The 365th Festival of the Clergy Support Trust
Tuesday 21st May 2019
Clergy Support Trust is the new name for the charity previously known as Sons & Friends of the Clergy. The charity has its origins in the middle of the seventeenth century when a group of sons of clergymen recognised that there was a need for charitable help for the families of many members of the clergy who, having remained loyal to the monarchy during the Commonwealth, had been deprived of their livings and left destitute. The first Festival, held in November 1655, was the charity's founding event and there has been a Festival every year since. It is believed to be the oldest service of its kind in the Anglican Communion.
Held at St Paul's Cathedral, the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of London process together in State, accompanied by Sheriffs, Bishops and Aldermen of the City of London. This year, over 75 of the Livery Companies were represented by their Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff. Music was provided by the Choirs of St Paul's Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral and Coventry Cathedral and the sermon was given by the Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester.
As you might expect, the service was beautiful and the choral singing was sublime. However, the most poignant moments were the quietly told accounts of two priests, the Reverend Samuel Waako and the Reverend Karen Jones, whose challenging financial needs were supported by the Clergy Support Trust. Despite the great space of the surroundings, their disclosures felt searingly intimate. The grandeur of the occasion melted away as the congregation was brought face-to-face with the harsh realities faced by these individuals representing many people in the clergy. It gave a full appreciation of the great value of this remarkable charity.