First female Dean of Norwich appointed

Posted on Friday 7 February 2014
            The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Dr Jane Hedges as the next Dean of Norwich, the first female Dean in the Cathedral’s 900 year history.
            Canon Hedges (58), who is currently Canon Steward of Westminster Abbey and Archdeacon of Westminster, will succeed the Very Revd Graham Smith who retired in September.
            Canon Hedges trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall Durham in 1978, before women could be ordained as deacons and priests. She was made a deaconess in 1980 and was ordained deacon when the Church of England changed its laws to allow female deacons in 1987, and was one of the first women to be ordained priest in 1994. She spent the early years of her ministry in parishes in Fareham and Southampton before becoming Stewardship Adviser in the Diocese of Portsmouth in 1988. In 1993, Canon Hedges became Canon Residentiary of Portsmouth Cathedral, then spent a further five years in parish ministry in the Diocese of Exeter before being made Canon Steward of Westminster Abbey in 2006.
            (Scroll down the page to view more photos from the announcement.)
            Commenting on her appointment, Canon Hedges said, “My move from Westminster Abbey to the Deanery of Norwich will be both exciting and challenging. I am particularly looking forward to working with Bishop Graham and his senior staff team and getting to know Chapter colleagues and the community at the Cathedral as we explore together how to take forward its ministry within the Diocese in imaginative ways. Being part of the community at Westminster Abbey has taught me an enormous amount about Benedictine spirituality and hospitality and so it is a great joy to be joining another community where the Benedictine principle of welcoming all people is at the heart of its life. My family and I are looking forward to getting to know people throughout the Diocese and to exploring the beautiful countryside and coast of East Anglia and to welcoming people to our home in the Deanery.”
            The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, commented, “I am delighted to welcome Jane Hedges to be Dean of Norwich and look forward greatly to working with her. Jane has a wide experience in ministry in parishes, a cathedral and most recently at Westminster Abbey. Jane is well known in the Church of England for the quality of her pastoral and teaching ministry. I am sure that she possesses the gifts we need at this stage in the life of Norwich Cathedral and the Appointment Panel was unanimous in wanting Jane to be our next Dean. I look forward enormously to her installation on Saturday 21 June. Jane and her husband Chris can be assured of a very big welcome to Norwich and the Diocese.”
            Lord MacGregor, High Steward of Norwich Cathedral and Chairman of the Appointment Panel said, “The Panel’s process was professional and thorough, with much local involvement including substantial contributions from the Chapter and others to the Cathedral information and job specification. We had an excellent response when the vacancy was made known, which I am sure reflects the high standing in which Norwich Cathedral is held. We were fortunate to have several outstanding candidates on the short list, and after rigorous consideration the Panel was unanimous in our recommendation of Canon Hedges.  I am delighted to welcome Jane as our new Dean, and wish her every success in the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
            Canon Hedges is married to Chris and they have two sons, Jonathan (23) and Adam (21). Joining them in their home in the Cathedral Close will be their Labradoodle, Rufus, who was born in Thetford and two new kittens also born in Norfolk.
Further notes:
Jane Hedges will be installed as Dean of Norwich at Norwich Cathedral on the afternoon of Saturday 21st June
The Bishop of Norwich consults with representatives of the Cathedral, Diocese, local community, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his advisors. A name is then approved by the Queen.
Additional photos and video content will appear on this page as they become available.
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            From the last link suggested by this article – from the Diocese of Norwich news bulletin – it will be seen that the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt. Revd. Graham James, is quite at home with the experience of women in the ministry of the Church of England. When I was in Norwich, a couple of years ago, assisting at the Ordination of a New Zealand-born priest (male), it was good to notice the number of women clergy present at the ordination.
            Canon Jane Hedges, who will become the first-ever female Dean of Norwich Cathedral on her move from Westminster Abbey, will be transferring from one wonderful historic building of the Church of England to another. Having sampled the beauty and historic significance of Norwich, I can understand her excitement at taking up her new post in that delightful part of the country. 
            This preferment (promotion) of a woman priest to serve in what has been a strictly male preserve in the Church of England is surely a step in the right direction – especially in view of the current move towards the ordination in the Church of England of women as bishops. More and more women clergy are being called to some of the more high-profile jobs in the Church – a sure sign of their growing acceptance by the rank and file.
            Thanks be to God!
            Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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