Sunday, May 01, 2011

Petition to the Dean of Westminster in support of the cartwheeling verger, Ben Sheward

According to widespread reports, the Verger at Westminster Abbey who became a YouTube sensation after he was caught on camera cartwheeling down the aisle following the Royal Wedding has been rebuked by senior clerics at the Abbey.

He has been identified as Ben Sheward, and is reportedly feeling ‘fairly chastened’. He has been forced to take a vow of silence on the matter, forbidden on pain of the rack not to talk publicly about his spontaneous acrobatics.

It is also reported in The Sunday Times (£) that officials from Westminster Abbey have complained to ITV and expressed their disapproval that the excerpt was broadcast. Apparently, it breached the agreement between them, that cameras would be turned off after the wedding service.

Jonathan Munro, the ITV editor in charge of coverage, defended the broadcasting of the clip, saying: “We believe the cartwheeling verger caught the happiness of the whole occasion.”

Not only that, His Grace is of the mind that Prince William's mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, would have loved it. The cartwheel was spontaneous and exuberant: it did indeed capture the mood of the nation and was so utterly and unstuffily Anglican. The Lord turns mourning into dancing (Ps 30:11), and King David danced before the Lord with all his might (2Sam 6:14). Why shouldn't a verger?

The Abbey is a Royal Peculiar: that is to say, its clergy are accountable not to the Bishop of London or the Archbishop of Canterbury but directly to the Monarch. As far as His Grace is aware, no complaints have been made in respect of this verger's behaviour - which constituted an act of worship - and it beggars belief that Abbey officials might think he offended the Queen.

His Grace is minded to write directly to the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr John Hall, in support of Ben Sheward. His Grace corresponded with the Dean only quite recently, and has direct access via email. Although Mr Sheward is apparently facing no formal disciplinary proceedings, in this instance to be rebuked and forced to take a Trappist vow constitute a chastening too far.

The names of all who sign in the thread below and all comments of support will be appended to His Grace's communication to the Dean. Please tell others of this petition (Twitter #VergerWheel): His Grace would like to give Dr Hall a very clear message.

UPDATE (Mon 2 May)

Westminster Abbey have tweeted:
For all those wondering about the cartwheeling verger - there is absolutely no question of Ben being disciplined...
His Grace then asked:
His Grace has not reported that he will be disciplined. Was he reprimanded at all and has he been instructed not to speak the media?
The Abbey simply reiterated:
Ben the Verger will not be disciplined.
To which His Grace politely pressed:
With respect, you're avoiding the questions: 1) Was he rebuked? 2) Has he been ordered not to speak of his exuberance to the media?
No response was received. His Grace made the point that there was no suggestion of future disciplinary proceedings: this petition is to make it known that he (and some in the media) consider that a rebuke and prohibition on talking to the media are inappropriate responses to this action. The petition stands.

UPDATE (Sat 7 May)

The Abbey have responded fully (and graciously) to His Grace (HERE). This petition is now closed.


Blogger Darth Will said...

He captured the spirit of the day perfectly and showed the church can be fun not stuffy

1 May 2011 at 20:19  
Anonymous Graham Eardley said...

I support the Dean of Westminster in taking the correct and proportionate action in this instance.

1 May 2011 at 20:20  
Blogger gildas said...

i cannot imagine a more appropriate expression of joy. Are the happy couple upset or offended. I very much doubt it. I scour the Gospels but find no commandment which says that cartwheels are a sin!

1 May 2011 at 20:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It made me happy

1 May 2011 at 20:21  
Blogger Irene said...

I loved it - it was fun!

1 May 2011 at 20:22  
Blogger Jack of Kent said...

For once I support Your Grace...

David Allen Green

1 May 2011 at 20:22  
Blogger Albert said...

Well said. (Just to show I can agree with you sometimes!)

1 May 2011 at 20:24  
Blogger Rev C said...

I am proud to be a Clerk on Holy Orders
in the Church of England with a cartwheeling
virger. He should be encouraged in his
natural exuberance after a huge event that
went so well.

1 May 2011 at 20:25  
Blogger orla said...

I think the verger was great it was a wonderful day a peoples day leave the verger alone and commend him on being one of us he was the only person there not to show his face at an important event but to enjoy it like the bride and groom leave him alone

1 May 2011 at 20:25  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Supported, Your Grace!!

One prays that the new Duke and Duchess might include support of a "Pardon" among their first Charitable acts together ...

1 May 2011 at 20:26  
Blogger Richard Frank said...

Joyful? In church?!



Rev Richard Frank

1 May 2011 at 20:28  
Anonymous veniviedivici said...

I'm not religious , but I support HIS GRACE on this action .

Lord of The Dance !

1 May 2011 at 20:28  
Blogger James Wallis said...

I thought he was great! How can anyone get annoyed with what he did?

1 May 2011 at 20:29  
Blogger Rachel Orr said...

I am fully supportive of the verger. He truly captured the spirit of the day - it simply filled everyone with the fruits of the spirit - peace, love, joy and hope!!!!

1 May 2011 at 20:30  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Calm down, dear, it's just a cartwheel.

1 May 2011 at 20:30  
Anonymous Robert said...

What a fabulous expression of joy and as his Grace says wonderfully Anglican!

