On Friday 22 April, the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, finished a three day tour of New Haven, USA where he stayed as a guest of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Special thanks went to the Dean and President, the Very Revd Andrew McGowan, his wife Felicity and the student community for their hospitality, support and friendship of Canterbury Cathedral.
For the past 12 years, Berkeley students have enjoyed the opportunity to stay in the Cathedral Precincts for a week as part of their course, during which they lived and worked as part of the Cathedral community. Throughout his three day stay, Dean Willis spent time with the students discussing their various callings to ministry and their studies and had the great pleasure and honour to preach to them on the feast of St Anselm (Thursday 21 April).
Whilst in New Haven, the Dean was able to enjoy a tour and short recital at Christ Church, where Canterbury’s own former Organ Scholar, Weston Jennings, is now assisting whilst studying at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. The Dean gave him the best wishes from all in Canterbury and wished him luck with his studies.
During a meeting with another loyal Canterbury supporter, the Rt Revd Ian Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut, topics of discussion were the Anglican Communion and the exciting developments within the diocese and the new episcopal offices which will be the nerve centre of many exciting initiatives.
Before leaving New Haven, the Dean made an interesting visit to some of the many and varied sites of the New Haven Farms’ Programme with Executive Director James Jenkins, Berkeley graduate and member of the Canterbury visiting team of 2015. During the tour, James spoke of how he and his team, including Jacqueline Maisonpierre (pictured with James and the Dean inside their very productive new propagating house), and an ever-growing army of volunteers had, with the help of the City and other partners, taken over previously unused lots, cleared them of rubbish, landscaped them as healthy community spaces and started growing food for the local community.
James’s important and passionate ministry has also seen the incorporation of other denominations into these programmes to create a prayer garden in the Hill area of the city which allows for greater feeding, education, health, well-being and spiritual inclusion of increasing numbers of local communities each year. The Dean was interested to see all the work being done which galvanizes and improves communities, puts the church mission back into the heart of the community and actively improves the health and safety of individuals and neighbourhoods.