Archbishop awards Canterbury Cross for Sheldon Ministry
Fri 01 April 2016
Sarah and Carl write
Well, we have been somewhat overwhelmed by all the cards and calls and emails and Facebook messages from Friends of Sheldon since we got the news. Thank you so much to everyone who has been in touch.We've posted a few of the comments and links here. On Thursday we turned up at Lambeth Palace in our best bib and tucker to receive the Canterbury Cross from Archbishop Justin.The broad grins in the pictures say it all really!
There were 40 people receiving 9 different awards and we gathered in the newly refurbished Library around tables of 10. Sheldon was able to spare Sue and Jan to make the trip, and Sarah's Dad and Godmother made us a party of 6. Another award recipient on our table happened to have attended a family holiday at Sheldon many years ago and remembered it with levels of gratitude that feel too personal to repeat. Natalie also said "it was the first time that we as a family had been treated kindly because we were a clergy family". Blimey. In his introductory remarks ++Justin said that he had always remembered a clergy mentor he greatly admired once saying "you know, it would have been nice if just one bishop, even once, had come along and said 'you're doing a half way decent job - thank you' ". That resonated so strongly with what we hear so often here at Sheldon.
We felt in extremely exalted company with other recipients from around the world and many different traditions. The awards "recognise outstanding service in different fields, including those of Archbishop Justin’s ministry priorities: prayer and the Religious life; reconciliation; and evangelism and witness." We met people who had worked across Africa and behind the Iron Curtain, in international peacebuilding and reconciliation, evangelism, ministerial formation, law, finance, environmentalism, worship (sorry Peter - didn't get Matt Redman's autograph for you), mental health (Jeff - we did pass on your message to Arthur Hawes) and much more. We were too shy to say hello to the magnificently attired Copts and Greeks but delighted to meet Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra who joined as the 10th member of our table (our part of Dartmoor isn't so very culturally diverse ...).
Each of us in turn went up to receive our silver award which ++Justin hung round our necks (an interesting maneouvre), along with a signed copy of the citation. (Whisper it quietly but the fact-checkers hadn't quite got the details right - Sarah hasn't knowingly published anything on diagnostic microbiology and Carl isn't semi- (or even a quarter-) retired) but generally they said very nice things about us and more importantly about the ministry. We exchanged a few words with the Archbishop, shook his hand, had our photo taken and then applauded the next one up. More mingling after the ceremony was done before we all trooped into the Palace Chapel for Evensong. Maybe it's just us, but when we worship with people from other faith traditions we're very conscious of both the magnicifence and the frankly bizarre manifestations of our own! On to the Guard Room for drinks, (delicious) canapes and lots more mingling. Sarah was busy networking, dishing out cards and recruiting allies and ambassadors for The Sheldon Hub. Carl was busy enticing Sarah's Dad and Godmother into indiscretions about her youth. Did we mention that the canapes were very good? And people saying so many nice things about the Sheldon ministry ...
A meal out together. Train home to Sheldon. Thank you to Hillary and Andrew and Rhian for keeping the home fires burning. Thank you to David Vermont for being such an unwavering supporter of the Sheldon ministry and nominating us for this award. Expecting 70 Friends Saturday night for a local celebration together. Well, it only happens once in a lifetime ...