Presence and Prayer: Christ’s Church Cathedral Opens Its Doors to New Ministries

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Dean Tim Dobbin and Assistant Curate Rob Jones have started to realize a dream for transforming the way Christ’s Church Cathedral serves as both the geographical and spiritual heart of the Diocese of Niagara. Christ’s Church Cathedral is supporting two new opportunities for mission and missional support: Open Cathedral and the Community of Prayer.

Dean Tim Dobbin

Launched in November, Open Church gives community members the chance “to come, sit, rest, and just ‘be’ without having to pay money, without having to buy something,” a rarity in many places. On Sundays from 12:00 pm–4:00 pm, all are offered “a quiet place to pray,” “a place to escape the cold,” a place to rest,” or simply a place to enjoy some coffee to go. As churches and other spaces closed due to the pandemic begin to reopen, it is hoped that Christ’s Church can once again be viewed by neighbours in the Jamesville area of downtown Hamilton, as well as those across the city, as a safe and welcoming space.

Assistant Curate Rob Jones

The second ministry initiative of the Cathedral congregation stems out of a gathering of individuals that have been meeting together to pray for the Church, the city, and the diocese since March. As Jones reflects, the formation of this praying community is “in some ways a gift that Bishop Susan brought to Dean Tim and me: [the idea of] a community that would be the praying heartbeat of the diocese.” The group was led in its earliest discernment process partly by taking Canon Ian Mobsby’s course offered as a pilot for the Niagara School for Missional Leadership on developing missional New Monastic communities.

The core prayer group has remained intentionally small in order to create space for younger leaders within the diocese, especially—lay or ordained—to pray and support each other in addition to the diocese as a whole. Gathering over Zoom since before Lent, the group engaged in an extended period of discernment, thinking of ways to live out this new “vocation of prayer.” One result of their partnership with Christ’s Church Cathedral is the Open Cathedral initiative.

Beyond Open Cathedral, however, the group also envisioned opening their gatherings to the wider diocese, and thus have begun welcoming all interested in joining in their vocation of prayer once per month. Jones explained that this is “really a simple vocation: sticking with prayer, not trying to outrun the Holy Spirit, and modelling what it would look like for the church to be a praying church at its core.”

“One of the things that’s always been important to me,” Jones reflected, “is balancing the active with the prayerful.” There is always a “temptation towards action—which is important for the church—but I think this group as a whole and the diocesan prayer service that we’re offering is rooted in this core conviction that the active church needs to be a praying church, sustained by a rich and regular practice of prayer, and vice-versa.”

Whether you desire to join in active prayer for the friends and neighbours of Christ’s Church Cathedral, or simply enter into a space for calm and contemplation, the doors of Christ’s Church Cathedral—both physical and virtual—are open.

To learn more about these new initiatives, visit the Christ’s Church Cathedral Facebook page, or contact The Reverend Rob Jones at [email protected]