CRAVEN has a new Bishop following the departure earlier this year of Dr Helen-Ann Hartley who left the district to become Bishop of Newcastle.

The new Bishop of Ripon, which includes Craven, the Reverend Canon Anna Eltringham, was welcomed amongst others at Ripon Cathedral in front of an audience of civic leaders which included the Mayor of Skipton, Councillor Sheila Bentley.

Here, the Very Reverend John Dobson, the Dean of Ripon, reflects on a busy weekend of events at the cathedral. 

THE weekend of September 16 and 17 was another busy time for Ripon Cathedral.

Thousands of people came from the city, region, and way beyond. They were attracted by worship, the cathedral choir’s singing, the installation of seven new canons - most of them hard-working parish clergy being given recognition - the welcome of the new Bishop of Ripon, Bishop Anna Eltringham, concerts by candlelight, a quiet day event, the need to say prayers and light candles, and a desire to view and appreciate the historic, sacred gem which is Ripon Cathedral. And all of this in the city coinciding with the Harrogate Flower Show at Newby Hall and the Darlington Dog Show at the Ripon Racecourse. A good weekend for Ripon and its cathedral!

I was pleased that we were able to extend a warm and enthusiastic welcome to Bishop Anna. Within the Diocese of Leeds, she has a particular responsibility for leading the Church’s mission across this vast Ripon Episcopal Area.

It was significant that The Lord-Lieutenant - the King’s senior representative for the county - The High Sheriff - responsible for supporting the judges and the criminal justice system - the Mayor of Ripon, and mayors from Richmond, Knaresborough, Bedale, Skipton (Councillor Sheila Bentley) and Wetherby joined with people from the churches and communities across the area to say a heart-felt welcome. So, we pray for Bishop Anna as she begins her ministry in this part of the world.

It was also wonderful to see the choristers back after their summer holiday. And thanks to the amazingly successful recruitment drive of Dr Krippner, our Music Director, we now have 27 boy choristers and 38 girls. Remarkable! T hey come from a variety of schools, independent and state, and from a cross section of communities. They have in common their musical talent and willingness to come to the cathedral for 7.30 am rehearsals before school. That’s commitment! From both choristers and parents.

The choristers get a great musical education which benefits them for the rest of their days. And with the congregation, week by week, they learn many other lessons for life.

Simply by learning to recite the Lord’s Prayer, for example, they learn much which can benefit them, if they accept it. ‘Our Father…’ God is holy and longs to be in relationship with us. ‘Thy kingdom come…’ It is God’s kingdom of love, justice and peace which the Church seeks to share with others - thus many of the things that happen in and through the cathedral. ‘Give us this day…’ All we need comes from God. ‘And forgive us our trespasses… as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ It can be a hard lesson, but there is no person on earth who is not transformed by being willing to be forgiven, and to forgive others.

The Sunday’s bible readings happened to focus on the need for people to forgive if they wish to be forgiven themselves. Jesus told the story of a servant who was let off an inordinate debt, equivalent to 150,000 years’ wages. And he was only required to forgive a fellow servant the equivalent of 5 months’ wages. But he couldn’t find it in his heart to do it. So, his master reimposed the debt on him; he could never repay it.

So, like the rest of us, the choristers can learn important, if challenging, lessons for life by participating in worship. But these lessons come from the one who could find it in his heart to say, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Jesus did this while looking on an unrepentant world which was trying in vain, as it does so often, to rid itself of its God. Some can find forgiveness difficult, often because of the extent to which they have been hurt or affected by the failings of others. And there are those who find it most difficult to forgive themselves. As all who were in the cathedral last Sunday morning learned or were reminded, Jesus encourages us to find it in our hearts to forgive, and to move on.