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Notes And News


by The Reverend Meredith E. Ward on May 05, 2023

If you turned on your TV, opened a newspaper, or checked in on social media this week, you might think you are living in the U.K. Stories about the Coronation of Charles III are everywhere. American journalists and pundits have been covering the event in painstaking detail and are now flocking to London to scrutinize, analyze, and expound upon the ceremony as it unfolds live, tomorrow morning at 11am (5 am EDT). All of this media attention on the Coronation suggests that a significant portion of the American public is eating it up. Including me.

At St. Bart’s, we have done our own explorations of the Coronation and the British monarchy in our Sunday Forums these two past weeks. The Reverend Peter Thompson treated us to a fascinating and comprehensive analysis of the history, symbols, and liturgical significance of the ceremony. The following week Professor Maya Jasanoff reckoned with the British monarchy and its problematic imperial past.

Earlier this week, Peter+ and I attended a dinner in honor of the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury. Bishop Rose was in New York ahead of the Coronation to make a visit to the Diocese of New York that had been postponed by Covid, and had her own media turn in an interview on New York 1 this week.

Originally from Jamaica, Bishop Rose moved to the United Kingdom, where she was ordained a priest and later served as chaplain to her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 2019 she was appointed Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury, the first Black woman to become a bishop in the Church of England. In her remarks at the dinner, she told a story about her life that has stuck with me. She recounted that at the young age of 14, she felt a strong call to the priesthood. Knowing that the church did not ordain women, she went to her Bishop seeking counsel. The Bishop’s response was, “Oh Rose, we’re Anglicans. We don’t do that.” Despite these discouraging words, young Rose was undeterred. She knew, she said, that “although the church may not do it, God does.”

Bishop Rose will have an important role in the Coronation on Saturday, being among those who will present Regalia to Queen Camilla. When asked by an interviewer about the significance of the Queen’s Rod that she will present, the Bishop spoke first about processing with the paten from which the King and Queen will receive Communion. “Amongst the pomp and pageantry and traditions of regalia” she said, “we must not forget that this is within a religious context where the King is committing himself … to a life of service.” In her mention of the holy bread and wine, the Bishop refocuses our attention on the things that really matter — not only for those who have power and authority over others, but for all of us. Through her own life and witness, Bishop Rose reminds us where true power lies - not with kings and bishops, presidents and potentates, but with God. All those years ago, no one in the church would have imagined that a little Jamaican girl could be ordained a bishop in the Church of England and participate in the coronation of a king. Although the church may not have imagined it, God did.


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