On 11th July I will complete eight years (almost to the day) as Dean of Bradford. I was humbled to be asked by Bishop Nick to take up this post and it has been a privilege to serve you, the civic community and the diocese through some extraordinary times.
When I accepted the post I did not know if it would be to serve the Diocese of Bradford or a very much larger entity. By the time I was put in on July 14th 2013 we knew the direction of travel and realised that we were involved in the biggest diocesan project that the Church of England had embarked upon in over a century and this new Diocese of Leeds had three cathedrals! That was a first for the Church of England in modern times.
Within eighteen months I spied a yellow jacket in the ‘hole’ in the centre of Bradford and the Broadway centre emerged out of the ground, to be opened on 5th November 2015. The centre of this City is never still. There is always some development happening. At the moment we have a significant new music venue about to open in a few months as well a new outdoor market in construction.
In the Cathedral we have seen changes in staff and investment in the Cathedral Precinct buildings (Clergy House was brought back into use after being derelict for years and the State Gate (close to collapse) was fixed. In 2019 we experienced our Centenary celebrations which captured so many connections that this cathedral has developed over the years and we tried out some new ideas. The Poet in Residence, Diane Pacitti, was a particular success. In the last two years we have moved into the online space in a significant way.
Change is a constant because we are endlessly curious and creative. Going back to the earliest days of the Christian church in the book of Acts they were always having to respond to challenges and new frontiers that demanded their theology to engage with questions about God, salvation, relating to society and staying focused on what really matters. It’s the same today. A new Dean of Bradford will bring change simply by being themselves.
The Benedictine rule holds together the truth that change is part of Christian discipleship ‘changed from glory into glory’ as the hymn goes, with the commitment to stability in terms of roots in a place, belonging to a community and the rhythm of prayer.
Over the last few years it has been wonderful to be part of that story of transformation and stability. Thank you to the clergy, staff, volunteers and congregation who have all contributed to the witness and service of this Cathedral. Together we have built upon the foundations of previous years’ faithful ministry and together we have made our offering to generations yet to come.
I believe in cathedrals and their unique mission to this nation and it has meant more than words can say for this to be my spiritual home. My prayers for you all as we go into God’s future.
Christ yesterday and today,
the beginning and the end,
Alpha and Omega,
all time belongs to him,
and all ages;
to him be glory and power,
through every age and for ever. Amen.