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A Lenten Pilgrimage 2016-2017

A Lenten Pilgrimage 2016 / 2017 – A Personal Journey
February 7th 2016 Coventry
Having visited the tomb of Richard III, recently re-interred in Leicester cathedral, I continued looking round the cathedral.  It is Monday morning and two days to Ash Wednesday, they are preparing for Lent. I came across a landscape painting which seemed somehow out of place! To its left was another painting in a similar frame, this was some arches with water in front of them. Next was a painting of a high wall with dark figures in front and I was now quite mystified and about to turn away – the next painting stopped me in my tracks – a crucifixion on a lamppost. Oh wow – this caught my attention! I stepped back and realised I was starting at the wrong end. They were VERY modern Stations of the Cross.
I enquired about the origin of the paintings and eventually discovered they were by a London artist named Mark Cazelet and were on loan to the cathedral for Lent.
I ‘googled’ Mark Cazelet and emailed him; he replied telling me the owners of the paintings were very happy to loan them out for Lent each year. I emailed the owners, but did not get a reply. I talked to Churches Together in Porthcawl (CTiP), where I’m joint secretary with Rosalie Maddy. Told them about the paintings with a suggestion how they could be used for Lent 2017, this was agreed. I again emailed the owners – I emailed the owners – and again I emailed them!

January 2017
Rosalie and I agreed we should forget the paintings and look for another Lent Course for 2017. The alternative we selected was interesting though controversial –  and Rosalie circulated all CTiP representatives asking them to look at this and pass back their comments.

Monday 23rd January 2017
I spoke to Rosalie – she had emailed everybody nine days previously about the Lent Course – she had not heard a word from anybody!
I told her the night before I had been at the computer finalising the Unity Service for the following Sunday, preparing it for printing. I had received an email from the artist saying the owners of the paintings had asked him if anybody was interested in borrowing them for Lent this year! He had forwarded my email to them (again). While reading his email another email arrived, this one from the owners asking me to ring them. Rosalie and I felt it was getting late to start organising an exhibition for this year, perhaps we could borrow them next year. I spoke to the rector who immediately said we could display them in All Saints. I rang the owner, it transpired I was using an old e-add he rarely used. The paintings were available this year, but already committed elsewhere for next year!
My mind was in turmoil – I hadn’t a clue what my original proposal had been for using the paintings. I was so involved with organising the Unity Service which was more complicated than usual with building walls etc and involved in total some twenty five participants.

Monday 30th January
I put together a proposal, shared it with Rosalie and put it to CTiP. The response was very positive. It was suggested the paintings be displayed in Trinity Methodist URC as they have a greater footfall than All Saints, and the paintings could be locked up when not open. We are very grateful to Reverend Professor Teddy Kalongo and the members of Trinity for a ready and positive response.
As the paintings are protestant Stations of the Cross, there are fifteen, concluding with the resurrection. Each Station is based in a street in West London and the set was painted for a Festival in the Diocese of Bury St. Edmund for the year 2000.

Shrove Tuesday 28th February 2017          
The exhibition was opened by the Mayor of Porthcawl, Councillor Robert Lee with the Mayoress.
Lent was split into five weeks (excluding Holy Week) the stations were taken four at a time for three weeks and three on the fourth to a different church.
Week One Stations 1 – 4 presented by an Anglican in the Welsh Independent Congregational church;
Week Two Stations 5 – 8 presented by Reverend Teddy in Trinity Methodist URC;
Week Three Stations 9 – 12 presented by Deacon Anthony in the Roman Catholic church and
Week Four Stations 13 – 15 presented by Pastor Martin in the Baptist church.
Week Five all the Stations were taken to All Saints and placed alongside the existing traditional Stations where we walked the Way of the Cross with Canon Philip Masson who took us on the journey.

The Exhibition was open three mornings a week throughout Lent and seen by more than five hundred people, including visitors from Bedford, Macclesfield, Leigh-on-Sea and Sydney Australia!
Easter arrived and so many people commented how much the West London Stations of the Cross helped them to Easter!
Above all I thank God for guiding and supporting the work of Churches Together in Porthcawl where the people come together in so many different ways from many different traditions.
John Berry