Washington National Cathedral names new Dean

When he stepped down earlier than expected as Dean of the National Cathedral last year, Gary Hall said that “The cathedral … is on the cusp of a new era,” and that dedicated new leadership would need a decade or more to launch it into that new vision.

Now, the Cathedral Chapter has called a new Dean, the Rev. Randolph “Randy” Marshall Hollerith, “a priest with 25 years of experience of accomplished and creative leadership.” From the Cathedral announcement:

“Randy has the spiritual depth, heart for ministry, and skills required to lead Washington National Cathedral into the future,” said Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and interim dean of the Cathedral. “He is a strong collaborator and team builder, with a passion for the Gospel of Jesus. I look forward to working with him.”

Hollerith, who grew up in nearby Alexandria, Va., often visited the Cathedral as a boy during its construction and his family has longstanding ties to the institution. His great grandmother was present in 1907 when the foundation stone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt, and also in 1932 for the first worship service in the fully completed Great Choir.

“The Cathedral is not only a place of immense beauty and grandeur, but it plays an important role in proclaiming the reconciling love of Christ within this city and around our country,” Hollerith said.

“This Cathedral is a holy place that calls our city, our country and all people of faith to work for justice, peace and compassion. I am honored to be called to serve as the dean of the Cathedral, and thrilled to be part of this beloved national institution.”

The Washington Post is pragmatic about some of the gifts which Hollerith will bring to the position.

David Kautter, chairman of the Chapter, the body that governs the cathedral, said the search committee that picked Hollerith named five main criteria: spiritual leadership, strategic thinking, managerial experience, development experience and a history of convening people.

Kautter said Hollerith rose to the top of a field of 32 candidates, which initially included both men and women, in large part because of his experience as a fundraiser. Hollerith has led three development campaigns, raising nearly $8 million at his current parish to significantly expand a building that the congregation had outgrown. “It wasn’t just like he was showing up every day in his old job. He was strategic about the development and about the operations,” Kautter told The Post. “Those really stood out, when you combined it with being a spiritual person and having a pastoral nature.” …

Hollerith says he’s excited about fundraising, adding, “I can bring some good stewardship.” He is comfortable using the language of business to describe his task, saying, “I think the Episcopal Church is a wonderful brand, so to speak.”

The cathedral has spent $13 million on repairs since a 2011 earthquake caused extensive damage. Kautter estimates that to complete that work alone, the institution will need to raise $24-26 million.

The Cathedral announcement also highlights the partnership that Hollerith and his wife, Melissa, bring to the Cathedral Close.

Hollerith graduated from St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va., Denison University and received his Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School. His wife, Melissa, is also an Episcopal priest and is a chaplain at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond. Together, the Holleriths bring a commitment to Episcopal schools that will increase collaboration between the Cathedral and the three schools on the Cathedral Close.

Read more about the Rev. Hollerith’s call to the National Cathedral on its website here, and in the Washington Post here. Dean Hollerith will be installed at the National Cathedral later this year.

Featured image from the Facebook page of Washington National Cathedral: “It’s a big day here at Washington National Cathedral as we’re thrilled to announce our new dean, Randy Hollerith. Randy comes to us after 16 years at St James’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, and we’re excited by his passion, energy and whole-hearted embrace of the gospel.”

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