We at Ripon Cathedral are hosting a great festival this bank holiday weekend.
Ripon Cathedral Revealed offers something for all tastes and ages over four days - Friday to Monday. It includes: spectacular flower displays; wonderful music of different styles; experience of the cathedral’s heritage and spirituality; and plenty of food and drink, including a two-day food and drink festival (Friday and Saturday), a beer festival on the Monday and a pop-up cafe in the cathedral throughout.
You can see behind the scenes of the cathedral, try your hand at playing the organ, climb the tower, see the Yorkshire roses made by children and adults from across the region and hear the Bishop being interviewed by Duncan Wood of ITV’s Calendar News.
I am writing this article having just returned from the cathedral’s pre-festival concert given by young people of the region.
It revealed what great talent many of our children and teenagers have, and what fantastic work is being done with them through the Wider Opportunities Band in Nidderdale, the Harrogate Music Centre at St Aidan’s School, the Boroughbridge Primary Orchestra, the North Yorkshire Music Hub and the choirs of Ripon Grammar School.
These young musicians were an inspiration and the concert showed perfectly how the cathedral, working in partnership with others, can enhance the lives of people and communities in the region. We have a strong desire to serve the people of the whole region and we are launching our vision for this as part of the festival, Ripon Cathedral Revealed.
The title of our vision is Growing God’s Kingdom. You won’t be surprised to learn that, being a church, the cathedral is keen to follow Jesus Christ. He taught his disciples to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom and he himself spent his life showing what living in God’s kingdom looks like.
He wanted people to be at one with God and each other, and he wanted people to be free to be their best selves, to live to the full – both on earth and in heaven. When we at the cathedral talk about Growing God’s Kingdom, we mean that we want to do our bit to help this region and its people become their best selves and be able to enjoy and make the most of life. And we are here for all people, whether they have a Christian faith or not.
Throughout the festival and afterwards, you can see a display in the cathedral about Growing God’s Kingdom. Brochures are available and there will be information on the website. This all tells you that there are four main areas of work through which Ripon Cathedral serves the people of this region, and visitors from all over the world.
The first area of work is growing our congregations numerically and spiritually. Unless the cathedral is a healthy church, it will be able to offer little to the diocese and region.
I’m pleased to say that cathedral congregations are growing and we are doing more to nurture faith in both adults and young people. Appointing a Canon Evangelist, Canon Ruth Hind, has already given this area of our life a great boost.
The second area of work relates to the magnificent building that we have, with all its history and heritage. This is a great place to visit for many reasons that are not religious. It is also a wonderful venue for concerts and art exhibitions. Thousands of people, of course, are attracted to it because it is a sacred place that speaks to them of the presence and activity of God in their lives and of the hope that the Christian faith can offer in every situation.
For the benefit of those who come for both religious and none-religious reasons, we need to safeguard our great heritage, tell our inspiring stories and provide buildings and facilities that are fit for purpose in the twenty-first century.
At the festival, you can see a display of our ideas for developing the cathedral buildings and its precincts. These developments will enable the cathedral to do even more to serve the churches and communities of the region and to support the region’s economy and tourism.
The third area is serving the bishop in the church’s mission to the region and the fourth is about engaging with the issues and needs of the world.
Both of these encourage the cathedral to engage more with rural communities and rural issues; to serve the military communities of North Yorkshire; to extend our outreach with education and music; and to work in partnership with others to respond to human need.
This is an exciting and comprehensive vision for a cathedral that is delighted to be set in the heart of North Yorkshire and is keen to serve the people and communities of the whole region.
Please, do come along to the festival; find out more and help us celebrate.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson