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New Ecumenical Canons at Lincoln Cathedral

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Rev Angy Long, Chair of District, was one of three people to be installed as an ecumenical canon along with two others who were installed as lay canons at Lincoln Cathedral during Evensong on Friday 17th November 2023. Here are Angy's reflections on the occasion:

Installations

'Installing' was previously a word which I most naturally associated with computer software. The sometimes tedious time watching a digital line move across a box with a percentage count increasing until the magic 100% is achieved, although often followed by a 'now restart your computer' message. On Friday 17th November, however, a whole new experience of installing happened as I, along with 4 others, was installed (literally sat down in the stall set aside for me for a time) as a Canon of Lincoln Cathedral. Two of my colleagues that evening were installed as Lay Canons, in recognition of their work in the Diocese. The rest of us were representatives of the ecumenical scene in Lincolnshire, Roman Catholic, Independent and I as a Methodist. The service was, of course, thoroughly Anglican: Processions, beautiful robes, incense, glorious choral singing, liturgical words and movement.

I do enjoy that form of worship, to a degree. I enjoy its symbolism and richness. However, there is always a point, for me, after which it is too much, too removed, somehow no longer rooted in the reality of the world. I know this is about Divinity, about the holiness and 'otherness' of God, but the idea of incarnation is vitally important to me. I think I would struggle to worship a God who was wholly 'other', an invisible being who simply somehow requires our worship and obedience. It is the story of the incarnation and the person of Jesus who make the difference to my faith. An example to follow, who shows us how things can be different, and better, and who, through the narrative of resurrection, gives us hope.

So, the liturgy in St Hugh's Choir was amazing and significant, the invitation from Bishop Stephen to become an ecumenical Canon should not be understated. But when we moved through to the Chapter House for the final part of the liturgy the event took a deeply emotional turn. In the Chapter House the new Canons were given 'a Place and a Voice' in the College of Canons, the body who, amongst other things, exist to give counsel to the Bishop. The Chapter House is an amazing octagonal space, (the acoustics are spectacular.) Around the edge runs a stone bench where the Canons traditionally sat and I was taken and sat down, as I had been to my stall in the St Hugh's Choir. The rest of the Canons stood round and the other members of the congregations were close at hand. The choir sang Duruflé's Ubi Caritas, a piece I was singing the following evening with The Isle Chamber Choir. It was much more intimate and, somehow, grounded. Not high up in a fancy wooden carved stall at the back of the Choir, but on a wooden bench surrounded by friends and colleagues and complete strangers, feeling the community of faith around me. If I'm being very fanciful the community of faith both living and departed. And feeling very much that there was opportunity here for us, together, to work out how we can play our part in trying to make things different and better in the world outside the cathedral doors.

At Bishop Stephen's installation the previous Saturday Anglicans were joined not just by Catholics, Independents and Methodists but people of all denominations, other faiths and none. My prayer is that this heralds a time of colleagueship and co-operation, finding the things which we hold in common beyond our differences and that we can witness to hope and the potential of loving-kindness in the world.

God bless,

Angy

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