Wednesday, February 23, 2011


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.


Revsimmy said...

Mike, there are times when I miss the cathedral at Coventry. It was such a privilege to be ordained there.

That said, I also like the way our cathedral is run in Leicester, even though it is one of those upgraded parish churches typical of dioceses based on an industrial city. Like a number of other cathedrals, it plays host to conteporary worship events, but the staple fare is "traditional" worship (though more CW than BCP) done with a lightish touch.

Mike Peatman said...

I think history and location play a big part. I suspect south Warwickshire didn't hold Coventry Cathedral in quite the same regard. In other Dioceses the cathedral is a bit out of the way (eg Southwell) and in others there are other possible locations. Blackburn isn't the only major urban centre here - Preston is arguably more central.