Dean’s Report 2018

Trinity Cathedral
Dean’s Report 2018
Report by Rev. Dr. Paul Gaston, Acting Dean

Last year at this time we met in a spirit of gratitude, sorrow, and hope—gratitude for the leadership that had been provided by the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, sorrow for the circumstances that had prompted her departure, and hope that we would find the resolve, commitment, imagination, and faith to build on the cathedral’s accomplishments during her distinguished tenure.

As you have heard, the good news this morning is that we have done exactly that.

Invigorated by the celebration of the cathedral’s bicentennial, we have continued to grow our membership. We recorded further progress in the final stages of the capital campaign, “From Generation to Generation,” and we have begun to see the fruits of capital giving in new chairs, security cameras, and life safety improvements. We have expressed our sustained commitment through a successful stewardship campaign—a challenge for any parish experiencing a transition and one we met, thanks to the leadership of your wardens and your Vestry. And as you have just heard, a challenge grant offers a further prompt for giving that will further define a positive trajectory.

The reports you have heard this morning provide the detail, but in return we provide the thanks to those who have reported.

We have maintained strong and diverse programming. As your annual report indicates, Dean’s Forums, Wednesday evening programs, and summer programming has responded to your interests. In particular, we have welcomed the deans of our sister cathedrals in Erie and Indianapolis and have gained their perspective on the roles of the contemporary cathedral. Closer to home, we have benefited from the diaconal ministry in our liturgy of five of the deacons in our diocese. And on a larger scale, we have hosted close to 20,000 visitors for events, concerts, and civic and community programs.

In short, we have made a good beginning on Trinity’s third century. Dale Murphy’s report on behalf of the Cathedral Council and Amy Ryder Wentz’s Report on behalf of the Vestry suggest where the credit for that good beginning should be directed.

With the arrival of your new dean, one good beginning should lead to another. A superb staff in the dean’s office stands ready to ensure that is the case. Members of the staff express the values of the cathedral in the quality of their work every day. From the financial team to the experts in development and media to our associate for congregational life and our youth minister, your cathedral staff offers deep experience and a spirit of dedication worth celebrating.

I should mention in this regard to two transitions.

  • Last year, we said farewell to Chris Decatur, who had served the people of Trinity Cathedral with imagination, care, and love. This year, we have found those qualities in his successor, Kate McMadden. Her creativity and leadership are apparent in the “kid-friendly” space in the west transept, in refurbishment of the third-floor educational space, and in the cathedral’s support for the youth-led “March for Our Lives.” I am grateful also for her guidance towards a renewed appreciation for children in our worship. A couple of weeks ago, while visiting Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans, I enjoyed the statement in the bulletin, “Welcoming Children at Christ Church Cathedral.” It encouraged the participation of children of all ages and observed that our baptismal commitment requires that we “play a part in the spiritual development of our youngest members.” “Free yourself from worry about children’s behavior,” the statement urges, “and be open to receiving their ministry to you . . . .” Amen to that.


  • Another transition, one just ahead, brings mixed feelings. I speak of Canon Kay Rackley’s announcement of her retirement on June 30. We are grateful for her dedicated service, of course, and we share a particular appreciation for her gifts as a teacher, as a program planner, as a preacher, and as a pastor. Next month, we will have an opportunity to express our thanks more formally. But I imagine you share with me also a conviction that Kay’s competence, energy, and capacity for leadership will doubtless find expression in further venues. Urak may think that he will have more of Kay’s time, and that would indeed be time well spent, but I suspect he will have to continue sharing Kay with the world.

Throughout this transition, we have been continually grateful for the Dean Search committee, on which chair David Cratty has just reported. Their work during the year just past led to the publication of a profile meant to attract experienced individuals who are well qualified to take on the many responsibilities and roles of a cathedral dean. Now the committee has the unenviable responsibility of identifying among such individuals those most ideally suited for this position. Its members deserve our prayers, our confidence, and our support.

Last year, with every kind intention, many of you asked me, “Are you settling in?” I explained then that an acting dean should never “settle in.” While it is important to act like a dean in all ways—in the liturgy, in community outreach, and in the administration of the cathedral—an interim ministry is an “Advent” ministry, in that its focus lies on “someone coming after me . . . .” Now, some of you may be tempted to ask, “Are you all packed and ready to leave?” My response is that I don’t have much to pack. But a better response is the one I offer in my letter, that while I have chosen during my time with you not to use the honorific, “Very,” that identifies a dean, as in the Very Reverend Tracey Lind, I am indeed very grateful to you for making me feel very welcome during my ministry among you, and I will very much look forward to visiting you often following the arrival of your new dean.