What is a Cathedral?
A cathedral is the seat of the bishop and a centre of worship and mission. The primary purpose of a cathedral is to be a place of Christian worship, reaching out as a significant centre for the heritage, culture and community life of the city it serves.
Cathedrals are the mother churches of their dioceses and act as focal points for services and celebrations for those worshipping in churches throughout the diocese.
How is it administered?
In this Diocese, it is governed in accordance with The Diocesan Centre Act 1989 - 2002 which defines the Cathedral as “The Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Diocese: it is the symbol and centre of diocesan unity, from which the Bishop exercises his ministry as teacher, pastor and overseer.” (Section 4(a))
The English tradition has distinguished in the past two types of Cathedrals, Dean and Chapter Cathedrals and Parish Cathedrals. In Australia, most Cathedrals are run as Parish Cathedrals, i.e. there is a Cathedral congregation that is recognised as a parish in its own right. The Bishop oversees the Cathedral and the Dean is the person the Bishop authorises to run the Cathedral.
The Cathedral also has Cathedral Canons, six lay and six clerical, plus a Canon Theologian, appointed by the Bishop. They make up a body called The Chapter, run by the Dean, which also includes the Archdeacons of the Diocese and the Chancellor of the Diocese. The Chapter meets four times a year and exercises a “consultative role in relation to matters affecting Christ Church Cathedral and the role of the Cathedral within the Diocese.” (Section 8A(2))
Like a Parish Council, the Cathedral is managed by a Cathedral Council, consisting of: The Bishop (who is the Chair but can direct the Dean to be the Chair), the Dean, the Archdeacon of Ballarat, the Bishop’s Registrar, three lay members of the congregation, two lay communicants appointed by the Dean, four lay communicants appointed by Bishop-in-Council, any clergyman on the staff. All appointed members hold office for the span of each Session of Synod (usually three years).
The Cathedral and the Bishop
The name ‘cathedral’ is derived from the Latin word ‘cathedra’ which means ‘chair’. A church which contains the official chair, seat or throne of a bishop is called a cathedral. When a new bishop takes up his duties, he is enthroned during a service in the cathedral church. The relationship between bishops and their cathedrals is a close one.
The Diocesan Centre Act in this Diocese, directs that the Bishop is the Ordinary (power over) of the Cathedral and has power to celebrate the sacraments and preach the Gospel in the Cathedral, provided due notice is given to the Dean! The Dean is in charge of the Cathedral, appointed by the Bishop, and is, effectively, the Rector of the Cathedral.
As Ordinary, the Bishop has the power to intervene in its internal affairs, to determine questions about the Constitution and Statutes and, at any time, if he considers it desirable or necessary to do so, to enquire into cathedral affairs and, as a result, give directions to the Council, Cathedral Staff or congregation.
The bishop is the chair of the Council, but in practice, delegates this authority to the Dean. The Bishop is not a member of the Chapter which is chaired by the Dean, but the Chapter will often consult with the Bishop and seek advice.
The Cathedral also has a ministry to the Bishop, as a place of prayer for the episcopal work of the Bishop, and as congregation who can give personal and emotional support.
The Cathedral and the Diocese
A cathedral, as the seat of the bishop, is the mother Church of a diocese, the area under the bishop’s supervision. Many diocesan services and events, such as ordinations, confirmations and services to mark major festivals, are held at the cathedral and members of churches within the diocese come to the cathedral to attend such services and to gather together.
Unlike a parish church, it is quite usual for the Cathedral to have members of other parishes attending the Cathedral regularly, and helping out with its work.
Like a parish church, it is also a centre of prayer and teaching, worship and spirituality, as well as a springboard for mission and outreach into the world.
The Cathedral and the City of Ballarat
The Cathedral tries to serve the City of Ballarat by holding events and worship that serve the wider community. At times of national emergency or when there are significant community events, the Cathedral offers itself as a place of prayer and support. In partnership with Anglicare, a community breakfast is held five times a week, to feed and support people in need.