England, Scotland, and Ireland
April 23 – May 5, 2017
This trip was intended to be more of a pilgrimage than a vacation. Of course we had a good time and visited some of the normal touristy places. We had great fellowship among the group of people and got to know each other better. The idea for the trip came from a company called Faith Journeys, who contacted the Rev. David Buck, rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in my neighborhood. This is one of the churches I attend regularly, along with Davidson United Methodist, and I sing in their choir when I'm at St. Alban’s. If they get desperate enough, I fill in as organist on their 150-year-old tracker. i do preach at other churches on occasion, and used to fill in as organist at Mt. Zion UMC in Cornelius when they couldn't find anybody else. They haven't needed me to play for over a year now. A fair number of my neighbors attend St. Alban’s, and I have become friends with the choir members. They are great folks, and we sing interesting and often challenging music. Before the summer we were singing two anthems a Sunday; often one of them would be a capella and in Latin. So it is a talented bunch of people. Davidson UMC is a pretty amazing church, too, with very fine music. They have been most gracious to me in scheduling my organ practice on their church calendar ever since I retired here, and they've never needed me to do anything in return. I could go on more about them, but that is not relevant to this trip. Suffice it to say that I enjoy both churches, as well as the differences between the two.
This year was a particularly relevant time to make this pilgrimage. October 31 will be the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg. That date is considered the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. Also, in July of 2017, Fr. David will retire from St. Alban’s. So we were celebrating the Reformation as well as David’s time as pastor here.
But we didn't go to Germany. this was an Anglican heritage tour. And the heritage of the Church of England is of course also Methodist heritage, so it wasn't like I was just going along celebrating the heritage of other folks. The English Reformation had its roots in 1527, when King Henry VIII requested from the Pope an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Arragon, and much of what happened thereafter was due more to political than to theological considerations. That led to acts of Parliament between 1532 and 1534 that led to the Church of England as an independent Christian body, separate from the Roman Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope. It was certainly a safer bet for me to celebrate the English Reformation with a trip in 2017 than to wait for 2034.
I took a lot of pictures on the trip, but I could have easily taken a lot more. On these pages I've shared with you the ones I liked the best and the ones that might be of greatest interest. Some places I took few if any pictures, so my coverage of the itinerary is a bit spotty. Seeing and doing were bigger priorities for me than was taking pictures. The pictures do help me to recall things from the trip, and will be of even more importance to me as memories fade. If you enjoy looking at some of these shots, that will be great, too. Given the nature of the trip and my general tendencies anyway, pictures of churches and castles predominate. The more you know about British history and the conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in the times of the Tudors and the Stuarts on up through the Troubles in Ireland, the more you will know of the relevance of many of these locales to the Reformation theme. I’ve not written a lot of commentary with most of the pictures. If you email me questions, comments, or corrections, I'll be happy to respond.
We experienced great worship services and heard fine music at the Evensong services in Canterbury, York, and Dublin. The other evenings we had brief services of Compline within our group following dinner.
Paige Baker, wife of Fr. David, started a blog during the trip and posted some of her pictures, as well as some by others of us. Check out her blog for more information on the trip and to see her fine photographs. I've found it interesting to see how she photographed the same things that I did, presenting different visions of them. I also have found the blog helpful in my recalling where we went and what we did.