Dean (Christianity)

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A dean, in a church context, is a cleric holding certain positions of authority within a religious hierarchy. The title is used mainly in the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church, and many Lutheran denominations. A dean's assistant is called a subdean.

Anglican Communion International association of churches

The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion. Founded in 1867 in London, England, the communion currently has 85 million members within the Church of England and other national and regional churches in full communion. The traditional origins of Anglican doctrines are summarised in the Thirty-nine Articles (1571). The Archbishop of Canterbury in England acts as a focus of unity, recognised as primus inter pares, but does not exercise authority in Anglican provinces outside of the Church of England.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.

Lutheranism form of Protestantism commonly associated with the teachings of Martin Luther

Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teaching of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.

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History

Latin decanus has various meanings related to the most important of ten parts, perhaps originally in astrology. In the military, it was the head of a group of ten, and by the 5th century CE, it was the head of a group of ten monks. It came to refer to various civil functionaries in the later Roman Empire. [1]

Based on the monastic use, it came to mean the head of a chapter of canons of a collegiate church or cathedral church. [1]

Chapter (religion) body of clergy in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Nordic Lutheran churches

A chapter is one of several bodies of clergy in Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglican, and Nordic Lutheran churches or their gatherings.

Canon (priest) Ecclesiastical position

A canon is a member of certain bodies subject to an ecclesiastical rule.

Collegiate church church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons

In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons: a non-monastic or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost. In its governance and religious observance a collegiate church is similar to a cathedral, although a collegiate church is not the seat of a bishop and has no diocesan responsibilities. Collegiate churches were often supported by extensive lands held by the church, or by tithe income from appropriated benefices. They commonly provide distinct spaces for congregational worship and for the choir offices of their clerical community.

Based on that use, deans in universities now fill various administrative positions.

Officials

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Dean of the College of Cardinals and the Cardinal Vice-Dean are the president and vice-president of the college. Both are elected. Except for presiding and delegating administrative tasks, they have no authority over the cardinals, acting as primus inter pares (first among equals).

Dean of the College of Cardinals president of the College of Cardinals

The Dean of the College of Cardinals is the leader of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church. The position was established in the early 12th century.

Primus inter pares is a Latin phrase meaning first among equals. It is typically used as an honorary title for someone who is formally equal to other members of their group but is accorded unofficial respect, traditionally owing to their seniority in office. Historically, the princeps senatus of the Roman Senate was such a figure and initially bore only the distinction that he was allowed to speak first during debate. Also, Constantine the Great was given the role of primus inter pares. However, the term is also often used ironically or self-deprecatingly by leaders with much higher status as a form of respect, camaraderie, or propaganda. After the fall of the Republic, Roman emperors initially referred to themselves only as princeps despite having power of life and death over their "fellow citizens". Various modern figures such as the chair of the United States Federal Reserve System, the prime minister of parliamentary countries, the federal president of Switzerland, the chief justice of the United States, the chief justice of the Philippines, the archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Communion and the ecumenical patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church fall under both senses: bearing higher status and various additional powers while remaining still merely equal to their peers in important senses.

In the universities that grew out of the cathedral and monastery schools, a university dean came to be an official with various administrative duties.

Dean is a title employed in academic administrations such as colleges or universities for a person with significant authority over a specific academic unit, over a specific area of concern, or both. Deans are common in private preparatory schools, and occasionally found in middle schools and high schools as well.

Anglican Communion

Cathedrals

In the Church of England and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, the dean is the chief resident cleric of a cathedral or other collegiate church and the head of the chapter of canons. If the cathedral or collegiate church has its own parish, the dean is usually also rector of the parish. However, in the Church of Ireland the roles are often separated, and most cathedrals in the Church of England do not have associated parishes. In the Church in Wales, however, most cathedrals are parish churches, and their deans are now also vicars of their parishes. In some parts of the Communion (particularly in the Scottish Episcopal Church and, formerly in some cathedrals in England), the senior resident cleric in a cathedral is a provost. Each diocese of the Scottish Episcopal Church has a dean of the diocese: this is a cleric who, rather than heading the cathedral staff, assists the bishop in the administration of the diocese. In this way, a Scottish Episcopal dean is similar to an archdeacon in the other member churches of the Communion (a post that does not exist in the Scottish church). In the Anglican Church of Canada, the roles of senior cleric of the cathedral are combined in one person who is referred to as "Rector of Cathedral and Dean of Diocese". Thus, Peter Elliott is Rector of Christ Church Cathedral and Dean of New Westminster.

The style The Very Reverend distinguishes a cleric as a dean (or a cathedral provost). For example, the Very Reverend June Osborne was Dean of Salisbury Cathedral. [2] The legal act by which a cathedral dean in the Church of England takes up his or her role is the institution , which is invariably followed in the same service by the installation (into his/her stall in the cathedral church); an "institution and installation" are very often referred to simply as an installation. In consideration of the high status of a Dean, the Very Reverend title is normally a permanent title preferment.

Some important deans include the deans of St Paul's, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is a royal peculiar, not the seat of any bishop or a cathedral, but is led by a dean. The deans of Washington National Cathedral and St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin are likewise important clerics in their churches.

