In this week's #BlessedIsShe, we meet Alison Walker, an Ordinand at Trinity College, Bristol.
After the Eucharist service on Sunday, we will bid farewell to Alison and two other of our Ordinands, Rob Denton, and Bob Latham, as they prepare for ordination to the diaconate next month.
In this centenary year of women's suffrage, we are celebrating the women who play important roles in the daily life of the Cathedral community.
Each Saturday of the year, we will be sharing a different story here and across our social media.
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and search for the #BlessedIsShe hashtag.
What’s your connection with Bristol Cathedral?
I am training to be ordained at Trinity College, Bristol and Bristol Cathedral is my placement church. This means I am involved with the Cathedral Eucharist on a Sunday and other major festivals, often being sub-deacon, as well as helping with Sacred Space [a termly evening Taize meditation service by candlelight]. I have also been part of the serving team, serving as an acolyte, MC and only once as crucifer. (One of the vergers told me off for walking too fast!)
How long have you been associated with the Cathedral?
Since September 2016.
What first drew you to Bristol Cathedral?
In my first two years of training I was placed at a rural village church just outside of Bristol, a useful experience as I head to a curacy in the summer of 14 rural churches! I felt I had learnt all that I could from this placement and was looking for something a bit different. The way I worship God had also changed significantly during this period from attending church services that had a more ‘free’ style with a band leading long periods of singing and little focus on the Eucharist, to enjoying the quiet liturgy of evening prayer and finding modern worship songs rather tedious. I wanted to explore this change further and Bristol Cathedral has been the perfect environment to do this in. Canon Nicola in particular has been so generous in answering my numerous questions! I now feel that presiding at the Eucharist for the first time is one of the things I’m most looking forward to in my curacy.
What have been some of your personal highlights?
Definitely leading and preaching at Sacred Space: the incredible music, the beautiful, candlelit Eastern Lady Chapel, the incense, enjoying the silence as the candles flicker—bliss! I always enjoy being sub-deacon but it was particularly special to do this on Easter Sunday when my husband Paul was confirmed. The services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are all highlights and I’m looking forward to them again this year.
I also find the preaching at Bristol Cathedral of an excellent quality; it has theologically-challenged me as well as catching me off guard and bringing tears to my eyes.
What would you like to see the Cathedral doing over the next few years?
I would like it to continue to maintain the excellence of its preaching, liturgy and music and at all times point to Jesus Christ as Lord. I would like to see Sacred Space, or something similar, become a more regular fixture of the Cathedral life as the Cathedral seeks to engage with the young people of Bristol who are often present in the services. I would also like the work of the Social Justice Group led by Canon Martin and others to continue—helping the lost and broken in our society is something we should all be striving to do.
What does the Cathedral mean for you?
Gosh, this is a hard question! It means an awful lot. By the time we leave Bristol this summer Paul and I will have lived in this city for almost four years (most ordinands only stay for two or three years). Bristol Cathedral has become, in a relatively short time, a very special place to both of us as we have both been able to worship so easily here and made to feel welcome. I am grateful to have Bristol Cathedral as my placement church, it has prepared me very well for curacy as it has continually challenged me to do new things and think on my feet! But it is much more than a placement, it has become home.