The Cathedral Community
What is the Cathedral Community?
We often talk about the ‘Cathedral community’. This is a term recognised in church law. The way cathedrals are governed is set out in the Cathedrals Measure, which received Royal Assent in 2019. The Measure defines the ‘Cathedral community’ as those over the age of 16 who are engaged in work or service at the Cathedral in a regular capacity, or who worship regularly (or ‘habitually’) in the Cathedral, or are such other people as the statutes may specify as members of the cathedral community. Some people may belong to both groups – e.g., members of staff may also worship habitually in the Cathedral, habitual worshippers may also be volunteers, and so on.
Who are the ‘habitual worshippers’?
For electoral purposes, a ‘habitual worshipper’ is defined as someone who is (a) baptised, (b) aged 16 or over, (c) is a member of the Church of England or a church in communion with it,* and (d) has habitually attended public worship at the Cathedral during the six months preceding their application to join the roll. It’s important to note that the ‘habitual worshippers’ are not just the people who attend the 10.30 sung eucharist.
The Cathedral has many ‘habitual worshippers’ who come to morning prayer or the 8 o’clock eucharist on Sundays or weekdays, or to evensong.
The Cathedral Roll
We have had a Cathedral Roll for many years, which in the course of the coming year will be revised, using a new application form. Those whose names are on the existing Roll are invited to use the new application form to renew their membership. However, the existing Roll continues in force, and it is not necessary for existing members to renew their membership before the congregational meeting in July. Those whose names are not on the existing Roll, and are eligible to join, are strongly encouraged to do so.
In future, the Cathedral Roll will distinguish between those whose connection to the Cathedral is by means of habitual worship (the ‘roll of habitual worshippers’), and those whose connection to the Cathedral is solely by means of paid or voluntary work. Within the roll of habitual worshippers, there will be a further roll of those lay members of the Church of England qualified to take part in synodical elections (the ‘roll of synodical electors’).
The Congregational Committee
Within the overall Cathedral community of staff, volunteers, and habitual worshippers, the habitual worshippers hold a special place, and should have a special voice. Under the old constitution and statutes of the Cathedral, there was a community committee weighted towards the representation of voluntary teams, and with only three members elected by the annual community meeting. The Chapter’s proposals for the new constitution and statutes provide for a ‘congregational committee’, specifically to give a voice to the habitual worshippers. This was announced at the community meeting on 27 November 2022, and a shadow congregational committee was formed.
The Congregational Meeting (Sunday 16 July)
A Congregational Meeting took place on 16 July, immediately after the sung eucharist, when the new congregational committee was formally established. Under the new Measure, the members of any Cathedral committee must be appointed by the Chapter, but the Chapter will consider and approve names proposed by election by the annual congregational meeting. The term of office will be for three years, with the possibility of being re-appointed for one or two further terms. The committee will normally meet four times a year, under the chairmanship of the Vice-Dean, for the discussion of matters of concern to the Cathedral’s habitual worshippers, and will be reported to meetings of the Chapter. The committee will also work through sub-committees, devoted to pastoral matters and social events.
One final point. The Cathedrals Measure 2019 requires us to have this Roll. Positively, it will be an important tool in keeping in touch with those most closely involved in the life of the Cathedral. But there is a much wider group of those who support the Cathedral by their encouragement, their gifts, and their prayers. The purpose of the Cathedral Roll is not to disenfranchise that wider group of supporters. There are many ways in which that wider group of donors and supporters can be included in the life of the Cathedral. The Friends of Worcester Cathedral is the principal body for the recognition and welcome of that wider group.
Application forms for membership of the Cathedral Roll, and nomination forms for election to the Congregational Committee, may be obtained from, and returned to:
The Chapter Office
8 College Yard, Worcester, WR1 2LA
Tel: 01905 732905
* It is possible to hold dual membership of the Church of England and another Church not officially in communion with the Church of England, provided that Church professes the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This sounds complicated – anyone who isn’t sure of where they stand should discuss it with one of the Cathedral clergy. A further complication is that lay people, but not clergy, who are on the roll of habitual worshippers may take part in the election of lay representatives of the Cathedral to the Worcester Deanery Synod.