Wells Cathedral is committed to hosting events for the whole community, near and far, on topics that affect us all.
The Cosmos in Stone: Tom Bree Speaker Event
The Influence of Cosmology in the Design of Wells Cathedral
We are delighted to welcome Tom Bree to talk on this fascinating subject on Saturday 3 March from 7.00pm. His slideshow-talk will be held in the Nave with Q&A between 8.15pm and 8.45pm.
Tickets cost £5 and are available from the Cathedral Box Office in person or by calling 01749 672773, and on the door. Tom’s talk will explore the below:
“A twelfth century Christian education involved the so-called Seven Liberal Arts. Four of these seven arts were concerned with number and together they were called the Quadrivium. They were arithmetic, musical ratios, geometry and cosmology. All four of these subjects inform the design of Wells Cathedral although this particular talk will concentrate upon the cosmological aspect of the design.
Gothic Cathedrals are often looked upon symbolically as architectural images of the Heavenly Jerusalem – (the Heavenly City described at the end of the final book of the Bible). So to enter into such a cathedral is to ‘walk among the stars’. It is where God’s Will is done ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’ – a place in which ‘the Morning Star rises in your hearts’.
Modern cosmology is essentially a materialistic description of matter and its movements whereas medieval cosmology was a study by which the soul contemplated the eternal Reality of God – the ‘Divine Geometer’ – via the ordered Creation. In this sense God the Creator was associated with the artisan who employed the eternal laws of mathematics and geometry to fashion a cathedral to be an image of the Cosmos.
This talk will look at the underlying geometric design of the ground plan of Wells Cathedral and the way in which it embodies a Jerusalem-centred cosmological symbolism that is still used today in the symbolic layout of a Freemason lodge room.”
The Speaker – Tom Bree is a geometer-artist, teacher and writer. He is a member of the Cathedral congregation and lives in Wells with his wife and two young children. Tom teaches geometry and its accompanying philosophy at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London as well as for various other educational organisations around the country. He has been researching the underlying design of Wells cathedral for the past eight years and is currently writing a book on the subject.
The Golden Rule in Today’s World
On the afternoon of Tuesday 6 February 2018, the Cathedral held a free public seminar on ‘The Golden Rule in Today’s World’, hearing from these various faith perspectives.
A full Education Room listened to presentations on the theme of “Who is my brother? Who is my sister?” “Love Thy Neighbour” “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” Here was a chance to explore the common ground, and possible differences, in the religious traditions of our world, with representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and Sikh traditions.
After the talks, the audience asked questions investigating the idea of ‘Who is my Neighbour?’ in the context of contemporary political events as well as the human condition generally. The panel members demonstrated wisdom and humour, gaining respect from the audience for their candour. The audience clearly valued this opportunity to explore and engage with other faiths.
Our thanks go to the cathedral’s newly appointed Canon Theologian, David Thomas. Professor Thomas chaired both morning and afternoon sessions, skilfully navigating the questions and responses to provide balanced participation.
Modern Slavery autumn events 2017
Wells Cathedral put on a series of events exploring and highlighting this important issue. Working with the Diocese of Bath and Wells and the Clewer Initiative, a number of leading organisations including Amnesty International, British Red Cross, Stop the Traffick, Unchosen and Unseen will be coming to Wells Cathedral this autumn for discussions and workshops.
The Right Revd Bishop Alastair Redfern, Lead Bishop on Modern Slavery for the Church of England, spoke at the events that included Modern Slavery KS4 Schools Event , public event “The National Picture” 18 October 2017 and on 15 November Wells Cathedral hosted a sixth form conference in the morning and public event in the afternoon.
A Topical Debate: Trade & Brexit
Led by Professor John Hudson, Department of Economics, University of Bath
As part of Fairtrade Fortnight Wells Cathedral hosted a Topical Debate on Tuesday 28 February 2017. Held in the Cathedral Nave the debate focussed on ‘Trade and the implications of Brexit’.