1 May 2011 at 20:32  
Anonymous Laura Loveday said...

It was a lovely moment. The verger reflected the happiness of the nation and a uniting of people of all creeds.

1 May 2011 at 20:34  
Anonymous Smiffys Wife said...

I loved it. It summed up the whole experience and the spirit of the day. Showed how joyful the church can be.

1 May 2011 at 20:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The man did nothing wrong. He was happy and God gave him permission to do it. Not a sin. Leave him alone.

1 May 2011 at 20:37  
Blogger Paul said...

This man deserves praise not censure. I support you petition.

1 May 2011 at 20:39  
Anonymous TC said...

It was just a spontaneous act of joy and relief at a great event and a job well done. The nation was cartwheeling with him. Give this lovely guy a break!!

1 May 2011 at 20:39  
Anonymous Barbara in Bolton said...

I believe not only our Monarch, but our Lord would also approve at the pure joy shown by the verger. God Bless him.

1 May 2011 at 20:40  
Anonymous Zach Johnstone said...

A blessed expression of pure happiness; a physical manifestation of the nation's mood.

One hopes that the Church of England comes to recognise this.

P.S. Do we really think that if William and Kate had seen this they would have been anything other than thoroughly amused? Of course not.

1 May 2011 at 20:42  
Anonymous Steven Buckley said...

Great to see the cartwheeling verger. There are times for solemnity in Church and times for joy. Glad we saw both on Friday, and rather hope this chap hasn't had a 'talking to' as reported here.

1 May 2011 at 20:43  
Anonymous Paul Goodman said...

I agree with Your Grace

1 May 2011 at 20:45  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

I remember the late Robert Runcie once said (on Loose Ends, I think) that "people without a sense of humour should never be allowed to run anything". That, too, was a quintessentially Anglican thing to say. At least, I thought so. Not so sure now.

Mind you, it will probably turn out that Mr Sheward has breached some obscure health and safety rule, in which case his punishment must be swift and sure, pour encourager les autres. You can't be too careful.

1 May 2011 at 20:45  
Blogger Sarah Mount said...

+1 Totally hypocritical to reprimand the excellent verger. Cartwheeling Verger for next Bishop of London!

1 May 2011 at 20:46  
Anonymous David Illing said...

I heartily commend the cartwheeling verger and support Your Grace's intnded action. David Illing (Reader)

1 May 2011 at 20:46  
Anonymous David Colquhoun said...

The verger should be congratulated not censured I had little interest in the wedding, and less in the church, but this bit of joy cast the church in a good light. Censure would merely confirm suspicions that the church is out of touch with reality and frowns on joy.

1 May 2011 at 20:46  
Blogger mongoose said...

Quite right, YG. Leave the man alone.

1 May 2011 at 20:47  
Blogger Andrew said...

As the RAF entered the spirit of the day with their search & rescue helicopter, why should this verger not express joy in his own way? I support Your Grace's petition.

1 May 2011 at 20:50  
Blogger Blog of the Institute for Innovative Progress said...

Gad, your Grace, young Mr Sheward will be dancing around the Golden Calf next.

The Decretals bar him from ordination- better not tell the Dean!

Chris Gillibrand

1 May 2011 at 20:51  
Anonymous FrPaulB said...

Dear Dean John,

the cartwheeling verger has enhanced the reputation of the Abbey. It was the "icing on the cake" of a well run liturgy.

1 May 2011 at 20:52  
Anonymous Claire H said...

It must have been quite a stressful few weeks leading up to the wedding and such a relief to see it go so well. I think Ben summed it up perfectly in his cartwheel and surely most people can understand that.

1 May 2011 at 20:54  
Anonymous George Ward said...

No fun allowed in the Church, i suspect that's one reason so many don't bother with it, no fun.

1 May 2011 at 20:57  
Blogger tim.mcquoid said...

As an Irish Presbyterian, I wish the verger every blessing. Actions such as these can be prophetic. lets pray that this is so

1 May 2011 at 20:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He shouldn't be disciplined!

1 May 2011 at 20:57  
Anonymous Kath Black said...

I fully support the cartwheeling verger. Vergers work very, very hard and it's fantastic to see someone expressing such joy after such a fantastic service, which would demand such work and care! Carry on verger! Carry on!

1 May 2011 at 21:00  
Anonymous MrJ said...

After consulting Wet Blanket, and Without Prejudice to exuberant expressions of joy:

Clergy such as Deans of Peculiars or other places are capable of foolishness, and many under them or at a distance may be inclined to enjoy an opportunity to see them reproved or admonished. If a verger has erred let him be duly corrected; if members of the chapter have erred, let them be corrected by the Dean; if the Dean, by the Queen or her delegate. But let none of them be condemned without being heard in their defence, and merely relying on mischievous hearsay from unreliable and possibly self-serving sources.

1 May 2011 at 21:00  
Blogger Rachel said...

Count me in

1 May 2011 at 21:02  
Blogger Fr William said...

Yes, I know the Daily Mail has reported him as having been "carpeted" (is this some sub-Sun attempt at a punning headline?), but before we all jump all over the Dean and Chapter, we ought to ask whether the report is actually true.

The Mail does, after all, have something of a reputation for distorting its reporting of church affairs so as to put the CofE in a poor light.

