An American Perspective
PENTECOST 2000. By virtue of the calendar (a late Easter) the date of Pentecost fell about half way between the two dates considered as the start of the Millennium. The majority of people believe the new century and the new millennium began on January 1, 2000; but many others claim that it will not happen until January 1, 2001. So the Christ our Future celebration at Pentecost could accord with each belief.
Pentecost 2000. The Millennial celebration of Christ our Future had been in planning for 3 or 4 years: securing the Arena, planning its transformation into a “worship space”, arranging for an orchestra, sound system, lighting, and television, planning the music, the choir, and all the personnel involved, from acolytes to archbishop. It was seemingly a daunting task. But in the event, the celebration took place with seeming perfection.
Pentecost 2000. The sight of the London Arena filled with 10,000 worshippers, though it seemed to be an amazing venue for such an event, was vastly encouraging to an Episcopalian. The idea of worshipping with 10,000 people who agreed on the essentials was impressive. We have long become accustomed to declining support, a defeatist attitude, since the “acceptance” of women’s ordination became mandatory. Even if we tried to put on such a service, 500 attendees would be beyond expectation.
Pentecost 2000. Christ our Future, a celebration of the orthodox and traditional faith of the Christian church for the new Millennium, presented a very positive outlook, with no appearance of a defeatist attitude. In spite of claims that Forward in Faith represented a small and declining constituency, there were 10,000 tickets sold (the capacity of the Arena) with 1000 priests concelebrating. One could hardly claim that this integrity (a term which could not be used in the States) was disappearing, or declining.
In spite of the meticulous planning, the service began late because of the late arrival of a number of expected coaches (there were over ____, bringing people from all parts of the UK). One thing noted by an American visitor was the number of clergy, even at least one bishop, who arrived by public transportation; yours is better than ours, nonexistent in many places. When the entrance began, the first to arrive was Our Lady of Walsingham, accompanied by the Guardians of her Shrine, on her day out in London. She was greeted by applause, as was each contingent following: the icon of Christ our Future, the concelebrating priests, the acolytes and other assistants and deacons of the mass, the 35 or so concelebrating bishops from many parts of the Anglican Communion, including two from the US, the Bishop of Chichester, the Bishop of London, and the celebrant, the Archbishop of York. Just because of the numbers involved, the choreography of the service was complicated, but did not seem fussy.
PENTECOST 2000. Christ our Future was a profound experience of worship. The political aspect of such a gathering of our integrity could not be avoided, but it was primarily worship, positive in tone, and neither defeatist nor defiant. The positive nature of the event is what will remain in our memory and help sustain us all in the sure to be difficult days ahead in this Millennium.
Dorothy Spailding visited the London Arena form FIFNA.