Warmest welcome for Wakefield Cathedral's new Dean

A packed Wakefield Cathedral gave the warmest of welcomes to its new dean, Revd Canon Simon Cowling and rang with applause at his installation.

Civic dignitaries and some 500 wellwishers from across the Anglican Diocese of Leeds joined with its bishops and deans from Bradford and Ripon cathedrals for the special installation service held on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

With light bursting into the cathedral's bright space, the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines led the service.

"I can't say how delighted I am that you are here and will be working with me and all your colleagues in this part of West Yorkshire and across the diocese," Bishop Nick told Simon.

The role of dean in the Church of England combines the leadership of a particular cathedral community with membership of the team of senior ordained and lay staff who support the diocesan bishop in his or her oversight of the church's mission.

One of Simon's first tasks was to choose music for the service, which was sung with great power and beauty by the cathedral choir, directed by Tom Moore.

And two young choristers, Elias Vasey-Saunders and Amelia Thackeray welcomed Simon with the words:

"On behalf of the whole cathedral community, I welcome you in the name of Christ as a fellow pilgrim.

"Pray with us for God's blessing on the life of this cathedral, city, district and diocese."

Simon's wife Anne and their children Felicity, Faith and Chad were present and Faith, below, left, gave the New Testament reading, John I. 43-51.

In his opening sermon, Simon said he viewed the strength of the congregation as testament to a shared commitment to work for the common good in Wakefield, the diocese and beyond.

"Together we may eagerly expect the unexpected, welcome it and be open to change ourselves, because it is unexpected ways that God reveals himself," he said.

He said just as God was surely in the cathedral, he was just as surely in Wakefield Prison, Wetherby Young Offenders Institute or amongst the exploited, such as sex workers or young people trapped in drug-related crime.

"May my ministry in this cathedral and diocese be characterised by hearts that are opened to people," Simon said.

His installation was greeted with long-lasting loud applause.

Speaking after the service, Mayor of Wakefield Cllr Stuart Heptinstall, pictured left and there with his daughter Charlotte, said:

"Simon is a smashing fellow - welcome to Wakefield!

"It can't be overstated what a massive impact the cathedral has on the life of the city and across the district, particularly as we approach Remembrance Day and Christmas."

To read Simon's first sermon in full please download it here.






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