At a recent meeting of the Cathedral's Unity Forum we decided that instead of just talking about ecumenism, we should do something!
It was suggested that members of Southwark and St George’s Cathedrals and the Norwegian Church should spend a day getting to know one another and learning about each other’s worship and traditions. On Sunday 7 July this came to fruition when a group of pilgrims from Southwark Cathedral and St Hugh’s gathered at St George’s Cathedral to join the congregation there for Low Mass. At the end of this quiet reflective service we met in the hall for croissants and conversation.
The next stop was St Olav’s Norwegian Church in Rotherhithe, some of us walking and others travelling by bus. The service, which was a eucharist, was partly in Norwegian and partly in English, and included a baptism, as well as marking Sea Sunday, reflecting the origins of St Olav’s as a Seafarer’s Church. Afterwards we join our hosts in the courtyard afterwards for a wonderful lunch, and more conversation.
The final stop of the day was Southwark Cathedral, where we attended Choral Evensong. Here our guests experienced the English choral tradition at its best. This was followed by afternoon tea in our Queen Elizabeth room.
The sharing of each other’s worship enabled us to see our respective traditions in a new light, removing some of the mystery of the other. We heard the Word preached, we prayed and sang together (sometimes in Norwegian!). We shared bread and wine, but we also experienced the necessary pain of not being able to share in communion. In each church the welcome was warm and the hospitality generous. We walked, we talked, and we grew in understanding of each other.
We look forward to the next opportunity!