Up close with the Very Rev Matt Thompson, Dean of Birmingham, on the city he grew up in and his hopes for a flourishing new community
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I was born and brought up in the West Midlands and went to school in Walsall. I went to university and trained to be a priest in Cambridge. I was ordained in Manchester Cathedral and spent 23 years serving in four different parishes in and around Greater Manchester. Serving God means signing up for a life of surprises and the biggest of all so far was the call in 2017 to come back to the Midlands and become Dean of Birmingham.
IT’S WHAT I DO
My role is to lead the cathedral in its mission and ministry to the city and region of Birmingham. This involves ministering to and alongside our vibrant cathedral community and working with a wonderful team of staff and volunteers. I work closely with the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, and on his behalf, I chair the Diocesan Board of Education and work with them to oversee the work of our 51 schools.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
One of my great joys is seeing others flourish and achieve their dreams. In the cathedral it’s wonderful to play a part in that in so many ways – whether it’s seeing our young musicians blossom or helping someone in need get to a better place. I’d love to see our city flourish too as a place where all can feel welcomed and share in the blessings of living in an integrated, cohesive community.
I am always delighted when a team I am part of achieves its goals. Working with a very talented group of people is very exciting. I have also been proud to be part of teams which have revitalised schools and parishes.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
Education is a vital part of building a fair and just society. Every moment in life is an opportunity to learn and develop and working together with others is the only way to achieve the truly worthwhile things in life.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
Living in Birmingham is wonderful. The city has been transformed from the place I remember from my childhood. As a boy, my favourite thing about Birmingham was Hudson’s bookshop which I remember as a palace of delights! Gazing each day at our beautiful Burne-Jones windows in the cathedral is a gift which keeps giving.
I am happily married with a daughter and love being at home with my family. I enjoy reading, watching films, going on long walks and running. Once a year I make an annual retreat for a time of silent prayer. I always return full of life and ready for more of God’s surprises.
It felt awful to have to close the cathedral this year due to the pandemic. After 104 days, Bishop David and I reopened it in the company of our friends, Archbishop Bernard Longley and Monsignor Tim Menezes from St Chad’s Cathedral. We prayed in each other’s cathedrals and gave thanks together – a small moment of hope for a better future.