Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Bishop Stephen Sykes
January 6, 2015, 8:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sykes_3066203bBishop Stephen Sykes (who died last September, although I only heard about it recently) was in the same form as me at Bristol Grammar School. Unaccountably, his time at BGS seems to have been written out of his biographies, as he went on to some place called, I believe, Monkton Park. Stephen was the cleverest boy in the class, and won the form prize at the end of the year. His distinguished career as a scholar and as Bishop of Ely is well known. I greatly treasure one anecdote about him, which reveals him as not simply an academic, but as a man of prayer. An American, married to an Englishwoman from Ely, recalls visiting Ely Cathedral on a cold December evening in 1992, for Evensong. He writes,

The Cathedral interior is 523 feet long by 176 feet wide by up to 120 feet high and can’t be heated adequately. Only about six people had braved the cold to constitute the congregation. At 5:30 exactly, a bell rang and the procession began: a verger, a crucifer, and two torchbearers; next the Director, choristers, and Lay Vicars constituting one of the greatest choirs in the world; then the Chaplains, Precentor, Canons, and Dean of the Cathedral; and finally, another verger, the (suffragan) Bishop of Huntington, and The Lord Bishop of Ely in full pontifical regalia (never seen in the Diocese of Texas in those days). The entirely sung service was magnificent, including three psalms, the canticles, responses, and an anthem.

After the service, Bishop Sykes greeted us all as we left. One couple, obviously American and probably including an Episcopal clergyman, tried to apologize for making all those people come out for such a small congregation. They were appalled at the expense involved. The Bishop looked astonished, as if such a thing had never occurred to him, and blurted out, “But we don’t do this for the congregation! This place is dedicated to the worship of God.”

May Stephen rest in peace, and rise in glory.

1 Comment so far
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He had his priorities straight! An authentic Anglican Saint.

Comment by Matthew the Wayfarer

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