Friday, October 28, 2011

A Guide To Cathedral Staff

The resignation of the Chancellor of St. Pauls Cathedral, Dr Giles Fraser, along with statements by the Dean, reminds me of the singular set of names we have for Cathedral staff in the CofE. So here's a guide for the perplexed:

Dean: someone called Dean. Or failing that, Graham. Anyway, it's a mans name, which explains why there are so few female Deans. The last known sightings were in the 1980s, (Hazell Dean, Brenda Dean)

Sub Dean: Someone else called Dean whose job it is to go out to the sandwich shop to get lunch for everyone else.

Chancellor: Runs the economy, sets the levels of taxation for visitors to the Cathedral, appears regularly on TV.

Precentor: Best to ask a midwife.

Succentor: Succesor to the Precentor. Particularly enjoys the middle parts of sweets.

Lay Canon: Goes round telling people 'you're fired'. This practice recently discontinued after one of the senior staff didn't realise it was said in jest.

Chapter: part of a long and wonderful ongoing story. Meets in a Chapter House for regular book club gatherings. As the name suggests, composed mostly of chaps.

Registrar: Sits at the door taking the names of everyone who comes in.

Verger: Keeps the grass by the edge of the road looking tidy. Not to be confused with Virgil, the previous Verger, who is off sick.

College of Minor Canons: Finishing school for small photocopiers.

There, bang goes my chances of ever getting a job in a Cathedral. Which is quite a relief, to both parties probably. For an alternative set of definitions, try here, and in the meantime pray for the good people of St. Pauls as they pray and work and seek to bear witness.

Cathedrals are orderly places, with lots of set times, roles and traditions, and it feels like St. Pauls has struggled to know how to handle the disorderly, fluid congregation in its front porch. I think I would too, if we had a protest camp in our churchyard. It's important that we keep houses of prayer as houses of prayer (does having rock gigs in Cathedrals help or hinder?), but the church should be just as much at home on the streets as in the sanctuary.


  1. Amusing Post. Just wondered what a Prebendary is? Is it something to do with the Cathedral pre-school club?

  2. Drat, forgot about them. I think it's a technical term for a spoon 5 minutes before it falls into the hands of Uri Geller.

  3. Love it, thanks for keeping me amused. For a moment I believed you...