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Mark Oakley to be next Dean of Southwark

31 July 2023

Southwark Cathedral

Canon Mark Oakley

Canon Mark Oakley

THE next Dean of Southwark is to be Canon Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, since 2018, it was announced on Sunday.

He succeeds the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, who retired this month (News, 15 July 2022).

Canon Oakley, who is 54, trained for ordination at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, and was ordained priest in 1994.

He served his title at St John’s, St John’s Wood, in London diocese, after which he was chaplain for four years to Lord Chartres when he was the Bishop of London. From 2000 to 2005, Canon Oakley was the parish priest of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, and also served as Area Dean of Westminster St Margaret. In 2005, he was appointed Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, and held office for three years.

He was Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral from 2010 until his present appointment. He has been Canon Theologian of Wakefield Cathedral since 2020, and holds a doctorate in English Literature from Bangor University.

Canon Oakley was awarded the 2019 Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing for his book The Splash of Words: Believing in poetry (Canterbury Press) (News, 30 August 2019). Last month, he received the Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship from the Archbishop of Canterbury (News, 30 June). In 2021, he was awarded a Fellowship by King’s College, London, where he obtained his undergraduate degree, in recognition of his “exceptional service and achievement”.

He writes frequently for the Church Times, including book reviews and a regular Diary column, and speaks at events organised by the newspaper, such as the Festival of Faith and Literature and the Festival of Poetry.

He is also an advocate of human-rights causes (Comment, 11 June 2021), having been on the boards of Liberty and the Civil Liberties Trust.

He said of his appointment: “I am very honoured, and a little daunted, to be asked to continue the ministry of the Dean of Southwark, following on from the extraordinary work and presence of Andrew Nunn. I have been grateful all my life for the existence of Southwark Cathedral, for its witness to the gospel through learning and formation, arts and the imagination, local partnerships, and a commitment to social justice.

“I am now deeply grateful to be asked to become a part of its life and mission, and I ask for your prayers as I prepare to join the people of the cathedral and diocese. Our vocation is to embody a sacramental, poetic, and just Christian faith that resonates with both joy and integrity. I really look forward to making new friends as we seek to do this together.”

Welcoming him, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, described Canon Oakley as “a person of depth, insight, and integrity who brings with him a wealth of priestly experience offered in many different contexts”. This variety of experience, Bishop Chessun said, “will equip him well for the prominent role he will now take on as Dean of Southwark, and I much look forward to working with him”.

Canon Oakley is in a civil partnership with Nicholas.

He will be installed during choral evensong at the cathedral on Advent Sunday, 3 December.

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