Is it really possible to believe that the Dean and Chapter are so humourless as to regard this as a disciplinary offence? That would, surely, largely undo the great goodwill that the Abbey has garnered for its wonderful delivery of Friday's joyous event.

1 May 2011 at 21:10  
Anonymous Mike Claridge said...

Come on Westminster Abbey officials! Don't spoil the superb job you did with the liturgy. Show that you support this verger in his spontaneous display of joy and praise.

1 May 2011 at 21:10  
OpenID goodgoat said...

Fabulous to see this exuberance - a real person with real emotions, seems Pharisaical to dress him down. Give him some media training and let him out there to spread the Gospel!!

1 May 2011 at 21:11  
Blogger anchorhold said...

I thought it was marvellous to see the verger expressing the relief and joy we all feel after a big event goes off well (I speak as a C of E ordinand). He should in no way be rebuked; it was a great witness to Christian joy.

1 May 2011 at 21:12  
Blogger J Mac said...

I support Your Grace, and the wonderful cartwheeling verger.

1 May 2011 at 21:12  
Anonymous notsoperfectpat said...

I expect the verger accurately showed the mood of all those at the Abbey. Sheer relief at how well the wedding had gone. Perhaps the Dean wished he too could have done cartwheels. Even Anglicans need to show joy in church sometimes.

1 May 2011 at 21:14  
Blogger Ariadne said...

He was wonderful!

1 May 2011 at 21:15  
Anonymous Doc Trough said...

Unchasten this chap immediately & issue him with a cassock of many colours.

1 May 2011 at 21:17  
Anonymous len said...

Any sorts of expressions of life and joy in the Church should be encouraged not rebuked.

1 May 2011 at 21:21  
Blogger Peter Botting said...

"I am the Lord of the dance....and the cartwheel...."

1 May 2011 at 21:26  
Anonymous Russ said...

Absolutely spot on - we need more spontaneous cartwheels in church, not less!

1 May 2011 at 21:31  
Blogger Sandy said...

Absolutely wonderful. He should be applauded, not punished!

1 May 2011 at 21:31  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

If only the Anglican church could right herself as well as the verger! Her distortions have caused far more damage, not least to unity. Count me in Your Grace.

1 May 2011 at 21:31  
Blogger yo_sushi said...

Christians should be joyful and good on verger Ben Sheward for so exuberantly expressing the joy of the Lord.

He did nothing wrong at all in fact, I'd say he did something very right indeed in showing that Christians have a sense of fun too.

1 May 2011 at 21:32  
Blogger Lay Anglicana said...

Please do not chastise this man, who encapsulated everyone's feelings of exuberant joy and relief that the wedding had gone so well - a celebration of Anglicanism as well as the monarchy.

1 May 2011 at 21:33  
Blogger Robin said...

I cannot add value to the comments that have preceeded. I agree with most. The fellow should be quietly complimented on expressing what most of us were feeling. Good on you!

1 May 2011 at 21:33  
Blogger John said...

This is great! It shows the lighthearted side of the Anglican Church often ignored by the press. Joy a part of the fruit of the Spirit and should be encouraged at all times, not stamped out.

Good on him!

1 May 2011 at 21:34  
Blogger Sally said...

It was wonderful to see such an expression of joy in Westminster Abbey, surely the church does not stand against joy... does it????

1 May 2011 at 21:35  
Anonymous Blair said...

Just shows I was right, and Britain can be made fashioned into a sleazy, backstabbing, sick and broken society

I regret only that the police, usually so quick on the uptake, have not arrested and confined you to 90 days detention without due process. Thoughts, far less expressions, of joy are indeed criminal.

1 May 2011 at 21:36  
Blogger Mike R said...

Appoint him as a PR consultant to the Church of England!

1 May 2011 at 21:38  
Anonymous Fiz said...

It was joyous and a loveable act. I'm not a Catholic, but an Anglican, but St Theresa of Avila, said "Sisters, let us dance for joy for the Lord" and she did! Please don't punish him for this human act of joy!

1 May 2011 at 21:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely to see the verger expressing his joy in such an exuberant way. Show some sense CofE....

1 May 2011 at 21:42  
Blogger So what? said...

I support the cartwheeling verger and wish there was more spontaneous joy after Anglican services.

1 May 2011 at 21:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was fantastic, and he should not be chastened for it!

1 May 2011 at 21:46  
Blogger lizziewriter said...

I support the cartwheeling verger. Silly people to fuss over such a thing.

1 May 2011 at 21:47  
Anonymous James said...

Of course I support you in this. It is ridiculous that he would get pulled up on it! Let us pray for some common sense and some grace in this matter!

1 May 2011 at 21:53  
Blogger killemallletgodsortemout said...

Jesus would have loved it. The Verger rocks!

1 May 2011 at 21:53  
Anonymous Supm said...

A joyful moment in the centre of a wonderfully happy day. Jesus would pat him on the back and say "do it again!".

1 May 2011 at 22:02  
Blogger UKViewer said...

I think that the Verger was giving a justifiable expression of the Joy of the day.

Oh that my Vicar would Cartwheel down the Aisle. That would wake some of us up.

Oh that I had the energy and ability to do that as well.

