The closure of the cathedral for public worship last week and furthermore for private prayer this week have been momentous decisions for us. Those decisions were followed within a day in each case by directions from the Prime Minister that confirmed we were in tune with what is required. We are now learning new ways to be a cathedral in the temporary period of social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Of course, the closure of the cathedral has come as a shock to all of us, but it doesn’t mean that we are closed in every way. If you haven’t already done so, I do urge you to look at our digital channels as information and resources are frequently being added to our website and social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter).
As we look to provide increased spiritual support via these routes, the cathedral clergy are brushing up on technical skills to enable the upload of a daily prayer to the website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Please let us know what worshipping provision you would like us to try and provide, but please be patient as we all try and develop new skills - Necessity is the mother of invention.
Our staff are working from home but have already started to use videocall platforms like Teams and Zoom to enable face-to-face connection, and we are moving our governance and leadership structures to the same systems. It is not the same as being together, but it helps us to be who we are and do what we can do. As dean, I find myself learning new skills rapidly; it is now no longer teenagers who will be tech-gurus!
I am deeply grateful to the staff of this cathedral who have responded magnificently and skilfully in the past turbulent week. I am also grateful to the way our volunteers are rallying around to show support and solidarity for one another and for us whilst themselves in relative social isolation; and we have received many messages of support from all sorts of people. Various telephone support groups are being established to help members of the cathedral community keep in contact with one another. I see there is a deep desire to support everyone and especially those who may be most in need. So, whilst saddened, like many of you, at the cathedral’s closure, I remain full of hope. In many respects we are coming into our own. We remain committed to one another, committed to our service of the communities we are a part of, and committed to continue to live in a Christ-like way.
Above everything else, though, we must not just be thinking about ourselves. Many, many people are taking significant risks to ensure that those affected directly by Covid-19 are cared for. Our wonderful Health Service is stepping up to the plate with unstinting dedication and duty. Many volunteers are coming forward to offer their services, from driving delivery vans to helping the self-isolating with their shopping. We know that many more people will die, and our funeral directors and those who run our crematoria will be under intense pressure in the weeks and months to come. Please, please remember all these people in our prayers. And, of course, it is a global phenomenon; simply, everyone around the world is affected.
May our loving God give us the strength of his love to hold the world in our prayers. Never before have we been more aware of the connectedness we have with the entire human family; it puts all the wars, conflicts and squabbles that mar humanity into some sort of perspective.
With my love and prayers.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.