The new Dean of Belfast has spoken of his excitement at taking on the role, but also acknowledged it is “a massive challenge and a daunting task”.
Archdeacon Stephen Forde will be installed as the 14th Dean of Belfast at a service in St Anne’s Cathedral at 3.30pm tomorrow.
The service will be attended by the Bishops of Connor and Down and Dromore, representatives of community life in the city, visiting bishops and leaders of the other main denominations in Northern Ireland.
Dean-elect Forde said he approached his new role knowing he would need the prayers and support of many others, including “staff at the cathedral, the cathedral community who call this place their spiritual home, and also support from the wider community in Belfast, as well as from the clergy and people of the two dioceses that this cathedral serves”.
He added: “Yet I know that the God who calls is also the God who equips. All I can ask is that people will pray for me, and work with me, to achieve God’s ambitions for this great cathedral and to embrace all the opportunities of God’s future.”
Archdeacon Forde said the redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter, and the arrival of 10,000 students at the University of Ulster, represented “a time of new beginnings and new horizons”.
He added: “I hope the cathedral will be a place where people who are rushed and hassled by life’s demands will find rest and refreshment, a place of peace in a world of many pressures.
“I also hope the cathedral will be a place of ecumenical encounter, a place where bridges are built and barriers dismantled.
“Above all, I pray this will be a place where people discover how much they matter, because they will discover how much they matter to God.”
The formal institution and installation of the new dean is followed by commissioning in which he is presented with symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of an incumbent.
These will include a Bible (to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ), a container of water (recognising that the cathedral is a place of Christian baptism), a Book of Common Prayer (demonstrating the primary role of the dean to lead public worship and encourage a life of personal devotion), bread and wine (the elements of holy communion), oil (symbolic of healing and reconciliation), the key to the cathedral (as a reminder that the cathedral is a place to be kept open for all people) and a towel (as a reminder of Christ washing his disciples’ feet and of the ministry of service and support of those in need and in trouble).