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WHAT IS A DEAN? A dean, in a church context, is a cleric holding certain positions of authority within a religious hierarchy. The title is used mainly in the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. In the Church of England and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church in the U.S., the dean is the chief resident cleric of a cathedral or other collegiate church. The style The Very Reverend (or Rev.) distinguishes a cleric as a dean. Grace Cathedral’s dean, therefore, is referred to as Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw. He or she is also the head of the chapter of canons, comprised of senior level clergy and lay staff members. At Grace Cathedral, chapter is the executive staff of Grace Cathedral and is responsible for ongoing mission and ministry working with members of the congregation, its Board of Trustees and Congregation Council. The chapter also serves as a council of advice for the dean. If the cathedral or collegiate church has its own parish, the dean may also be rector of the parish. While Grace Cathedral has a resident congregation, Dr. Shaw is not referred to as a rector. In addition to Dr. Shaw, Grace Cathedral’s eighth dean, important deans include the deans at Washington National Cathedral and St. John the Divine in New York. In England, other important deans include those at St. Paul’s, Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral (where Dr. Shaw serves as Canon Theologian) and Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (where Dr. Shaw is an honorary canon). Grace Cathedral’s first dean, the Very Rev. J. Wilmer Gresham was installed in 1910 and lead for nearly three decades, to 1939. Under Dean Gresham’s leadership, the cathedral’s construction commenced with the laying of the cornerstone in 1910. The Very Rev. Alan Jones, the cathedral’s seventh dean, served from 1984 to 2009. To note: The head of an Anglican theological college or seminary may also be called a dean, in common with its use in education.

What is a dean