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Cathedral as Home: Our New Diocesan Role

October 10, 2015

On Saturday, October 10th, Church of the Resurrection was approved by the diocese to become the diocese's permanent cathedral.

Because of Bishop Stewart's consecration as the first Bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, we have functionally been the cathedral church for the past two years. However, Saturday's vote to make Resurrection the permanent seat of the diocese has long-term implications for members of Church of the Resurrection and members of the diocese's other churches both practically and, more important, spiritually.

Each Sunday when we recite the Nicene Creed, we proclaim our common faith in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church – a church united across the centuries and around the world. The bishop is the visible sign of that unity across time (through the laying on of hands, starting with the Apostles) and across space (through the right hand of fellowship extended to fellow bishops everywhere). Thus, Ignatius of Antioch († 98-117), an early martyr and one of the earliest Christian writers, famously wrote: Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrnaens, 8).

Each bishop also is a visible sign of the unity of the Church in a given place. Accordingly, the local bishop's home church or cathedral (derived from a Latin word for the "seat" from which a bishop symbolically exercises his authority to teach, govern, and build up the Church), gives tangible expression to the rootedness of the Church in that diocese.

Sometimes the "cathedral comes to the bishop"; that is, a newly elected bishop stays at his current church, which thereby becomes the cathedral. Such was the case for Church of the Resurrection when Bishop Stewart was elected first bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. The traditional approach, however, is for the "bishop to go to the cathedral"; that is, to move to the cathedral when he is elected bishop (assuming he is not already resident there). It is the second approach that the Annual Diocesan Assembly has adopted for this diocese in the future. Thus, whenever Bishop Stewart retires from his office, the newly elected Bishop will become rector of the diocesan home, Church of the Resurrection, as well as bishop to the diocese.

A comparison to the annual Christmas gathering of a father, mother, and their adult children may be helpful in understanding why this difference can be important, both practically and spiritually. Our current model ("the cathedral comes to the bishop") might be compared to a family that gathers for Christmas each year at the home of one of the adult siblings. While the gathering is indeed a family celebration, and while the hosting sibling may be genuinely warm and welcoming, the location still would not truly be "home" for the other children. In contrast, our new model ("the bishop goes to the cathedral") is comparable to adult children gathering at their parent's house for Christmas. In this latter case, not only would the gathering be a family celebration, but all of the children would truly be "at home," whether they still lived for the time being with their parents, or had moved away to establish separate homes of their own.

Now that the proposal to establish Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, as the permanent cathedral of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest has been approved, members of the other churches of this diocese henceforth are able to boast two Church homes: their own parish church and the cathedral Church of the Resurrection.

Thus, when greeting visiting brothers and sisters from across the diocese, we members of Church of the Resurrection can now replace a simple "welcome" with a newfound and heartfelt "welcome home."