Rural or area deaneries

In many parts of the Anglican Communion, parishes are grouped together to form deaneries, each being a constituent administrative district of the diocese. Usually, a deanery is led by one of the incumbents of the deanery's parishes, who is called a rural dean, but in more urban areas this has often been replaced by the title area dean or regional dean. Such a dean chairs the meeting of the deanery's clergy (which, like a cathedral, is called a chapter), and may also chair a deanery synod. Rural Deans (and those known by alternative titles) rank as primi inter pares of their chapters, and do not have the seniority of cathedral or diocesan deans.

Other uses

The head of an Anglican theological college or seminary may also be called a dean (in common with its use in education).

Catholic Church

The title "dean" is conferred upon a pastor of a parish who serves as a senior figure, though usually without specific jurisdictional authority, over a section of a diocese. [3] These are sometimes referred to as "rural deans", and are expected to show a degree of leadership among the pastors of the region, known as a deanery. This function is sometimes titled "vicar forane". An episcopal vicar serves a similar function, but has more formal authority and specific powers under canon law.

In recent years, the Catholic Church in England and Wales has introduced the custom of designating cathedral deans, formerly known as cathedral administrators. However, the term differs slightly from the Anglican usage as Catholic deans do not necessarily preside over the cathedral chapter (this function belonging to the office of Provost), and are not necessarily required even to be a member of the chapter. More commonly, in places throughout the world where a cathedral chapter has not been erected (as for instance, in the United States, where there are no chapters at all), the term rector is used for the priest who serves as chief administrator of a cathedral church.

Another important use of the term within the Catholic Church is in the office of the Dean of the College of Cardinals, who serves as senior member of that body.[ citation needed ] Cardinal Angelo Sodano is the current[ when? ] dean.

Lutheran Church

Within the Lutheran tradition, particularly in the Nordic and Baltic tradition of evangelical episcopal Lutheranism, senior clergy bear the title 'Dean'. Each diocese usually has a cathedral Dean, in charge of the cathedral church, and a series of area deans to supervise the clergy in a given geographical area. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, there are also deans in charge of leading the administrative work and personnel of the Chapters. [4]

United Methodism

United Methodist Christians often speak of a "dean" in terms of the dean of the cabinet. Every annual conference has a bishop's cabinet made up of the district superintendents under the bishop's appointment, as well as occasionally a few other conference officials. One of these superintendents is chosen by his or her colleagues to serve as the dean, usually for one year. This dean then has certain administrative and leadership responsibilities, and is accountable to the bishop.

Other uses

In various other religious denominations, the title "dean" may be used informally in its wider sense of a senior or venerated member of a congregation. The title may also used in its academic sense in parochial schools.

See also

Related Research Articles

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A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a parish priest, who might be assisted by one or more curates, and who operates from a parish church. Historically, a parish often covered the same geographical area as a manor. Its association with the parish church remains paramount.

Cathedral Christian church that is the seat of a bishop

A cathedral is a church that contains the cathedra of a bishop, thus serving as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. Churches with the function of "cathedral" are usually specific to those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and some Lutheran and Methodist churches. Church buildings embodying the functions of a cathedral first appeared in Spain, Italy, Gaul and North Africa in the 4th century, but cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century, by which time they had developed architectural forms, institutional structures and legal identities distinct from parish churches, monastic churches and episcopal residences.

Church of Sweden Evangelical-Lutheran denomination in Sweden

The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran national church in Sweden. A former state church, headquartered in Uppsala, with 5.9 million baptised members at year end 2018 it is the largest Christian denomination in Sweden.

A vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior. Linguistically, vicar is cognate with the English prefix "vice", similarly meaning "deputy". The title appears in a number of Christian ecclesiastical contexts, but also as an administrative title, or title modifier, in the Roman Empire. In addition, in the Holy Roman Empire a local representative of the emperor, perhaps an archduke, might be styled "vicar".

An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the Syriac Orthodox Church, Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, St Thomas Christians, Eastern Orthodox churches and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Catholic Church. An archdeacon is often responsible for administration within an archdeaconry, which is the principal subdivision of the diocese. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church has defined an archdeacon as "A cleric having a defined administrative authority delegated to him by the bishop in the whole or part of the diocese." The office has often been described metaphorically as that of oculus episcopi, the "bishop's eye".

A provost is a senior official in a number of Christian churches.

Diocese of Chester

The Diocese of Chester is a Church of England diocese in the Province of York covering the pre-1974 county of Cheshire and therefore including the Wirral and parts of Stockport, Trafford and Tameside.

Rural dean Clerical title in some Christian churches

In the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church as well as some Lutheran denominations, a rural dean is a member of clergy who presides over a "rural deanery" ; "ruridecanal" is the corresponding adjective. In some Church of England dioceses rural deans have been formally renamed as area deans.

A deanery is an ecclesiastical entity in the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Evangelical Church in Germany, and the Church of Norway. A deanery is either the jurisdiction or residence of a dean.

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The Very Reverend is a style given to certain religious figures.

Anglican ministry

The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ. "...[I]t might be useful if Anglicans dropped the word minister when referring to the clergy...In our tradition, ordained persons are either bishops, priests, or deacons, and should be referred to as such."

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Andrew Peter Nunn is a British Anglican priest. Since 2012, he has been the Dean of Southwark in the Church of England.

A rector is, in an ecclesiastical sense, a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations. In contrast, a vicar is also a cleric but functions as an assistant and representative of an administrative leader.

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References

  1. 1 2 Oxford English Dictionary s.v.
  2. "Q & A with The Very Reverend June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury Cathedral". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  3. "Dean". Catholic Encyclopedia . Retrieved 2007-02-17.
  4. See for example the structure of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia here.