Chelmsford Cathedral stands at the heart of the city but as you enter the building, you notice immediately a sense of peace amidst the bustle of city life.
It is also unexpectedly light and bright. Set among beautiful grounds which are enjoyed by many during their lunchbreaks, the Cathedral is open every day and is free to visit.
The Cathedral is at the geographical centre of the diocese. The Cathedral, as the national church's free gift to the diocese, seeks to use its resources in the service of the networks of the city, diocese and region, delivering much of its ministry through the strength of its partnerships. The challenge for the Cathedral is how it serves a large and complex region and Diocese, covering Essex and East London.
The Cathedral’s strategic plan is predicated on the Diocesan mission statement ‘Transforming Presence’ namely:
- Inhabiting the world distinctively
- Evangelising effectively
- Serving with accountability
- Re-imagining ministry
Building on this, the mission and ministry of the Cathedral are rooted in John 20.21: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" and is expressed in the four themes of the Strategic Plan - the Cathedral as:
- a thriving, outward facing community
- the church of the Bishop
- a community shaped by worship and learning
- a public space for everyone
This strategic plan analyses and develops the mission and ministry of the Cathedral through a range of different lenses, identifying our mission fields, our foundations, our vision, and our strategic priorities. It lays out the way ahead for the Cathedral as we seek to respond to God’s call in shaping that future.
THE CATHEDRAL’S MISSION
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’
This text has become fundamental for the Cathedral as we seek to continue to explore our mission. On the evening of the first Easter Day, Jesus, the wounded risen saviour, empowers the disciples and sends them out to be instruments of peace and reconciliation. This is a headline throughout this strategic plan.
The Four Themes
The Cathedral Chapter agreed four themes in our 2015 Strategy document and these themes remain the pillars upon which our refreshed strategy is based. They are:
- The Cathedral as a thriving, outward facing community
- The Cathedral as the church of the Bishop
- The Cathedral shaped by worship and learning
- The Cathedral as public / cultural space
The Cathedral as a thriving, outward facing community
This theme has become the banner headline for the whole of the Cathedral’s vision – a sense of what we already are alongside what we aspire to be. The need for the Cathedral to be a place of welcome, accessible and available, reaching out to churches and communities across the diocese and beyond boundaries of tradition, combined with the need to reach out visibly in response to social need and developing a presence in the public square.
Home to thriving congregations is the aspect of the Cathedral’s life which is probably most familiar to most people – the worship and community life around the Sunday morning gatherings, and around smaller weekday services including learning and prayer groups, work with children and young people, etc.
However, an important part of the development of the narrative has been the recognition that this is at the service of our whole identity as Cathedral, and indeed that our thriving congregational life itself is to be formed and shaped by our emerging sense of being a sent / apostolic community.
‘Parish’ is part of Chelmsford Cathedral’s DNA. Alongside its other ministries and responsibilities, it has specific responsibility as the local Christian community for the geographical area in which it is set, including the people who live there, and the institutions and businesses located there. As a community of followers of Jesus, we have the responsibility and privilege of being a transforming presence in the networks of the city centre, the schools, the university, the City Council, the County Council, the Courts, the Police Station, the Fire Station, the Railway Station, the pubs and clubs and retail centres. We are a City Centre Church. And that means we are the church for those who live in our growing parish as new housing and businesses are being developed.
In practice, work will continue to develop:
- Children and Families ministry
- Pastoral care
- Support for parish ministry in the Diocese
- Schools Ministry
- Social responsibility
- Collaboration with St. Mellitus College and Anglia Ruskin University
The Cathedral as the seat of the Bishop
The Cathedral as the seat of the Bishop is key to the Cathedral’s identity. The Chapter is committed to developing this further, with the Cathedral as an active integral component in the life of the diocese.
There are at least two other clear aspects to this key role:
the Cathedral as the spiritual heart of the diocese – therefore a place of prayer for the Bishop and the work of the diocese, the natural “home” for major diocesan services and events.
the Cathedral at the service of the diocese, and in particular sharing in the ministry of a Bishop who puts teaching and evangelism at the heart of her work.
Our role as Cathedral for the Diocese certainly means the Cathedral as welcoming host and the appropriate place for a range of diocesan events and celebrations. For nearly 100 years the Cathedral has been entrusted with St Peter’s Chapel, Bradwell – the only other church which is for the whole diocese rather than for a specific locality.
The Cathedral has a growing role as a place of Christian formation for ministry – i.e. the formal processes of discernment and training for candidates for ordained and authorized ministry in the church. The Cathedral has particularly strong relationships with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, the Continuing Ministerial Development team and St. Mellitus College. The work stemming from this means that the Cathedral as a place of ministerial formation is becoming a significant theme and one that is fundamentally oriented outwards towards enabling mission and ministry across the communities of the diocese.
The Cathedral’s ministry of welcome, worship and hospitality extends to visitors from Kenya, Sweden and beyond, demonstrating how the Cathedral as church of the Bishop supports the Bishop’s ministry and the life and identity of the Diocese.