Fifth Anniversary

Well, today is the Feast of the Visitation and that means that it is also the anniversary of my becoming the Provost and Rector at St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow. I remember my installation service with great fondness. It was wonderful service liturgically and the shape of things to come.

Does it feel like a long time? Well, not particularly. I stopped being called the New Provost about 2 years in and time has just passed by since then.

It is my view that St Mary’s had an unsustainable stipendiary staffing level when I came here and this year we’ve managed to do something concrete about that and appoint a Vice Provost. In some ways, that is the most significant thing that has been achieved since I came to Glasgow.

There has been a lot of razzmatazz on the way, of course, for both brouhaha and razzmatazz are handmaids of the gospel and tools of the kingdom.

One significant thing that I said when I came was that there was going to be a moratorium – not the kind of moratorium which bishops and archbishops impose (which is not a moratorium in any case but a ban). Very early on, I stood in the pulpit and announced that there would be no big building project for my first five years in post. It was my view that the congregation needed a bit of time to relax and enjoy the building rather than seeing it as a constant, never-ending project. I’m convinced that was the right thing to do. I note that the time of that moratorium is now passed.

Does that mean that all of a sudden I have grand plans? Does that meant that the appeal for the Kelvin Holdsworth Memorial Gilded Spire is now launched?

Actually, it doesn’t. I’ve no great plan to go on with, except to encourage the congregation to keep doing the things we are good at and get better at doing the things we can get better at. Oh, and to stop worrying too much about the things we don’t happen to be good at, and there are, no doubt, one or two of them.

Have I enjoyed my first five years. Well, yes I have, though the personal toll of working in a relatively big and complex religious institution that is understaffed is huge and I wouldn’t particularly like to go through those five years again. However, we are in good heart and the good times, are just around the corner.

There is a wonderful excitement around at St Mary’s which is infectious. Someone said to me that there was a sense of that excitement which came over in the Radio 4 broadcast recently and that made me very pleased, for it is the kind of thing that you cannot script. It is either there or it isn’t.

As I look back over those five years, I am pleased at the journey made. But anniversaries are times for thinking about the future as well as about the past, and when I think about St Mary’s today, it will not be the past that I dwell on but what is to come.