Services for the week beginning 28/06/15

Please note that the Meditation Group on Friday evenings will be taking a break for the Summer vacation.


Sunday 28/06/2015

8 am: BCP Holy Communion; President & Preacher: Andrew Davison
11 am: Morning Prayer; Officiant & Preacher: Geoff Dumbreck: Out of the depths
5 pm: Meditative Evening Prayer & Compline; Officiant & Preacher: Br Chris Martin

Friday 03/07/2015

10.30 am: BCP Holy Communion; President & Preacher: Alan Cole

“Vicarious religion”… and St Edward’s

Why are we here?

I have been reading the 2nd edition of sociologist Grace Davie’s ‘Religion in Britain’ in which she develops the theme of the 1st edition: believing without belonging. Twenty years on from that her research has led her to identify vicarious religion, which she describes as “the notion of religion performed by an active minority but on behalf of a much larger number who… …not only understand but appear to approve of what the minority is doing… …for example churches… …perform ritual on behalf of others (at the time of a birth or a death for instance); if these services are denied, this causes offence, the more so amongst those who do not attend church with any regularity.” (Davie,  2015 p.6) There is a curious disconnect between the offer of baptism with conditions, to the unquestioned availability of funeral services in the Church of England, if not at St Edward’s.

Amongst the churchgoers there has been “a gradual shift from a culture of obligation or duty to a culture of consumption or choice”  (ibid p7 ) with people attending Cathedral services in greater numbers than before, for the beauty of the building and the music as much as for the liturgy and the anonymity.

I’ve been reflecting on this notion of vicarious religion and what it could mean for us at St Edward’s with no Vicar-Chaplain and a small, gathered, congregation. We are important, not only to each other, but to all who live and work and visit in our parish: we are important as the still-burning light of Hugh Latimer’s last words on the stake: “we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

The range of services being developed at 11am and 5pm on Sundays offer a different sort of experience to people who may find more conventional churches too repetitive or constraining: in order to attract people to share our life at St Edward’s we need to establish  regular,  varied services,   settled and welcoming congregations, and that sense of timelessness and peace which is so attractive to people unfamiliar with it. “The church [is] the only community that has the experience and authority to offer to its surrounding culture words for repentance,… …for a shared grief over a past that can never be anything other than a record of failure and betrayal… …being named honestly for what it is by people who are not ashamed of naming failure… …and also the animation of the believing community thanksgiving.” (Rowan Williams, in Wells and Coakley, 2008 p178)

In this period of vacancy we can begin to look outward, to observing our position in the centre of Cambridge, to ensuring that the churchyard is tidy, the church open as often as possible to welcome visitors, to provide a beautiful place for people in need of peace a chance to step out of their busy lives and into a place “where prayer has been valid” (Eliot,1942, 2000 p32.)

For all that St Edward’s may have been peculiar in the past, it is now firmly part of the Church of England, with a parish, and a responsibility to minister to the people who live and work here. Vicarious religion indeed. Let us work together to keep the light burning.



Grace Davie: Religion in Britain: a persistent paradox. 2Nd edition. Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Faber 2000

Samuel Wells and Sarah Coakley, eds: Praying for England: priestly presence in contemporary culture. Continuum 2008

                                                                                                                Jillian Wilkinson

Services for the week beginning 21/06/15

Please note that the Monday Taize service is on pause for the summer vacation and should be returning towards the end of September.


Sunday 21/06/2015

8 am: BCP Holy Communion; President & Preacher: Devin McLachlan
11 am: Contemplative Morning Prayer; Officiant & Preacher: Devin McLachlan: Peace, be still!
5 pm: Meditative Evening Prayer & Compline; Officiant & preacher: Ann Kember


Friday 26/06/2015

10.30 am: BCP Holy Communion; President & Preacher: Alan Cole
5:30 pm: Meditation Group

From the archives…

St Edward’s is a church with a long and interesting history. Over the coming months we hope to have a series in which we look at some items in our archives and discover some aspects of this history. By way of introduction, we reproduce below an historical map from around 1800 showing St Edward’s parish at that time.

We can see that the map of Cambridge has greatly changed over the last 215 years. However, we observe that many of the institutions are still flourishing within our parish: King’s College and Clare College and Trinity Hall are still within our boundary. It is for this reason that St Edward’s holds the marriage registers for these College chapels, and they have to be borrowed whenever one of them has a happy event. The former Augustinian priory became the Botanic Garden, later the Cavendish laboratory and now various University departments; parts of the original King’s College are now the Old Schools, where such offices as the Vice-Chancellor and the reprographics are to be found – we are grateful to the latter for printing our service sheets and posters.

St Edward's Parish
We should remember all these hives of industry in our prayers for the people who live and work in our parish, and use the individual premises rather than multi-nationals – Indigo coffee house, David’s bookshop, Campkins cameras, the Arts Theatre, the Ark shop, Ben’e’ts coffee shop… so many to explore and support.

                                                                                                                Jillian Wilkinson

Services for the week beginning 14/06/2015


Due to staffing problems the 5pm Meditative Eucharist on Sunday 14th June has been cancelled. The churchwardens and 5pm team are very sorry that this is necessary and we hope to rectify the causal problems and so not need to cancel services in the future. If you know anyone who was planning to come and does not receive these emails could you please let them know.


Sunday 14/06/2015

8 am: BCP Holy Communion; President & Preacher: Devin McLachlan
11 am: BCP Holy Communion; President & Preacher: Will Lamb: The Kingdom of God



Monday 15/06/2015

9 pm: Taize service  (for more info please contact Sophie


Friday 19/06/2015

10.30 am: BCP Holy Communion; President & Preacher: Alan Cole
5:30 pm: Meditation Group

Chapter Reports

Chapter met on the 22nd of March and 26th of April.

At the meeting on the 22nd of March, the decision was taken to move forward with the sound system work; this has now been completed. We discussed the various services of the church, and in particular reviewed the progress of the 5pm service in the light of the work that Ann Kember and Brother Chris Martin have done to revitalise these services whilst keeping within the structures described in Common Worship and New Patterns of Worship. Music at the 11am service was also discussed; this is “work in progress”.

The meeting on the 26th of April was the first of the newly formed Chapter, after the APCM. The focus was primarily on appointments, officers and roles for 2015 – 16. Discussion of the churchyard was deferred to the subsequent Chapter meeting.