Bristol Cathedral is entering a new season with the appointment of a new Dean, the Very Rev’d Mandy Ford, installed in October 2020 and the departure of its previous Chief Operating Officer / Chapter Clerk in July. Building on strong financial foundations and local partnerships, there is potential to grow and to make a bigger impact in the city.
The Role of the Chief Operating Officer (Chapter Clerk)
This is a multi-dimensional role requiring someone with excellent organizational and project management skills, who can work with our finance team and governance structures with an eye for detail, but who also has a pragmatic “can-do” attitude.
You will be the Dean’s right hand, enabling the vision of the Dean and Chapter to be realized, acting as a sounding board, and managing the Cathedral’s resources with a good measure of entrepreneurialism.
This role would suit someone who is looking for a new and different challenge and who enjoys a variety of relationships and tasks in their working life. You will be helping us to be good stewards of a remarkable historic building; reaching out to build relationships widely in the city; and supporting a wide range of both commercial and charitable activities as well as our central task of prayer and worship.
The Cathedral within its Context
Bristol Cathedral stands in the civic heart of a city that has frequently been voted the best place to live in the UK. The West of England region, with Bristol at its centre, has long been the powerhouse of the South West economy. The city is home to a diverse community of nearly half a million people. According to the 2011 Census 78% of the population were ‘white British’, but there are also well-established African-Caribbean, Pakistani and Indian communities, as well as growing Somali and Polish communities, amongst others.
Unusually for a major metropolitan centre, it does not have a sharply defined centre and has been described as a ‘city of villages’. The sense of being a Bristolian and your experience of the city can vary greatly depending on where you live, and the city often feels zoned by ethnicity, wealth and class. There are very affluent parts of the city, but also significant pockets of deprivation, with high levels of intergenerational unemployment. Other areas are more bohemian, diverse and edgy – and many are engaged in social, political or environmental activism. The wider Diocese covers areas including Swindon and South Gloucestershire, providing diverse communities including smaller towns and rural villages.
The Cathedral reflects centuries of history, founded on a 12th century Augustinian Abbey dissolved in 1539 and its buildings raised to cathedral status by Henry VIII, after lobbying from the citizens of England’s second trading city after London. Major additions in the 17th and 19th centuries created the building we enjoy today, However, some of this history brings with it challenges, as like other historical institutions in Bristol we live with the legacy of the slave trade and have benefited from the generosity of traders and philanthropists in the city over hundreds of years.
Bristol has been described as a city with a cathedral rather than a cathedral city. We aspire for everyone who lives or works in Bristol to say that Bristol Cathedral is “their cathedral”.
Over the years the administrative centre of Bristol has moved from the old town to College Green, where the City Hall now forms a significant boundary. College Green, owned by the Cathedral, is a large open space leased to the Council, which provides a recreational space for those who live and work in the City. In 2011 College Green and the Cathedral were the focus for the largest Occupy protest in England outside London, and in 2020 for an appearance by Greta Thunberg supporting students and protesters against the Climate Emergency. The Cathedral, led in this area by the Diocesan Canon (who is also the Bishop’s Chaplain), seeks to engage with a range of social justice issues, in particular homelessness, modern slavery and aspirations for Carbon Zero. The Dean leads on work relating to BAME, inclusion and memorialisation. The Cathedral is a focus for major events and for music and is the congregation house of the University of the West of England, used for Degree Ceremonies twice a year.
The choir school, formerly an independent boys’ school, is now a co-educational Academy educating 1,500 young people on the site including a new Church Primary School. We are their landlords and so it is vital that we maintain a good relationship as we seek to be good neighbours on a cramped site which has to serve many differing stake holder needs.
The current Dean was installed in October 2020. The challenges of the role were identified as
- Leading the Cathedral Community in fostering a strategic vision for Bristol Cathedral to play a key role at the heart of the life of the City;
- Developing the role of the Cathedral as the seat of the Bishop’s ministry by contributing to mission, evangelism and discipleship across the whole diocese;
- Ensuring the Cathedral has the capacity and energy to resource its vision; facilitating collegial working and maximising the gifts and skills of members of Chapter, staff and volunteers; and
- Enabling the Cathedral to reach and grow diverse congregations by developing alternative, accessible expressions of worship, whilst being sensitive to its choral and sacramental tradition.
In order to respond to the further challenges, practical and financial, created by the pandemic, the Cathedral is embarking on a process of engagement and vision renewal in parallel with the Diocese. It is recognised that the current planning document Come and See does not reflect the ambition of the Cathedral community to offer a welcome to all and to become a place that truly reflects the diverse life of the city of Bristol. Transforming Cathedral will take us through the next twelve months as we discern God’s preferred plan and shape a more ambitious vision for the Cathedral.