1 May 2011 at 22:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fully support Your Grace's petition. It was a great act if worship by the Verger. Crazy to think he could be in trouble because of it.

1 May 2011 at 22:05  
Blogger Smoking Hot said...

Good man that man

1 May 2011 at 22:06  
Blogger Angus said...

Bless Ben and his cartwheels; he has my full and hearty support.

1 May 2011 at 22:08  
Anonymous Plain Speaking of London said...

I fully support Your Grace's petition. Let sanity reign and forgive the verger's exuberance.

London Calling

1 May 2011 at 22:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"so utterly and unstuffily Anglican." Anglicanism isn't stuffy? You must go to a very different church to the one I go to

1 May 2011 at 22:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant that he was able to do that cartwheel ... there have been countless occasions when I wish I could have done such a thing. Well done for expressing such joy.

1 May 2011 at 22:17  
Blogger Kevin Davis said...

What has our Church come to.

Promote the man don't criticise him.

1 May 2011 at 22:19  
Anonymous Tony Windsor said...

I was advised by my Rector that I should remove my cassock before attempting to emulate Ben's example; he is aware that at 73 I might have something of a problem with a landing on an uncarpeted aisle! Those in our congregation fortunate enough to see the clip loved it.
Tony Windsor

1 May 2011 at 22:25  
Blogger Alan said...

Whilst I can understand the authorities not wanting this verger to sell his story to the Daily Mail, I find it hard to believe they could possibly be stupid and ignorant enough of contemporary communications to do anything but commend him.

1 May 2011 at 22:27  
Blogger Fr William said...

So are we any nearer to knowing whether this story is true or not?

1 May 2011 at 22:27  
Blogger jfleming said...

A wonderful expression of joy of the moment.

1 May 2011 at 22:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Thank God for this lovely servant of His

1 May 2011 at 22:33  
Anonymous Lord Kenley said...

An expression of joy.. On Church! How utterly comendable!

1 May 2011 at 22:45  
Anonymous Pageantmaster said...

Kudos to the verger. I support the petition.

"I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires."
Wm Blake: 'The Garden of Love'

1 May 2011 at 22:47  
Blogger Baskers said...

Wish I could cartwheel like this! He made me laugh, what's the harm? He should a human side

1 May 2011 at 22:50  
Blogger Stu said...

If the Daily Mail report is accurate then the Dean and Chapter need to lighten-up. This was without doubt a joyful expression by the Verger that I as a lifelong Anglican fully support.

1 May 2011 at 22:50  
Blogger Tiffer said...

I understand the need to put a lid on further discussion, but I agree that said verger should not be chastised, but congratulated

1 May 2011 at 22:51  
Anonymous David Williams said...

Your Grace,

I thoroughly support this petition

1 May 2011 at 22:52  
Blogger Jonathan Le Tocq said...

Totally agree. He's not the first to be criticised for demonstrating joy in the presence of the Lord. And he was wearing more than a linen ephod!

1 May 2011 at 23:03  
Blogger Still Breathing said...

I don't believe that it right for a man of the cloth to be told off for a display of exuberent joy; after all David danced before the Lord and if it was pleasing to God then it must be pleasing to Him now.

1 May 2011 at 23:09  
Anonymous YorkshireLad said...

A wonderful moment of spontaneity. The Verger should be congratulated, not rebuked.

1 May 2011 at 23:17  
Anonymous not a machine said...

The dean seemed such a nice man , I find it hard to believe the verger has been chastised .

I dont know if petition will do much good , other than send message so many people found no offence committed .

Still rather interested no one has answered my question on previous thread ,how can you be within the rules ,if the other side have different ones .

1 May 2011 at 23:19  
Blogger Fr William said...

OK, I'll ask the question a third time: Is there any evidence that this report is true? It was the Daily Mail, after all; and given their record of mischief-making, creating stories out of nothing, and misrepresenting the affairs of the CofE, I'd like to know why HG or his communicants are giving any credence to this story.

1 May 2011 at 23:21  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Fr William,

The Mail clearly quotes Abbey staff as to how this verger is feeling. It is not likely they fabricate quotations. There is also the article in The Sunday Times (£) which appears to corroborate a certain small-minded attitude on the part of Abbey officials. But perhaps you don't believe The Sunday Times either. In which case, please don't concern yourself with this post. As a fellow man of the cloth, His Grace is sure that you have far more important things to do.

1 May 2011 at 23:30  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Britains got talent.

"These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." - Acts 17:6.

1 May 2011 at 23:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned this Verger caught the tone of the country and should be congratulated. Twitter was full of how people thought this occasion was ruined by stuffy clerics, ( not my impression ). This man showed the church has a softer side... Well done fella.

1 May 2011 at 23:34  
OpenID yokel said...

I also support Your Grace's petition.

There are many who assert that the Church of England is in the same category as the Laodiceans (Rev 3 v14 ff). On the basis of this action by the Dean (or his HR Department), one could easily believe the assertion to be true.

O that it were not.

1 May 2011 at 23:44  
Blogger Fr William said...

Thank you for your reply, YG. The Mail does indeed quote (unnamed) Abbey staff saying how this verger is feeling. But what has this got to do with the main allegations, namely that he has been "rebuked by senior clerics" and "forced to take a vow of silence"? There is absolutely nothing in the Mail's article to substantiate this.

