Chapter Letter

Chapter Letter

Trinity Sunday

7 June 2020


Trinity: Today is a great feast day of the church, Trinity Sunday. Today we give thanks for a treasured insight of the Christian faith, that God has three faces, three ways of being, and is yet one. God is great, mysterious and beyond. God is also closer than our own breath. And God is the energy, the love, the dynamism that seeks to unite all creation. And these are not three gods, but one God.

This is a rich and resonant mystery. But in the mystery this much is clear.

Three. And one.

Opening: The Chapter Executive and the Administrator, together with key members of staff, are now in detailed planning mode, preparing for the Cathedral’s reopening. It is very likely that we will open first for private prayer and visiting. Corporate worship will come later. More news as soon as we have it!

Wells Cathedral School: A really happy sound on the Liberty this past week was the sound of young pupils at the School. Nearly 45 returned, in line with Government permission. Feedback from parents, staff and pupils has been very positive. And the Governing Body and I have been hugely grateful for and appreciative of the Trojan work of staff, preparing for a safe opening. I am in regular and close contact with the Head Master.

Worship: Many thanks go to those who are working so hard to produce and enhance the Cathedral’s streamed Sunday worship. New skills have been learnt. Fresh energy has been needed. And great willingness has been shown. The Cathedral Eucharist is at 10.00 am on the Cathedral website, via Facebook, and will include music and a number of voices.

Thomas Ken: Bishop Thomas Ken is one of the most famous Bishops of Bath and Wells. His day in the calendar is this Monday, 8 June. And a talk on Ken will appear on the Cathedral website. The speaker is Prebendary Elsa van der Zee.

Cathedral Governance: The national plans to remodel Cathedral governance have been deferred a little because of the virus crisis. So the Cathedral Council remains in place and will do so for a while. It met last week. And it was one of the best meetings of that body I can recall. It comprises representatives of the wider Cathedral community, the County and the Diocese. Those gathered on Zoom showed real appreciation of the challenges the Cathedral presently faces and there was really good conversation around strategies for coping and recovery. I pay tribute to Council members. Thank you.

Wells Art Contemporary: This annual festival of modern art is a very great asset to Wells and the West, with a national and international reach. The exhibition sadly can’t take place in the Cathedral this summer. But funding has been sourced to hold a virtual show. We congratulate the organisers. Here’s to 2021 in the Cathedral!

Finance: The press has highlighted this past week the financial pressures on Cathedrals nationally. York Minster has been mentioned in several reports. The pressures are very real. Events, concerts and gatherings aren’t happening. Worship is virtual. Visitors can’t enter or support closed buildings. The Chapter at Wells is engaged in very close financial scrutiny, seeking to be both creative and imaginative. I will say more in coming weeks. In challenging days, the Chapter remains very grateful for all the generosity being shown by regular supporters and all those who appreciate the Cathedral’s ministry.

John Davies, Dean


Life in Lockdown Reflections on the little things

While the weather has been so sunny, I have spent most of my time either in the garden or walking the dog on Crook Peak and enjoying observing the many insects that are around. We are surrounded by wonderful pollinators, most of which move incredibly quickly and have frustrated my attempts to photograph them. So far I have identified at least 6 species of bee in the garden. There are also butterflies, moths and hoverflies, and a wonderful insect called a bee fly which this year has been plentiful. Some of these pollinators are so small that it would be easy to dismiss them as unimportant. Yet these tiny creatures enable the plants to produce seeds and are therefore essential for the continuation of life, not just the life of the flowers, but that of many species of animal, including humans. Perhaps because I have been grappling with the incomprehensible writing of Spinoza, I fell to pondering nature and God.

