A priest who substantially increased the number of families and young people worshipping at the major London parish he leads has been chosen as the new Dean of St Edmundsbury.
The Revd Canon Joe Hawes, Vicar of All Saints’ Fulham, who enjoys scuba-diving in his leisure time, will start his new senior role during the summer.
He succeeds the Very Revd Dr Frances Ward, Suffolk’s first female Dean, who left in October after seven years to become a writer and theologian.
The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said there had been a strong field of applicants with more candidates than usual for a Dean’s post.
Bishop Martin said: “I am delighted that it was a unanimous decision to appoint Joe. He is an outstanding and Godly priest. He is warm, engaging, caring and fun. He brings energy and wisdom, and a huge amount of experience in parish ministry.
“He has been Vicar of All Saints’ in Fulham for 15 years, and increased the regular congregation by 25% to more than 500 each Sunday with a particular ministry with families and young people.
“In Fulham he has developed worship to be engaging and accessible for people of different backgrounds and ages, and a church looking outwards, engaged in loving service with those in need.
“He has strong leadership and organisational skills, sees the cathedral as serving the whole county, not just Bury St Edmunds, and I look forward to working with him across the county for the greater good.”
Roger Wright, Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Music, who was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the process of finding a new Dean, said: “It was a pleasure and privilege to chair the panel for this appointment.
“His considerable experience, and his warm and engaging personality will help the cathedral be a beacon of hope for Suffolk as it broadens its appeal to all.
“Joe will be strong and thoughtful leader in this new period of the life of the cathedral and we very much look forward to his presence in the diocese.”
Canon Joe’s parish of All Saints’ Fulham has been developing it’s broadcasting profile, the Christmas Day service was live on BBC1, and Palm Sunday Morning worship will be broadcast on Radio 4 on March 25th.
Canon Joe, who will become one of the most senior Church of England figures in Suffolk, said: “I am really looking forward to getting to know the people of Suffolk and to taking my place among the Bishops’ Staff.
“I am keen to see even more people discover the beauty of the cathedral. We need to build our financial reserves so that we can further develop our excellence within music, worship, learning and care to the highest possible standards.
“We need to provide a place which is both sanctuary in an uncertain world, and also a forum for debate and reflection on the major questions which are challenging us as a society at the moment.”
Canon Joe, 52, is in a civil partnership with the Revd Chris Eyden, the vicar of All Saints’ Putney, who will remain serving in Putney for the time being.
Bishop Martin said he is looking forward to welcoming Joe, and Chris when he is able to be in the county.
Canon Joe will be installed as the Dean of St Edmundsbury in the Cathedral on Saturday July 14.
The Rt Revd Graeme Knowles, acting Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: “The Cathedral Chapter are delighted at Joe’s appointment. He will bring many gifts, experience and skills from his present ministry in Fulham.
“Joe will be joining the cathedral at a time when our vision and strategy is taking shape, therefore he will be able to contribute greatly to our future plans for the cathedral, town of Bury St Edmunds and county of Suffolk.”