The Cathedral community and the wider diocesan family welcomed Archbishop Rowan Williams and his family for the first time in two separate celebrations on Sunday 2 March. Archbishop Rowan was celebrant and preacher at both services.
Over 2,000 people gathered in the historic Cathedral to join in the afternoon celebration, filling every imaginable space, to hear the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Stephen Venner, lead the congregation in joyful applause as the service began. The Cathedral choir was joined by a music group from diocesan parishes, to provide the music for the service. The order of service included one of the new Eucharistic prayers from Common Worship. Young people of the diocese led the intercessions accompanied by a Taize chant and the familiar Welsh hymn, the Ash Grove, was sung after communion. Archbishop Rowan and the dean administered the sacrament to the hundreds packed into the quire, while the other bishops, clergy and readers gave communion at various stations throughout the nave. The diocesan secretary, David Kemp, read the epistle and Jo Robertson, Deacon chaplain at Dover College, read the Gospel.
Earlier in the day, the 11am Cathedral Eucharist included the singing of Schubert's Mass in G and traditional hymns including, O Praise ye the Lord and O Thou who camest from above. In attendance were the Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Mayor of Canterbury and members of the city council. The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Robin Eames, and the Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Riah Abu El-Assal, were present along with members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and staff members of the Anglican Communion Office.
The Archbishop processed to the great west door after both services and literally shook the hands of many hundreds of people as they left the Cathedral. It was apparent by the smiles and warm greetings the Archbishop exchanged, not only during the peace but also following each service, that he was eager to learn from his diocesan family as well as serve as teacher and pastor.
In the early days of this coming week Archbishop Rowan will be dealing with Anglican Communion matters at a meeting in the International Study Centre.
Next Sunday the Archbishop will administer the sacrament of confirmation in the Cathedral for the King's School, Canterbury, at 11am.