A statement from The Dean of Chichester, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine, and Communar & Chief Executive David Coulthard on Staff Consultation & Restructure.
Over the past 900 years Chichester Cathedral has experienced turbulence and disruption on a number of occasions: from the devastating effects of the Civil War, to the collapse of the Spire. Our present turbulence brings into greater focus our eternal hope – in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever (Hebrew 13.8) and our sure foundation, our rock and refuge.
Our life here has been significantly damaged by the effects of Covid-19. Sharp reductions across almost all our principal streams of income continue to limit our operations and all the indications are that there will be no sudden return to normality: our pattern of life will be very different here for the foreseeable future.
The outcomes we have agreed in response to the Consultation announced in June (outlined below) are a source of pain and regret for us. The posts and people, as well as the activities that we are scaling back, have been an important part of the Cathedral’s life and we would not have imagined, only four months ago, that we would be making these difficult decisions today.
For now, however, we continue to ask for your prayers and especially for those whose posts are being made redundant as part of this restructuring.
As the Cathedral testifies to the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, so we have hope that, not only can nothing separate us from the love of God in Christ, but also that new possibilities can emerge from what seem like the darkest of times. We are already beginning to discern this, for example, in the ways in which our digital communication can be a means of teaching and encouragement and Chapter is beginning a deeper process of discernment, rooted in the prayer of St Richard, to consider our mission afresh in a world that is much-changed.
We thank those who submitted responses to the initial Consultation announcement.
We have made the difficult decision not to re-open the Café.
With the increase of local competitors and decreasing footfall in Chichester resulting in a steady decline of patrons, the café was already an area of concern. Despite significant changes having been made to the way it was run, the summer months had to subsidise the winter months and overall the Café was close to losing money.
With the huge impact of the pandemic, and long-term social distancing meaning reduced capacity and footfall for the foreseeable future, the existing model for the Café is no longer sustainable. To keep it open in these circumstances would cost a substantial amount and running a heavily subsidised Café is not the right thing for the Cathedral to do. The Cathedral will continue to provide a hospitable welcome to visitors and worshippers, but will not itself be able to provide refreshments.
The shop, in its current format and location will close. It will return in a new form when the time is right, when the Cathedral is once again welcoming a substantial volume of visitors.
When it re-opens it will be relocated into the Cathedral and we plan for it to be volunteer-led with support from a reduced team in the office.
Learning and Engagement
Following the Consultation, Chapter accepted that there would be a substantial reduction in the work of the current Learning and Engagement team and that the four existing posts should be made redundant. However, in order to maintain important relationships with schools and visiting families, a new post to sustain and develop the Cathedral’s work in this area will be established. This decision is to support the Cathedral’s long-term financial sustainability, and also lay foundations for future ministry and engagement with fewer resources.
Looking to the future, a new working group will be developed, in association with key partners, to explore how we can support the wider region. A School of Theology and Prayer will also be formed, serving the Diocese and beyond in equipping people for their apostolic life.
We will continue to work with partners and charities and, while the pandemic may initially prevent some gatherings, we will host a revised schedule of events and activities if health and safety permits. This includes working with inter-faith partners, Amnesty International, and Stonepillow, to name but a few examples.