Thinking Anglicans

Exeter Cathedral

It has been announced that both the Dean and the Precentor of Exeter are to step down, following the critical Visitation report of the Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell. The statement on the Cathedral website says that:

the Dean, the Very Rev Jonathan Draper, has announced that he will retire at the end of August this year.

Until the end of August the Dean is on holiday, and then on sabbatical leave. Additionally:

Canon Victoria Thurtell has resigned from her post of Precentor with immediate effect, and is looking forward to a new ministry in due course.

The announcement continues:

To help the Cathedral continue its worshipping life, Bishop Martin Shaw has been appointed Acting Precentor, with immediate effect. The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, will provide pastoral oversight to the Cathedral during this time. Canon Dr Mike D Williams will Chair Chapter.

BBC News has a report here.

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Rowland WateridgeJanetLavinia NelderFather DavidPam Recent comment authors
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rjb
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rjb

According to the BBC report: ‘In September the dean was described as “remote and disinterested” in a report by his bishop.’

I’m not sure how remote the Deanery is at Exeter, but I am very glad to learn that the former-Dean was thoroughly disinterested. We expect nothing less. The bishop, on the other hand, was apparently a former lecturer in patristics at Cambridge, so one would hope he might know the difference between ‘disinterested’ and ‘detached.’

Tom Marshall
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Tom Marshall

This has got ‘Peterborough Mark II’ written all over it. The only body not mentioned in the BBC report or the Cathedral’s statement, of course, is the Church Commissioners! Is this another case of ‘we will bail you out but we want the Dean’s scalp’? I wonder if the Precentor has copped for it because her department is the one spending most of the money?

We really do know how to treat people with dignity and respect in the C of E, don’t we? Peterborough, Sheffield, Exeter… Where next?

Will Richards
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Will Richards

The Dean is remote, apparently. That means we would never have had Michael Stancliffe at Winchester, or Sidney Evans at Salisbury, let alone John Drury at Christ Church and King’s; nor John Moses at St Paul’s, or Eric Abbot at Westminster. Really! When I go to a cathedral, I don’t want the Dean to be all over me like a rash, inviting me to Alpha courses or to join the tea rota. I want someone of gravitas who can preach well and enable me to glimpse the glory God in the beauty of holiness. This, allegedly, is what Jonathan Draper… Read more »

NJW
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NJW

RJB: one Dictionary definition of ‘disinterested’ is ‘not having the mind or feelings engaged’ or ‘no longer interested’. These seem to be an accurate reflection of the content of the visitation – whether you agree with that or not. Tom Marshall: I am pretty certain that Exeter actually predates Peterborough in its origins and, given that the Bishop’s Visitation followed issues arising between Chapter members it is more shades of ‘Lincoln of past decades Mark II’ rather than ‘Peterborough Mark II’. The visitation points more to interpersonal problems within the cathedral than financial problems (which can be taken for granted… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Curious. Makes me wonder, following Peterborough, whether the Bishops are trying to get their hands on the cathedrals.

Here in Chichester the clergy attending a service are always there to greet the congregation afterwards. In other places we know that they make a b-line for the exit immediately the service ends. Will Richards can be assured that no one will be asking him to join the tea rota here and we don’t do Alpha courses.

Fr William
Guest

Does the Wash House appoint Deans? If so, maybe it needs a power clean. Nevertheless, the bishop’s demands seem like no more than good practice that would be found in most work environments in the real world. Both my sons were cathedral choristers. I never saw any evidence that the cathedral clergy were much concerned about talking to occasional visitors like us chorister parents. They either scurried off or were surrounded by groupies.

Father David
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Father David

Oh dear, for some time now our English cathedrals have been portrayed as jewels in the crown of the Church of England bucking the general trend of decline and shewing real signs of growth. So, it is very sad to see three cathedrals (York, Peterborough and now Exeter) hitting the headlines in an adverse way. Sadly accusations of bullying have been bandied about not only regarding the ill-fated appointment at Sheffield but now with regard towards certain deans of English cathedrals. Surely, the independence of Deans and Chapters is something to be cherished? Perhaps we need a few more dragons… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The nomination of a Dean to either a Crown or Parish Church Cathedral is made by a panel convened for this purpose. The panel is led by a Chair, who is nominated by the Archbishop of the Province. Historically there was a significant difference in process between appointments to Crown deaneries (the historic ones) and the newer cathedrals (the ones that had a provost until the Cathedrals Measure). The Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments led the former whereas the Archbishops’ Secretary supported the diocesan bishop wth the latter. The first Pilling Report Talent and Calling recommended a more joined up… Read more »

