The Rev Canon Dr Jessica Martin to be the next Dean of Chelmsford

Faith Matters / Sun 30th Jun 2024 at 08:11am

THE Bishop of Chelmsford has announced that the next Dean of Chelmsford will be the Rev
Canon Dr Jessica Martin.

Jessica currently serves as a Residentiary Canon at Ely Cathedral and during 2024 has served as
one of two theological advisers to the bishops of the Church of England.
Speaking about her appointment Canon Jessica said:

“I’m filled with excitement at the prospect of coming to be part of the Cathedral community in
Chelmsford. I hope too to play a focussed and enthusiastic part in serving the city, county and
wider diocese. These are rich and diverse overlapping communities and I am very eager to find
how I may serve them. I look forward to becoming part of the steady foundation of prayer, praise
and worship that the Cathedral represents and maintains, and to all that grows out from that in
Christian service. There are relationships to make and to deepen, and a compelling vision that
waits for us to discover and bring to fruition together – for which I know excellent work has
already begun.

“As I prepare to move to Chelmsford shortly after Christmas, along with my husband Francis
Spufford and my younger daughter, I will be praying steadily for you all. I ask that you will pray for
me too, that I may by the grace of God serve you well; and that, creatively and joyfully, we may
make something beautiful of this new chapter in the life of Chelmsford Cathedral.”

The Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the Bishop of Chelmsford said:
“I am delighted that God has called Jessica to be the next Dean of Chelmsford. She brings
extensive experience of Cathedral ministry as well as great wisdom and many skills. Her
appointment is good news for the Cathedral and the wider diocese and I am very much looking
forward to working with her when she joins us in January.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank and pay tribute to the Very Rev Paul Kennington
who, as interim Dean, has made an outstanding contribution to the life of the Cathedral and our
diocese and has graciously agreed to stay on in post until nearer the time of Jessica’s arrival.

Details of his leaving service, expected to take place in December, will be shared in due

The interim Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Rev Paul Kennington said:

“I am so delighted that Jessica has been appointed to be the next Dean of Chelmsford. She
brings with her not only a wealth of cathedral knowledge and understanding, but also a
nationally valued theological acumen and a deep pastoral heart with a longing for sharing the
Gospel. I wish her and Francis all the very best for their transition over the coming months into
the life of this Cathedral.

“I am sorry not to be with you today for this wonderful occasion. I have a long-standing meeting
with senior clergy from the Episcopal Church in the North of England. I have enjoyed my 16
months so far at Chelmsford Cathedral. It is an inspiring place with a dedicated and committed
Christian Community which is privileged to play its role in the life of the diocese, city, County
and East London.”

The announcement of Canon Jessica’s appointment was made at Chelmsford Cathedral this
morning. Jessica will spend today meeting people from the Cathedral community, from
churches across Chelmsford Diocese and local civic leaders. She will also be visiting the
Chelmsford Cathedral School to meet with pupils and staff.

Jessica Martin grew up in the Surrey commuter town of Woking. She studied literature at
university, which she later taught at Trinity College in Cambridge. Following her ordination in
2004 she served as a priest alongside her life as a lecturer, until 2010 when she became the
vicar of three country parishes in South Cambridgeshire. Her southern most church was just
two hundred yards away from the Essex border.

Gradually taking on other responsibilities, Jessica served on the Bishop of Ely’s senior staff and contributed to the Church of England’s
ongoing reflections on sexuality. Since 2016, she has been a Canon of Ely Cathedral, with
special responsibility for learning. She has written two religious books (as well as some
academic ones): Holiness and Desire, which is about sacred and profane loves and how they fit
together and which was longlisted for the Michael Ramsey Prize, and The Eucharist in Four
Dimensions, about the way that Holy Communion uses place and space and time. During 2024
she has been one of the two theological advisers to the bishops of the Church of England. She
plays the oboe and the piano, and is married to the writer Francis Spufford. She has two
daughters, Stella and Theodora.

The Rev Canon Dr Jessica Martin will begin her ministry as Dean of Chelmsford in January

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