THE Acting Bishop of Lincoln, Dr David Court, has appointed an Acting Dean of Lincoln, while the current Dean, the Very Revd Christine Wilson, is on a voluntary leave of absence amid investigations into a historical safeguarding complaint.
The Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey, the Ven. Mark Steadman, is now Acting Dean of Lincoln, Dr Court announced on Friday.
Dean Wilson has been on leave since April. She has been on leave while a historic safeguarding matter, thought to involve vulnerable adults, is investigated (News, 26 April).
The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, has been suspended over a separate safeguarding issue since May (News, 17 May).
In a statement issued last Friday, Dr Court, who is the Suffragan Bishop of Grimsby, wrote: “It is clear that while the Dean continues to voluntarily step back from her ministry there is a real need for further staff to enable the smooth running of the Cathedral for an unknown period time.”
Also last Friday, Dean Wilson released a statement in which she said that she was “desperate to resolve the issue so I can return to my ministry”.
She has launched legal action to attempt to end the “long-running saga” over her absence from the cathedral, she said. This has come after making pleas to “a variety of people in the Church” to enable her return to the ministry, which were ignored, Dean Wilson said.
In the statement, she said that the President of Tribunals made a determination that a complainant and the Bishop had not followed the proper process at the outset, and therefore the complaint, which led to Dean Wilson’s absence, was void and invalid. The President of Tribunals said that this was “unfortunate” and “the complainant may wish to issue another complaint”.
A spokeswoman for the National Safeguarding Team (NST) said that it would be issuing another complaint. She said: “The Church is taking this issue very seriously and is aware how difficult it is for all parties involved. Plans to appoint an acting dean, to continue good governance at the cathedral, have now been put in place. . .
“The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team will be issuing another complaint, however, it should be noted that the President of Tribunals made no decision on the actual substance of the complaint. Nothing further can be said as this process continues but we ask for prayers for everyone involved.”
Dr Court wrote: “There is much to reflect on at this time of year and I know only too well how challenging things continue to be in the Cathedral. I want to record publicly my huge appreciation for the ministry the Subdean and Precentor exercise and the way in which they have together led the Cathedral community in recent months.”
He continued: “Accordingly it is right for me to strength[en] the team at the Cathedral in order to support the governance and stewardship of the Cathedral as well as ensuring its continued commitment to mission and ministry is enabled to flourish. . .
“He [Archdeacon Steadman] brings particular gifts and skills both pastoral and organisational from which the Archdeaconry of Stow and Lindsey has benefited and which the wider Diocese saw during his tenure as Interim Diocesan Secretary.
“I am sorry that it has not been possible to give greater notice of the Acting Dean’s appointment, however I know that the Cathedral Community will warmly welcome Mark. . .
“I continue to hold the Cathedral and all caught up in the current events very much in my prayers and I pray that you will do so as well.”
Chancellor charged. The Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, Canon Paul Overend, was charged with a historic indecent assault on Tuesday. He has also been absent from the cathedral since April.
He is due before Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on 4 December over an allegation that he indecently assaulted a woman between April and July 1997.