Communities Minister, Lord Bourne and the founder of the Big Issue, Lord John Bird, visited both Ripon Cathedral and Wakefield Cathedral last week, September 22, as part of a country-wide tour of all 42 Anglican cathedrals in England being undertaken by the Communities Minister.
In October last year Lord Bourne (pictued (second left) at Ripon with Canon Ailsa Newby (left), Julia Barker, Director of Operations (third left) and Lord Bird, (right)) began his tour of cathedrals at Bradford Cathedral to highlight their role at the heart of communities and their efforts to strengthen relationships between people of different backgrounds and beliefs.
Friday’s visits brought the grand total of cathedrals visited to 40. The tour will officially end in Canterbury where the Minister will meet Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Recent statistics released from the Church of England show:
•The 42 Anglican cathedrals are attracting more worshippers (an increase of 18 per cent since 2005), as well as diversifying towards new activities and programmes such as adult education classes and art installations.
•Between 2014 and 2015 alone there was a huge jump in the number of ecumenical and interfaith events, with the number of people volunteering in cathedrals rising by 13 per cent since 2005.
Lord Bourne said: “Over the last year, I have been championing the tremendous efforts of cathedrals across the country to remain firmly at the heart of local life.
“My visits to Yorkshire demonstrated the important role these cathedrals are playing, from bringing people together of different faiths to supporting the disadvantaged.
“I have come away certain that Ripon, York, Wakefield and Sheffield cathedrals will continue to strengthen their roles at the heart of their respective communities long into the future.”
Big Issue founder, Lord John Bird, said: “It’s been great to join Lord Bourne on the penultimate leg of his cathedral tour of England. I champion anything that brings our local communities together and cathedrals certainly do that.
“It is when people come together in places such as these that we witness support of the most vulnerable in society, so it’s fantastic that Lord Bourne has shone a light upon their importance.”
At Ripon, the minister heard about the cathedral’s long history of involvement in interfaith events, including joint Muslim – Christian worship and a ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust. He also learned about the work of the chapter in encouraging tourism and religious pilgrimage in the area.
The visitors were greeted by Canon Ailsa Newby, who said: “It’s good to see the Government acknowledging the importance of cathedrals in the community and to see Lord Bourne with us today. As a cathedral, we are keen to be at the centre of the community and its concerns. It’s about a ministry of welcome and hospitality.”