(As to the Sunday Times (£), I cannot comment, for I certainly have better things to do with my money if not my time. Perhaps, if it is possible without breaching copyright, you could quote the relevant parts of the article?)

Serious question, YG: why are you determined to believe the Mail's rather silly interpretation of events? Do you have inside information beyond the insubstantial material you have cited?

1 May 2011 at 23:47  
Blogger Fr William said...

(I should perhaps make clear that I would be wholly supportive of YG's petition, were I convinced that it was grounded in fact.)

1 May 2011 at 23:52  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Fr William,

The simple application of reason:

The verger is 'feeling chastened'; to chasten is to rebuke, discipline; this can only be done by one's superiors; ergo senior clerics rebuked him.

On 'forced to take a vow of silence': the Mail says: "Abbey staff have warned him not to speak publicly about the incident." And further: "We are just trying to keep a lid on this one." 'Forced': coerced or compelled; 'Vow': solemn undertaking; 'silence': abstinence from speech. Ergo, the Verger was instructed not to speak to the media so the Abbey can contain the incident: he was 'forced to take a vow of silence'.

His Grace hopes this assists.

2 May 2011 at 00:00  
Anonymous Donna M said...

"The cartwheel was spontaneous and exuberant: it did indeed capture the mood of the nation and was so utterly and unstuffily Anglican. The Lord turns mourning into dancing (Ps 30:11), and King David danced before the Lord with all his might (2Sam 6:14). Why shouldn't a verger?"

I agree with His Grace.

Apparently, the senior clerics at the Abbey have no joy or don't recognize it when it's expressed.

2 May 2011 at 00:00  
Anonymous Charlotte Jackson said...

Agree with all above who have pointed out how joyous this was and how very appropriate to the occasion. Why shouldn't we dance and cartwheel for joy before God? Add me to the petition.

2 May 2011 at 00:01  
Anonymous obituary said...

The Queen has been attributed to be saying that the wedding was amazing. Cartwheeling vergers are just more amazing. Its too bad they have squashed him. The "squashing" has given the whole thing legs, but then again boring bureaucrats can't think that far ahead. Tell them to back off and yes give him a PR job.

2 May 2011 at 00:15  
Anonymous AdamJWest said...

How sad that from such joy our church can clutch out and find fault and disconection with the happyness on display.

2 May 2011 at 00:20  
Anonymous Church Sofa said...

Everyone every where should do a cartwheel when the mood takes them.

Such a shame the C of E feels they should discipline people for showing Joy...

2 May 2011 at 00:21  
Anonymous LCF said...

Thank you so much for highlighting this silliness, Your Grace.

The Verger expressed precisely what I felt at the end of the service, and I was delighted to belong to such a church. I only hope the happy couple have seen the clip - I'm sure they would love it. Count me in.

2 May 2011 at 00:25  
Anonymous Lloyd Cole-Nolan said...

I thought that was a fantastic way to celebrate the the event. Unless the royal couple complain with good reason, I support your position.

2 May 2011 at 00:34  
Anonymous Timothy Haire said...

Your Grace I fully support your petition. I believe this was a spontaneous act of joy, enjoyment and relief. It made me smile.

2 May 2011 at 00:35  
Anonymous Sandrine said...

How utterly sad, and typical of today's end-about-face 'values', that a spontaneous expression of joy and happiness should be frowned upon and disciplined. Thank you to all concerned who put a complete damper on one of the few flawlessly happy days the whole country shared in on Friday - you should all be ashamed of yourselves when there is precious little to be happy about for many...

2 May 2011 at 00:44  
Blogger Fr William said...

I am again grateful to YG, but remain concerned that your interpretation bears little relation to the available facts.

There have been matters in the life of my parish, and others of which I know, where it could be said that I or the other clergy affected have been "warned (or advised) not to speak publicly", by those in the Diocese responsible for media relations. (Nothing scandalous, I hasten to add, but a matter of preventing a story spinning out of control in the hands of an overly-imaginative media – as seems to have happened here.) To say that any of us had been "forced to take a vow of silence" would be a ludicrous misrepresentation of what was going on.

Oh, and there is a difference between "feeling chastened" and "being chastened". Are we really being enjoined to take feelings to be the prime criterion of reality?

I'm not here to split hairs, but if the material YG has presented is all there is to it, then I am most concerned that YG is, perhaps unwittingly, collaborating in the public-relations souring of an event which should be a triumph for the CofE.

2 May 2011 at 00:46  
Anonymous Simon Peatman said...

Your Grace, I see nothing wrong with a little exuberance after such a happy occasion, and I support your petition.

2 May 2011 at 01:06  
Blogger mdharnois said...

A delightful expression of joy that ought to have been celebrated by all who took part.

2 May 2011 at 01:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had the pleasure of participating in a vergers tour of Westminster Abbey last spring that was led by Ben Sheward. His enthusiasm, and love for his country and his church were very evident in that memorable tour. My children loved him, and we think his spontaneous joy was the icing on the cake for this special occasion

2 May 2011 at 01:42  
Blogger Mad Minerva said...

An exuberant expression of joy that was a delightful reflection of a happy day indeed. We should be thanking the good verger.

