Barkley Thompson named dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Houston

Posted Dec 6, 2012

[Christ Church Cathedral, Houston] The Rev. Barkley Thompson has accepted the call to be the ninth dean and 20th rector of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston in the Diocese of Texas. Thompson has served as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Va., since 2007. He will assume his new role in February of next year.

In a letter to the Cathedral community, the members of the search committee expressed their enthusiasm for the new dean. “Barkley has a deep and abiding appreciation for traditional Episcopalian liturgy and music which should make him feel right at home at the Cathedral,” they wrote. “He also shares with us a love of and commitment to urban ministry. And like the Cathedral, his current parish is a large and diverse community with a shared identity as a single church family.”

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of Texas, said he looks forward to working with the new dean. “I am delighted to welcome Barkley Thompson as our new dean of Christ Church Cathedral and as a new clergy member of the Diocese of Texas,” he stated. “I know Barkley’s deep faith, exceptional preaching and proven leadership qualities will bring a renewed excitement to the congregation and will attract many new people to the Cathedral.”

Christ Church Cathedral is a historic Episcopal church founded in 1839 in the heart of downtown Houston, the fourth-largest city in the U.S. It is the parent of more than 12 outreach organizations including The Beacon, a day center for the homeless that meets the needs of people in need in the community.

“Christ Church is distinctive even among cathedrals in the Episcopal Church in the combination of its size, vibrancy and location in the very center of a major U.S. city,” Thompson said. “Christ Church is able to serve as the agent of Christ’s love to an incredible range of people encompassing all walks of life. The Cathedral’s pursuit of justice, service and hospitality kindles my heart.”

Thompson said that he is drawn particularly to urban ministry: “God has something to say about how we do business, how we treat our citizens, and how we care for those who are hurting. God lays claim to all of us, and because the incarnate God abides among us, all of life is holy. Urban, downtown parishes bear the responsibility for reminding the city of this truth, and that responsibility is a challenge, an opportunity and a privilege.”

Thompson’s tenure at St. John’s was marked by growth, including the establishment of endowment and capital funds, the restoration of the church building and organ, and the revitalization of programming for children and youth. “We have been fortunate and blessed to have Barkley share in this phase of our spiritual journey,” wrote John Jackson, St. John’s senior warden. “Without question, we have all benefited from his gracious, caring, and inspired leadership.”

Before becoming rector of St. John’s, Thompson led a “restart” parish in a suburb of Memphis, Tenn., which grew from 40 members to over 400 in four years. Thompson said that one of his most memorable moments as a priest was the day in 2006 when the bishop consecrated the new church building and parish hall of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Collierville, Tenn. The church was the first built in the Diocese of West Tennessee in over a decade.

Thompson is a trustee of the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, from which he received his Master of Divinity in 2003. He also holds a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago. Thompson and his wife, Jill, have two children, Griffin and Eliza.

As dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Thompson will succeed the Very Rev. Joe D. Reynolds, who retired in June and who now leads the adoption support organization Pathways for Little Feet as president and CEO.

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