At the Heart of the Community

Partnership is at the heart of the cathedral’s outreach to the local and regional community and central to the way in which it seeks to further the growth of God’s kingdom within the Diocese of Leeds.  Our support of the ministry of the Bishop of Leeds in and through parishes, deaneries, episcopal areas and diocesan structures is at the heart of our calling to be a cathedral for the whole diocese. We share this privilege with the cathedrals of Wakefield and Bradford – key partners with whom we cooperate closely. The Dean attends meetings of the Bishop’s staff, and is a member of the Diocesan Board, Diocesan Synod and the Bishop’s Strategy Group. Naturally, Ripon Cathedral serves the diocese by being an ancient mother church, with over thirteen hundred years of history, a gathering place for diocesan celebrations, and a centre of pilgrimage and spiritual refreshment.

Ripon Cathedral works with key partners in every sector – voluntary, public, private, military, and church – in the area and region. It also regards its efforts to protect, and educate others in relation to, the environment as an important partnership with the whole of humanity. With this, and so many of our efforts to further God’s kingdom, we have more impact by working and learning with others. St. Paul likened the church to a body, with a variety of members making different contributions and working together in the power of his Holy Spirit for the good of all. Ultimately, this is our hope for humanity and creation as we work for God’s kingdom.

The Diocese of Leeds

The Diocese of Leeds is unique in having three cathedrals. Not only does this demonstrate impeccable trinitarian credentials, but it also offers unique opportunities for a diocese to try new models of working and serving together. This is something I and the Deans of Ripon, Bradford and Wakefield have been exploring with great interest and enthusiasm.

This young diocese has broken much new ground for the wider Church of England, but the cathedrals are at the heart of this. Aligning their vision with that of the diocese, we have continued to work towards a mission strategy that brings life and hope and energy to our Christian worship and witness.

Ripon Cathedral has continued to play its part in the life of the diocese. Its unique location and context allow us to focus on elements of life that are less evidently the focus in Bradford or Wakefield. For example, links with the military are increasingly important, as are the challenges facing small schools in rural communities, public transport, and the agricultural sector.

A central strand of mission is supporting the Diocesan Bishop in mission and the work of the church across the Diocese of Leeds. This involves hosting many diocesan services and gatherings. Dean John is a member of the Bishop’s Senior Staff Team, is a member of the Diocesan Board and is a member of the Diocesan Synod. He also serves on the Bishop’s Strategy Group.  

All Cathedral Clergy regularly visit parishes on Sundays to take services and have adopted a practice of attending installations of new incumbents within the Ripon and Leeds Episcopal area to visibly welcome and support new ministries. The attendance of Cathedral Clergy in parishes is warmly welcomed and is important in building good relationships between Cathedral and Parishes.

The Cathedral Ambassadors continue to be a valued part of the Cathedral’s partnership with parishes. The Cathedral actively encourages parishes to spend a day or half a day in the Cathedral as part of a pilgrimage or to enable parishes to spend time away together in their Cathedral.

The Lord Lieutenant

Mrs Jo Ropner has been Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire since 2018. The Lord Lieutenant, and in her absence the Vice Lord Lieutenant or one of the Deputy Lieutenants, regularly represents Her Majesty at services in the cathedral.

The Dean and Cathedral community are keen to support the Lord Lieutenant in her invaluable role within the county. With her, they seek to strengthen the regional community for the good of all.

Ripon City

The Mayor and Council

The cathedral hosts a number of events in conjunction with the Mayor and Ripon City Council. Civic services are an important part of the city’s life and builds on a legacy of years of partnerships between Dean & Chapter and the Mayor’s Office.

The cathedral is also home to the Mayor’s stall, a 15th century stall located in the quire.

Ripon Together Community Interest Company

This was formed in 2016 to bring together the different sector’s of the city’s community in coordinated action for the common good.

The Borough of Harrogate

Ripon Cathedral serves half of North Yorkshire and the whole of West Yorkshire. Its location within the Borough of Harrogate inevitably results in close relationships with the borough authorities and much joint working with the Mayor and Council. In recent years, Mayors of Harrogate have asked the cathedral to host a civic service for them.

North Yorkshire Rural Commission

Dean John chairs the Rural Comission, which has just published its first report – ‘Rural North Yorkshire: The way forward’. This is the first Rural Commission of its kind. The report aims to preserve the beauty of Rural North Yorkshire while embracing new ways of living and being.

Read more here.

Ripon Cathedral Rural Forum

Ripon Cathedral is keen to engage with its rural hinterland and to understand as fully as possible the issues facing the communities of this large region. In an attempt to further joint reflection and common venture amongst some key regional organisations, the cathedral has established the Ripon Cathedral Rural Forum. Its specific objectives are to identify rural issues, challenges and possible solutions, to approve and promote key rural messages for the Cathedral to champion. RCRF meets in plenary twice a year to agree a topic for the following six months which is actioned by a small cabinet. Membership includes: Two bishops from the Diocese of Leeds, The Dean of Ripon, The Canon for Rural Engagement, Mrs. Judith Donovan CBE, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council, Richmondshire District Council, Harrogate Borough Council, Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Country Landowners Association, Farming Community Network, Rural Services Network, Community First Yorkshire and Rural Network Yorkshire.

Other Rural Engagement

Ripon Cathedral continues to host with rural partners the annual Plough Sunday Service and has worked with YAS in the last two years to hold a harvest service.

The Canon for Rural Engagement is part of the Yorkshire Auction Mart Chaplains network and is a Trustee (for the Diocese of Leeds) of the Yorkshire Churches Rural Business Support Charity.

The Cathedral works in partnership with the Diocese to promote and support rural life and ministry.

The Region

North Yorkshire County Council

Ripon Cathedral is the only cathedral within the vast area served by North Yorkshire County Council. This results in a supportive relationship between the council and cathedral. The Dean has recently been chaplain to the Chair of NYCC; and the chair, chief exec. and many councillors and officials regularly attend services and meetings in the cathedral. The county council is also a member of the Ripon Cathedral Rural Forum.


Our historic links with the military have continued to strengthen despite uncertainty of the future of Ripon Camp.

2018 saw the cathedral hosting a number of high-profile events to commemorate Remembrancetide and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. Our historic connections to Wilfred Owen, who spent the afternoon of his 25th, and final, birthday in Ripon Cathedral lent a poignancy to events including the Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope exhibition, Remembrance concerts from the Ripon Poppy Project and the Remembrance Sunday Service.

Within the Diocese of Leeds there is a large concentration of military establishments and personnel. The Ripon Episcopal area is home to Catterick Garrison, the largest military garrison in Europe, 21 Engineer Regiment in Ripon, The Army Foundation College in Harrogate and RAF Leeming. The cathedral enjoys good relationships with all the areas military establishments and is committed to working with military partners and promoting the cathedral as a spiritual home for the military of the region.


The cathedral is a destination for local schools for regular visits through our education programme, singing outreach and at key times in the Christian and school calendars.

We host many of the local school carol concerts as well as commemorative services for Ripon Grammar School and concerts for the likes of St Aidan’s, Harrogate.

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