September Update

Saturday 27th August, 2016

The Provost writes:

1. The end of the Festival is always tinged with an element of sadness as we say farewell and thank you to our departing choristers. At the Chorister Valedictory Evensong Charles Bradshaw, Esme Frith, Peter Gill, Dominic Markus, Tallulah Molleson, Ciara O’Neill and Jacob Slater hung up their surplices. All – both individually and corporately – have given us so much over so many years, as their “angel voices ever singing” make way for the next generation of choristers. Our thanks go to them (and indeed to their parents) as we wish them all every success and happiness in the years ahead.

2. Bass Lay Clerk Colin Heggie sang in the Cathedral Choir when Dr Dennis Townhill was Organist and Master of the Choristers. Colin’s contribution to singing thus goes back decades, and warm appreciative applause and a bottle of Champagne honoured his retirement. Organ scholar Jonathan Yip and tenor Sam Jenkins are also moving on to pastures new, and we wish them all the best.

3. The above illustrates the constant movement of musicians as choristers move on and choral scholars leave university. It also illustrates how blessed we are in having a musician of the calibre of Duncan Ferguson in front of the next generation of new faces in the choir, training and inspiring them to the demands of daily choral evensong, live Radio 3 broadcasts, the recording of exciting new CDs such as Stravinsky.

4. This year’s Festival featured not only music (both our own musicians and others from places near and far) but also tours of the Cathedral and the Song School and exhibitions of “Women of the West End” and sculptural glass by Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg. Part of our contribution to the Festival happened outside on the south lawn: “Still Here” – theatre for justice in association with Bristol Old Vic – served as a powerful and poignant reminder of the plight of the refugee in our world. None of these could have happened without the massive commitment of a squadron of volunteers who give so generously of their time and enthusiasm to make everything run like clockwork.

5. August also gave us the privilege of not one but two Presbyterian preachers climbing into our pulpit! The current Moderator of the General Assembly highlighted the work of Fresh Start: he was followed on the next Sunday by good friend (and former Moderator) John Chalmers who not only preached but also baptised a beautiful granddaughter.

6. Those of us who have been in and around the Cathedral for a long time will remember Lorna Ross who died recently. A Choral Evensong of thanksgiving for Lorna’s life took place earlier this month in honour of this special soul. RIP.

7. Michaelmas has been one of the traditional times for ordinations, and this Michaelmas will be no exception. On Sunday 18 September at 3.30pm in the Cathedral Kenneth Fleming will be ordained priest. Kenneth has already made a substantial contribution to the life and ministry of the Cathedral as our chaplain and patently has many gifts to share. The following Sunday at 3.30pm in the Cathedral former lay clerk Oliver Brewer will be amongst those made deacon. Please hold him and all who are preparing for ordination at this time in your thoughts and prayers.

Jane and I have been very touched by the kind and generous response to the news of us leaving the Cathedral after 26 years.  Advent Sunday is traditionally seen as the start of the Christian year, a time for new beginnings, for both the Cathedral and us.  I will begin my sabbatical then which in effect marks the end of my time as Provost of this wonderful Cathedral.  Below, Bishop John explains the process of appointing my successor and how that will happen next year.

Bishop John writes:

Dear Cathedral Member,

As you know, Graham has announced that he will retire as our Provost on the anniversary of his ordination next June. This marks the end of a remarkable 26 years of service to St Mary’s. In writing to you now I simply want to acknowledge all that Graham and Jane have brought to the Cathedral over this period and to recognize that many of you will have heard the news with sadness for you will have many reasons to be grateful for Graham’s ministry ‘through all the changing scenes’ of your lives.

I also want to tell you about the process to appoint Graham’s successor. According to the Cathedral Constitution, this is an appointment that belongs to the Bishop in consultation with the Cathedral Board. The Cathedral Board is the Provost (in the chair), the Vice-Provost, the Lay Representative (Sheila Kidney), the Alternate Lay Representative (Andrew Veitch), the Diocesan Chancellor (Cathedral member, Lord Bannatyne) and myself as Bishop. In the absence of the Provost (who will clearly play no part in this process) the Board is chaired by the Vice-Provost.

Graham goes on Sabbatical before the end of the year and I have asked him to draw up a report on ‘the state of the nation’, a realistic picture of Cathedral life, current and future tasks, opportunities and challenges to help the Board more accurately define the skills required and gain an understanding of the demands of the role of the Provost of the largest Cathedral in Scotland. This will be completed before Christmas and doubtless will give the Board much food for thought.

Graham has kindly agreed that we may begin the formal process in January by which point he will be on Sabbatical. Part of that process will be to enable me to hear your views, perhaps through the Cathedral’s many committees and groups. I will liaise with John McLuckie to determine how best this can be achieved.

The whole diocese will be praying for you during these coming months and I invite you also to pray. Pray for Graham, Jane and the family who have made their home with us and shared so many experiences with us over these years; pray for the Board and all those involved in finding Graham’s successor. And pray too for that priest, as yet unknown, whom the Holy Spirit is already preparing to come to serve God and God’s church at St Mary’s Cathedral.

With warmest good wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Bishop John