New Dean of Southwark Announced

31st July 2023

The Revd Dr Mark Oakley has been appointed as the next Dean of Southwark by the Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun.

He will be installed as Dean at Choral Evensong in Southwark Cathedral on Advent Sunday (3 December).

Speaking about his appointment, Mark said:

“I am very honoured, and a little daunted, to be asked to continue the ministry of the Dean of Southwark, following on from the extraordinary work and presence of Andrew Nunn. 

“I have been grateful all my life for the existence of Southwark Cathedral, for its witness to the gospel through learning and formation, arts and the imagination, local partnerships and a commitment to social justice.

“I am now deeply grateful to be asked to become a part of its life and mission, and I ask for your prayers as I prepare to join the people of the cathedral and diocese. Our vocation is to embody a sacramental, poetic and just Christian faith that resonates with both joy and integrity. I really look forward to making new friends as we seek to do this together,’ he said.

Mark was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1993 and served his curacy at St John’s Wood Church in London Diocese. He was later appointed Chaplain to the Bishop of London and after four years was made Rector of the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden. He has subsequently served as an archdeacon in the Diocese in Europe, Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral and is currently Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge.

He holds a PhD in English Literature and is an admired author of several books on poetry and spirituality. He is well known as a speaker and preacher and has been awarded both the Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing and the Lanfranc Award by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for education and scholarship.

Mark has a strong commitment to human rights and has served on the board of Liberty and the Civil Liberties Trust and was awarded one of the first ‘Upstander’ awards for his work with hate crime victims. In 2021, King’s College London awarded Mark a Fellowship in recognition of his ‘exceptional service and achievement’ – the most prestigious award the university can give.

Bishop Christopher said:

“Mark is a person of depth, insight and integrity who brings with him a wealth of priestly experience offered in many different contexts. Before St John’s he was a Canon of St Paul’s following on from service in the Diocese in Europe as Chaplain at Copenhagen and Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe. This variety of experience will equip him well for the prominent role he will now take on as Dean of Southwark and I look forward to working with him.” 

“I am delighted that Mark has been appointed as Dean of Southwark,” added the Revd Canon Michael Rawson, Interim Dean of Southwark. “He brings theological reflection alive in his preaching and writing. We look forward to worshipping and working with Mark as the Cathedral enters a new and exciting phase of our life together, in deepening our faith and reaching out in service of our parish and diocese.”

Mark shares his life in a Civil Partnership with Nicholas.