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The 67th United Guilds Service 27th March 2009

The 67th United Guilds Service took place on Friday 27th March 2009 in St Paul's Cathedral.

The Master Wardens and Clerk met at Stationers Hall at 11 o'clock to robe before making the short walk to the Cathedral where we met other members of the Company in the Bowyers' Pew.

After a short time of waiting during which one exchanged greetings with friends there was a fanfare given by the trumpeters of the Blues and Royals. The clergy procession of the choir, the Colleges of Minor Canons and the College of Canons with Clergy of the City Deanery led by a verger made its way to the chancel. The Masters of the Mercers' and the Grocers' Company then led a procession made up of the "Great Twelve" companies, followed by twelve further companies, followed by the Select Preacher.

The City Marshal then led the Chief Commoner, the Sheriffs and the Court of Aldermen, resplendent in their red robes outshone by the magnificence of their Ward Beadles processed down the aisle. The Dean and Chapter then led the Lord Bishop to his place and the procession concluded with the Lord Mayor preceded by the Sergeant at Arms and the Sword Bearer.

Once all were in palace the Dean of the Cathedral made all welcome with the bidding prayer after which the congregation recited the Lord's Prayer. The Hymn 'Glorious things of the are spoken' then followed. The first lesson from the book of Micah was read by the Lord Mayor and was followed by the Choir singing Psalm 146. The second Lesson was then read by the Reverend Canon Martin Warner from the Gospel according to St (Book of) Matthew to be followed by the Hymn 'Immortal invisible, God only wise,'. The Reverend Laura Burgess then led the Prayers. The Choir then sang the Te Deum (as an Anthem).

The Sermon then followed given in a very clear voice by the Very Reverend Jeffrey John the Dean of St Albans. He began by reminiscing on his time as chaplain to Magdalen College, Oxford. Part of his job was to prepare the college chapel choir boys for Confirmation. He told the story of when he was preparing the choir boys for confirmation he asked them the question 'what do you call some one who does not believe in God: a word beginning with A'. Hands shot up and the selected pupil gave the correct answer: an atheist. He then asked the question 'what do you call someone who has doubts about God; also beginning with A'? He hoped to hear the answer: an agnostic. There was silence and furrowed little brows. Eventually one hand went up and when asked for the answer the choir boy replied hesitatingly 'an Anglican'.

The preacher then went on to preach about Our Lord's view of 'authority' which and been raised in the second lesson. He quoted Archbishop Ramsey's comment that the Anglican Church was ecumenism in action. He illustrated his views with reference to the Pharisees, who were ultra orthodox and lived by a set of very prescriptive rules, to the exclusion of those who did not accept them. This was view challenged by Our Lord who was of course unorthodox. He considered that there were those in the Church who wanted to establish authority and rules which he felt were in contradiction to our Lord's teaching. Those who put forward these views on authority were happy with them provided that the authoritive views were theirs. He believed that the (Anglican Church should continue to be broad based were of the opinion put forward the view that the) Anglican Church should remain broad based and be accessible to all.

The final hymn was 'The Church's one foundation' followed by the Blessing and a rousing rendering of the National Anthem after which the principals processed to the west door of the Cathedral.

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