We welcome the Very Revd Dr Sue Jones as the Eighth Dean of Liverpool

Tue 08th, May

News

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, led the service which formally marks the start of Sue's ministry with us.

In a service full of symbolism and legal formalities, Sue became the 8th Dean of Liverpool. During the service, she was installed into the Dean's chair in the magnificent Quire and received many symbols to represent her ministry as Dean.


The installation was a joyous celebration as Sue was joined by members of our congregations, folk from across our diocese and friends and colleagues from Derby and Bangor. We were delighted to be joined by Derby Cathedral choir to sing with our choir at this marvellous occasion.

A particularly moving moment was when Sue was invited to trace the Alpha and Omega marks on the cathedral floor flanked by the youngest members of our choir.  

Referring to this in her sermon Sue said " While some of you may be anxiously anticipating what I will say as I begin a new phase of ministry in this place, I am all too aware that I come to you not at the beginning, the Alpha, nor at the end the Omega. I come and participate in God’s mission in this place at a particular point in history. I am stepping out on to the paving stone between two points"

Affirming her support for the vision, mission and ministry of our cathedral Sue Added, " 

I step into that vision and I aim, with God’s help,  to work with all in the Cathedral community and beyond to fulfil the two primary goals set in 2014: to double the number of people worshipping weekly in the Cathedral and to raise 24 million pounds by 2024. The second goal scares me, but the first goal is an exciting challenge to all of us to continue that call of Christ to go and make disciples of all nations.

We need to continue the vision of being a bigger church making a bigger difference remembering that the Cathedral was built by the people for the people, and is a safe place in which to do risky things in Christ’s service"

Read Sue's Installation sermon in full

Listen to her sermon here

 

I would like to begin by saying thank you for all the good wishes and messages of welcome I have received they have been overwhelming. I would also like to say thank you to all those who have made today possible. Special thanks go to Myles as acting dean for his welcome and support and to Clare Kerrigan EA emeritus for her welcome and organisation.

Thanks also to all of you who have come to support me today, from Derby, Bangor and beyond as I begin on this new journey. Diolch yn fawr iwan, Thank you very much.

Now to the sermon which I begin by reading the poem Wendy Cope has written and given permission for use in this service The poem which was so beautifully sung by Derby Cathedral choir as the introit and composed by Hugh Morris.

New Season

No coats today. Buds bulge on chestnut trees,
And on the doorstep of a big, old house
A young man stands and plays his flute.
I watch the silver notes fly up
And circle in the blue sky above the traffic,
Travelling where they will.

And suddenly this paving-stone
Midway between my front door and the bus stop
Is a starting point

From here I can go anywhere I choose.

 

Wendy Cope’s poem New Season is full of the optimism and hope which comes when there is a new season and especially the season of spring. The poem clearly describes the hope that a new season offers, no coat, budding chestnut blossom and the sound of a flautist’s musical notes travelling where they will, all give the feeling that there is new hope, new optimism.

In the final verse, something as ordinary as a paving stone between the front door and the bus stop takes on greater meaning. It is not just a paving stone, but a ‘stating point’ for a new season, and a new life: from here I can go anywhere I choose      

We are stepping out into a new future together but that new future is not a blank canvas. It already has the budding chestnut blossom and the flautist’s musical notes travelling in the air. The paving stones are already part of the path between here and there.

Since the laying of the foundation stone in 1904 this Cathedral has been stepping out onto the paving stone and each Dean and Chapter since 1931 has in its own way made its mark in the history of this place. From Dean Dwelly to the present day.

While some of you may be anxiously anticipating what I will say as I begin a new phase of ministry in this place, I am all too aware that I come to you not at the beginning, the Alpha, nor at the end the Omega. I come and participate in God’s mission in this place at a particular point in history. I am stepping out on to the paving stone between two points.

The tracing of the letters of the Alpha and Omega as part of this service I found profoundly moving, all the more so because it is done alongside the younger choristers and because the letters of the Alpha and Omega were first traced in the dust of this place by Bishop Albert Augustus David  at the consecration of this building.

At that point it was a beginning for this Cathedral and for God’s mission in this place. There may not be a long heritage to this cathedral, but there is an energy and drive here to fulfil the vision that Liverpool Cathedral is a safe place to do risky things in Christs’ service.

