I received a very unexpected invitation this year, which has made me think about the relationship between the parishes of our Diocese, and the life and worship of it’s ‘mother church’ Winchester Cathedral.
My parish is on the outer fringes of the Diocese of Winchester, so much so that during Reader Training many people started conversations with “where’s Yateley”, or “didn’t know Yateley was in the Diocese of Winchester!”
In the 14 years I’ve lived and worshipped here the only group of parishioners who seem to consistently ‘get involved’ at the Cathedral are our choir (annually), and those who attend to support Readers being licensed, or friends being ordained. Making sure that our parish has it’s six passes to enable people to visit freely produced interesting and instantaneous results recently, which I hope we can build on during the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market.
But, I’m sure there should be more, better and regular reasons for going to the Cathedral than once a year for our Christmas shopping!
Now I’ve been invited to contribute to a Cathedral Advisory and Action Group (with the difficult title reference ‘Mother Church and Regional Beacon’), I’m meant to be trying to offer suggestions of ways that the Cathedral and parishes can become more mutually supportive in both worship and the wider mission of the Church, as well as the community.
One of the exisiting connecting points is through the involvement of parish clergy as Cathedral Chaplains, something that Revd Claire has been learning about. From what Claire says, the role of Cathedral Chaplain seems to be mainly to rightly, but forcibly, insert prayer and pastoral care into the value of cathedrals as tourist attractions.
It strikes me that if it is right to improve the working relationships between our parishes and our Cathedrals, then it probably needs to be through finding things that ‘add value’ to the ministries of both, rather than risk being purely a greater drain on already frantic clergy diaries.
But before we can find suggested answers to how, I found myself asking “why”. Why should our parishes have a relationship with their ‘Mother Church’?
Then I got worried, because I really don’t know the answer. Some fuzzy warm feelings about the Cathedral being
- at the centre of Diocesan worship,
- the ‘seat’ of the Bishop from which he leads the Diocese in the worship of God and our mission to God’s Kingdom,
- the historicity and atmosphere of buildings soaked in prayer,
- and a traditional place of pilgrimage and the burial of kings,
don’t seem to be concrete answers enough for the modern context.
So, do you think that parishes should have a relationship with their Cathedrals, and if so why?