The Dean writes ...
It is tempting to look back in my letter this month, so much has happened in the past year, and by the end of the Summer I will have been Dean for the whole cycle of twelve months activity, but there seems little point in recording my musings on all of these first encounters in St Anne's over a year, much better to look to the future and to try and see, as far as one can, where we are going as a busy autumn unfolds.
The new Guide Book (at least the English version) will be available in the middle of July. This is very exciting and has been anticipated for some months. It is a joint venture between the Cathedral and the Good Bookshop and is being funded jointly by the Friends of the Cathedral and the Bookshop. Most of the text is by Norman Weatherall and the photographs are by Paul Larmour. It has been designed in the Cathedral Quarter by Tonic Design and will be printed locally too. Early guidebooks to St Anne's were nearly all text, with few, if any pictures. The new guidebook will be at least 75% photographs, with the text kept to a brief introduction. This reflects the purpose of the book: to be a souvenir for the casual visitor; to be glanced through on the plane on the way home and left to be enjoyed on a coffee table as a reminder of the beautiful Cathedral that they have visited. It reflects also the ease of reproducing good quality photographs today, and I hope that it will be an attractive addition to what is available on St Anne's. In time, we shall have the guidebook produced in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. The launch of the guidebook is to be on Wednesday 18th July at 2.30 p.m. in the Cathedral. Please come if you can.
As we look forward to the Autumn, can I give you a few dates for your diary. The Ordination of Deacons is to be on Sunday 9th September at 11.00 a.m. The reason why this is being held at the time of our main Sunday Eucharist is that there is only one candidate deacon, Andrew Campbell, and he is being attached to St Anne's until June 2013. As he is to be ministering in the Cathedral and taking part in the leading of worship and preaching during these months, I asked the Bishop if he could hold this service in the morning, when we are all present, and can welcome Andrew into our midst. I will ask Andrew to introduce himself to you in the September Digest. We look forward to him coming to us in the position of "deacon intern" - this is the new designation, following the revision of the training programme in the Church of Ireland which began a couple of years ago. Andrew remains a student in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and has a degree to complete, but will be part of the staff of the Cathedral for four days a week, roughly for three weeks each month. Again, I will give you more details in September, but in the meantime, do pray for Andrew as he prepares for this important change in his life. The Ordination of Priests is also to be held in the Cathedral; on Wednesday 12th September at 7.30 p.m. There are to be five new priests ordained, who will then begin their curacies in various parishes in the Diocese of Connor.
On 23rd September at Evensong we shall be marking the Centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. This is a significant moment and commemoration, not only for the people of Ulster, but for this Cathedral, in view of it being the final resting place of Lord Carson. I am anticipating a large number of people being present and invitations across Church, Civic and Community society will be issued soon.
Two new ecumenical canons were elected by the Chapter in June and will be installed at Evensong on 21st October. They are the Revd Dr Brian Fletcher, Minister of Cullybackey Methodist Church and the Revd Ruth Patterson, Director of Restoration Ministries. We are delighted that Ruth and Brian are to join the Chapter of St Anne's and look forward to the installation day. All members of the Chapter are being asked to preach at the 11.00 a.m. Eucharist, in turn, one each month. This will generally happen on a third Sunday of the month. It began with Canon Timothy Kinahan, Rector of Helen's Bay in June. On 15th July, Canon David Jardine is to be the preacher, and on 19th August it is to be Canon Jerome Munyangaju.
We wish David Stevens and lan Barber well in their recruitment of boys and girls for the Choirs, and in one of their other initiatives, namely, in partnership with Nigel McClintock, in the appointment of an organ scholar between St Anne's and St Peter's Cathedrals. This seems to me to be a very positive and enterprising move and I hope that a suitable candidate may be found. If it is to be a young person from across the water (and this may or may not be the case), in view of the fact that the scholarship is financially quite modest, we may need to identify someone who is happy to take a lodger for a year (expenses would, of course be provided). If this is something that you might be interested in offering, do speak to lan or David about this; we would be extremely grateful for this assistance.
Having looked on, I finish by casting my mind back over the year and rather than highlighting the things that have happened, of which there has been plenty, can I draw to the fore the thanks that we need to give for the great blessing it is to be part of the Cathedral community of Saint Anne's. I appreciate that very much as, day by day and week by week, we strive to serve the society of which we are a part. We are not just a parish which happens to have a big church building, we exist to proclaim the love of God to everyone that this Cathedral touches, and that is a huge number of people. Putting them first rather than us; the service of others before our own desires; the needs of the casual tourist and regular visitor demanding our hospitality and constant goodwill to the stranger before the meeting of friends and acquaintances (important though these things are!) is something we must keep an awareness of at all times and especially on Sundays.
Thank you for all that you are doing to keep our presence in this City of Belfast one which is welcoming to all, proclaims the love of Christ and encourages others to show love to one another and do buy a copy of the new guidebook for your own coffee table!
Yours in the fellowship of Christ Jesus, in whose name our service is offered,