Sacred Space – Stephen Cottrell – Make our Stones Sing Again

19th September 2018

Let’s make our stones sing again, the Bishop of Chelmsford the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell told the first National Cathedrals Conference.

“It is the greatest challenge we face: Do we love the traditions enough to do the translation; to start to speak again in languages people understand in this, the great smorgasbord that is our culture.

“We need to make the ancient faith the contemporary faith by inhabiting it, by loving it; cherishing it; reinterpreting it. Let’s make our stones sing again.”

Bishop Stephen opened the second day of the first National Cathedrals Conference in Manchester Cathedral with a prayer and an uplifting charge to the cathedrals represented to be good evangelists; to get out into their dioceses; to experiment with liturgy; to broaden the fringe around their cathedrals by responding to what was happening in the world with one off event; and to allow people space if they want “to sit behind the pillar” without being pounced on.

“That’s why Cathedral Evensong is so popular with young people; there are thousands of people who want to come quietly; want to come in secretly. Cathedrals have a special vocation and opportunity to be somewhere to slip in and slip away.

“To be in a place where worship happens and you dwell in it; a place where disagreement is okay…cathedrals have a special vocation to be that kind of place.

“To stay the same we need to change; live them, inhabit them, translate them, represent them. To speak again in languages people understand,” he added.

Bishop Stephen’s recalled his first day as Vice Dean and Canon Pastor in Peterborough Cathedral in 2001 when he stood outside the great west front of the Cathedral and imagined he knew nothing about Jesus. When he’d finished walking round inside, he said he’d learned an awful lot about Katherine of Aragon; Tudor England and the rules of Benedict; but not a lot about Jesus.

“There are all sorts of things we can do to let the stones sing, if we think about it,’ he added.