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Service of reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral marks its diamond jubilee

01 June 2022

Coventry Cathedral

The choir sing during the diamond jubilee service at Coventry Cathedral

The choir sing during the diamond jubilee service at Coventry Cathedral

RECONCILIATION was the theme of a service at Coventry Cathedral last week that marked its diamond jubilee.

Coventry CathedralThe congregation of Coventry Cathedral at its diamond jubilee service

It has been the watchword of the cathedral since the 1960s, when it rose from the ashes of the earlier medieval church, destroyed by German bombs in 1940. It was there in the reading of the parable of the prodigal son from Luke’s Gospel, and in the address by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, in passing, reminded the congregation that he was ordained there almost exactly 30 years ago. “I love this place,” he told them.

Urging people to continue the pursuit of peace and understanding first started in the smouldering ruins of the church in 1940 by its then Provost, Richard Howard, Archbishop Welby said: “There is never a kiss and make-up moment after which everything goes back to how things were. Ukraine will never forget what has happened now — whatever happens next. Nor will Russia, nor will the tens of thousands of families who mourn an empty space at the table.”

People have to make different choices about how they moved forward — or backwards. In 1940, it seemed at first that there could be no reconciliation, but, in 1962, when the new church was completed, it was a moment of worldwide renewal. “We are called to share in God’s mission of reconciliation,” he said. “Nothing counts more than bringing peace where there is conflict.”

The service on 25 May was part of a series of events to mark the cathedral’s jubilee. The programme included eight days of prayer, a choral evensong with former choristers, a feast in the cathedral, and an online gathering of the Community of the Cross of Nails: the international peace and reconciliation movement which takes it name from the crucifix formed within hours of the first cathedral’s destruction from blackened ironwork pulled from the rubble.

Later this month, the cathedral will host its Big Birthday Bash with a bouncy castle, crafts, games, and food.

A war requiem for the anniversary, Ghosts in the Ruins, by the composer Nitin Sawhney, received its world première at the cathedral in January this year.

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