I trained for ordination at Chichester Theological College from 1991 to 1993 gaining a Diploma in Theology and Ministry. In 1996 I had gained a Master of Arts degree in Theology awarded by the University of London. In 2007 I completed a PhD awarded by the University of Sheffield on the role of theology and the Church of England in urban contexts entitled, 'The Church in the City: Partnership and Hospitality'.
Following service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, I was commissioned as a Church Army Officer in 1983 and served as a parish Evangelist in St Martin’s, Birmingham (1983–1986), then I was posted to St Andrew’s Parish Church, Kingsbury, London (1986–1991) before beginning training for ordination to the priesthood in the Church of England.
I was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral London, and served my title parish as the curate of All Souls’ Harlesden in London from 1993 to 1996 and then became the Vicar of All Saints with St Michael’s Parish Church in the Diocese of Chelmsford from 1996 to 2002. From 2002 I was Canon Residentiary and Vice-Dean of Sheffield Cathedral and Chief Executive of the Cathedral Archer Homeless Project. From 2010 to 2014 I was the Vicar of Doncaster Minster before taking up the post of Dean of Brecon Cathedral from September 2014.
I have served on many boards, including Diocesan and Deanery synods, standing and pastoral committees, national Advisor for the Bishops' Advisory Panels, and currently Chair of the Church in Wales Provincial Discernment Panel who discerns candidates for training for priestly vocation. Alongside these, I have contributed to interfaith forums in Doncaster and Yorkshire and Humber inter-faiths Forum, and the Diocesan Board of Social responsibility on Faith and Justice.
I am particularly keen to maintain my research and deep engagement with the Church’s theological explorations of what it means to be the Church in contemporary society. Engaging in Public Theology presents opportunities for me as a priest to reflect, bring insights to the context in which I am working, and informs and motivates me in the day-to-day operations of management and leadership. I am excited, rather than overwhelmed, by the challenges facing us as Church leaders. Each Diocese and context has particular challenges, human endeavours and rituals, to theologically interpret how the Church engages in Missio Dei. I am interested in Public Theology that is not only academic, but is informed by reflective practice and experience. In this respect, theology is always 'work in progress and change' rather than static and stuffy.
My ministry in Sheffield Cathedral, Doncaster Minster, and Brecon has focused on engaging with civic, businesses, tourism, the arts, and growing congregations that has spanned two decades of my ministry. This has sometimes been costly and sacrificial, but always interspersed with fun, laughter, and joy. I, like all priests, meet amazing people from all walks of life. Throughout my ministry I have been sustained by a disciplined life of the sacraments, worship and prayer particularly through the rich variety of Cathedral and Minster liturgy sharing in the Eucharist and Choral Evensong.
I believe that worship and mission coexist as the bloodstream of Cathedral and Minster life. Drawing people to faith is relational and takes place in the unexpected (and often interruptions) of encounters with strangers, seekers of comfort and faith, visitors, worshipers, and pilgrims. My preferred way of working is in teams, especially sharing ministry and mission with both ordained and lay colleagues.
My skills as a leader, manager, administrator, and primarily as a deacon and priest with some business and financial acumen, and a clear sense of the sacred vocation is an incarnational ministry with mission at its heart. For me, it is about good stewardship and giving our best to God and those we serve. I consider the quality of my relationships and leadership, rooted in Christian values of inclusivity and justice are necessary as a skilled pastor, spiritual director, and experienced team leader to bring to the Church's servant ministry. Administrative and managerial professionalism alongside a passion for justice and a disciplined spiritual life that engages all of us contribute to the Mission Dei - God getting her/his 'hands dirty' in the 'stuff' of complex lives and realities. It's a joy to serve God and the Church with the baptized as a deacon and priest.
All that said, I'm not the Messiah. That job is already occupied by another. We must remember that when we state our gifts and skills, or write our CVs. We all, as servants of Christ and His Church 'lead from the second chair' (Bonem M. & Patterson R., Leading from the Second Chair: Serving Your Church, Fulfilling Your Role, and Realizing Your Dreams.)
Dean Paul Shackerley
The Church in the City: Partnership and Hospitality
The growth of the Church of England has been partly obstructed by its
outmoded structures and ecclesiology and society’s diminishing interest in
institutional religion. Some city and peripheral urban churches struggle to
engage effectively in partnership with voluntary and statutory agencies and
Government. This is largely due to depleted financial and human resources
and obsolete models of priesthood. These considerations place significant
pressure and challenges before the Church of England’s mission.
This research evaluates the theology and impact of the momentous report,
Faith in the City and the recent report, Faithful Cities. The reports present the
complexities of urban living and the Church’s responses to urban poverty.
The contexts and reports challenge priests to consider new roles to engage in
The urban contexts are concrete spaces where political and ethical struggles
are expressed. This research explores the similarities and contrasts of two
different urban contexts, through observations and narratives, where the
Church of England is engaging with poverty and partnerships. Two
particular sites are researched in some detail; first, the Boarded Barns estate
in Chelmsford, Essex and its parish of All Saints Church; second, Sheffield
Cathedral with its particular mission to the homeless. From the research, it is
clear that the life experiences of those who live in cities and urban estates
live complex lives amidst a variety of struggles and poverty. The concrete
urban realities express the social and daily struggles against poverty,
homelessness, and poor education.
The challenge remains for theology to continually evaluate and comment
more fully on urban problems. The thesis argues that Christianity continues
to exist as a religion that contributes to urban regeneration and the
transformation of communities in urban Britain. The role of theology and the
Church of England in urban contexts continues as a positive partner with the
forces for social change. The Church particularly has a vocation and ongoing
responsibility to engage fully with the regeneration of peripheral territories
of inner estates and cities.
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