Thursday, February 7, 2013


Last week we were invited to speak in the Canterbury Ward in the southeast corner of England.  We met the bishop of Canterbury, Michael G. Pemberton, a kind and humble man, who was very gracious and said he appreciated having us come.  He especially liked Pat's talk on family history.  The ward was friendly and welcoming, and we enjoyed being there.  The congregation  in Canterbury was small, but the spirit was strong.  As we travel to different wards nearly every week, we are always surprised and grateful for the warm greeting we receive at the door and the many members who go out of their way to welcome visitors. It always reminds us that we could do a better job at home.

After sacrament meeting, we went to Canterbury Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Rowan Douglas Williams.  This massive and historic cathedral is the Mother Church for Anglicans worldwide, including the Episcopal Churches in the United States and Canada. The Anglican Communion consists of over 70 million members in more than 160 countries. The Archbishop was not there, but we didn't really expect to meet him.  England's first Archbishop was Augustine, the Catholic monk sent to England as a missionary by Pope Gregory in 597 AD.  I can't imagine how many million people have climbed the worn steps and walked the uneven floors of this important centre of pilgrimage.  It reminds me of how I felt when walking through St. Peter's Basilica  in Rome, Notre Dame in Paris, the giant Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the large Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo, or even the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  So much history, and so much tradition!  We Americans often have a hard time thinking past 200 years.

Couldn't help but wonder about all the generations who have entered
this building in Canterbury since 1550 A.D.

No, that's not a cigarette. I found a lollipop in my pocket :)

Eva and Pat

The cathedral in Canterbury

Inside the cathedral.

It is incredible to consider the work that went
into creating the magnificent stained glass
in the cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral is a working church, with a world-renowned choir, where services are held every day. While we were there, we heard part of an organ concert echoing through those hallowed halls. As we walked outside, the cathedral bells were ringing from the tower.  That is one of my favorite sounds in Europe, and takes me back to my mission in Switzerland.  I would love to attend a Christmas Eve midnight mass in Canterbury -- perhaps next December.

On Thursday night last week, we took Pat's friend, Eva, visiting from Hungary, and used some P-Day time to attend a concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the historic church at Trafalgar Square in Central London.  St. Martins is another Anglican church, built in the early 13th century - nearly 300 years before Columbus discovered America. The original church was torn down and rebuilt in the early 1700s. We heard the English Concert Orchestra and Concert Singers perform Classics for Pleasure by Candlelight, with pieces from Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, and Mozart,  including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah.  It was very peaceful and soothing -- just what we needed for a change of pace.

Outside St. Martin-In-The-Field

The acoustics in St. Martin-In-The-Field make it
a favorite site for music recordings.
As we have visited many churches and cathedrals across southern England, we have reflected on the long history of religious belief here and the number of people through the centuries who have prayed and worshiped in these grand and beautiful edifices.  Though modern-day England is experiencing the same diminishing priority to worship as America and many other countries, there is a wonderful heritage of faith in this land. We are glad to serve here as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.          ~Don~

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