The Reverend Canon John Witcombe (right) has been appointed the next Dean of Coventry. The appointment was made by the Bishop of Coventry, The Right Reverend Doctor Christopher Cocksworth (left).
Bishop Christopher said, "I am delighted to welcome John and Ricarda Witcombe to the Diocese of Coventry and its magnificent Cathedral. Coventry Cathedral’s remarkable history has made it an icon of hope across the world. John Witcombe – priest and pastor, theologian and leader – will bring the energy and vision to carry the Cathedral into an exciting future."
John Witcombe is currently the Director of Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Gloucester. He leads a large team of staff and volunteers whose task is to develop all forms of vocation and ministry within the diocese. Alongside this, he is a Residentiary Canon in Gloucester Cathedral, playing a full part in the liturgical and teaching life of the cathedral. He is also part of the Bishop’s Senior Staff team which oversees the life and mission of the diocese.
John said, "One of the great gifts of the Cathedral in Coventry is its worldwide reputation as a symbol of reconciliation. This offers great opportunities and challenges, as we invite the Cathedral community and other communities in the city (including civic and commercial, and the different faith communities) to work in partnership for the wider good."
The Bishop of Gloucester, The Right Reverend Michael Perham, added, "John Witcombe's passion for theology and for the flourishing of the Church’s mission and ministry has served the Diocese and Cathedral of Gloucester well. And now the Diocese and Cathedral of Coventry are to have the benefit of his gifts. The usual adage definitely applies: our loss, their gain! It's a great appointment!"
John is passionate about the Anglican tradition and the Church of England in particular. As the leader of the cathedral community and a member of the Bishop's Staff team, he is looking forward to developing the relationship between the Cathedral and the Diocese in Coventry.
Having been ordained twenty-eight years ago, John began his ministry in the ex-mining parish of Birtley in County Durham. In subsequent years he has: led a church on a social housing estate in Nottingham; worked with Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and URC members as the Vicar of an ecumenical church in Sheffield; served as the Team Rector of Uxbridge; and spent seven years as the Dean of St John’s College, Nottingham.
John is married to Ricarda, who is also ordained, and is currently Vicar of St. Paul's and St. Stephen's Church near the centre of Gloucester. They married in 2000, after John's first wife died, and share five children - a son and four daughters - one of whom is married, whilst the others are still either living at home or returning at regular intervals. Days off are typically spent walking in the Cotswolds, around a pub lunch.
He enjoys the arts - galleries, theatre, music, film, and novels. He plays the flute and piano, and regularly leads a small music group in church. He and Ricarda are regular attenders of the Greenbelt Christian arts festival. John is also a keen hill walker, and after a dicey moment on Snowdon last winter he has recently attended a winter skills course! He is now looking for an opportunity to try out his new ice axe and crampons.
John said, “I value my time with my family. My relationship with my own three children has been especially important since their mother’s death, and we are all close, and we enjoy the life of a blended family.”
He will succeed The Very Reverend John Irvine who stepped down from this role in July. It is anticipated that he will take up the post in January.