Shaw installed as eighth dean of Grace Cathedral

Posted on November 9, 2010

Shaw processes with a candle.In the darkness of an autumn evening, a special Evensong service was held at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. The inky dark cathedral was filled with clergy, Episcopalian and otherwise; religious leaders from near and far; civic leaders; international guests; and members of the cathedral and diocesan family; all gathered to welcome the eighth dean of Grace Cathedral, the Very Rev. Jane Allison Shaw, Ph.D., and to witness her installation. The Evensong service on Saturday, November 6, began a two-day celebration that included a celebratory reception, an educational forum on the role of cathedrals in the 21st century, and a Sunday morning festal choral Eucharist in which the new dean preached and the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California, presided.


The Evensong featured traditional Anglican music by the likes of Thomas Tallis, Herbert Howells, and Bernard Rose, and chant settings by John Fenstermaker, the cathedral’s Canon Director of Music from 1971 – 2000, and by the current Canon Director of Music Benjamin Bachman. Under direction of Bachman, the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys joined the mixed voices of the Cathedral Camerata with accompaniment by Assistant Director of Music Thomas Joyce as organist, and the renowned Quartet San Francisco.


After the institution and installation of the new dean, the sermon was offered by the Rev. Canon Dr. Vincent Strudwick, friend, mentor, and Oxford colleague of Dean Shaw.


The ForumThe next morning, a reprise of The Forum at Grace Cathedral, which Shaw says will return weekly in the new year, was hosted by Shaw entitled “From Medieval to Modern: Cathedrals in the 21st Century.” Guests for the forum were the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California; the Rev. Professor Marilyn McCord Adams, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, UNC, Chapel Hill; Professor Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology Emerita, Episcopal Divinity School; and the Very Rev. Rowan Smith, Emeritus Dean of Cape Town Cathedral.


Sunday’s Choral Eucharist featured beautiful and dissonant Ordinary music by French organist Jean Langlais. Bishop Andrus presided and Dean Shaw preached in her second sermon at Grace Cathedral — the first was the opening Eucharist of the 2010 diocesan convention. (Listen to Dean Shaw’s All Saints’ sermon online at


The President of the House of Deputies and Chancellor of the DioceseFollowing the homily, the dean and bishop processed to the font where the President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church Bonnie Anderson, and diocesan chancellor Christopher Hayes gave the canons of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of California to the new dean. Then, the dean led the congregation in the Renewal of Baptismal Vows after which she was presented with a candle representing the light of baptism from the cathedral’s Sunday school children. The children, each carrying a candle, led the procession back to the sanctuary where they placed their votives on the steps to the altar.


A multitude of people attended each of the services and the new dean made time to greet every person who presented themselves to her. As Dr. Strudwick reminded the gathering at the Evensong service, this is a new chapter in the life of Grace Cathedral, one that inspires new opportunity for the cathedral, the city of San Francisco, and the Diocese of California.

Dean, deacon and bishop at the font