The Very Reverend David Rowe has been our Dean for little over four months, and as he and his wife Pixie settle into life in New Zealand, he is gradually developing his vision for the future of our Cathedral. David and Pixie came to New Zealand from the United Kingdom, following a time of leading Lee Abbey, an international retreat and conference centre in Devon, that welcomed 8,000 guests a year.
David and Pixie are no strangers to our shores, having been to New Zealand several times before. As parents to Rev Caleb Rowe and his wife Rev Kimberley (Billy), from our Whanganui Parish whānau, they came to New Zealand on several occasions for their wedding and to visit grandchildren, even assisting in the process leading up to their ordination. Several local ministry opportunities presented themselves along the way, but as David says, they never felt quite right. However, David says “you could say that they loosened our roots!” They had started to feel called to New Zealand when the dean’s role became available, he tells us, and it worked out that he was able to attend an interview with Bishop Justin whilst here on holiday to visit Caleb and Billy and their grandchildren.
Now firmly settled in the capital, David continues to explore what the future looks like. “What we want to work out is what is the story of this cathedral? What is our story that we can share with visitors, that would lead them to the Gospel?” David ponders. Our Cathedral, he says, is strategically located close to Parliament, and is centrally accessible to cruise ship patrons and other tourists. Both of these connections provide opportunities – to be a prophetic voice ensuring Government can work for goodness, and to provide a ministry of welcome to visitors that connects them to God’s story.
But the Cathedral also has an opportunity to play an integral role within our movement, in the way that it operates as a “mother church” to the diocese. “In the UK, we have a ‘minster’ model – where the cathedral is a hub of spiritual life, training up leaders and sending them out, and being a model to the rest of the diocese.” As David and his team continue to develop the Cathedral’s vision, he looks forward to exploring ways in which it might bless the diocese as its ministry grows. David notes that when it comes to worship and music, the Cathedral represents excellence in choral music but doesn’t always reflect the variety of styles found elsewhere in the diocese.
Of course, the style of music is not the main point: “we need to ensure that worship doesn’t become entertainment. Whether it’s choral music or contemporary music, we want people to come into our churches and encounter integrity of worship.”
Integrity is central to David and Pixie’s ministry of hospitality as well. David describes his wife as having a gift of hospitality, and as such, she has taken on the task of exploring ways in which the Cathedral can increase the impact it has in its ministry of welcome to guests. And this gift is not something that is outworked only in the church. Next door, the deanery is swelling with inhabitants as the Dean and his wife look to emulate the communal living arrangements of Bishopscourt, next door.
“We’ve been having others live with us for the last 18 years, and we’ll continue to do the same at the Deanery. Our model for that is Isaiah 58. It asks do you want wellbeing in your community? Then share your food, share your home, share your clothes. Do you want revival in your community? Then share your food, share your home, share your clothes. I think you’ve got a real chance of success when you see people living in intentional community in the Bishop’s house.”
The Deanery community has begun with the Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music, Richard Apperley, his wife Rebecca, who serves as the Bishops’ Executive Assistant, and their children moving in recently. In the new year, they expect to welcome others to the home, which will add to the growing community forming on ‘Cathedral Hill,’ with the bishop’s residence full of young adults next door, and the Anglican Youth Movement’s Thorndon houses just up the road.
It seems that the future for the Cathedral holds many exciting chapters, waiting to unfold. Unsurprisingly, David and Pixie themselves are excited – as David sums up so succinctly: “I’ve bought into the vision that Bishop Justin and Bishop Eleanor have for this diocese – that’s essentially why I’m here!”