2 May 2011 at 02:19  
Blogger subrosa said...

I willingly support the petition. A charming finale from the verger.

2 May 2011 at 02:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was wonderful - how relieved everyone at the Abbey must have been at the success of this beautiful ceremony.

2 May 2011 at 03:14  
Blogger Susie Erdey said...

I support the joyous verger!

2 May 2011 at 03:26  
Blogger Matt B said...

God bless the joyous verger! It really is OK for Anglicans to express joy in church.........

2 May 2011 at 03:37  
Blogger OldSouth said...

What's the quote? 'You turned my mourning into dancing'--words to that effect?

What a wonderful moment! It's really ok to be happy in church, especially on a day like that!!

2 May 2011 at 05:17  
Blogger OldSouth said...

And, ya'll, with the news just arrived from Pakistan, I'd be cartwheeling if my old bones allowed it!

Sometimes, only dancing will do.

2 May 2011 at 05:20  
Blogger Willie said...

I am delighted to support the verger and would not wish his exuberence to be stifled.

2 May 2011 at 05:41  
Anonymous L. H. Edwards said...

The Church should never reprove joy.

2 May 2011 at 06:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Whatever the truth of the matter, the verger has made a lot of people laugh and added to the spirit of the day.

2 May 2011 at 06:18  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Add my name to the list, Your Grace. Mr Sheward has done nothing for which he should be rebuked. If only more of the clergy were as joyful as he.

2 May 2011 at 06:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Also, the ceremony and spectacle looked effortless (and flawless) on the day but obviously took an immense amount of effort and planning to achieve that illusion. I'm surprised all of those involved weren't dancing in the aisles at a job incredibly well done.

2 May 2011 at 06:58  
Blogger The Ashman Family said...

We are called to be undigniified and without blushing as we worship and praise God. Unfortunately, us Brits are still rather subdued at letting go in our praise and worship. I wish that I was able to cartwheel, because after such a beautiful ocasion, I would love to just express myself in such a way.

This verger should be congratulated in showing people that those in Christian service are normal, fun loving people who are excited about what they believe and express their love of God in a way that is wholly appropriate to them.

Every power and blessing to him.
Lets not spoila wonderful day by such stuffiness.

2 May 2011 at 07:07  
Blogger useful in parts said...

pure joy - let him be

2 May 2011 at 07:51  
Blogger rajm said...

A little less po-faced and a little more humanity from the authorities please!

2 May 2011 at 08:33  
Blogger Gerv said...

Fully supportive.

Gervase Markham

2 May 2011 at 08:44  
Blogger Drew_Mac said...

Agreed - though I would say that it displays perfectly the real spontaneous heart of worship of the tru Anglican, who should be anything but stuffy!

2 May 2011 at 08:58  
Blogger SNC Discussion Blog said...

What harm did he do?
He captured the joy and light-heartedness of the occasion.
Promote him not rebuke him.

2 May 2011 at 08:59  
Blogger Matthew Hosier said...

Beatify him

2 May 2011 at 09:01  
Blogger Ordinandy said...

Don't let a public act of joy in God's house be punished, for goodness sake...

2 May 2011 at 09:06  
Anonymous Richard said...

Your Grace

A wonderful expression of joy before he got on with tidying the place up. A day of celebration, jubilation and cartwheeling.


2 May 2011 at 09:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the most delightful part of the entire event.

2 May 2011 at 09:12  
Blogger Nick said...

Was King David criticised for stripping down and dancing as the Ark of the Covenant returned to Jerusalem? No.

How has this man done anything wrong?

He's awesome. Leave him alone and let's celebrate him for being a wonderful joy filled man of God.

2 May 2011 at 09:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! As a member of the Church of England, I think this is ridiculous! What has he done wrong? Expressed his joy!

He expressed a lot more than the other service leaders did in the service, who I thought were pretty dull!

Whoever this guy is should keep up his cartwheels and ignore the fools who tell him it's wrong!

2 May 2011 at 09:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderfully fitting for the occasion. God would've been doing the same.

2 May 2011 at 09:20  
Blogger Peter O said...

It was a glorious demonstration of the joy we all felt. The verger was *iconic* for us all.

Revd Peter Ould

2 May 2011 at 09:38  
Blogger Caroline Gurney said...

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven ... A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance". Once the service was over, it was indeed an appropriate time for the community at the Abbey to dance (or cartwheel) - to release tension and to express joy. What would have been wholly inappropriate before or during the service was delightful afterwards. I support your petition.

2 May 2011 at 09:41  
Anonymous Philip Wilson said...

The Verger brought spontaneous joy and fun to the occasion - I support His Grace

2 May 2011 at 09:43  
Blogger maggi said...

are the reports verifiable? If they are, I entirely agree with you. It was a lovely moment, and made the Abbey and the Royals look good.

2 May 2011 at 09:47  
Anonymous Rev Dougie Burnett said...

So I am a church minister, my wife is a church minister, and we have many church minister friends and church member friends. We all think that the cartwheeling verger expressed perfectly the joy of the day. We need lots more cartwheeling vergers all across the country!

2 May 2011 at 09:52  
Blogger David Burton said...

Add me to this. An outpouring of joy in church is nothing to discipline someone for.

