Cathedral News April 2011
From Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
A pdf version of the April 2011 Cathedral News is available here with colour photos.
From the Dean
- Dean's Report to the Annual Meeting
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”
Just how did we pack it all in? This is one of my reactions as I read the reports and look back over the diary of activities, events and services of the past year. Television and radio recordings, international speakers, scaffolding reaching to the ceiling, and graceful couples twirling through smoky light at the Lux Fiat Ball, people scurrying around with ladders and feather dusters, shovels and rakes as yet another working bee spruces up the Cathedral. So much for which to be thankful and grateful.
Yet is with a continuing sense of shock and sorrow that I deliver my thoughts and reflections as your Dean this year. It seems just yesterday that Dean Peter Beck hosted the Deans’ Conference in Christchurch Cathedral last October, and it is hard to believe twenty years has gone since Christine and I, with our three young children and five suitcases, arrived in the Garden City to start a new life. The Chapel at St Margaret’s College, containing my first New Zealand office and altar, was among the first buildings to be pulled down after 22nd February. The first service we attended in this country was on Palm Sunday 1991 in Christchurch Cathedral. At that time we knew no one. Now, like so many of you, our roots into that city, church and community reach far and wide; and there has been the anxiety generated both by the natural feelings for fellow New Zealanders in trouble, and that of having close family members deeply traumatized by the events of the past six months – thankfully all are alive.
And yet, throughout all that, there is a sense of quiet pride in being part of God’s church which has stood tall. Anglicans have been seen in high profile after the Pike River Mine tragedy, and again in Christchurch more recently. Priests from this diocese were quick to offer to go to the Diocese of Brisbane following the floods earlier this year. The often tedious discussions with people from an assortment of constituencies involved in planning for events such as ANZAC Day, Commonwealth and Remembrance Sunday services, bore unexpected fruit in the way a vigil planned for this Cathedral was easily and speedily transferred to the steps of parliament two weeks ago. At a time when, if the reporting of the local daily paper is anything to judge by, Christianity (and the Anglican Church in particular) is increasingly irrelevant, it seems we Anglicans still have something to offer in providing the mechanism and know-how of crafting and executing ceremonies of national public mourning. There are not many choirs that could step out of parliament and sing before a crowd in excess of 5000 people without on-site rehearsal. And we regularly expect the Cathedral community to host services of complicated ritual – all with a minimum of fuss or practice.
For me, this says much about the sense of stability that has been built up over the years. This was part of the work I researched and reflected on while on sabbatical last year. How does a dean, and by implication a cathedral community, sustain a sense of balance among all the competing claims made on him and it? Using the spirituality of 5th century monk St Benedict of Nursia, I interviewed my dean colleagues around the country, and then sat back to reflect on my own ministry as priest and dean over more than thirty years. Key to that reflection were the three Benedictine vows of Obedience, Stability and openness to Continual Conversion. For me personally, the sabbatical was a time of refreshment and renewal, and the opportunity to complete a piece of academic work begun long before I became dean. Two particular things are worth mentioning: first, at no time, then or since, have I any sense that my work here is over; second, I plan to continue the Benedictine thinking into resourcing people working under pressure in the business and government world.
I’d like to spend a little time in teasing out some of my thinking in relation to the Cathedral.
At the heart of the life of this Cathedral is a pattern of worship that gives stability. At 8.30 am every weekday cathedral clergy gather to say Morning Prayer. It is a gentle service based on psalms and readings from the Bible, and includes praying through a number of different prayer cycles as we bring before God the world in which we live, the church in which we serve, and the needs of particular people. This quiet half hour every day encourages the inner calm at the heart of the often frenetic and turbulent life that swirls around us. It also energizes and focuses the work we do, encouraging an openness to meet the challenges and opportunities that come our way. You can see this pattern repeated in the cycles of worship here – the daily lunch-time Eucharist, the weekly Sunday celebrations and the annual observances of the great festivals of the Christian Year. It is the very stability of the pattern that enables us all to cope with the extra things demanded of us – if you like, the continual conversion.
If that is true in worship, it is also true when we think of hospitality. Wellington Cathedral is asked to host a wide range of services and activities. Always, at the back of my mind in conversations with people wanting to use the sacred space of this Cathedral, is this pattern of worship that is so central to our life together. It was a moving moment for Christine and me to join Dean Peter Beck and people from Christchurch Cathedral as they gathered for worship in the open air ten days after the earthquake. The church of God is indeed made of living stones – the baptised people of God.
Worship, hospitality and education have become something of a mantra here in recent years. Each is very Benedictine, each feeds the other, each revolves around obedience to God, stability in worship and being open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. So it has been interesting in recent months and weeks to be involved with you in looking at particular areas of our life together. In early February we gathered to think about the future use and shape of the Loaves and Fishes Hall. I am grateful to Richard Wood and others for doing some preliminary work, and for those who added their input to the ‘blue-sky dreaming’. Very much a work in progress, we will continue to pursue these thoughts in the months and years to come.