Just as we encounter Bach through his music, so too do we encounter God through his creation. Different performers will interpret a Bach organ score in their own way, but without the musicians, whilst the score might still exist, millions would be denied the pleasure of Bach’s creations. The music would be hidden and inaccessible to us and we would no longer know or care at all about Bach. We feel that we know Bach through his compositions, we can sense what he enjoyed, what he felt was meaningful. It is an imperfect analogy to nature, but nature is an important way in which we can encounter God. We sense that God delights in nature. There is no wastage in a well-functioning ecosystem. The interdependence of all creatures, plants and animals, ensures that life continues. In the garden, and far more so in agriculture, we want to control these processes, tame them for our own use, without due consideration to the effect on the whole environment. We see greenfly on the roses or blackfly on the beans and reach for the insecticide spray. Sadly when we do this we affect more that the annoying aphids. We are threatening the pollinators. These are the musicians who reveal God’s creation to us, who ensure that life continues. Nature, even more than the music of Bach, is more engaging the more it is understood. If nature is threatened, what does that say about our relationship with God? I think it is saying that we care more about ourselves than about God. St David on his death bed told his followers to ‘do the little things’. Little things matter.

Mary Bide, Priest Vicar


Ringing in Wells

The Cathedral bells call us to celebrate, and toll sadly in our grief, but for the first time since the Second World War, our bells are silent. With the Harewell tower sealed, the Cathedral ringers have turned to modern technology to help us practise. The ‘Ringing Room’ is a website where each ringer is assigned a single ‘virtual’ bell, which is rung using the space bar on their keyboard. The combination of technical and timing issues, and the new skills required to ring in a strange environment make virtual ‘ringing’ hugely challenging, but the Cathedral bellringers are leading the way nationally. We have regular Friday night practices, and we have rung a Quarter Peal (lasting about 45 minutes) and Plain Hunt Royal, while ringers at other churches struggle to ring together at all.

But while the digital platform has allowed us to engage with fellow bellringers and to practise some technical aspects of bellringing, we are all itching to get back to real bells. Since we cannot – yet – ring on the Cathedral bells (which weigh more than 10 tonnes, in total), we have sought to ring on real bells in miniature.

Change ringing on handbells involves each person ringing two bells rather than one, and is more difficult than ringing a single tower bell. The Cathedral ringers – as you may have guessed, by now – have been practising handbell ringing on ‘Ringing Room’, too. Consequently, when the lockdown regulations were eased on Monday 1st June, six bellringers were able to meet in St Cuthbert’s churchyard to rang handbells. Real bells, real people.

We are now in discussion with the Dean – and practising hard! – for when we eventually start ringing for services…..

Andrew Deamer, Ringing Master


Wellsprings via Zoom

For the last few Sundays the regular members of Wellsprings, the Cathedral’s liturgy for children, have met online in order to take part in their usual worship together. Having now ironed out the few technical creases that arose, we at Wellsprings would like to extend our arms and welcome other families along too. If you are interested in joining Wellsprings via Zoom this Sunday at 10am, please send an email to – we’d be delighted to hear from you!

Naomi MacLeod-Jones


Giving whilst the Cathedral is closed

Many requests have been received on how to continue to give, and we are  very  grateful  for  your  thoughtfulness  and  continued  generosity.  A straightforward way is to visit the Cathedral’s Just Giving page – simply use the link below and then click on the Donate button. It is easy to use and the Gift Aid option is also included:

Alternatively, cheques can be posted to the Cathedral Office, and for bank transfers please use:

Account Name: The Chapter at Wells Cathedral; Account Number: 52164330; Sort code: 60-23-06; Reference: Covid-19 Collection, followed by your surname

If you would like further information please contact or


Pastoral Matters

The Wells Cathedral Pastoral Network continues to send out a daily email to offer practical help to those who need it, as well as spiritual support in the form of a Bible reading, a very short reflection and some prayers. If you have not yet joined the Network and would like to do so, please email me on:

We are all hearing of those who have contracted coronavirus, and sadly some have already lost loved ones to it. If you would like prayer for yourself, your family or friends, there is a dedicated email address to which you can add your request, in the knowledge that the people you name will be prayed for daily.

Finally, if you live in Wells and need the wider support of the Wells Community, please go to the excellent Wells Coronavirus Network website, where you can find all sorts of helpful advice. The web address is:

Rosalind Paul, Canon Pastor


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