For two Sundays in Lent (8 and 16 March 2014) we were privileged to have visiting preachers who gave illustrated talks after the socialising which takes place after the Eucharist.

The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove

The first was The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham since 2003, and in addition to a wide range of national church responsibilities, his regional and local ones now include being Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham since 2011. At present a major preoccupation of the Durham Chapter is its ‘Open Treasures’ project, which is focussed on the priceless legacy of housing the shrines of St Cuthbert (buried behind the High Altar) and of Bede (St Bede in the Roman Catholic tradition) buried in the Galilee chapel at the west end, and of providing access and interpretation for the visitors –pilgrims, many of them – who come to Durham. Michael is a well-published author (e.g. I Will Trust in You: A Companion to the Evening Psalms, 2009; Lost Sons: God’s Long Search for Humanity, 2012). He took up photography some years ago, concentrating on architecture and landscapes, and has recently been the main contributor to Landscapes of Faith: The Christian Heritage of the North East, 2013.

With his exhaustive knowledge of this heritage, Michael both showed slides from his collection – many of which are included in his book, but gently also commending the importance of photography as such. He writes: ‘One way of talking about photography is in terms not so much of ”sight” but of “insight”’, that is making a journey of discovery, leading into a new appreciation and enjoyment of what we thought we already knew well. And photography can become an aid to prayer and meditation, offering a fresh perspective by becoming a truly personal way of “seeing”, with insight and imagination aiding spiritual discernment like other arts.

Read The Very Revd Michael Sadgrove’s Sermon for the first Sunday of Lent 2014.

The Very Reverend Richard Giles

Our second visitor was The Very Reverend Richard Giles, who has had a truly extraordinary international career. He trained and worked as a town planner, and after ordination training at Cuddesdon , served as a priest in the Midlands and the North of England before becoming parish development officer and Canon Theologian for the Diocese of Wakefield, working with parishes to rethink and redesign their buildings as part of mission strategy. Just one of his books, Re-Pitching the Tent: The Definitive Guide to Re-Ordering Church Buildings for Worship and Mission has been reprinted several times, and has sold over 20,000 copies! Creating Uncommon Worship, 2004, is a comprehensive guide to the celebration of the Eucharist – with photographs from his varied experience.

From 1999 to 2008 Richard was Dean of Philadelphia Cathedral in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, USA, where he oversaw the renovation of the cathedral to become a place of transformative worship. In retirement, he lives in Tynemouth.

The main focus of his talk after the Eucharist and socialising at All Saints, showing slides which both illustrated his sermon and also helped the congregation to reflect on its current liturgical practices,was particularly appropriate to the current focus of the congregation on liturgy as one of the marks of mission in connection with ‘Casting the Net’. He urged us to think through how both church and surroundings at All Saints will need to be altered and re-configured to reflect who we are, accommodate our changing needs, and tell more clearly the story of our journey. The Church’s history is one of constant adaptation of its buildings to meet a renewed understanding of God and of Christian service to a needy society, with nothing allowed to become sacrosanct or untouchable.

Read notes from a sermon: The Very Reverend Richard Giles.

Ann Loades