Royal Garden PartyEach year SPCK is invited to nominate four people to attend one of the garden
parties given by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Raymond and Barbara Witty
This year the party comprised Raymond Witty (Publishing sales representative) and his wife Barbara, and the Revd Jonathan Kerry (SPCK trustee) and his mother Peggy.
Raymond and his wife, who live in Dumfries, had a somewhat fraught journey down to London, with the luggage containing Barbara's outfit for the Palace being purloined by an inebriated passenger at Gretna Green and only rescued thanks to
the vigilance of the train conductor.
With the unpredictable weather Jonathan had been worrying about whether it was to be summer clothes or winter thermals, but 6 June turned out to be a glorious summer day, the sun breaking out as he and his mother made their way to the Palace and joined the queue stretching along Constitution Hill. Jonathan's report continues:
Jonathan Kerry and mother
The organisation was immaculate and we were very quickly past the security checks and striding across the courtyard and through the archway into the Palace itself. Emerging at the top of the steps into the garden, a perfect vista of Britishness awaited - top-hatted courtiers,
military bandsmen and yeoman warders - and lots of ladies in hats of every variety, but all elegant. We were able to explore some of the gardens before the National Anthem heralded the arrival of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and several other members of the Royal Family, who proceeded to walk through the crowds, pausing to chat to selected guests.
Then it was time for tea, with the most perfect
cucumber sandwiches (of course!) and coronation chicken wraps amongst other
appropriate fare. At this point elegance bordered on excess as guests piled their plates high with the delicious treats on offer. Then we ventured further around the gardens until all too soon it was time to line up and acknowledge our hosts as they made their way back indoors - showing no signs of their age nor giving any hint of the impending hospital trip for Prince Philip.
The SPCK party had a wonderful time and although they were a little regretful not actually to have met the Queen they reckon they will be dining out on the experience for a long time to come!
SPCK and the Michael Ramsey Prize 2013
The recent Hay Festival was the setting for the climax of the biennial Michael Ramsey Prize, for which SPCK oversees the organisation and administration.
Michael Ramsey Prize Judges 2013
A select group of Judges was assembled to select the winner.
These included [front row] Jane Williams and Denise Inge; [back row] +Stephen Cottrell, Sarah Coakley, Rowan now Lord Williams of Oystermouth, Neil MacGregor; and SPCK's Simon Kingston, who chaired the judging.
So strong was the shortlist, and consequently so difficult the decision, that the judging overran its timetable, keeping the judges from a planned evensong service in Hereford Cathedral.
At the nearby Hay Festival there were several events connected to the Prize. Firstly there was a public event in which the shortlisted authors all discussed their own and each other's books, chaired by Jane Williams.Those shortlisted were [from Left to Right], Luke Bretherton, Michael Lodahl, Victor Lee Austin, Paula Gooder, John Gillibrand and Thomas Yoder Neufeld.
Shorlisted author discussion chaired by Jane Williams.
Michael Ramsey Prize Winner 2013
The 2013 Prize went to Luke Bretherton for the book Christianity and Contemporary Politics. He received £10,000 prize and a beautiful handmade mosaic plaque by local ceramic artist Dee Hardwicke
The Prize was awarded by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at a packed Gala lunch to which the public was invited.
SPCK was given fulsome thanks by Lord Williams for their work in organising the Prize.
In the afternoon, SPCK's General Secretary, Simon Kingston, compered a discussion on visual representations of theological themes between Rowan Williams and Neil MacGregor, Director of the National Gallery. This was in front of a packed house of 1600 people who were treated to a remarkable display of modest erudition by two of the great individuals of our time.
Recherché questions on the development of Chinese Christian art ("image light and content rich") were fielded with a remarkable display of current and historical knowledge.
Among other facts that emerged was that because South America does not have sheep, the Pascal Lamb in the paintings of the Last Supper is generally represented by a guinea pig; and that detailed representations of Jesus' appearance were derived from a forged letter by Lentulus.
The Daily Telegraph wrote that:
Neil MacGregor, Rowan Williams with an SPCK compere
"Even by the exalted standards of debate at Hay, the conversation between a former Archbishop of Canterbury and a former director of the National
Gallery about the iconography of religion took off into the stratosphere."
In the evening, at another well-attended occasion, Bishop Stephen Cottrell (author of Christ in the Wilderness: Reflecting on the paintings by Stanley Spencer, published by SPCK) spoke with humour and understanding on the subject of Spencer's art and faith.
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Prayer for the Week:
O God our Father Creator of the universe...
O God, our Father, Creator of the universe, whose Son, Jesus Christ, came to our world, pour your Holy Spirit upon your Church, that all the people of our world, being led through the knowledge of your truth to worship you, may offer the gold of intellect, the frankincense of devotion and the myrrh of discipline to him who is with you and the Holy Spirit who liveth and reigneth for ever one God, world without end.
Church of Ceylon Sri Lanka
(taken from Prayers Encircling the World, published by SPCK)