It's not always easy to be a risk taker, but the history of the building of this Cathedral is full of people taking risks from the young architect, Scott, through to the first Bishop and Dean, and on to the present day. All of them had their beginning and the hope that a bigger church makes a bigger difference.

 

Faith and belief in a God of surprises is a risk because we don’t know where God will lead us. I certainly would never have believed that I would be standing here in this pulpit preaching at my installation service as Dean.

But God calls us out from what is comfortable. God calls us out to make that step between the front door and the bus stop. Our reading from Mark’s Gospel is a reading about taking that first step, a step into what already is, but a step that will lead to a greater understanding of God’s mission for the world through the Son. A greater understanding of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist is clearly the forerunner for Jesus, he is the last of the Old prophets and stands in the tradition of Elijah. So, as Jesus approaches John he does so in the knowledge that he comes not to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfil them. He comes to bring  Good News of the Kingdom of God.  He comes to further the good news of peace, salvation and the reign of God that is already part of God’s rule over Israel. He comes at a pivotal moment as he steps on to the paving stone.

As I stand here, and as you listen, we too are part of that long tradition of faith that has developed, changed and blessed the world. In this Cathedral since 2014, a vision has developed and there is a plan that looks forward to 19 July 2024. The date is important because it celebrates the centenary of the consecration of this building and it will be the 120th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone. We stand therefore on the paving stone between 2014 and 2024.

It is hoped that by that date and with God’s grace the Cathedral will be fit for the next 100 years. The Cathedral Chapter is determined to pass the building to future generations in good condition but most importantly they want the cathedral to be a place of mission and outreach for the diocese and for the city.

I step into that vision and I am, with God’s help,  to work with all in the Cathedral community and beyond to fulfil the two primary goals set in 2014: to double the number of people worshipping weekly in the Cathedral and to raise 24 million pounds by 2024. The second goal scares me, but the first goal is an exciting challenge to all of us to continue that call of Christ to go and make disciples of all nations.

I believe passionately in the call of all God’s people and have spent my ministry encouraging and fostering people in their faith. I have seen people bud and blossom like new leaves on a chestnut tree. I have seen people develop and have the confidence to play their flute and I have watched as their musical notes of new ideas and thoughts fly into the air.

In joining this community at this particular time I would want to continue with the vision already set. Yes, there may be a few tweaks and a few developments here and there in how we achieve our goals but the underlying mission statement of heightening worship, multiplying congregations, promoting fairness, deepening discipleship, extending wellbeing and widening enterprise will be foundational to what we do.

We need to continue the vision of being a bigger church making a bigger difference remembering that the Cathedral was built by the people for the people, and is a safe place in which to do risky things in Christ’s service.

But one of the first things I need to do is get to know you all. I need to listen to the story of the journey that you have already been on and I need to join that journey by working with and among you. I have to step out onto the paving stone. I know this will take time, but I am stepping out on to a path which has been partly laid and we are continuing along it into a future that calls people to listen to one another and to listen to God in order to further God’s mission in this city and in this diocese.

Faith and belief in God the rock, as Isaiah calls God, is the foundation of what has been undertaken here and will be undertaken here. This place is built on a rock and could only have been built by those with the vision to build it because they believed that God was with them and that God was their rock. I still find it beyond words and incredible that despite all that life could throw at those who built this place they continued with the vision. They continued to give their pennies, they continued to worship God, they continued to believe in a future which had God at its centre.

Today we affirm that God will be, and is, at the centre of all that we do. In this service, by tracing the letters for Alpha and Omega we are affirming that all creation finds its purpose in God. What God began, in the beginning, God will direct to its conclusion. The God who brought the world into existence is the same God who will bring the world to completion.

 Christ also identifies himself as Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. I and you are stepping out onto the paving stone full of the hope symbolised by the budding chestnut tree and by the flautist's music. We step out believing that God is our rock, that God is the Alpha and Omega,  that God will in the years that stretch before us, direct us and be with us.

No coats today. Buds bulge on chestnut trees,
And on the doorstep of a big old house
A young man stands and plays his flute.

I watch the silver notes fly up
And circle in the blue sky above the traffic,
Travelling where they will.

And suddenly this paving stone
Midway between my front door and the bus stop
Is a starting point

From here I can go anywhere I choose.
Yes, WE can with God as our rock
Amen.