New Year 2020 brings more than its fair share of changes ahead for us in the Community of the Cross of Nails. Almost 80 years ago we were in the grip of a conflict that engulfed Europe and tore St. Michael’s Cathedral from us here in Coventry. In the following years we rebuilt relationships with our continental neighbours and the re-imagined Coventry Cathedral ended up at the heart of an international ministry of peace and reconciliation, the Community of the Cross of Nails.

In a few days’ time, as I write this, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, a decision which brings great sadness to us and to our many friends on the continent. It is however a great joy that just as this is happening, we are continuing to develop and nurture new relationships in Europe through the CCN – with our new partners in Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral in Brussels and Bergen Cathedral in Norway, joining us on February 2nd and 9th.

The Community of the Cross of Nails exists to promote reconciliation, to inspire, equip and connect those working for peace and the Kingdom of God as a reality today. It is a sad fact that this work is ever more necessary, and our prayer that we will be used by God to keep hope alive at a time when it may seem threatened by political and economic movements around us. You will read in this newsletter about many of the wonderful events which we shared in 2019, and some of what will be coming up in 2020, all in the service of God’s mission of reconciliation.

Here in Coventry we are working very closely with the Bishop and Diocese of Coventry to make this a reality in our own neighbourhood, as “Partners in the Message and Ministry of Reconciliation” (cf. 2 Cor 5. 18,19). Reconciliation lies at the heart of the gospel – for many of us, it is the heart of the gospel. It is the reason Coventry Cathedral exists, and it is a joy to share in this ministry with partners across the world.

Since this Thought was written, one of the angel panels in the Cathedral’s iconic West Screen, engraved by John Hutton and loved by so many, has last night been smashed during a break-in. At today’s Litany, Dean John said: “It’s only a building, but buildings matter. And this is an irreplaceable piece of art that has served to inspire millions of visitors, which is now lost – or at least irrevocably damaged – for ever. That’s our history: we have experienced loss before, but it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. We search our own hearts today for the grace to follow Provost Howard’s example of praying ‘Father Forgive’ and to reach out in compassion and forgiveness to those responsible”. 

Every blessing

The Very Reverend John Witcombe

Thought for the Week for 24th January – from the Dean of Coventry
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