held in the Great Hall, Alexandra Palace

by kind permission of The Trustees

On the Way

'There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.'

Saturday 22 May 1999 was the afternoon of the Cup Final. This fact failed to stop crowds of Church of England folk flocking to 'Ally Pally'. 1200 of them from the Edmonton Area gathered in the Great Hall to welcome their new Bishop, pray for their communities and raise a joyful and united song to the Lord on the last Pentecost Eve of the Second Christian Millennium. The organisers were pleasantly surprised having provided 1000 chairs and printed 1500 service booklets. It had been guesswork making provisions for such a unique event in the history of both the Diocese and the Alexandra Palace.

The genuine warmth of the welcome given to Bishop Peter and his response set the scene. The Adoramus Choir led the worship with an infectious heart for the glory of God. They demonstrated a remarkable range from 'classical' through to 'gospel' which made for an inclusive celebration in the best of Anglican styles.

Bishop Peter further deepened the inclusivity of the event in his homily. 'We want to see an inclusive Church, determined to stay close to the poor, whom Jesus called blessed', he said. 'Have vision, recognise the gifts God has given you', he encouraged the parishioners present. Reminding them of the injunction in 1 Peter to 'be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you' the new Bishop challenged the parishes to work out practical steps towards accomplishing that.

Earlier in the afternoon four prayer walks had left Cricklewood, Cockfosters, Edmonton and Wood Green continuing The Edmonton Walk 'On The Way' with its aims of prayer, encouragement and outreach beating the bounds of the Boroughs. 'On The Way' Crosses carried by the walkers from Barnet, Camden, Enfield and Haringey led four processions to the altar, which included the Mayor of Haringey and Deputy Mayor of Camden. Representatives of some twenty to thirty organisations involved in community ministry, evangelistic or ecumenical partnerships greeted Bishop Peter. The Crosses were then carried above the altar to join the great banner prepared by members of Christ Church, Barnet heralding: 'Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever'.

On the Friday night the third 'Magnificat' Area Youth Weekend had gathered at St. Michael, Wood Green for a Sleepover from where they processed up to Alexandra Palace. The new Bishop was escorted to the altar by the youth carrying their banners. Two of them handed him his pastoral staff at the beginning of the Service. Later on the young people waved flags symbolic of the rushing wind of Pentecost during a number of the hymns. This gave one of many informal touches to the two-hour liturgy.

'I come to Christ', 'Amen. Lord, we believe', 'Send forth your Spirit, O Lord' - these were some of the acclamations thundered out by over a thousand Anglicans in the Great Hall.

'A marvellous service bringing everyone together..', 'made you proud to belong to the Church of England..', 'there was a real sense of the Spirit's anointing..', 'much awe and reverence expressed before Almighty God in a majestic setting..', 'we should have one of these very year', 'I brought two non-Church going friends and they thoroughly enjoyed it' - these were some of the comments afterwards.

Bishop Peter, clearly moved by theflag waving at the end of the Eucharist, urged the youth to keep waving their flags throughout their lives into the new Millennium as 'living Magnificat's.

'Proclaiming the greatness of the Lord' had been the very spirit of Saturday 22 May at Ally Pally which augurs well for the recapturing of vision that has begun in the Edmonton Area.

The Revd Dr John Twisleton
Edmonton Area Missioner 1996-2001

This article is copyright © 1999 John F Twisleton