David Ison new Dean of St Paul's

Congratulations to David Ison on his appointment as the next Dean of St Paul's. Dr Ison, who is already a Dean, in Bradford, and thus labours under the title "the Very Reverend" (what a millstone to place around a man's neck) will take up his new post at the end of May.

This is an absolutely key appointment, following the unfortunate departure of his predecessor, The Right Reverend Graham Knowles, who resigned suddenly in the midst of the "Occupy" crisis. His reasons for doing so are still slightly opaque, but it appeared that he simply buckled under the enormous pressure from all directions, including the media, opinion in the church, his own staff, and probably the Bishop of London. The new Dean may come with clean hands as far as that incident is concerned, but it's a safe bet that St Paul's, having featured on the radar in this way, will have other storms to weather before long. David Ison's style of leadership and his vision for St Paul's will be tested severely.

Given all that, it's interesting to see how this announcement slipped under the radar. There were routine reports in the national media (Thinking Anglicans has all the links), but none of the usual suspects in blog-land seem to have noticed, or they don't care. It may be that because Dr Ison has no real "form" with regard to controversies or scandal, there's nothing to get their teeth into.

Thus Always Hope is pleased to exclusively reveal the following titbit: David Ison was responsible for overseeing my post-ordination training when he was Director of Clergy training in Exeter Diocese, and I was a snotty curate. On reflection, this is perhaps not very interesting, and readers will probably reflect only that even the best must be allowed the occasional mistake. But I think this is a great appointment. I don't know much about what David has done in Bradford, but he must have done a good job to be recommended for St Paul's. What I do know is that he is no stuffy, old-school, over-dignified cleric. Intelligent, honest, slightly evangelical, occasionally sarcastic but essentially benevolent (although not above being a little waspish with rebellious curates), and a fine teacher, he represents a different generation to his predecessor.  I feel that St Paul's has opted to open the long-closed windows and let in some fresh air. Watch that space with interest.

UPDATE: the Bishop of Bradford has blogged, "they've nicked my Dean" , adding little other than that David is "brilliant". He does give the whole text of David Ison's statement, though, which fleshes out his own thoughts about Bradford and St Paul's.


GrahamB said…
I'm sure many people won't realise the distinction between a "Reverend", a "Right Reverend" and a "Very Reverend". (And when the Bishop of Truro was also the Dean, was he "Right and Very Reverend"?)

Personally I think this gradation could be extended. I'd like to put in a bid for "Slightly Reverend", which is what I feel when I robe up, and there are one or two who merit a "Reverend?".

Of course, being a pedant my pet hate is the use of reverend as a noun, as in "Have you spoken to the Reverend?" or "What does the Reverend think?" Though it wasn't until I watched a re-run of Dad's Army that I remembered the usage of "His Reverence" by which people spoke of the vicar. In my childhood it was trotted out by one party in the congregation while another block insisted on referring to our priest as "Padre".

Generally I'm becoming less formal with the passage of the years, though I can't quite follow my brother in referring to the Archbishop of Canterbury as "The Top Frock".

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