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Address to Congregation

If you consider yourself to be a member of the Cathedral Community and you would to express your thoughts about what you would like to see in a new Dean, please email Matt O’Grady (MOG) (Chapter Clerk and Chief Operations Officer) by 9 October:

This is not a sermon. (Don’t look so pleased.)

I am taking the opportunity provided by this first Sunday after Dianna’s farewell to share some random but connected issues with you all. I apologise to any visitors today that much of this might be of little interest to you – and you might want to get out a book to read or do the crossword or your weekly supermarket order.

I want to talk first about the process for appointing a new Dean – and then look at the challenges and priorities that face us as a Cathedral.

When Dianna announced her retirement, that created the 14th vacancy in Deans of the Church of England. That number has now reduced to eight and we have been bumped up the list to number six.

The Dean of Guildford is appointed by the Crown. Both the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary and the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary are therefore involved. Three documents need to be prepared: one by the Bishop; one by the Appointments’ Secretaries and one by the Cathedral Chapter (the governing body of the Cathedral). It is in preparing that document that we would value your input. The Chapter is having a number of extra meetings but, in particular on October 10th we will be preparing the first draft of our statement – which will include our thoughts about what we would like to see in a new dean – we would very much like to hear from members of the Cathedral Community – and that can be done by emailing the Chapter Clerk (MOG) details at the top of this page.

Once our statement has been submitted, the Appointments Secretaries will come down to Guildford and meet people and draw up their own document.

An interview panel will be drawn up. The independent chair is nominated by the Bishop. Amongst others, it will include a Dean from another Cathedral, someone nominated by the College of Canons who is not on the Cathedral Staff and a lay member of the Cathedral Chapter.

The post will be advertised a shortlist will be drawn up and eventually interviews will be held.

Hopefully, there is then a candidate that the panel chooses – but that has to go to the King for approval. When the King has approved the candidate, it can be announced and the candidate can give three months’ notice – so, no, to answer someone’s question, we will not have a new Dean before Christmas!

A consequence of this is that we will all be working together for some time – and can I say how moved I have been by the kind words and offers of support I have been receiving. My excellent clergy colleagues, our hard-working lay staff and lovely congregation – all of you deserve to be thanked both for what you have said to me personally and for the commitment to the hard work that lies ahead of us in getting ready for a new Dean. Hard work for a clergy team running one short again and for a lay staff team that has been cut back and a smaller and older congregation.


I have a long list of things to tidy up – from the sound system to the website – but I have suggested four priorities to my clergy colleagues and to Chapter:

In no particular order, as they say on Strictly, they are the pastoral care of each other; communication; the land sale; and our finances.


The ups and downs of the last few years – including all that happened in Covid, have, I think, taken quite a toll on all of us: congregation, staff, clergy alike – and we need to care for each other whenever we can – we need to understand one another’s fragility  - and one another’s strengths – easier said than done – and there is no wonderful programme that can enable this to happen – simply the loving and valuing of everyone.

Communication is difficult in any organisation, but notoriously difficult in the Church with its mixture of clergy, staff and volunteers. I have become convinced that the best way to keep something a secret is to put it on the website, on the noticeboard, in the parish magazine… The best way to share something is to tell someone it is a secret.

That’s me being naughty – our record in communication here is pretty bad and, as someone who deeply believes in being as transparent and open as possible – except when something is confidential. This address is meant to be a first step in sharing information – but we will get it wrong – and also, please ask if you want to know something. I will either tell you the answer, or that I don’t know – or that I cannot tell you.

The land sale. This is an area where we have received quite a lot of criticism for not sharing information. I think that criticism is actually unfair. On Wednesday of last week, a formal appeal was lodged against the decision of Guildford Borough Council planning committee to turn down planning permission at their meeting in March*.

As many of you know, we are working with Vivid a social and affordable housing provider – not a profit-making developer. In the contract we have with them, it provides that, if a decision is taken to go to appeal, Vivid foot the bill – and that is a sizeable amount – possibly a quarter of a million pounds – when the decision was taken Vivid, who are so easy to work with, asked that we keep the decision confidential until they had prepared everything necessary and the appeal was lodged. It is now in the public domain.

There will be a public enquiry – who knows when? the optimists have suggested February/March. After that we will have to wait for a decision.

That decision is crucial for us financially – if planning permission is granted it will mean that our reserves will receive some much needed funds as we can recoup all the money we have spent on fees and surveys and the like – and it will mean that an endowment will bed established which will provide funds for the routine maintenance and upkeep of the Cathedral and that in turn means that our annual budget will start to break even or be in surplus.

Quite frankly, we are on a knife-edge financially. Just before Covid we had produced a breakeven budget but Covid helped to deplete our reserves and lower our income – which was rescued by the filming that took place – thanks to our Events Team.

There are a number of streams that fund the Cathedral: there is a modest grant from the Church Commissioners as well as the stipend of two Residentiary Canons and the Dean; there is a tiny amount of interest from various endowment and restricted funds; there is a significant amount of money raised by our Enterprise and Events Team, and also by our Development Team. There are legacies and donations – and there is congregational giving.

On November 19th we will be thinking about Renewal of Giving – where all of are asked to work out what proportion of our income is right to give to the Church – and as this should be a regular activity, we will be doing so every year. Hopefully that will increase what is, often sacrificially, being given now. No cathedral congregation can ever support the total costs of a Cathedral but are a vital part of the Income Stream.

We were hoping to have more filming this year – but a number of factors over which we have no control – like the writers’ strike in the USA – meant that it did not happen and as a result we are facing a deficit this year of about £100K which is not sustainable in to the future.

As I said earlier – we are blessed with so many good and supportive and hardworking people that I feel we can find a way forward.

I thank you for listening and look forward to working together in the months ahead.


*29th March 2023 and the final refusal decision dated the 3rd April 2023.

To contact Stuart please email, Lisa Hatherall, Deanspa on

For the process of selecting a new Dean, please email Matt O’Grady, Chapter Clerk and Chief Operations Officer by 9 October on

If you would like to support the Cathedral by way of a donation, sponsorship or would like to have a conversation around ways to support please contact, Nicola Pratt, Head of Development on

Thank you for your Support.