Following the speech ‘Brexit – the economic pros and cons for the UK’ by Professor John Hudson, a panel was on hand for a Q&A session. Chaired by Dr John Davies, Dean of Wells, the panel included Kate Willis, Fairtrade Foundation; Dr Julia Reid, MEP and Environment Spokesperson; Mary Milne, Traidcraft Campaigns Manager; Councillor John North, Deputy Mayor, Wells City and Mendip District councillor.
Migration and Refugee Day at Wells Cathedral 10th October 2016
Wells Cathedral hosted a well-received Migration and Refugee Day on Monday 10 October inviting local schools and members of the public to hear keynote speaker, Fahim Asefi, share his traumatic experience of being an ordinary boy in Afghanistan to becoming an Afghan refugee in Somerset.
The day comprised of a sixth form conference in the morning that attracted 180 sixth formers from 5 different state and independent schools. Students listened to five speakers and then took part in workshops and a plenary session.
Recordings of these speeches can be found on our YouTube channel. David Maggs from the Diocese of Bath and Wells and Wells Cathedral have produced a hand out that lists the local contacts and charities that are tackling these issues. In the afternoon, the public event attracted approximately 150 people and comprised of speeches followed by a Question and Answer session chaired by Bishop Ruth Worsley.
‘a smile, a small act of kindness’ can make the difference
Fahim Asefi, Afghan Refugee and apprentice legal adviser (centre of photo)
Fahim Asefi spoke eloquently about his life as an ordinary boy growing up in Afghanistan. Then his world was turned upside down when his parents were killed due to their political beliefs. At the age of just 16 years old he was in grave danger as the people who killed his family were looking for him. In order to survive he had no choice but to try and flee his country in order to seek safety. After ‘the most horrible journey that is impossible to imagine’ he escaped from the back of a lorry and discovered he was in the UK.
Fahim moved and inspired the 16 year old sixth form students and public alike, as he spoke of his arrival in the UK ‘feeling like a two year old child who cannot speak the language, does not know the culture, the environment or anything’. He thanked the people who helped him to learn how to live here, learn to speak English, to go to school and contribute to the community. He expressed how important ‘a smile, a small act of kindness’ were to helping him start to rebuild his life after trauma. He is currently an apprentice legal adviser helping others in need, and plans to study at degree level.
(Photos l-r: Dr Jessica Hambly; Fahim Asefi and Bishop Ruth Worsley)
The other speakers at the event included Dr Jessica Hambly, Research Associate, University of Bristol Law School Migration Research Group. She described the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee and the legal process that people have to go through. An asylum-seeker is someone whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed. In the UK, a person is officially a refugee when they have their claim for asylum accepted by the government. Research shows that approximately 20 per cent of asylum seekers gain refugee status. Most people are deported back to the country they fled from, kept in detention centres (often former prisons) or ‘go underground’ for fear of deportation.
Dr Orla Dunn, Consultant in Public Health, Somerset County Council spoke of her work resettling Syrian families in Somerset as part of the government resettlement scheme. She spoke of the amazing voluntary support that people in Taunton have offered. She also spoke of the various community initiatives across the county that are helping respond to the migrant crisis as well as assisting refugees and asylum seekers within the U.K.
Dan Doherty and Fiona Daborn from Christian Aid spoke about Christian Aids work in Greece and Serbia. They highlighted the ‘Change the Story Campaign’ that invites people to try and get some positive stories of welcome into the media.
Elinor Harris from British Red Cross reminded us to look beyond the label of a ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum seeker’ – people who are forced to flee their homes are mothers, brothers, doctors, students, builders – in other words ‘human beings’ and should be treated with dignity and respect.
Duncan Verwey, from Richard Huish Academy wrote about the event: ‘The students and staff alike found the event really interesting, beautifully run and in a magnificent setting. We would definitely be eager to participate in future events. The programme was great, speakers were highly interesting and so valuable! Having the chance to hear firsthand an experience of an individual seeking asylum was priceless, tear-jerking and academically fascinating.’
Many questions to the panel expressed the need for people in the Bath and Wells to lobby the government to accept more refugees and respond more quickly to the humanitarian crisis.