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Hundreds attend Chichester Cathedral with the Archbishop of Canterbury to Celebrate its 900 years

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Chichester Cathedral welcomed hundred of people, from 3rd to 5th October 2008, as it celebrated the Cathedral's 900th Anniversary and the life of Chichester's famous Bishop George Bell, who died exactly 50 years ago.

Picture: Archbishop Seated
Archbishop Seated

The Archbishop of Canterbury spent the entire weekend in Chichester, participating in all the Cathedral's services and events.  On Friday evening some 700 people came to a service of Thanksgiving for the Cathedral's 900 years, including guests from partner churches throughout Europe and County and Civil dignitaries too.  The Dean spoke of his pleasure in celebrating the 'first' 900 years of the Cathedral and gave a special welcome to the great number of representatives from Sussex parishes.  'This is an occasion chiefly for our Diocese, of which the Cathedral has for so many centuries been a Mother Church'.   After the service the entire congregation was invited to a reception  in a marquee on the Cathedral Green where many got to meet the Archbishop.

Picture: Cake Cutting
Cake Cutting

The celebrations on Saturday included a 900th Birthday Party with puppets, dancing, gargoyle making and many other activities for children.  Crowds gathered to see the Archbishop cut a spectacular birthday cake made by Cathedral chef David Heath and Chichester College.  The stunning cake - a replica of the Cathedral - took David weeks to make as he worked meticulously from architectural plans of the building.  In a change of tone, the Archbishop went on to field a question and answer session in the Cathedral for an hour, where visitors had the opportunity to speak to him directly.

Sunday's celebrations focused on George Bell and approximately 800 people came to a Sung Eucharist in celebration of Chichester's extraordinary Bishop and to hear the Archbishop preach.  The Archbishop began the service by dedicating George Bell House - a former Archdeaconry in Canon Lane, the House is a newly restored 'Centre for vocation, education and reconciliation.'  In his last address Bell descibed himself as 'ardent for international justice and world peace' and is perhaps most famously remembered for his controversial stance during the Second World War, where he pleaded for the sparing of German civilian populations during the saturation bombings of German cities during the last years of the war.  Wearing a cross that belonged to Bell, the Archbishop dedicated the house, 'May the vision and tradition of Bishop George Bell be always honoured in this place and may all who come here receive grace to work for peace and justice.'

The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling Dean of Chichester said: 'We are delighted to have been able to share and celebrate these two great anniversaries with so many visitors.  I am reminded of George Bell's final address where he spoke passionately about the place which the church should take in the general life of society, Bell said: "Not for me a fugitive and cloistered church..."'

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