New dean will be a ‘strong leader’ among Suffolk clergy, says bishop
- Credit: Photo:Keith Mindham Photography
A priest has spoken of his excitement and trepidation at becoming one of the most senior Church of England clergy in Suffolk.
The Very Rev Joe Hawes – who earlier this year found himself at the centre of national attention after Lord Tebbit labelled him a “sodomite” – has been installed as the new Dean of St Edmundsbury.
Dean Hawes, 53, who is in a civil partnership with Rev Chris Eyden, vicar at All Saints’ in Putney, said he felt “absolutely no ill will” towards Lord Tebbit following the former Government minister’s comments and announcement he would no longer visit the cathedral for services.
Hundreds of well-wishers attended the service, led by the Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday to welcome the new dean.
Dean Hawes said: “I have approached becoming Dean with both trepidation and excitement.
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“With trepidation because the challenge of being a Cathedral Dean today requires a whole series of skills and aptitudes, many of which I am going to have to work hard to acquire.
“With excitement because how could anyone not be excited at the prospect of coming to work in such beautiful surroundings, in such a friendly and supportive community?
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“Cathedrals are in an interesting place at the moment, never more visited and with attendances growing, but also never more scrutinised by the medi and national Church institutions.
“The struggle to maintain and develop historic buildings while growing mission and ministry means that Cathedral Chapters are under pressure as never before.
“Of course, I’ll stumble, and hope you’ll forgive me when I do, and help me up again, but in the midst of the challenges, I hope there can also be sparkiness, holiness and fun.
“I hope that I can be part of a move to draw the cathedral even closer to the parishes it serves, finding new and deeper ways of being a resource, a place of pilgrimage, a place of hospitality and worship.”
Bishop Martin said Dean Hawes was a “Godly priest who will be a strong leader”. He added: “Joe brings drive, wisdom, and a vast amount of experience. He is warm, engaging, caring and fun and a champion of those in need.”
Stewart Alderman, a cathedral warden, said: “It’s been a privilege to work with Bishop Martin throughout the appointment process and I am now looking forward with great confidence and excitement to working with Joe as he leads the Cathedral into the next phase of its ministry for Suffolk.”
Liz Steele, a cathedral warden and member of the chapter, added: “Joe is the right person to steer us a steady course for all those parts of the Cathedral that make it what it is, a beacon of faith, hope and love.”
The new dean is a former Durham University graduate who studied theology at St Stephen’s House, Oxford.
He has been a parish priest for 25 years. Prior to his current post at All Saints’ Fulham he was Team Vicar for eight years at St Michael’s, Barnes Team Ministry, in London, where he helped grow the number of families and young people worshipping, regularly seing 500 worshippers every Sunday. He served his curacy within the Clapham Team Ministry.
He has been Honorary Canon of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Gaborone, Botswana, an initiative to share clergy professional development.
He is the Bishop of London and Church Commissioners’ nominated trustee on the Board of the Fulham Palace Trust, engaged in reshaping the mission and finances of this historic residence of the Bishops of London.
Dean Hawes’ other leisure interests include gardening, cooking, theatre and opera, and travel. He succeeds the Very Revd Dr Frances Ward, Suffolk’s first female dean, who left in October after seven years to become a writer and theologian, and the Rt Revd Graeme Knowles, who led the cathedral as acting Dean until Dean Francis’ successor was chosen.