Let us stand together

Ruth FitterIt cannot have escaped your notice during the last few months that Donald Trump is a figure that divides opinion.  It cannot also have escaped your notice that we are coming closer and closer to the day when we see him as President of the United States – one of the most powerful men in the world.  It has perhaps also not escaped your notice that this powerful man (whatever you might believe about the latest allegations) has sought to use his power to put down the weak and to trample over the lives of those whom he perceives to be ugly, different in any capacity you can think of, poor or in need.

I am absolutely in favour of free speech – we should not be frightened to say what we think is wrong in our world and should not be scared to challenge injustice or the actions of those around us.  Just because someone is different from us that does not mean we should not be able to challenge them but we should also be open to challenge about our own lives from others.  However, those with power and responsibility need to work for harmony not division.

This week we celebrated Epiphany – the revelation that the Christ child was King, Priest and Saviour.  He did not come to wield His power over the poor and the weak, the dis-eased or the emotionally and spiritually needy. Instead He came to those who had travelled from foreign countries, to the lowest of the low and to a teenage mother to say that God wants only justice and joy in the world.  He came to lift the humble, to strengthen the weak and to heal the sick in body, mind and spirit.  We, who count ourselves as his disciples need to keep this in mind now as our world seems to polarise itself more and more.

This week sees the launch of ‘Faith’, an exhibition of portraits of people of faith from our local community.  They have all been painted by Russell Haines and are on display in the Cathedral cloisters until 26 February.  If you get chance to go and see them please do.  The overwhelmingly powerful aspect of this exhibition is that from an atheist has come the gathering of people from all nations to show themselves standing together for love, tolerance and understanding in the world.

Jo Cox MP said “We have much more in common than divides us” and she was right.  It is called humanity.  We all bleed the same way; we all hurt; we all get ill; we all need to be loved.

Please, at a time when the powerful seem more intent on causing division than ever before let us stand together for what we say we believe in.  God come to dwell with every man, woman and child – wherever we come from, whoever we are and wherever we are going.

By the Revd Ruth Fitter, St Pauls and St Stephens, Gloucester


What Libraries can do for Churches


In this season of Beckyconferences, I thought I would share a key message from a conference I went to last week.  This was the triennial conference of the Cathedral Libraries and Archives Association.  We were studying how the Cathedrals can help and support the mission and worship of Cathedrals, and this could be relevant to parishes too.  How do you use the heritage of your building to provide a new way to start conversations about the Christian message and the life and work of the Church?

As Cathedral Archivist I have in my care some wonderful items from the past of the Cathedral, for example a Victorian copy of Piers Plowman, Archbishop Laud’s backgammon set and a relic of the stake at which Bishop Hooper was burnt. These items bring to life the humans who were involved in major historical changes in our church.  Whenever we open the library for tours, items such as these and our historic books bring new people into our wonderful Cathedral, and help them to connect with the story of our faith’s past.  I am looking forward to working more on this use of the historic collection of the Cathedral in future.  What have you got within your Church that could be used in this way to bring the non-religious and the non-believing into your building on their own terms?

If you would like to visit the Library, there are still a few tickets available here for our last public tours this year – Saturday 8 October at 11am, 12noon, 2pm and 3pm.

By Rebecca Phillips, Trust & Pastoral Officer