Dean of Sheffield resigns after cathedral choir controversy

The entire Sheffield Cathedral Choir is to be replaced by a new music team(Photo: Facebook/Sheffield Cathedral)

The Dean of Sheffield has announced his resignation following the controversial decision to close Sheffield Cathedral choir.

The Very Rev Peter Bradley confirmed the news at the end of the service on Sunday.

The decision taken by the Dean and the Chapter to close the choir ignited a backlash and threat of legal action earlier this year. 

At the time, he said the cathedral choir would be replaced with a new, more inclusive music team to reflect "the mixed urban community in which we live and work".

Addressing the congregation at Sunday's Eucharist, Rev Bradley said it was "with great regret" that he had decided to resign.  

"I know this will come as a shock. You may be aware of the tremendous pressure I have been under over recent weeks which has seriously affected my health," he said.

"After prayerful reflection and conversations with people who know me well, including the bishop, I have decided that the time has come for me to move on.

"I love the cathedral, our city and our diocese. I hope that together the cathedral, city and diocese, and prayer, that there will be a thriving future and I am confident of that great future under God.

"It has been a great privilege to have served as Dean of Sheffield since 2003, as it happens today is the 17th anniversary of my installation and I want to thank you all for the support and love you have given me."

His resignation is to take effect from 31 December.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Pete Wilcox, said the Dean had been under "extreme stress" and that he was "not surprised" by his resignation. 

"Cathedral Chapter has faced many issues this year with the pandemic, the fire and the difficult challenges over the summer in relation to the future of choral music and Dean Peter has been under extreme stress for a prolonged period," he said. 

He continued: "Dean Peter has given himself wholeheartedly to his ministry as Dean of Sheffield for 16 years. During that time, the cathedral has been transformed, not least by the Gateway project, so that it can realise more fully its vision to be a place for all people.

"His contribution to the College of Deans, the General Synod, and Sheffield's public and civic life has been considerable and valued by many people.

"I support Peter's decision to resign and wish to place on record my thanks to him for all the support and encouragement he has offered me as the Bishop of Sheffield during the past three years."

The Save Sheffield Cathedral Choir campaign group, which threatened the Dean with legal action over the disbanding of the choir, has welcomed his resignation.

The group said it would "continue to work with the cathedral's leadership to restore the choir". 

"Our goal, as indicated by our name, was to save Sheffield Cathedral Choir," it said. 

"Today marks an important step towards achieving that goal. As the cathedral now looks to the future, so do we. We have all served the Cathedral under the leadership of Peter Bradley and recognise the dedicated service he has given to the Cathedral and the city.

"We reaffirm our commitment to saving Sheffield Cathedral Choir. We are grateful to those who have patiently engaged with our campaign.

"And, in the spirit of inclusive dialogue, we offer our combined musical expertise as new cathedral leadership looks to renew choral worship and restore music-making at the heart of Sheffield Cathedral's mission."