MHC
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MHC

I am a regular worshipper at Exeter Cathedral. Most of the comments here display the worst sort of ill-informed speculation, though NJW has it right. The Dean and Precentor departed after a Chapter meeting last week. The Bishop acted perfectly properly under the Constitution & Statutes of the Cathedral to resolve a dysfunctional situation. He would have been negligent in his duty had he not done so. This is more 1990s Lincoln than Peterborough. Maybe this website should be called ‘Thinking the worst Anglicans’.

Oliver Seward
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Oliver Seward

You need to understand something of the local politics here in Exeter. There are elements at Exeter Cathedral that don’t want it to be a cathedral; but they do want it to be a big parish church. Picture the scenario: Major and Mrs Thrumpington-Mange retire (in their 50s) to a glorious village in Devon, within striking distance of Exeter, only to discover to their horror that the architectural gem of an ancient parish church at the heart of their village idyll has a vicar called Jed or Rick or Si or some other monosyllabic name, who is in to pop… Read more »

Tim Newns
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Tim Newns

I’m a student at Exeter University and attend the Sunday morning Eucharist at Exeter Cathedral, as well as Evensong on an occasional basis. I’m so glad to have read Oliver Seward’s comment, because that’s exactly what it feels like all the time. I’m so glad it’s possible to worship and not to be more involved because I’m not sure I could put up with the constant back-biting. I have always found Jonathan Draper to be kind and supportive. Sure, he’s not ‘hail fellow well met’ and doesn’t stand at the door ambushing everyone with clichéd platitudes as they leave –… Read more »

Froghole
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Froghole

I have attended services at a number of churches in Devon – mostly east Devon – and am much taken by the perceptive comments made by Oliver Seward and Tim Newns. Even if you know a cathedral (or, indeed, any church) well it may take many years of regular attendance before understanding who hates whom or how bad/dire the finances might be. Many attendees will have little idea what is really going on; one is often an ‘in’ person or an ‘out’ person, but regularity of attendance sometimes counts for less than social standing. Parish churches do not have a… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

It’s good to read the comments from worshippers at Exeter Cathedral. And especially the delightful comment from Oliver Seward. I look forward to hearing from them again.

Father David
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Father David

I only heard Jonathan Draper preach once when I called in at York Minster on the way to a pilgrimage on Iona when he was a Canon Residentiary prior to his move to Devon. I can only affirm that it was an excellent sermon with a good message and a touch of humour. Others have also confirmed what a fine preacher he is. Good preaching is not so common nowadays that we can dispense with those who are gifted with the art of preaching. Another Dean – Michael Stancliffe of Winchester also possessed the art of giving well crafted inspiring… Read more »

Lavinia Nelder
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Lavinia Nelder

Thank you Oliver for nailing the problem on the head. Rural ministry in our little parishes involves catering for everyone’s spiritual need, which is a big ask for any clergy. If the blow ins don’t like it that we don’t do things the way they want they are welcome to join a more exclusive club of like minded people. We are not an Agatha Christie theme park in Devon and the PCCs generally don’t need another middle class professional with no practical skills telling the ‘staff’ how to do it and neither does the Cathedral which is where the problem… Read more »

Janet
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Janet

I don’t know the situation at Exeter, but long ago I was a cathedral chaplain. It was my job to be pastoral and approachable, though of course congregants and others were welcome to talk with any clergy they wished to. Even longer ago I was at college with Jonathan in Massachusetts and his sister was a good friend of mine. Jonathan didn’t seem particularly remote then, but neither was he very extrovert. People go to cathedrals for all sorts of reasons – some because they can find no other congenial place to worship, some wounded seeking refuge in a church… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

In moving with the times, witness the BBC’s “Songs of Praise” ‘programme’, we risk losing valuable traditions exemplified by my personal experience at Exeter Cathedral (albeit from only occasional visits) over many years: the services conducted with beauty and dignity both in the spoken parts and the superb music. But it takes some effort to understand the meaning of words of the BCP and the Authorised Version. At Chester Cathedral the hymn “Teach me, my God and King” is regularly sung, but most of the words must be meaningless in a 21st century context to many people without some thought… Read more »