Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 17, 2008

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We are settled in at Canterbury and survived the first day of the conference-more later. After some time we were able to get the computer up and running so communication should improve. Prior to the conference we sprent time in the Diocese of Sheffield. Sheffield is an industrial city in the east midlands of England. It was the leading steel producer until the 1980's. As in the US, the steel business has gone elsewhere and the city was left trying to adjust to developing a new economy. It is a struggle which still continues.

We stayed with the Vicar of St. Paul's, Wordsworth, a smallish parish in the highest crime area thus poorest area of Sheffield. Their priest, Fr. Ian Smith, is a bright, committed pastor of a small but dedicated congregation. I asked him if he had ever thought about living in the Southern US -- no luck. They are working hard to reach out into their community and make a difference and they are succeeding -- Praise God! We worshiped together; I preached. We were able to visit and share with the members of the congregation and see a number of programs. These people are living the Gospel in their neighborhood. We even were invited to the Strawberry Tea sponsored by the St. Paul's chapter of the Mother's Union (ECW). Real strawberries and cream English style.

We also visited Sheffield Cathedral built in the early 15th century, a small but beautiful Cathedral. (It would fit into the nave of St. Philip's with lots of leftover space.) I had the privilege of preaching at the service there for World Mission. We shared the evening with Bishops from Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Primate of the Southern Cone.

Suzie and I were given a tour of the Cathedral Homeless Shelter, a well-equipped, well-designed building that provides support for many seeking asylum in England as well as the unemployed and mentally ill. It is the principal referral agency in Sheffield as well as a food pantry and feeding program. They feed 175 a day. Again people making a difference in their community.

We had a delightful train ride to London followed by an awful taxi ride through London traffic followed by a great train ride to Canterbury.

Bishop Neil has already given the highlights of our first day but I would like to add one personal note. during the second meditation I was overwhelmed as I looked around and realized I had the privilege of sitting in this historic setting not as a tourist or visitor but as one of the Cathedral's own. I was sitting where many famous characters in the History of England, our Church, and our world had sat before. St. Augustine of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, Michael Ramsey, Desmond Tutu and many others were all there with me as I listened to the Archbishop lead his bishops in mission. I lifted my heart and mind in prayer, remembering you, here with me in Spirit. It was a great moment. I suspect there will be more.

God's great blessings,

Bishop Keith

1 comment:

jdr said...

The service paper for the Celebration with Bishop Keith is available at