Celebrating our new cathedral
April 10, 2016
Read: 'Dean gives Canterbury cross to new American cathedral
Choral Eucharist and Cathedral Celebration
Article: 'Dean gives Canterbury cross to new American cathedral'
Read an article HERE on the Canterbury Cathedral website about the visit by Dean Willis (above).
Presentation of the Canterbury Stone
April 10, 2016
During his visit to Grace Church Cathedral, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry offered his blessing during the dedication of a special stone that was presented to Grace by the Very Reverend Dr. Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury Cathedral.
Dean Willis said it was a privilege to be present for the celebration at “the newest cathedral in the Anglican Communion, which, I’ve already sensed throughout the services of this morning, is full of energy and vitality and all the sorts of things that the old Mother Church needs to encourage her life, too.”
Dean Willis said that Canterbury’s history spans more than 1,400 years beginning when Augustine came to Canterbury in 597. That sounds like a long time, he said, but then he learned that the Lowcountry’s famed Angel Oak is 1,500 years old.
“Its branches are a good sign of organic unity as a Communion, a lovely image for me to take back home,” he said.
The gift of the stone is a way for the new cathedral to “express its organic unity with the Mother Church and all the other branches of our Episcopal Anglican communion,” he said. The tradition of placing the stones dates to the 1920s, under the secretary of the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, Margaret Babbington. Masons are constantly working to repair the cathedral, replacing worn and weathered stone with newly carved pieces. It was decided that as blocks were removed, they would be carved with a Canterbury cross and taken to the Anglican cathedrals of the world.
Inside the southwest doors of Canterbury Cathedral is a list of all the cathedrals where these stones have gone, including Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and cathedrals in Zanzibar and Tasmania (where a stone was placed in January) , to name a few. Washington National Cathedral’s Canterbury Pulpit is carved entirely from Canterbury Cathedral limestone.
The stone presented to Grace has its own story. Dean Willis said that Canterbury has a team of stonemasons, with young apprentices joining year by year. The man who carved Grace’s stone, Jake Wood, was so inspired by the creativity he saw when he visited Canterbury as a child on a school field trip that he decided he wanted to become a mason.
Now in his mid-20s, Mr. Wood completed a five-year apprenticeship and is now in the next phase of his training while continuing to work on the cathedral, on his way to becoming a master mason.
Dean Willis said Canterbury Cathedral’s mission statement is four words: “To Show People Jesus.” All of the cathedral’s 350 full-time staff members are experts in some field of creativity, he said. The cathedral believes that “in their creative life they are showing people Jesus, because there is nothing more encouraging than someone else’s creativity to awaken God’s gifts in you and me.”
Because no stone goes into Canterbury Cathedral without the special mark of the mason who carved it, Mr. Wood’s name and his unique mason’s mark are carved on the back of Grace’s stone. On the front is the Canterbury Cross, a design based on a Saxon piece from c. 850 that was discovered in Canterbury in 1897 and has become the symbol of the cathedral.
“This comes to you a sign of your cathedral status within the life of the Anglican Communion throughout the world,” Dean Willis said. “I hope it encourages you, but it certainly encourages the Mother Church, to give this into your hands today and feel that we ourselves are part of that great Angel Oak which is the Anglican Communion.”
At the introduction to his sermon, Bishop Curry greeted Dean Wright and the people of Grace Church Cathedral, saying, "We are so grateful to you for leadership that has helped The Episcopal Church in South Carolina to claim the high calling and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We are indebted to you."
Photos and videos
The 11:00 a.m. Choral Eucharist and Dedication
Presiding Bishop Curry's sermon begins at 38:20 in the video above.
Dean Willis' presentation of the Canterbury Stone and the Liturgy of Dedication begin at 1:10:15.
The 9:00 a.m. Family Eucharist Dean Willis' sermon begins at 20:50 in this video.
Sunday services and celebrations
Photo album shared by participants from the Diocese of Upper SC
The Presiding Bishop visited middle-school and high-school students at an overnight lock-in at Grace Church Cathedral. (more photos)
Click on the two images above to see larger photos.
Dean Willis, right, and the Venerable Calhoun Walpole visited the Angel Oak during his time in the Charleston area.