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Dean of Wakefield on the Move

19 September 2017

The Dean of Wakefield, the Very Reverend Jonathan Greener, is to be the new Dean of Exeter, Downing Street has announced this morning.

The Very Reverend Jonathan Greener will leave the diocese he has served for the last 14 years to start his new post on Sunday 26 November.

The Diocesan Bishop, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, said: “I am delighted at the appointment of Jonathan Greener to be Dean of Exeter. He will bring gifts of vision, resilience and collegiality to his new ministry. Exeter is receiving a Dean who has helped shape a new way of exercising cathedral ministry in a diocese going through considerable change. I will miss his creativity, friendship and support.”

In his time as Dean of Wakefield, no cathedral building in the country has undergone a more major make-over - from top to bottom and east to west.

Said Jonathan: “The built environment is a way of showing care for citizens, it attracts investment and jobs, but beauty is also a vital part of human existence under God. One of the issues for Wakefield alongside poverty in the pocket, has been poverty of opportunity and aspiration.

In my time here, I have seen Wakefield becoming the city of which its citizens can be genuinely proud. And I too am proud to have played a part in renewing the Cathedral for the people of our city and district and proud to leave a Cathedral in such good state,” he added.

It was the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund that gave the Dean and Chapter of Wakefield the money and confidence to renew the building and open it up to new people.

But it was his wife, Pamela, and her musical talents that put Wakefield Cathedral on the map when she became a YouTube sensation with The VAT Ditty - warning that the then Chancellor’s proposals to close VAT relief on historic buildings would put an extra £200,000 on the restoration bill at Wakefield Cathedral - and plunge many other church buildings into financial crisis. Her campaign helped raise the issue for both Wakefield Cathedral and the Church of England. An online petition got over 13k signatures and saw a U-turn from the Government.

Most of Jonathan’s ministry has been in the Wakefield Area – he was the Archdeacon of Pontefract for four years before being appointed the Dean of Wakefield. He met and married his wife, Pamela here and in the last ten years in post as Dean, as well as delivering the Cathedral’s £7.5m regeneration project, he has also seen a number of new initiatives including: Messy Cathedral, Pop Up Mobile Cathedral, supported the Wakefield Rent Deposit Scheme, renewed the Chantry Chapel, introduced a new coffee shop and now integrated that with a gift shop and the local Visitor Information Point, developed new offices, and seen the baptism of well over 200 people new to faith. He chairs the Sponsors of the Trinity Academy Halifax – of which he is very proud.

Jonathan is also an executive member of the Association of English Cathedrals and a Church Commissioner.

The Sub Dean of Wakefield, Canon Tony Macpherson, who has worked alongside Jonathan for many years said: “Jonathan has given us inspiring leadership over the last ten years and has led the Cathedral in its physical transformation through two large HLF projects and a number of smaller ones.

In his inaugural sermon, he spoke of his desire to make the cathedral a meeting place for everyone and we are very grateful for all he has done to help us move towards this. We wish Jonathan and Pamela well in their new adventure and will keep them in our prayers.”

Said Jonathan: “It is exciting moving because of challenges of the new post, but it is very hard leaving Wakefield where my life has been for the last 14 years and where together we’ve managed to achieve some great things and deliver a cathedral fit for the 21st century. It’s been hard work, as all those who have worked alongside me know only too well. But it’s also been immensely rewarding as has been living in Wakefield at this time while so many good things have come to the city; the new Bull Ring, the renewal of our railway stations, our civic centre, our lovely little theatre, Unity Works, Trinity Walk, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and of course The Hepworth.

It feels like this city needs fresh eyes and new energy to take the Cathedral and its people on the next stage of its journey,” he added.

Jonathan’s final services will be on Sunday 5 November.

He will be installed in Exeter on Sunday 26 November.

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