Meet our Board

Fresh Expressions has a brilliant and hard working Board at the centre of the work we do.

Our model is to enable leaders and networks across the country and to empower grassroots practitioners in all they do.

To do that, our Board doesn’t seek to be central leaders in the movement but instead to provide stability and accountability for all that we’re doing together as a movement and to support the aims of Fresh Expressions into the future.

Our Board includes:

Bishop Ric Thorpe

As Bishop of Islington, Ric is responsible for the London Diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s Adviser for Church Planting and the Rector of St Paul’s Shadwell. Ric is also the Bishops’ Advocate for Fresh Expressions and Chair of the Fresh Expressions Board. He is married to Louie and they have three children.

Karen Openshaw 

Karen joined the board in October 2017.  She currently runs her own consultancy coaching leaders, delivering mindfulness workshops (for both Christian and Non-Christian organisations) and offering a listening service for the staff of a local social housing provider –  Her background is in counselling, coaching, mentoring and chaplaincy. She has a passion for pioneering and has developed many projects including a groundbreaking Interfaith Chaplaincy course and a chaplaincy and church at Oasis Academy at Media city UK.

Steve Dean

Steve has been a Fresh Expressions Board member for a number of years and particularly focuses on finances and operations.

Mark Sheard

Mark Sheard joined the board in 2018.  He has enjoyed a successful career in advertising and marketing, creating one of the UK’s most successful marketing communications businesses before merging it into a multinational group in 2000. In 2001, Mark founded the Whatnext? Consultancy to provide marketing and corporate development advice to commercial and ethical organisations.
Mark was appointed to the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England in 2017 and serves as Chair of the Mission and Public Affairs Council and Co-Chair of the Evangelism and Discipleship Steering Group. In this role he also is a member of General Synod. Mark joined the Fresh Expressions board in 2018.
Raised in rural Essex, he graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in History, and has lived in Ealing, West London for over 30 years with his wife, Lois, 4 children and 2 dogs. He is a member of St John’s Church, Ealing, where he has served in the role of Outreach Co-ordinator, Churchwarden, Lay Chair of PCC, and in various other ministries, managing interregna and as part of a leadership team of a large morning congregation, and two different Fresh Expressions (Café Church and Messy Church).

Francis Brienen

Francis Brienen is Deputy General Secretary (Mission) for the United Reformed Church. Prior to taking up this role, she worked for the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (now the Protestant Church in the Netherlands) and the Council for World Mission, a global mission partnership of 32 churches. In all these roles her focus was on equipping people for mission engagement in their local churches and communities. She has a particular interest in the development of missional communities and was the co-ordinator of CWM’s training in mission programme for young adults and involved in the setting up of the Mission House in Amsterdam. Francis’ current role involves raising the profile of mission in the United Reformed Church and encouraging the pioneering of new forms of church. Francis joined the Fresh Expressions Board in 2014.

John Drane

John Drane has spent much of his adult life wrestling with the challenge of being a Christian in a rapidly changing culture, and has written many books on missional topics including The McDonaldization of the Church, Do Christians know how to be Spiritual? and After McDonaldization: Mission, Ministry & Christian discipleship in an age of uncertainty – as well as three best-selling books on the Bible which have been translated into more than ninety languages. He has taught practical theology in the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and at Fuller Seminary (California) and currently teaches culture and mission at the University of the West of Scotland as well as being a recognized teacher for the CMS pioneer leadership course. He is also co-chair (with the bishop of Lichfield) of the Mission Theology Advisory Group, a think tank jointly sponsored by the Church of England and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. He is married to Olive, who is also a theological educator and they are both Fellows of St John’s College, Durham.