This year marks 950 years since the construction of Lincoln Cathedral began.
The building has stood on the hill above the city, a beacon of faith and worship ever since, and as I reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to what the coming year may bring, it is reassuring to be reminded of that constancy through the centuries.
We approached 2021 with cautious optimism; in-person services resumed in mid-February and the vaccine rollout was picking up pace and offering protection and peace of mind. While the journey through 2021 may not have been as smooth as we might wish, there has been much to celebrate – not least the faith, resilience and creativity shown by the community as we navigate the uncertainties of life together and embrace new ways of fulfilling our mission.
Online worship has now become a regular part of our lives; what began as a response to the restrictions imposed by lockdown, has now flourished into an established way for more people to encounter faith and spirituality. Those who are unable to visit the Cathedral to take part in services – not just those who are housebound, but also people from all over the world who hold the Cathedral in their hearts – can now join in from their own home and feel part of our community. Similarly, we contributed to a video for care workers to share with their housebound clients – bringing the music of our talented choir and the joy of the Christmas story directly into their homes.
As well as these alternative methods of engagement, a source of much personal joy has been welcoming so many people into the Cathedral again. After the quiet imposed by the enforced closure of the Cathedral in 2020 and at the start of 2021, it has been uplifting to feel the building resonate with life, music, prayer and thanksgiving.
Our festive, orchestral performances of The Snowman created a magical atmosphere, bringing light into the dark – both metaphorically and literally – as the nave was illuminated with vibrant colours and sparkling snowflakes, and families and friends came together for an experience which they will remember for years to come.
The Cathedral community very much enjoyed welcoming Songs of Praise for the first time in 16 years. While it was undoubtedly unusual to see Christmas trees in the nave and to be singing Christmas carols in September, the event brought some welcome enjoyment and was a great opportunity to share this city which we all know and love with people from across the country.
Heritage Rescue have also been filming throughout the year, shining a spotlight on the skill and dedication of the teams that tirelessly maintain and conserve this historic building.
The opening of our new shop and café has allowed us to offer hospitality to more people than ever before, and in the coming weeks, the final parts of our new visitor centre will officially open, with the unveiling of the Romanesque Frieze which forms the magnificent centrepiece of our new exhibition gallery. I can’t wait to share this wonderful new space with all our visitors, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my huge pride in all the members of our team who make this happen and ensure that the Cathedral fulfils its mission of welcome and hospitality every day of the year.
As we step into 2022, there can be no certainty about what the next year will bring. But what we can be sure of is that we will step forward with hope, demonstrate love and compassion, and continue to ensure that the Cathedral is a visible sign of God’s love where all are welcomed.