If you would like to subscribe to a copy of our parish magazine "Parish News" which is published monthly, please contact us via our "Contacts" page and we will be happy to arrange it.
LETTER FROM THE CLERGY
you tell us what this big church is for? What should we look at?” asked a group of
Chinese tourists in York Minster. “OK,” I took a deep breath, “let me start from the very beginning.”
This is often how I begin a guided Minster tour for the Chinese tourists. Most of them have no idea of church or
Christianity. So when I tell them about
the Minster, I have to explain every concept and all the terminology. Often each answer provokes only more
is a cathedral.” I might say.
“What is a cathedral? What is it for?”
cathedral is a church where there is a bishop’s chair.” I reply.
church? What is a church? What is a bishop’s chair?” …
Inevitably, the guided tour of the Minster
turns into a tour of introduction to Christianity. This is why I make a round trip of almost 100 miles every
week to do the guided tour of York Minster.
For most of these Chinese tourists, this would be the first time they
encounter Christianity in a church; it is certainly the first time they talk to a Christian face
However, I have found more and more English
people, particularly the younger generation, whose knowledge of Christianity is
no better than that of the Chinese tourists I have met. I once visited a young couple who had booked
a baptism for their young son. They were
surprised to hear that baptism was an initiation rite which would make their
son a Christian. Even more surprisingly,
after a recent baptism service, a young lady asked Margaret, “Does that lady
(pointing at me) do this every Sunday?”
Margaret had to explain to her that “that lady” was the vicar and worked
full time in the church.
The ignorance of the Chinese about
Christianity is quite excusable; not
only are the traditional Chinese religions
Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, with Christianity still considered a
foreign religion, but also the Communist government has never stopped
persecuting and controlling Christian churches in China, so most of the Chinese
do not know Christianity at all.
But what makes Christianity and the
established Church of England so remote from the English people of the
twenty-first century? England is a
country with almost 1500 years of Christian history; the Church of England
parish system provides a place of worship for every citizen as a focal point
for spirituality and pastoral care.
is easy for me to stand in York Minster waiting for coach-loads of Chinese
tourists to drop in. There are no people dropping into our parish church to
inquire what we are here for. We have to find some ways to present the Good
News of Jesus Christ to the generation of the twenty-first century.