2 May 2011 at 09:52  
Anonymous Cymraescrochet said...

Worship is any activity done to the glory of God. The verger was showing spontaneous joy, worshipping God, and reminding us that clergy are human - he should be commended, not chastened!

2 May 2011 at 09:57  
Anonymous Steven Quantick said...

I cannot believe this man is actually being disciplined for this.

Dear church, do grow up.

Steven Quantick

2 May 2011 at 10:01  
Blogger Peter Meadows said...

If King David could dance before God - and it wasn't the waltz - why can't this guy be happy and get away with it. The CofE is too po-faced already. Lighten up. More of the same please.

2 May 2011 at 10:04  
Anonymous Gary said...

We all loved the verge. I envied him the space. Our church is too small for turning cartwheels. I also envied him his agility. If I did that my knees would go.

2 May 2011 at 10:08  
Blogger John H said...

The previous commenter has beaten me to it by alluding to King David's dancing before the Lord, but I'd add this: the Abbey authorities might like to remind themselves how despising David worked out for Michal. And then just /get over themselves/…

2 May 2011 at 10:08  
Blogger Theo said...

My reading of God's word indicates that his action was entirely biblical, for example:

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.
Malalachi 4:2 (NLT)

2 May 2011 at 10:11  
Blogger Andrew said...

On this matter at least, I agree with his Grace, although we may be jumping to conclusions about how the Dean and Chapter view the matter.

2 May 2011 at 10:11  
Blogger Lingshan said...

It was a happy event for the whole nation. If we are encouraged to have street parties while watching the event on TV across the country, why can't someone who witnessed the event express his happiness for the couple and the success of the event by form of bodily expression?!

2 May 2011 at 10:17  
Anonymous David Ford said...

After our service yesterday (strictly 1662 - accept no other !) our small congregation discussed Saturday's events and everyone felt that the verger's cartwheeling was an expression of great joy and a lovely touch. Alas, we are all too old for such capers !

2 May 2011 at 10:19  
Blogger Fr William said...

I would add that I cannot find any reputable media source for this story. (I do not count the Daily Mail as reputable.)

2 May 2011 at 10:23  
Blogger sarahtweet said...

God moves in mysterious ways.

2 May 2011 at 10:27  
Blogger Lady Damaris Eversley said...

I thought it was a wonderful, joyous action on a day which gave many people happiness (albeit vicariously). Let's not smother all joy and gladness in these austere times.

2 May 2011 at 10:32  
Blogger Adulcia said...

I wonder of the detractors are envious of his flexibility and gymnastic ability.

Consider this registering my support for the verger.

2 May 2011 at 10:37  
Anonymous Pete Matthew said...

A wonderful expression of the joy of the day. Well done Mr Sheward.

2 May 2011 at 10:51  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Fr William,

This is a petition of support.

If you do not believe it or wish to sign it, you are under absolutely no compulsion to do so. His Grace has made it clear in his post that he intends to send messages of support to the Dean. He has no interest in your (or anyone else's) continuous griping over the veracity of The Daily Mail.

2 May 2011 at 10:53  
Blogger Matt said...

They do gymnastics in church in The Blues Brothers - it is a physical expression of joy

2 May 2011 at 11:16  
Anonymous Cali of Watford said...

I thought it was wonderful that the virger could express the joy of the day like this.

2 May 2011 at 11:16  
Blogger Aaron said...

What is the value of a vow that is forced out of a verger by a cleric? Is this another example of false leadership where people merely want to control others lives rather than allowing them to grow the fruits of love from within?

This may well force the verger to rethink his vocation but I would rather the cleric go and do some paperwork where they cannot do damage to someones soul!

2 May 2011 at 11:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great, what a breath of fresh air....much better than his archbishop

2 May 2011 at 11:29  
Anonymous Shadow said...

Wish that I had the agility to do cartwheels, but at 76, I'm a bit past it. Consider the Verger a hero!

2 May 2011 at 11:29  
Anonymous David said...

No carping just support the most splendid and acrobatic Verger.

2 May 2011 at 12:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that he captured the spirit of the day - it was lovely to see someone so happy!

2 May 2011 at 12:13  
Blogger David Lee said...

As a long-term worshipper at one of the greatest cathedrals in the land, and as someone who loves the dignity and order of Anglican worship, I thought the cartwheeling by the verger was utterly brilliant.

If the clergy at Westminster Abbey have any sense of the public celebration of this joyous wedding, they should be running, not walking, to the Liturgical Commission to petition for such options to be included and encouraged within our worship.

And they should also bear in mind that my own cathedral, Durham, staged a Eucharist, based on the music of Duke Ellington, and with a magnificent, planned and incorporated conclusion of "hoofing" as the recessional down the nave.

Come on, you clergy, get a LIFE! (Hint: John 2:1-11)

2 May 2011 at 12:17  
Anonymous Matthew B said...

I approve of Ben Sheward's actions - a cartwheel on behalf of us all.

2 May 2011 at 12:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only people that have the right to be offended by this, in my opinion, are the bride and groom. If they're ok with it, then let's stop all this silliness. If they're upset, then let him be dealt with according to the Church's rules on discipline.
Personally, I think his actions were fine - a joyous celebration.

2 May 2011 at 12:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dance, dance where ever you may be....
Joy in the Lord, and joy in the day!

