Mirfield vicar 'excited' to take up newly created York Minster role

As a Keighley schoolgirl Canon Maggie McLean can remember being enraptured by the profound magnificence of  a place of worship that has stood witness to hundreds of years of changing times.

By Ian Hirst
Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 4:09 pm
Canon Maggie McLean, pictured in the grounds of the Church of Christ the King Battyeford in Mirfield, was one of the first women to be ordained in the Church of England
Canon Maggie McLean, pictured in the grounds of the Church of Christ the King Battyeford in Mirfield, was one of the first women to be ordained in the Church of England

What she could not have foreseen then was that four decades later, her own life journey would bring her back to York Minster, having become one of the first women to have been ordained in the Church of England in 1994.

Scotland-born and West Yorkshire-raised, Canon McLean has spent the last 10 years as parish priest in Mirfield, where she is vicar of the Church of Christ the King Battyeford.

In November, however, the married mother-of-one daughter who has also served as chaplain at Huddersfield University and as parish priest in Cleckheaton, will take up the position as Canon Missioner at York Minster.

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The newly-created role, which comes amid of period of change at the Minster, has an ambassadorial brief that will see her develop partnerships with Christian communities in York, the wider local diocese, the whole of the northern province of the Church of England and even with the Minster’s link dioceses in South Africa.

“I still have an overwhelming sense of the power of the Minster from when I first came on that school visit. It’s a very special place,” Canon McLean said, recalling her maiden experience of the iconic building in the heart of historic York.

The chance to act as “an advocate on the Minster’s behalf”, as she explained it, will be challenging but is “very exciting”, she said.

“It is about trying to engage with people’s spirituality and what we can do at the Minster to allow them to experience that for themselves.

“It’s about people’s development - whether in faith or education or life skills - and that has been part of my ministry for a long time.” ‘Outreach’ will be a buzz word in her new position and Canon McLean brings an international perspective, having made visits to a church-linked community in Tanzania over the last decade.

By reaching out “beyond the Minster walls”, she said she wants to make connections both locally and overseas, and that helping the less fortunate was important to the Minster’s work.

“York is a very diverse community. We see one side of it but there is another important side and I want to reach out in terms of my own social responsibility.”

Engendering a sense of community beyond borders is also important, she said, having recently supported an appeal to send maize to starving people in Tanzania, where climate change has been blamed for a terribly poor harvest.

Canon McLean added: “We are a global community too and we have a responsibility towards each other. The decisions we make affect people in other parts of the world.”

Each year, more than 700,000 people visit York Minister which has been at the centre of Christianity in the North of England since the 7th Century.

Currently in the midst of a period of change, The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost was installed as the new Dean of York in February, while an early draft of a neighbourhood plan for the cathedral’s surrounding precinct includes a proposed new public square dedicated to The Queen.