Northern Ireland

New Dean of Belfast wants to 'build bridges'

Stephen Forde was installed as the Church of Ireland's 14th dean on Sunday Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Stephen Forde was installed as the Church of Ireland's 14th dean on Sunday

The new Dean of Belfast, Stephen Forde, has said he wants St Anne's Cathedral to be "a place where bridges are built and barriers dismantled".

The Church of Ireland clergyman became the city's 14th dean at a ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

Leaders of Northern Ireland main churches were present at St Anne's in the city.

The new dean's role will include the annual Black Santa sit-out charity appeal each Christmas.

'Place of peace'

In a statement, prior to the ceremony, he said: "With the redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter, and the arrival of 10,000 students at the University of Ulster, this is a time of new beginnings and new horizons.

"I hope the cathedral will be a place where people who are rushed and hassled by life's demands will find rest and refreshment, a place of peace in a world of many pressures.

"I also hope the cathedral will be a place of ecumenical encounter, a place where bridges are built and barriers dismantled.

"Above all, I pray this will be a place where people discover how much they matter, because they will discover how much they matter to God."

When his appointment was announced in October, the dean elect said he would continue the tradition of the charity appeal and described himself as a "Black Santa in training".

The 55-year-old takes over from the previous dean, the Very Rev John Mann, who has moved to the Salisbury Diocese.

Image caption The new dean on the steps of St Anne's following Sunday's ceremony

'Massive challenge'

Dean Forde grew up in County Down and was educated at Campbell College, Belfast.

He was ordained as a priest in 1987 and served as rector of the parishes of Larne and Inver with Glynn and Raloo, and also as archdeacon of Dalriada.

The father of three is married to a staff nurse who works at Antrim Hospital.

He said he was conscious that the role of dean was a "massive challenge and a daunting task" but said he was also excited by the opportunities ahead.

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