It was nice to get a mention on Mark Beach's blog, so I'm returning the compliment. Mark and I were curates in neighbouring parishes in Southwell Diocese, and he is now Team Rector in Rugby, in Coventry Diocese, where I use to be before moving up to Lancashire.
Mark has just blogged a response to a piece about Cathedrals by Peter Ould. Peter asks why all cathedrals maintain traditional worship, and whether they are really any more than big parish churches. Mark's response focuses on the particular kind of role that a cathedral has, and the way its life can impact on a Diocese.
Coventry Cathedral obviously has a very particular story, but its ministry of reconciliation could only have come about as a result of it being a cathedral. Many churches were bombed in WW2, but only one English cathedral suffered such destruction. Coventry is actually on its third cathedral, which perhaps underlines the fact that the heart of such a church goes beyond even the grandest buildings and architecture.
Mark's blog post points to these things - life, prayer and resourcing the life of the Diocese. When I was in Coventry Diocese, many parishes had a cathedral liaison officer, and the cathedral was usually represented when new clergy were licensed. That sense of connectedness meant that we felt we had a stake in the cathedral - an example being that the confirmation service at the cathedral felt a highlight and culmination of the course, not a second best to doing it at "our place".
However, both Peter and Mark in their own way offer challenges to Cathedrals today to embrace life, prayer, community and also contemporary developments so that they can be seen and 'owned' by the whole Diocesan family.