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  • Café 16
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  • FREE ENTRY

Announcing Newcastle Cathedral’s first Anglican Communion Canon

First published: Friday 21 June 2024

The Bishop of Newcastle is pleased to announce that the Reverend Dr Kelly Brown Douglas, currently Interim President of Episcopal Divinity School in New York, has agreed to become Newcastle Cathedral’s first Anglican Communion Canon.

Dr. Douglas is considered a leader in the fields of womanist theology, racial reconciliation, social justice and sexuality, and the Black Church. In this honorary and non-residentiary role, she will contribute her extensive insight and experience to the Cathedral and Diocese over the next three years, both remotely from the US and during her visits to the UK.

Bishop Helen-Ann said: “I am delighted that the Reverend Dr Kelly Brown Douglas has accepted my invitation to be our first Anglican Communion Canon in Newcastle Cathedral. This new appointment is an important witness to our commitment as a Diocese to turn outwards in mission and grow younger and more diverse. We have long valued our Anglican Communion Links as a Diocese, and having a Canon that intentionally reminds us of the global Church of which we are a part is an inspiring and courageous sign of hope in all the joys and challenges we face as a Diocese.

“Dean Kelly brings considerable experience and theological insight, expertise and research to this role, and I am excited by the opportunities we will have as a Diocese to learn from her and with her in all the engagement she will bring into our midst. I am deeply honoured that she has responded enthusiastically to this invitation and look forward with eager anticipation to all that lies ahead.”

The Reverend Dr Kelly Brown Douglas

The Bishop and Dean (l-r) of Newcastle

Dr Douglas said: “I am humbled by this invitation from Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley and Dean Lee Batson to join the Newcastle Community, with its rich history, as Anglican Communion Canon. I am looking forward to getting to know the community and excited for our work together as partners across our global communion in doing the work of the gospel.”

Welcoming Dr Douglas’ acceptance of the invitation, the Dean of Newcastle, the Very Reverend Lee Batson, added: “We are delighted that Dean Kelly has agreed to serve in the new role of Anglican Communion Canon. Part of the mission of any Cathedral is to remind all Christians that they are part of a bigger family than they find in the local church.

“Our particular calling as Newcastle Cathedral is to be one of the ways God enables a future, both better and more just than the past. Dean Kelly has regularly invited those who hear her to expand their moral imagination to start to believe in and work for this kind of future. Bringing her experience of the Church in the US as a black woman theologian will be a huge gift to us and enable these wider bonds with others to be felt more widely, and our imagination expanded accordingly.”

Dr Douglas is currently the Interim President of the Episcopal Divinity School in New York, having previously been Dean and Professor of Theology. She also serves as the Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral in the US and has held the post of Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street.

She is the author of six books, including Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, and Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter, which won the 2023 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Dr Douglas was one of the first ten Black women to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. She was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1983.

Dr Douglas represents the latest in a series of exciting developments for Newcastle Cathedral during the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in the Church of England.

On Sunday 23 June, Bishop Helen-Ann will lead The Reverends Alison Hardy, Dr Sarah Hills, Sue McCormack, and Louise Taylor-Kenyon through their collation, followed by their installation as non-residentiary Canons of the Cathedral.

On Saturday 13 July, The Reverend Prebendary Ruth Hulse will assume the role of Residentiary Canon for Worship and Congregational Life, while The Reverend Zoe Heming will join as Residentiary Canon for Mission on Saturday 14 September.

Dr Douglas is expected to be installed as a non-residentiary Canon at Newcastle Cathedral during her upcoming visit to the UK. More details will follow in due course.