Related to this section ...

Sep 10 The Dean: A 21st Century Mother Church

"We must stop using the idea of Mother Church when we talk about Cathedrals� - so said one Dean at a recent meeting. “It smacks of ‘Mother knows best’ and that is not the basis on which to build good relations with a diocese.� “Nonsense� said another Dean, “I rejoice in the idea of Cathedrals as Mother Church – because it speaks of a warm welcome, resources shared and encouragement given.� This lively debate at the Deans’ meeting has prompted me to think again about the role of the Cathedral in the life of the diocese.

First, I hope that clergy and parishioners in this diocese feel a warm welcome awaits them at Carlisle Cathedral when they arrange a visit – as many do. We are always glad to welcome groups to share in worship here or to make use of the facilities we have to offer. Second, Mother Church has something to say about making expertise and resources available. Some approach us when a special service needs to be prepared, or to lead a Quiet or Study Day on issues they are facing. Others again ask us to help them think about the role of volunteers. They play a vital part here - welcoming, guiding and interpreting, working in the Cathedral Shop or the new Info point based in the Lodge on Castle Street or supporting Chaplaincy at the Infirmary- and as the Cathedral reflects on its experience in these areas, it may be that there are lessons which can help others who are tackling similar tasks in their own settings. And third, the Cathedral can be a focus for unity in the diocese. Just one year ago we were all working hard to prepare for Bishop James’ enthronement and were grateful to those from further afield who came on board to help us. Come the day, the Cathedral found itself firing on all cylinders to make sure we offered an act of worship worthy of the occasion. It was a day when the Cathedral became, most obviously, a focus for unity as people gathered from every part of the diocese. I am not suggesting that this competes with the role of the Bishop who is the focus for unity in any diocese - as he promotes a harmonious working across the diocese as it moves forward in mission. Nor is this to rival the administrative services of Church House and the synodical structure it serves. But it does suggest that a physical home and focus for unity has a value – and that a Cathedral provides such a focus for those who live and work in a diocese. Geography can have its part to play in all this, of course. Carlisle can seem a long way away if you’re in Kirkby Lonsdale or on Walney Island. But even if the stones of the Cathedral are in the North of the diocese, its “Living Stones� have been known to move around – and are glad to do so! So gracious hospitality, the sharing of resources, a focus of unity. I would be glad to think these are ways in which the Cathedral can serve the diocese. It strikes me too that these are also ways in which parish churches, in their turn, can serve the communities in which they are set and together help build God’s kingdom in Cumbria. Mark Boyling, Dean of Carlisle

  • Pioneer Minister joins Diocese of Carlisle’s charity OpShops network Posted Thursday ...