Why celebrate the coronation?
5 April 2023
The Revd Matthew Price, Vicar at St Mary Magdalene Church in Gorleston and Bishop’s Adviser for Urban and Estates Ministry shares his thoughts on celebrating the Coronation.
It might feel a step too far, especially so soon after Easter. But, if you haven’t already, can I encourage you to think about how you might take it as an opportunity to get involved in your community?
At St Mary Magdalene, one of the theme verses for our vision as a church comes from the book of Jeremiah. The people of Israel have been carried off into exile into Babylon, and God addresses them through the prophet Jeremiah. But he doesn’t say keep yourselves to yourselves, hunker down and wait for the return to the promised land. Instead, he says, “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile…” (Jeremiah 29:7). And one of the ways in which we have sought that is by working out how we, as a church, can help our community to have fun and mark significant occasions.
It might mean joining in with and supporting something that is already being planned. Or it might mean taking the lead and seeking to partner with other organisations that what to make your community a better place. At St Mary Magdalene we now have a programme of community events throughout the year, marking such occasions as Shrove Tuesday, Easter (with an easter egg hunt), All Hallows Eve, and Christmas. These events have proved very successful in making connections in our community and building trust in the church that we are there for our community and not simply making demands of our community.
In recent years, we have also marked significant events in the life of the nation. We ran a community fun day for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, partnering with both a local arts organisation and another local church. The event took place on neutral territory – outside the church on the green at the centre of our parish – and it was hugely successful. We’re now planning for a similar event on Monday 8th May to mark the Coronation of King Charles.
What’s more, the research shows that getting stuck in with our community is also a significant factor in church growth. At the end of 2020, the Christian think tank, Theos, and the Church Urban Fund published a report on church growth called the GRA:CE Report. Its a long report (you can read about it here), but two of the key findings were that growing churches were those that were present and connected with their communities and offered hospitality and generosity.
So, how might the Coronation provide an opportunity to take a step forward in seeking to be more connected to your wider community? It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale, but perhaps there is something you could still do to offer hospitality over the weekend that mark’s a significant event in the life of our nation?