There was a standing ovation for the Dean of Wakefield, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener as he said goodbye to take up his new role as Dean of Exeter later this month.
Over 200 people came to the Solemn Evensong in the city’s Cathedral yesterday sung by the Boys and the Men of the Wakefield Cathedral Choir led by Director of Music Thomas Moore for the farewell to Jonathan and his wife, Pamela Greener.
Jonathan has served Wakefield for over 14 years; first as the Archdeacon of Pontefract in the historic diocese of Wakefield and for the last ten years as the Dean of Wakefield.
In his sermon Jonathan said it was a huge privilege to be Dean here for the last 10 years and thanked everone for their partnership in living out the gospel.
“Two things have dominated the last ten years; the first is the renewal of this building and without your help we would have done very little; and the second is the formation of the new diocese.
“Words are never enough and in the words of Matthew 7: know them by their fruits and while sometimes this project has been like pushing a rock uphill; I have had such tremendous support from you and without you, we would have achieved very little.”
Jonathan spelled out some highlights from his ten years: Over 200 baptisms in the last 12 months; Messy Cathedral; Messy family activities; volunteers who are the public face of the cathedral; the phenomenal number who regular turn up to the Tuesday lunchtime concerts; Wakefield Wednesdays that explore deepening in faith; films on Youtube; the partnership with the Wakefield Rent Deposit Service; supporting and seeing grow Bishop Tony's Community of All Saints; and Treacy Hall which has now taken off with a new café, new gift shop and the visitor information centre .
“It is never our actions that save us, but God’s grace and on some occasions the building project and the new diocese has been a distraction from that.
“But all of you here have made these things happen and there has been a real attempt to care for one another and the wider community,” he added.
And in true Jonathan style – he made one last appeal for funding – by reminding those gathered that the Cathedral had secured a grant for an access lift between the crypt and the nave but needed match funding as soon as possible.
Squadron Leader David Dinmore, the Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire thanked Jonathan for all his hard work and vision and he said a particular thank you to Pamela for all she had done for the charity sector by launching her Vat Ditty which became a YouTube sensation in 2012 with her stark warning to the Government that the proposals to close VAT relief on historic buildings would plunge many other church buildings into financial crisis.
The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, told the congregation he had known Pamela for 20 years – and reminded her of the time she sent him 20 pages of fax with her latest thinking and planning – and a problem for him to solve with the promise of 100 curries in return. She still owes him 99.
“Jonathan – this place is a great tribute to you and we will all miss you,” he added.
The sub dean, Canon Tony Macpherson said to find something of what Jonathan had achieved, we only need to look around.
And continued: “But there is more to Jonathan than his achievements here with this building, Jonathan enables other people to do things for God; he enables us to have an encounter with Jesus and his ministry is just that; to enable those around him to do things for God and community.”
Jonathan and Pamela were presented with a cake; a picture and a cheque. They received a standing ovation.
Jonathan will take up his post as Dean of Exeter on November 26th.