The Dean's ministry in the Cathedral
The ministry of the next Dean will be shaped by the recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown since March 2020 curtailed the majority of our activities and income streams, but we have worked hard during the closure to offer as wide a programme as possible online, with livestreamed and pre-recorded worship and music, and ‘virtual’ children’s activities and adult learning events. This has been successful and has reached new people.
As we emerge from lockdown, it will be important to revisit the vision and strategy in light of the impact of the pandemic on the Cathedral and the wider communities served. Much has been learnt during the last year, and the success with offering online worship and learning will be something to build on.
St Albans Cathedral is also a parish church and the Dean will be appointed as the Rector of the Parish (with both roles held in plurality). The geographical parish is relatively small covering 0.3 square miles and serving a population of over 3,000 people with some 65% aged under 45 (2011 census). We have historically had a significant ministry to children, families and young people. One of the minor canons serves as the Youth Chaplain, and prior to lockdown, there was a flourishing Children’s Church during the 9:30am Parish Eucharist as well as a range of mid-week activities for children and youth. There is a strong relationship with local schools including The Abbey Church of England Primary School, and we have begun exploring ways in which we can work more closely with Soul Survivor Watford. We hope that the next Dean will bring experience to support and encourage us in our work to reach young people.
The Cathedral is well-known for the outstanding quality of choral worship and this is something that we cherish and want to continue to develop and invest in. We would also like the next Dean to help us consider how we can embrace other musical styles to help us grow younger and more diverse congregations.
We have a larger-than-average Sunday congregation, and our 2019 Cathedral Statistics showed an average Sunday attendance of approximately 580 adults and 80 children. This was a slight decrease on the previous year and we do not yet know what impact Coronavirus will have had on how regularly people come to worship. The Cathedral is by definition, as the seat of the Bishop, a centre for worship and mission and we want to be able to grow our worshipping community in number and depth as we reach new people and encourage people in their discipleship. Our programme of adult learning encourages discipleship as people explore faith, history and culture. The programme covers a range of subjects, including a Certificate in Theology and courses in Biblical languages and we hope that the next Dean will contribute to the adult learning programme.
We would like our next Dean to help us reflect on how our contribution to the Missio Dei is expressed through each of the Five Marks of Mission. We know we need to get better in addressing issues of social justice and environmental concern and have already begun to explore ways in which we can make a difference in these areas. We hope that the Dean will bring experience of helping to encourage and equip all God’s people in mission.
St Albans Cathedral is the home and shrine to Britain’s first saint. We have transformed the welcome, heritage and learning by bringing to life the whole story of Alban and his important role in the nation’s history and the cathedral. The improved visitor facilities and access to the Cathedral, café, toilets and shop was funded by a NLHF grant of £4m and a large public appeal. A defining aim of the project is to attract new kinds of visitors to the cathedral, raise its profile and make the story of Alban better known. The next phase of the project will be to develop the Cathedral grounds.
Photo credit: www.emmacollinsphotography.co.uk