A Letter from Dean Simon

A letter from Dean Simon, incorporating his statement read at the Cathedral during Choral Evensong on Sunday 9 October 2022, the date of his Installation as Canon Missioner and Interim Dean. 

Thank you for being here, whoever you are, wherever you are from and whatever you are carrying in your hearts. My thanks go to all of you who have worked so hard to create this wonderful service and participate, in whatever way. I was asked to choose hymns and anthems. The ones I chose all have significant resonance for me in my journey of faith and I am grateful to the choir for their offering today. Thank you for the many kind and welcoming messages, and the many assurances of prayer received over the past few weeks and days. 

I am very grateful to Bishop Philip for his kind invitation to serve here amongst you for this coming year. I am particularly thankful to the people of Minehead who have been pivotal in shaping and forming me as a priest and as a person. They have coped with the announcement of my departure and my departure itself all in a matter of about six weeks. This has not been easy for them. Please pray for them as they adjust to what is in essence a vacancy yet is not really a vacancy. They hold a very special place in my heart, without them I would not be here. 

I never imagined I would be called to Cathedral ministry, yet here I am, in this beautiful and sacred space standing with you and the peoples of Cornwall on common ground. You will, no doubt have many questions. Who is this man that Bishop Philip has brought in?  What is he going to be like? Why is he here? What will he think of us? What is he going to do? You may also have feelings, perhaps some fear, suspicion or even anger. There will no doubt be some discomfort around the sense of uncertainty as we look to the future. With all of this in mind, I would like to endorse and align myself with Bishop Phillip’s acknowledgement in his sermon from last Sunday that this has been a time of challenge for many of you, possibly even of pain. Change is never easy, however,  change is a natural and essential part of the Christian journey. The constant change in our lives begins at the point of our baptism.

I am here to serve, to lead and to work with, most especially to work with the Chapter as we, together, begin to understand and interpret the findings and recommendations of the External Review and the determinations that will emerge from the Visitation.  I am here because I genuinely want to help and I pray that I can. 

I hope that you find me someone who is honest and transparent, hard-working, straightforward and fair. I particularly hope that you find in me,  a person of prayer and reflection. 

I will, God-willing, say, do and decide things that you like. However, there will be times when I say, do and decide things that you won’t like. I want you to know that that is okay. This is a natural aspect of leadership and I have been invited here to do exactly that, to lead.  I am here to do this job at Bishop Philip’s request and we both truly feel the hand of God in this. 

If I may offer a thought about agreement and disagreement. When we agree, we must give thanks and glory to God for the common ground underneath us.  When we disagree, we must do so honestly and nobly. What we must always remember is this:  No amount of disagreement or uncomfortable feelings about each other must ever prevent us from kneeling at the altar and receiving Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament,  time and time again. 

Above all, whatever any review or report instructs us to do, we must never lose sight of why we are here, of who drew us here, and what is expected of us, as disciples of Christ. At all times, we must keep our eyes fixed firmly on the call of Almighty God to share the Good News of his Son, Jesus and to draw others into the loving and eternal embrace of God. 

For 7 years my prayer for the Parish of Minehead has been simple. ‘Lord God, through your mercy and your grace may we grow in love, in faith, in wisdom and may we see many come to faith.’ As I turn my head and my heart to this sacred space I invite you all, standing together on common ground,  to pray this prayer with me, not once, not now and then but every day, not for ourselves alone but for all those who so need to know Jesus as Saviour, who need to know that there is a place for them at the great banqueting table in heaven, who need to hear their name spoken by God as God lovingly calls them, like us, to their and our real and eternal home. 

And so, I invite you into this prayer. 

Almighty God, through the power of your merciful heart, through the over-flowing abundance of your grace, may we grow in love…love for you, love for each other and love of the stranger in our midst; may we grow in faith, in our understanding of our faith and in our ability to share our faith courageously and confidently;  may we grow in wisdom, wisdom in how we think, speak and act, in our discussions, our debates and our decisions and through the willing and thankful offering our time, our talents, our treasures, our whole lives may we see many come to faith and know Jesus Christ himself as Lord and Saviour. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen

May Blessed Mary, St Piran, the holy men and women of God and the saints and martyrs… pray for us.

Pray for me as I for you.

Dean Simon

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