With Michael Fulcher announcing his intention to move on to Brisbane the Ministry of Music offered at the Cathedral has inevitably come under the spotlight. Again, it has been heartening to listen to the many and various points raised at the three meetings specifically aimed at giving congregation and choir an opportunity to have a say. Let me take a moment to offer my thanks to all who sing in our choirs, particularly the Cathedral Choir.
Just last week our Bursar, Susan Weehuizen, signaled her intention to retire in May this year. She has done sterling work in getting a new position firmly established, and we have come to take for granted the easy and accurate accessibility of financial information. Even the very cursory look at the overall administration of the Cathedral done in these past few days suggests there is a need to carefully evaluate just how we administer the increasingly complex juggling of demands made on the Cathedral, its people and various meeting places.
Following the review in February 2009 we identified as one of the key priorities for the ongoing development of the life, mission and ministry of the Cathedral the need for a secure financial basis from which to operate. While it is gratifying to see the way in which our planned giving graph has tracked steadily upwards over the past few years, we continue to be under-resourced and demand a huge amount from our paid staff. We will continue to look at how best to resource and so to balance the needs of this sacred, yet increasingly busy, place – a place of worship, hospitality and education as we reach out to parish, diocese, city and nation.
Let me end this reflection with a few words of thanks. First, to the Church Wardens and Vestry who, at your instruction consider carefully the best way in which we can be church in this part of God’s Kingdom. After five years as Dean’s Warden, Richard Field Dodgson has agreed to continue in that role for one more year, after which he must step down. Tony Fryer has been a tower of strength as People’s Warden, putting in the hard yards. Last year, being away so much, I appointed Janet Brown as Assistant Warden for 2010. I believe there is merit in having three wardens in a place as busy and complex as the Cathedral; and will continue to explore this as a realistic long-term future possibility. Thank you to those who serve on, and those who lead, the three sub-committees of Vestry: Congregational Life, Finance, and Property and Maintenance. The reports in your hands witness to a healthy engagement and careful stewardship of people and resources. I want to thank Michael Fulcher for the six and a half happy and fulfilled years we have shared together. You may remember that Michael’s first special service, just two weeks after he took up his present post, was my installation as Dean; followed closely by the funeral for the Unknown Warrior and a live broadcast of Midnight Mass on television. As a parish and Cathedral community we will offer our thanks to Michael on Sunday 8th May. To my colleagues on the staff, especially Jenny Wilkens, thank you one and all. It is a challenge and a pleasure to lead the team. To all of you, the people of this wonderful Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, thank you for the privilege which continues to be mine of being your dean. To Christine, the phrase from the wedding service “in sickness and in health” continues to be a challenge and inspiration, thank you for your love, support and listening ear (often in the early hours of the morning).
And now to God be the glory, the power and the kingdom. Amen.
Melvin Day Art Exhibition
Wellington artist Melvin Day’s Stabat Mater suite of paintings will grace the Cathedral pillars during April. Inspired by the music of Vivaldi, Day’s ‘deeply spiritual works … attest to the fullness of his maturity.’
If you’ve got some unfinished objects/symphonies at home and would enjoy getting together with others for a light meal, company & craft of all kinds, come along to Craft Company, Monday 11th April, 6-8 pm in the Brian Davis Room. And if you’re not crafty? Come for the company, admire every one else’s efforts and learn a new skill! RSVP for catering purposes to Jenny ' 472 0286 email@example.com by Friday 8th April.
Michael Fulcher - Director of Music
The Cathedral community and our choirs will say thank you and goodbye to Michael on Sunday 8th May following the Choral Eucharist. The Cathedral Choir will be joined by the Choristers at 10.00am to sing Credomesse, Mozart KV 257. In the evening St Paul’s Chorale and the Cathedral Choir will sing the Gloucester service Howells. You will not be surprised to see that the final hymn that evening is 368. People wishing to contribute towards a gift to Michael and Amanda are invited to do so in a clearly marked envelope: Michael’s Farewell gift.
The events recalled and the services offered from Maundy Thursday to Easter Day mark the most holy time of the year for Christians.
- It is a time of pilgrimage as we share the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday (and are surprised again by the foot-washing Christ).
- On Good Friday we stand in horror as witnesses at the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus, and watch and pray through the long hours of Good Friday. At the 3 hour Vigil beginning at noon, Cathedral clergy will identify and then expand on six different approaches to the mystery of Salvation. The Cathedral Choir joins the service at 2.00 pm for the final hour, during which people will be invited to kneel at the foot of the cross in humble veneration.
- Holy Saturday is a time of limbo, broken in the evening by the starkly simple and beautiful Easter Vigil when the Paschal Candle is lit. Baptism is nearly always a part of this service. Pray for Bronwen Shepherd and Sarah Bate as they are baptised and confirmed.
- Easter Day dawns with the joyful celebration of Resurrection.
From the Registers
- Baptism - Toby John Rees
- Funeral - Bob Gillies
For past versions of the Cathedral News, see Cathedral News Archives.