2 May 2011 at 13:02  
Blogger paul said...

Agree with you. I think he did well


2 May 2011 at 13:17  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Please add my support to the petition, Your Grace.

It made ms smile to see such joy, and put me very much in mind of the medieval story of Our Lady's Tumbler

2 May 2011 at 14:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think he should have been reprimanded. Contemporary spontaneous joy is certainly to be encouraged.

2 May 2011 at 14:24  
Blogger coleman1981 said...

I fully agree, we should not have to be serious the whole time and if thaat is how he chose to express his joy who are we to criticise, after all it hurt no-one and brought joy to hugh numbers of people watching on the news and on you tube

2 May 2011 at 14:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is hard to imagine a better filip for considered (non-aggressive) secularism than for some buffoon to give his Personal interpretation that God would be offended by this expression of joy.

But the buffoon may go ahead, for I approve of the rising tide of secularism.

2 May 2011 at 14:30  
Anonymous Jill Freeman said...

Happy to support the petition.

The verger knew the time & place that was appropriate, so what is the problem?!

The CofE would be much richer if individuality like this was not put down all the time!

2 May 2011 at 14:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Abbey Staff are so up themselves the Established Church at its worst! The Queen would have laughed and its her church!

2 May 2011 at 15:03  
Blogger Betsey Kelly said...

I support Ben!

2 May 2011 at 15:21  
Blogger Neale Adams said...

Hurrah for cartwheels. (The senior clerics seemed so somber during the service; I guess they were just being "proper.")

2 May 2011 at 17:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God was glorified by this mans joyous act.

2 May 2011 at 18:08  
Anonymous Hans Wildebeest said...

It was a wonderful expression. Surely The Dean can see that??

2 May 2011 at 19:02  
Blogger MaggieMay said...

Loved watching the joy from this man. See nothing wrong with his cartwheel.

2 May 2011 at 19:05  
Anonymous Caedmon's Cat said...

This Cat wholeheartedly supports the cartwheeling verger. He does not support stuffy religious people who take themselves - and everyone else - too seriously. Why? - Because they're a living denial of the joy of salvation.

2 May 2011 at 19:41  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Verger Ben perfectly captured the joyful mood of the moment. The video is a public relations coup for the Anglican Church. Not to be 'chastened'.

2 May 2011 at 21:34  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I support Ben. What is life without being able to express joy and exuberance in an individual way at an opportune moment? Lovely eccentric Britishness so please no punishment or chastising, it's not as if the verger cartwheeled after a funeral now is it. And he's brought welcome positive attention to the C of E so hope the Dean can see the good rather than the bad in this.

2 May 2011 at 21:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a bit of joyous fun! Let the Verger be and concentrate on more important matters!!

2 May 2011 at 22:19  
Anonymous Fran W said...

Delighted to support this petition, Your Grace.

2 May 2011 at 22:32  
Anonymous S Davies said...

I agree that he should not be made to feel uncomfortable about expressing joy in a manner that caused no offence and through Youtube multiplied that joy.

2 May 2011 at 23:04  
Anonymous Jon S said...

I am also delighted to support this petition, Your Grace. A breath of fresh air.

3 May 2011 at 11:22  
Blogger Looking for a path... said...

Full support for the petition. If only we could all show that much joy in church.

3 May 2011 at 13:47  
Anonymous Richard N said...

As a newly-elected Church warden (at 25 years old), attempting a local reformation of some rather entrenched attitudes, the #VergerWheel gave me a lot of hope! However, the thought that such a spontaneous expression of joy would earn a reprimand and, further still, to be silenced leaves me feeling quite cold. I can only hope and pray that the folk at Westminster aren't more concerned about counting tassles....

3 May 2011 at 23:10  
Anonymous Gareth said...

I support this petition.

4 May 2011 at 07:10  
Blogger KCB said...

In support of a Man clearly filled by the Holy Spirit.
We need more of this in the CofE

4 May 2011 at 08:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benjamin is an excellent representative of the Abbey. I have taken tour groups to the Abbey many times and always hope to be in Benjamin's group. He is fun, informative and a great guide. This cartwheel just shows how much he loves the Abbey and celebrating God. I support His Grace in his position in regard to Benjamin. What kind of world will it be when joy can't be expressed in whatever form it presents itself?

5 May 2011 at 05:24  
Blogger The Church Mouse said...

I'm mice could do cartwheels, this one would be doing them all day in sympathy for Ben.

5 May 2011 at 20:13  
Anonymous Edward said...

Carwheeling Verger, I very much hope that your impromptu display of vertical 360 degree jubilation will eventually be celebrated by your colleagues.

5 May 2011 at 21:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. The CofE is as uptight as we hear about in the States! This Episcopal priest thinks you're INSANE to discipline. If you're wanting to fill you're pews, squelching the playful spirit is no way to live into a posture of radical welcome. Then again, perhaps that's what you're NOT about. Either way, I'm disgusted and disappointed by even the suggestion that you discipline your verger. Long live cartwheeling vergers!!!

6 May 2011 at 17:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do yourselves a favor Westminster Abbey and take the rod out of your ass. Leave the poor guy alone. His response was entirely appropriate.

6 May 2011 at 17:29  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older