New Canon Missioner appointment announced

Sunday 1 October

It was announced today (1st October 2017) that Bishop Donald has appointed the Revd Canon Sarah Brown as Canon Missioner, a full time residentiary post at the Cathedral which she will take up in January 2018.

Sarah is currently Team Vicar of Daventry with Special Responsibility for Braunston, Welton and Ashby St Ledgers and Rural Dean of Daventry. Prior to her current post she served her curacy in the benefice of Welford, Sibbertoft and Marston Trussell whilst also heading up the national charity, Farm Crisis Network (an ecumenical Christian voluntary organisation since renamed Farming Community Network, or FCN). She has also worked in the ministry training section of the Diocesan Office in Northampton.

Sarah was ordained in 2008 following a career in marketing and communications training. This experience, together with her leadership and development of FCN through a time of great change, followed by a fruitful decade in parish ministry, stand her in good stead for her new role at the Cathedral. See brief biography below.

‘Canon Missioner’ is one of three full time clergy posts at the Cathedral, the others being the Dean and the Canon Precentor. The Canon Missioner has a particular responsibility for communicating the Christian faith to those who come into contact with the Cathedral, whether as worshippers or as visitors. The post was held by Canon Jonathan Baker until he became Acting Dean at the Cathedral last year. He leaves to become Vicar of Beverley Minster on 8th October 2017.

Sarah Brown said:

“I’m looking forward to helping to strengthen the work of the Cathedral, especially as we celebrate its 900th anniversary in 2018. I’m conscious that things have not been easy for the Cathedral over the last few years and I’m inspired by the prospect of working together in God’s power with every single person involved in the life of this place, to heal what has been damaged and to glorify Christ’s name through our work and worship. My prayer is that the Cathedral becomes more and more of a blessing for the City and people of Peterborough, and for the wider Diocese.”

Bishop Donald said:

“I am delighted that Sarah Brown has agreed to join the Cathedral as Canon Missioner, and that the interview panel was unanimous and enthusiastic about appointing her.

“She is an outstanding priest and communicator, a team builder, an encourager, and has a strong sense of humour. She will question and challenge the status quo, but creatively rather than destructively. She is a natural leader, not afraid of difficult conversations, but always wanting to bring the best out of other people. Her Christian commitment is strong and clear, and she has a track record of enabling spiritual, numerical, and organisational growth.

“I look forward very much to welcoming Sarah to Peterborough, and I am sure that the Cathedral community will welcome her and Richard warmly.”

Canon Jonathan Baker said:

“I am delighted at the news of Sarah Brown’s appointment. She brings rich experience, perceptive insight and a pastoral heart, and I am confident she will make the role very much her own in a way which will greatly enrich the Cathedral’s ministry.”

Canon Sarah Brown will be installed at Evensong on Sunday 21st January 2018, at 3.30pm in the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is in the process of appointing a new Dean and an announcement will be made in due course. The Cathedral is also served by two part-time residentiary Canons, Canon Tim Alban Jones who is the Bishop’s Chaplain and Acting Precentor, and Canon Ian Black who is Vicar of St John’s Church and Rural Dean of Peterborough. Canon Alban Jones will also become Acting Dean on Jonathan Baker’s departure in October.

The Revd Canon Sarah Brown - a brief biography

Sarah never intended to become a priest and was brought up in a non-church family.  In her youth and early adulthood she never considered the possibility that God might be real, let alone of any relevance whatsoever to her or anyone else. Today, in her early fifties, she still has lots of questions but sees God at work in the most unexpected places and people, including herself.

Following school days in Buckinghamshire she studied modern languages at the University of Nottingham and then fell into a career in sales, working for Procter and Gamble and selling frying oil to the British Army. Marriage to husband, Richard, followed after she sold him a pallet load of industrial Ariel, and led indirectly to a move into a marketing services company where she stayed until starting her own marketing consultancy and having two children. God first made himself felt around the time of the birth of their eldest daughter, shunting Sarah unexpectedly into the choir of her local church. Here an amazing parish priest did his job, showing her the power of God’s grace and love and setting her free to use her own gifts in the service of the gospel over the next decade, while she continued in marketing training and consultancy. The transforming power of Christ, and the role of the local vicar in helping her see it, have determined the rest of her life and ministry.

Despite being newly Christian, ‘Life’ happened and after Richard was made redundant he looked after their small children while Sarah worked. When business was dented by the events of 9/11 Sarah took a number of part time jobs including night shifts in the canteen at the local Tesco distribution centre serving chips to truckers, and a period in the Diocesan Office at Northampton working with the Adult Education department.

While training for ordination with the Eastern Region Ministry Course (ERMC) Sarah was propelled by God into a new role which she did not initially embrace. In 2007 she capitulated, and a year before ordination she gave up on plans for stipendiary ministry in favour of running the ecumenical Christian charity, FCN, a national organisation with around 300 Christian farming volunteers who support the farming community through hard times. She took an enthusiastic and prayerful organisation of wonderful mavericks and moved it on to become a well-respected (still enthusiastic and prayerful) pastoral authority on the real issues facing farming. This meant spending considerable time in government departments fighting the cause of struggling farmers and working with statutory bodies to improve their processes and ensure that justice was done. An FCN report from this time on the human impact of bovine TB changed the landscape of state support for farmers affected by this difficult disease.

Post ordination in 2008 she undertook a part-time curacy in the Peterborough Diocese while continuing to run FCN, until finally going into full time parish ministry in 2011, where she remains in the Daventry Team Ministry and as Rural Dean of Daventry. She was made an Honorary Canon of Peterborough Cathedral in 2015.

Sarah and Richard are looking forward to getting to know Peterborough and the areas around the City. Sarah enjoys music, television crime-drama, reading, gardening and making appreciative noises to the men in her life about classic motor cars. She looks forward to working with whatever the God she once didn’t believe in has in store for their future and that of the Cathedral and City.

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