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Dean of York to retire in 2012

The Very Reverend Keith Jones, Dean of York,

1:02pm 26th September 2011

The Very Reverend Keith Jones, Dean of York, has announced today he intends to retire on 30 April 2012.

He has led York Minster as Dean since June 2004.

He will carry on with his duties as normal up to his last day in office.

During his eight years as Dean of York, he has seen major work of repair to the Minster’s glass and stone, especially at the East Front of the Minster. 

This has culminated in “York Minster Revealed”, an ambitious five-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and now in progress. 

This will repair and conserve a major part of the glass and stone of the East Window, while at the same time enhancing the visitor experience and securing the building for future generations as well as revealing the full glory of one of the world’s most important works of art.

Another of his priorities has been to strengthen the Minster’s role in encouraging unity among Christians, celebrating for example the accession of Constantine in 2006 and the visit of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux in 2009.

Dean Jones said:

“These have been exciting, inspiring, endlessly varied years. But what a place to work in! A marvellous city, in a hugely diverse region, and one of the loveliest buildings in the world to care for. But most of all it’s the people who make York Minster: the colleagues, craftspeople and volunteers, the friends across the churches, the choirs and the worshippers. For Viola and me, to contribute to York Minster’s life will have been a great privilege and we shall always give thanks for that.”

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said:

“I want to give thanks for the Dean’s service to the people of York and the Church of England in making York Minster such a welcoming place for residents and visitors alike. When I first arrived in York, the inauguration service exceeded all expectations. Then, I spent a week pitched in a tent at York Minster praying for peace in the Middle East. The support the Dean and Chapter gave at that time, and continues to give, was just fantabulous! I am sure he will be missed by everyone and I wish him all the best in his retirement. Many have appreciated his preaching. He and Viola will go with my love and prayers.”

The Earl of Halifax, High Steward of York Minster, said:

“Keith Jones arrived as Dean of York at a difficult time. The parlous state of the East Front had just been discovered, there were still reverberations from the threat to reorganise the Minster library, and relationships were perhaps not at their happiest. With a leadership style which was calm and understated, Keith Jones managed to persuade all of the interested parties to work together and his efforts have borne fruit in the successful funding, in collaboration with the Heritage Lottery Fund, of the York Minster Revealed project.”

Dean Jones was born in Shrewsbury, attended Ludlow Grammar School and went with an open scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he took a degree in English, followed by a two years of study to graduate level in Theology. He then prepared for ordination at Cuddesdon College, Oxford with the ambition to become a parish priest. 

After being ordained in Southwark Cathedral at the age of 24, he served in various parishes, including a spell as Dean’s Vicar at St Albans Cathedral. He was for a number of years Vicar of St Mary le Tower, Ipswich, another of the English towns he loves. He became Dean of Exeter in 1995 and Dean of York in 2004.

He is also the author of Adam’s Dream: human longings and the love of God (Continuum 2008) and (with Richard Shephard and Louise Hampson) York Minster: A living legacy (Millennium 2008).

Dean Jones is married to Viola, who lectures on the history of art, and with whom he shares an interest in the influence of Christianity on the culture of Europe. They have three daughters, and one granddaughter.

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