Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Plinth Priest Cometh!

Yesterday I was privileged enough to be present in Trafalgar Square for Revd Ken Chalmers' star turn on the fourth plinth.

Strangely, Ken was sandwiched between a dancing cow ("Meat is Murder!") and a stripping transvestite (HIV awareness, apparently).

Ken led a worship service that reflected on the sharing of meals in three parts. From the base of the plinth we heard Bible readings telling three different stories of Jesus sharing food with friends and followers:

The feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14)
The last supper (Matthew 26:26-30), and
Breakfast on the beach (John 21:9-14).

The last of these was read by the fabulous Angela Shier-Jones.

Ken reflected on these readings and after each reflection visitors and passers-by were invited to share in Holy Communion, presided over by Revd Martin Turner, of Westminster Central Hall fame.

For me it was about challenging perceptions of what church, what worship is and who worship is for. For thousands of years, art has been central to much of how Christians express and explore our faith and, in my opinion, Ken's appearance on the fourth plinth should be counted among such works of art.

It was a wonderful act of worship and I'm grateful to Ken for all his hard work in getting it off the ground (literally). But he was also supported by a fantastic crew from his own church and around Methodism.


PS. As a strange side-story, whilst waiting for the action to begin, I was chatted-up by a chap who appeared to be a Romanian gigolo....a most strange experience...

All photos are taken by me, copyright Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes.

1 comment:

Iain Stephenson said...


I got this from the methodist reader
Mission opportunity ham-strung by church’s ‘clunking fist’

A probationary minister who planned to offer communion in Trafalgar Square as part of a unique arts initiative was blocked by officials within his own church. Revd Kenneth Chalmers wanted to create ‘a sacred space’ on the square’s vacant fourth plinth as part of the ‘One and Other’ arts project. But Methodist Church headquarters intervened after complaints that a probationer was not authorised to conduct communion.

Instead, Mr Chalmers led a worship service while the superintendant minister of Methodist Central Hall stepped in to offer communion from the foot of the plinth. Revd Martin Turner was dismayed by the church ruling, saying that a ‘wonderful initiative’ had been hampered by ‘the great clunking first of the Methodism establishment’. Nevertheless, Mr Chalmers said he was elated by doing the ‘God thing’ in public in the historic tradition of Methodists like John Wesley and Lord Soper.

It is strange how that ties in with my flippant comment posted on your Anglican article about priests and all that.

I sometimes wonder what on earth "church" is doing to the gospel that Jesus preached. How did we arrive at a place where women and in some churches most men, can't break bread? crazy.