About the role

We are seeking candidates who will, under God, bring a fresh pair of eyes following the long and significant ministry of the last Dean. In our discernment, we have identified a number of priorities for the next Dean

Develop and sustain productive relationships across the city and diocese to share the good news and promote the common good

Portsmouth Cathedral is a holy space – a place of beauty, of silence and of worship. And yet as the Cathedral Church for the City of Portsmouth, South East Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it is important that it connects with others, is energetic in its outreach and strategic in responding to the needs of those it serves. The panel discerned that the main priority for the next Dean would be to enable the Cathedral to step into this space, to build on the affection in which it is held and to develop the role of the Cathedral as an active partner for Bishop and diocese, community leadership and city.

Any cathedral has a distinctive role within its city and the panel is eager that the next Dean should develop this further within Portsmouth. This will be alongside the local work of St Mary’s Portsea and other churches in the deanery, and will also mean taking forward cultural, civic and symbolic interactions in such a way that possibilities for gospel action and active partnership are fully developed.

Within the diocese, the cathedral has a significant role in bringing the recently- developed diocesan strategy “Live, pray, serve” to life. The Dean will be a key member of the Bishop’s Staff team and, it is hoped, in due course step into a diocesan leadership role relevant to their gifting. The previous Dean was Chair of the DAC and also much valued for his theological contribution; the next Dean may have different skills to bring.

Lead the cathedral team (volunteers, worshippers, staff, clergy, chapter) in:

  • discerning and agreeing a shared and purposeful narrative for mission;
  • developing their own corporate and operational life to realise the possibilities of this ministry


The new Dean will come into post as The Cathedral Development Plan is due to be revised and updated. This will provide the opportunity to lead those who work, pray and serve here in discerning their aspirations for outreach and engagement as well as for their own common life and worship. Like many parish church cathedrals, Portsmouth carries the parish – cathedral tension in its very DNA and, as with many churches, is constantly exploring the balance between its worship and Kingdom action. The ability to bring creative, strategic and enabling leadership to the Chapter, Residentiary Canons and the staff team is the key characteristic in the mind of the panel.

It will be important that this is combined with the ability to manage the Cathedral operation. The panel is not seeking an accountant, a project manager or an HR specialist but will be exploring how candidates will discharge their responsibility for the finances, people and building of the Cathedral. Whilst a recent legacy has enabled some catch-up work to take place, this is a cathedral without historical endowment and a more strategic approach to finance will be required. The panel is seeking a dean who can bring some measured courage (not foolhardiness) and challenge to this situation. Further information will be provided in briefings for shortlisted candidates and through the most recent Cathedral’s Annual Report and Accounts.

Candidates might also be interested in the Cathedrals Working Group Report and the discussions on this that took place at the July General Synod.

Build on a longstanding tradition of innovative liturgy and worship

The musical life of the Cathedral is rich and of a high standard and the Cathedral, notably through one of its previous Deans, David Stancliffe, has a history of innovating liturgy and worship. The next Dean will encourage the ongoing exploration of creative and contemporary liturgical and musical expression; effective and meaningful worship is foundational to the mission emphasis to reach out and engage. The Cathedral is a second church for the Royal Navy and also a place of celebration and remembrance for the city and diocese. Funding is in place from a Strategic Development Fund grant to appoint a pioneer minister, based at nearby St James Milton, through which the Cathedral and St James together can develop a fresh expression of church for young families based on the liturgical/choral tradition.

Grow and nurture the congregation

Sadly, both the electoral roll and Sunday attendance have declined over recent years and attentiveness to congregational life will be a significant priority. Drawing in new people, developing the faith and discipleship of those who currently worship here and identifying possibilities for introducing people to the Christian faith are critical priorities.

And finally...

The panel wishes to emphasise that it is not necessary for candidates to have had previous cathedral experience. Their prime interest is in the leadership gifts and experience of candidates and how they might, under God, rise to the challenges and opportunities of this role.