Richard Steel is Mission Team Leader for the Diocese of Lincoln. Previously he was Rector of Kirkheaton. He has also been Communication Director of the Church Mission Society (CMS), a Diocesan Communication Officer and a Religious Programmes Presenter on local commercial radio in the midlands. He retains a keen interest in the arts and media and is a Chaplain for the Creative Arts Retreat Movement. He also convenes the Grove Leadership group.


The Revd Fred Olney is Vicar of two Staffordshire villages, having previously worked in suburban and deprived urban parishes. Before ordination he was UCCF’s Development Officer for FE Colleges (1986-96), encouraging Christian witness through a network of students, lecturers, chaplains and volunteers. From 1977 to 1986 Fred’s varied ministry with French-speaking churches in Provence included pioneer church planting, training and youth work. His MA dissertation was on the Prayers of Michel Quoist. Fred has been a member of BBC Radio Leicester’s Religious Team, had articles published in several magazines and writes regularly for local newspapers. He has been part of the Grove Pastoral Series Editorial Group since January 2004.


Dr Sue Howard has a ‘portfolio’ career – currently she is a Researcher and Writer with a variety of completed projects and published works to her name, including the co-authored book, 'The Spirit at Work Phenomenon' (Azure, 2008). She works as a Spiritual Mentor/Director through the independent consultancy Holistic Leadership which she founded in 2008.  She also works part-time as a Learning Facilitator at Oaklands College in St. Albans, where she supports students on a one-to-one basis with their learning.  Sue’s primary focus is the holistic nature of spirituality and its impact on the whole of life, particularly its impact on leadership within work; Her PhD research explored ‘Christian spiritual formation in relation to work’. Sue was a foundational member of the Grove Leadership Series (co-authoring L2 in the series), and joined the Spirituality group in 2012, subsequently becoming its Convener in 2015. Sue is dedicated to encouraging others to go deeper in their walk with God. Previously, Sue worked in management and leadership development roles with World Vision UK, and Cranfield School of Management.  She is married, with two children, lives in Hertfordshire, and worships with the Vineyard Church.


The Revd Mark Earey is Co-Director of the Centre for Ministerial Formation at the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham, where he teaches liturgy and worship. He was previously Team Rector of Morley in West Yorkshire and before that worked for the Anglican liturgical organization Praxis as their National Education Officer. In that role he was particularly involved in helping churches to make the change to Common Worship. Way back, he trained as a civil engineer and worked briefly 'in sewage' (not literally). What's the connection between sewage and liturgy? The problems with both come when there's a blockage.


The Revd Paul Nash is Senior Chaplain at Birmingham Children's Hospital and a part time tutor at the Midlands Centre for Youth Ministry. Ordained in 1997 he served his Curacy in the multi-cultural parish of Aston in Birmingham and before that worked in a range of roles for Youth for Christ. He has a particular interest in Theological Reflection and medical ethics, he is a qualified Myers Briggs Practitioner and is involved in spiritual direction and ministry support. In his spare time he is a keen golfer and Chelsea supporter!