Hope, love and light in the darkest months

While the month of October might have brought us darker nights and a rise in the infection rates, it also saw more cathedrals bring back music, financial boosts, nationwide art projects, and prepare to mark the season with hope, love and light – even in lockdown.

What Happened in October – a Round Up of Everything that our Cathedral were up to.

Earlier in the month, Newcastle, St Albans and Bury St Edmunds, Bradford, Wakefield and Chichester were the latest cathedrals to bring back singing. Bradford announced a full programme of musical events, Wakefield brought back its lay clerks and reintroduced its free weekly lunchtime concerts and Chichester brought back its full choir for Sunday worship.

Sixteen of our cathedrals were amongst the 445 heritage organisations across the country to receive a financial boost to help them survive the pandemic thanks to the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund with a further four cathedrals receiving funding from the Arts Council. The grants ranged from over £970k to £20,000 and were designed to help them all on their journey of recovery post-covid, restart vital maintenance and reconstruction work, offer a safe welcome to visitors, and secure their buildings for future generations.

Sheffield Cathedral welcomed thousands of visitors to see the touring art installation, The Leaves of the Tree designed to give people the opportunity to reflect on the impact the Coronavirus pandemic. In Gloucester, as visitors were wowed by artist, Luke Jerram’s installation of planet earth, Gaia – a key part of Gloucester Cathedral’s Beacon of Hope campaign which aims to support the recovery of the city and county following the Covid-19 pandemic, the cathedral announced it had received £250k donation to the campaign from the Diocese of Gloucester.

The Dean of Gloucester, the Very Revd Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester said:
“I am incredibly grateful to Bishop’s Council for this extraordinarily generous grant. Gloucester Cathedral stands as a Beacon of Hope and this funding will help to ensure we continue to light up a path to recovery across the region.

The money raised so far has enabled us to keep the building open for everyone, provide daily worship, hold stunning cultural events like ‘Gaia’ and continue our work supporting the most vulnerable. And although we know it will be different this year, we are working hard to plan a Christmas celebration for the local community that will live long in the memory.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the organisations and individuals who have donated to our appeal. We are now just £250,000 short of our target and are confident that with the support of the local community we will reach £1m by the end of the year.”

Gaia Opens In Gloucester Cathedral

To find out more and donate towards the appeal visit www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk/beacon-of-hope

Steep rises in Covid-19 infection rates across many parts of England saw our cathedrals release a special prayer for the healing of the nation and all those working in health and social care services as they marked the Feast of St Luke, the patron saint of medicine and healing on Oct 18.

Durham announced the exciting news that it was to launch an online Community of Prayer following the huge success of its digital worship since lockdown. The Cathedral said it had seen the rapid build of an online community, with a core group of close to 200 people engaging proactively with each service, and an average of 1,300 people returning to engage with an online service at some point later in the day.

Durham Cathedral’s Canon Chancellor, Canon Charlie Allen, said:

“Lockdown showed us just how many people across the globe have a real connection to Durham Cathedral and we want to build on this sense of community in a positive and meaningful way by forming this shared space of prayer. I am hopeful that our new online community will become a useful resource for those who would like to deepen their sense of belonging to Durham Cathedral and explore their faith, while also combatting some of the loneliness felt by many at this time.”

As the month neared its end and we turned back our clocks, saw the nights get darker, the days greyer, and more areas began to find themselves under tougher restriction in the face of rising infection rates, cathedrals pledged to be the hope, light and love in their communities as they unveiled plans for the season of remembrance ….and began to get creative about Advent.

As the Government announced a national lockdown, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Ely, Exeter, Salisbury, Lichfield and Liverpool Cathedrals prepared to be a beacon of hope where they are by projecting beams of light into the night sky through the evening of November 1 to be part of a nationwide project led by the Artist in Residence at Lichfield Cathedral, Peter Walker, called Light of Hope 2020. Portsmouth, Birmingham and Gloucester all planned to light up their buildings on that night too to stand out in hope in their areas. Peterborough Cathedral created a special prayer trail to help people find space to lament and acknowledge the effects of Covid-19 on their lives and those of their community. And Love and Remembrance was at the heart of York Minster’s worship over All Saints-tide with a new art installation there called People we Love.

Norwich launched a new 3D 360 virtual tour to take people on a journey round the Cathedral and the Cloisters from anywhere in the world – it includes the choir singing, the helter skelter being built, the organ playing – and even features Budge the cathedral cat.

Norwich launched a new 3D 360 virtual tour to take people on a journey round the Cathedral and the Cloisters from anywhere in the world – it includes the choir singing, the helter skelter being built, the organ playing – and even features Budge the cathedral cat.

Cathedrals in October - Norwich Virtual Tour

Ripon Cathedral announced it was extending its Wing and Prayer art installation, Salisbury extended its Spirit of Endeavour exhibition, Bradford announced a commission to create a community art project to tell the story of the city’s experience of the pandemic, and Chichester got ready to open a new exhibition that celebrates the spirit of togetherness of people across West and East Sussex throughout the pandemic that was launched in the summer by Chichester Cathedral in partnership with Sussex Newspapers and is available online.

Every Church of England Cathedral which is able to re-open to the public has achieved the Visit Britain’s industry standard and consumer charter mark We’re Good to Go which means visitors can be confident that cathedrals are taking all the necessary steps to help ensure people’s safety in line with latest Government and Public Health guidance. Please check ahead as services and opening times may have changed, you may have to book a ticketed slot at some cathedrals, face-coverings are now mandatory in places of worship unless you are exempt, and all comply with the NHS Test and Trace system.