The North European Cathedral Conference is currently taking place in Lund in southern Sweden. The conference is back after a hiatus – the last NECC took place in Dublin in 2019. The conference, which runs from Tuesday February 6 to Friday February 9, is being attended by Archbishop Michael Jackson and the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral Dermot Dunne. The conference invites contemplation against a backdrop of global uncertainty. The theme for 2024 is ‘Living with Uncertainty’ and those attending are exploring together ways to navigate an ever evolving world by sharing insights and experiences. Here Archbishop Jackson reflects on the first day of the NECC.
The Northern European Cathedrals Conference was held in Dublin before Covid–19 in 2019. The 2024 Conference began in Lund Sweden on Tuesday February 6th with 80 participants. The theme for 2024 is: Living with uncertainty. Both the Dean of Christ Church and I are attending the Conference. The idea of uncertainty itself was well outlined by the Canon Precentor Lena Sjostrand in her remarks at the Opening Service. She spoke of uncertainty in two parts: the uncertainty of the fragility of the world today and the uncertainty of the unfinished work of God in that world. Hence we can move between fear and hope. Her point was that cathedrals and their life are part of both of these.
On the first evening, we worshipped together in the cathedral and the Dean of Christ Church, a member of the Steering Committee, led prayers on an ecological and environmental theme. In the evening we attended, again in the cathedral, an oratorio written for the nine hundredth anniversary of the cathedral entitled: At the gate. The oratorio gave a musical interpretation of the cathedral from the perspective of The Virgin Mary, in whose name the cathedral is dedicated. It used ancient and contemporary language, music and ideas to present an understanding of a living, dynamic cathedral for the twenty first century. One of the pieces took the following theme: … a riddle, the world filled with what is larger than the world … alluding clearly to the relationship between Mary and her son Jesus Christ the Word of God.