Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Visitors from Washington in Christ Church Cathedral

Staff and students of Northwest University in the crypt during their visit to Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

I was a guest lecturer this afternoon for a group of academics and students from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington – or, perhaps, they were my guests at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Northwest University is a private, regionally-accredited, Christian liberal arts university with a campus in a semi-wooded 56-acre site overlooking Lake Washington and the city of Seattle. Northwest University was founded by an American Pentecostalist church, the Assemblies of God, and opened in 1934. Originally known as Northwest Bible Institute, it became the Northwest Bible College in 1949, Northwest College of the Assemblies of God in 1962, and Northwest University in 2005.

Northwest University is also affiliated with the Jerusalem University College, formerly the Institute of Holy Land Studies, in Jerusalem, which offers specialised training in the geography, archaeology, and history of the Holy Land, and Judeo-Christian studies.

Today’s group of staff and students are from the College of Social and Behavioural Sciences and were led by Professor Matt Nelson, Dean of the College and Professor of Psychology, and Dr Jacqueline Gustafson, Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Psychology.

Dr Nelson has a professional background that blends the fields of Industrial Psychology, Counselling Psychology, and Higher Education. Dr Gustafson’s interests and current area of study focuses on the intersection of globalisation, mission, and higher education, and she teaches courses in psychology and qualitative research methods.

As part of their coursework, all students at Northwest also take modules or credits in religious studies, and this afternoon’s visit to Christ Church Cathedral was an opportunity for them to hear about the history of this 1,000-year-old cathedral and its place as the “mother church” of the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough.

Time and again, the emphasis this afternoon was that cathedrals are first and last places of worship, and the other roles in heritage, history and tourism only come second.

In the grounds of the cathedral, they saw the remains of the cloister from the former Augustinian priory. Inside the cathedral, they sat in the chapter and choir stalls as we talked about the liturgical and worship life of the cathedral, and the role of the bishop, dean and chapter in traditional Anglican cathedrals, the mission of Christ Church Cathedral in a capital city.

The Jesse Windows at the West End of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

They then went in search of a number of items in the cathedral, including the baptismal font, monuments to Strongbow and a former bishop, and biblical scenes in the stained glass windows, including the Jesse Window at the West End of the cathedral.

After touring the Lady Chapel, side aisles, transepts, side chapels and the ambulatory, we then visited the crypt to see the cathedral treasures, the oldest parts of the monastic foundation, and some interesting exhibits, including the stocks, the cathedral cat and mouse, and the sets and costumes from the television series, The Tudors.

The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Revd Dermot Dunne, meets staff and students from Northwest University (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Before leaving, we were joined by the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Dermot Dunne, and then the visiting staff and students from North West University headed down Lord Edward Street, Dame Street and College Green in the afternoon sunshine to visit Ireland’s oldest university at Trinity College Dublin.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin