Hundreds of people gathered in Wakefield Cathedral on Saturday 29 September for the installation of the new Dean, the Revd Canon Simon Cowling, and heard him pledge himself to the common good he knew could be found in the cathedral, city, district, diocese and beyond, urging others to expect the unexpected and be open and changed by it.
Simon was installed as the third Dean of Wakefield supported by a congregation representing the city, the church and the region – including the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, the Mayor of Wakefield, fellow deans, friends from his former parishes including Sheffield Cathedral where he served as precentor, the Association of English Cathedrals – and his very first Sunday School teacher, Janet Haigh, who taught him at St Barnabas’ Church, Crosland Moor in Huddersfield where he grew up.
Surrounded by prayer, Simon was first collated by Bishop Nick as incumbent of the Cathedral, inducted by the Archdeacon of Pontefract, the Ven Peter Townley, and finally led and installed in the Dean’s stall by the Sub-Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, Canon Tony MacPherson.
At the start of the service, Simon was welcomed by one girl and one boy chorister, Elias Vasey Saunders and Amelia Thackeray, and, before being installed, the new Dean was given the key to the door, and rang the Cathedral bells for the first time to mark the beginning of his ministry in the city and diocese.
In a message in the service booklet, Simon writes: “I begin my ministry as Dean of Wakefield with immense gratitude to all whose wisdom and guidance have contributed to my (continuing) formation as a Christian and as a human being, many of whom are here today; with a sense of excitement mingled with humility about the ministry to which God has called me here; and with deep confidence in the love of God for the whole world; shown to us in Christ.”
In his sermon, Simon reflected on the common good around us. “…. that common good does not come to us fully formed. It is a work of shared endeavour, requiring us always to be attentive to the unexpected insights of those from whom we might least expect them. And he continued: “So ….I have one hope above all for what is to come in this next season of ministry at Wakefield Cathedral: it is that together we may eagerly expect the unexpected; and that we may be open to and changed by the unexpected people and ways in which God reveals himself.’