Another first for Women at Leicester Cathedral

Leicester Cathedral is celebrating having a fully female clergy team comprising: Acting Dean, Revd Canon Karen Rooms, also a residentiary canon of the Cathedral; Canon Precentor Revd Canon Emma Davies; Canon Pastor Revd Canon Alison Adams and curates Revds Manuela Schmucki and Julia Bradshaw and we believe this might be a first in an English Cathedral.

This continues a tradition of female firsts for Leicester Cathedral. In 1974 Leicester Cathedral was the first to admit girls to its choir.

When Viv Faull (now Bishop of Bristol) was appointed Provost in 2000 she was the first woman to hold the role, before becoming the first female Cathedral Dean, the Dean of Leicester, in 2002.

Acting Dean Karen, who is also currently Dean of Women’s Ministry said:

“While women are increasingly well represented in leadership roles in the church, the governance changes stimulated by the 2021 Cathedrals’ Measure, are giving us further opportunities to make sure our Cathedral leaders fully represent our diverse congregations and the wider society we serve.”

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow said:

“It is a delight to work alongside Karen as Acting Dean and I hope very much that celebrating this landmark moment for the Cathedral community and the wider diocese will encourage and inspire others to explore their vocation and contribute to the flourishing of the ministry of women.”

A recruitment process is currently underway to appoint a new Dean of Leicester following the departure of The Very Revd David Monteith after he was appointed as Dean of Canterbury last year.

Consultations about the role have been taking place with invited with stakeholders during February, and the post will be advertised in late spring with final selection is likely to be made in early summer and the hope of a new Dean taking up the post in the autumn.

The Revd Canon Karen Rooms was licensed as Acting Dean of Leicester by the Bishop of Leicester Martyn Snow on Sunday 8 January 2023.

She is also Canon Missioner at Leicester Cathedral and seeks to engage visitors in issues of social justice and continues to work across faiths through broad based community organising, and as Chair of Trustee of Citizens UK.

After working in sales and marketing with Procter & Gamble and logistics with the Boots Company, Karen worked with the Anglican Church in northern Tanzania. Here she established a women’s project, The Coffee Shop café in Moshi, the centre of Tanzania’s coffee business.

On return to the UK she volunteered with Citizens Advice and trained for ordination in the Church of England. In parish ministry in inner city Nottingham, and Area Dean, she took a local lead on the Sanctuary Pledge and campaigned to end child detention, and was a founding Trustee of the Nottingham Arimathea Trust, housing destitute asylum seekers. She was the founding co-chair of Nottingham Citizens whose wins include Nottinghamshire County Council becoming a Living Wage employer and Nottinghamshire Police making history in 2016 by becoming the first force in the country to recognise misogyny as a hate crime. She now chairs Citizens UK.

She has co-chaired the Citizens Council and New Citizens Leadership Team; been a member of the End Indefinite Detention Working Group, and is on the Sponsoring Committee of Leicester & Leicestershire Citizens. Governance in the Church: Bishop’s Council in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham and in the Diocese of Leicester; Leicester Cathedral Chapter, and Chair of Parish PCCs (parish church councils).

First published on: 20th February 2023
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