In his inaugural sermon as new Dean of Durham, the Very Revd Dr Philip Plyming has spoken of the significance of pilgrimage, prayer and proclamation in Durham Cathedral’s historic past and future mission.
Dr Plyming was speaking during his Installation service on Saturday, 16 September 2023, attended by leading figures from the County, City, Church and members of the public.
Drawing on the example of St Cuthbert and his own experience of pilgrimage, the Dean said that as a place of pilgrimage Durham Cathedral “offers to those whose faith is sure and those whose faith is more questions than answers - an invitation to find on the pilgrimage journey that which life is really all about.”
Dr Plyming also spoke about the vocation of the cathedral to share the good news of the Christian faith. He said,
“In a world where the news often threatens rather than inspires, my heart is for Durham Cathedral to flourish as a place of proclamation, witnessing in word and deed to the good news of God in Jesus Christ.”
The Dean finished his sermon with a prayer from one of his predecessors, Michael Sadgrove.
Click here for full text of the Dean’s inaugural sermon.
During the service, Dr Plyming was presented to the people gathered by representatives of St John’s College, Durham, and Cranmer Hall, where he served as warden since 2017.
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, greeted Dr Plyming and the Royal Letters Patent issued by HM The King was read out by the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Snowden, indicating the Sovereign’s approval of Philip Plyming as Dean of Durham.
The service included music chosen by the new Dean, including The Call of Wisdom by Will Todd, with words by Canon Michael Hampel, Precentor at Durham Cathedral.
Welcoming Philip as the next Dean, the Bishop of Durham said,
“I am delighted that Dr Philip Plyming is to be the new Dean of Durham. Philip brings pastoral, theological, leadership and missional gifts and experience to the role. Clearly, he knows and loves the cathedral and the Diocese very well already. I am excited at the leadership Philip will bring as the cathedral moves forward in its mission and ministry, especially in relation to younger people and those on the margins of society.”
After attending a local comprehensive school in Sussex, Philip studied German and Russian at Cambridge University followed by Theology at Durham University while training for ministry at Cranmer Hall. His PhD was awarded by Edinburgh University for research into Paul’s hardship narratives in 1 and 2 Corinthians, and his book Being Real: The Apostle Paul’s Hardship Narratives and The Stories We Tell Today is being published by SCM this autumn.
Philip served his curacy at Christ Church, Chineham, an ecumenical church in the Diocese of Winchester, and was ordained priest in 2002. During his curacy he led a team which ran a popular Youth Alpha course and planted a youth congregation.
In 2006, Philip was appointed Vicar of Claygate, in the Diocese of Guildford, a church which in 11 years grew from three to five Sunday congregations and also planted a further church nearby. From 2012 Philip additionally served as Area Dean of Emly, introducing a Deanery Growing Leaders course used by a range of churches.
In 2012, Philip led his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land and has since then taken parish and student groups to both Israel and Greece.
Philip was elected to the General Synod in 2009 and served until 2021, serving on a range of committees including the Simplification Task Group.
Philip was appointed Warden of Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham, in 2017, where he taught New Testament and Christian Leadership and also hosted the popular podcast Talking Theology.
He was made an Honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral in 2022.