The Dean of Ripon’s Column with the Very Rev John Dobson

Ripon's annual St Wilfrid Parade takes place on Saturday, August 3.
Ripon's annual St Wilfrid Parade takes place on Saturday, August 3.

Recently, I had the good fortune to attend the AGM of the region’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Several hundred people from all sectors – business, the regional and local councils, education, charities and the church – gathered to hear about entrepreneurial ways in which people are coming together to generate employment and wealth for this region.

We listened to inspirational speakers who opened our minds to the possibilities for our towns and high streets. While being aware of the challenges of these politically uncertain days, there was an enviable determination to be positive. There was also what seemed to be an almost-universal agreement that to grow our economy we need to be concerned for all.

Malcolm Preston of the accountancy firm PWC was quoted: “Good growth is real, inclusive, responsible, and lasting. Good growth benefits everyone…” When mentioning this in a sermon that I preached at the cathedral the following Sunday, I couldn’t help commenting that this is the sort of thing we would expect to hear from the preacher. Now we are also hearing it from our accountant!

Another firm message at this regional meeting was that our economy must be circular. It was explained that a circular economy is one that does not have a negative impact on the natural environment.

Having always admired the efforts of entrepreneurs who are keen to create employment and wealth for others as well as themselves, I thought I was glimpsing a vision of heaven on earth. In a way, I was!

And I was reminded of how Jesus, on an occasion when he was asked when the kingdom of God was coming, advised that the kingdom of God ‘is among you’.

Much of what I see in the life of the church and the wider community in this region suggests to me that this is as much the case now as it was when Jesus was walking this earth.

Another source of encouragement and hope came with last week’s Great Yorkshire Show. Many congratulations to the YAS outgoing President, Mr Tom Ramsden, and the Show Director, Mr Charles Mills, and all involved.

The show celebrated the skills and dedication of those who are working hard to meet our daily needs – caring for the land and livestock in the process.

As the beginning of August approaches, we prepare to celebrate a veritable giant of this region’s history. St Wilfrid was entrepreneurial and visionary in his efforts to build up the church for the benefit of everyone – locally and further afield. He even taught people in the south how to fish!

The cathedral’s crypt, a constant place of prayer since he had it built almost 1350 years ago, bears witness to his legacy.

So too does Ripon’s annual Wilfrid Parade on Saturday, August 3.

This unites a community in celebration and brings it into a cathedral that, inspired by St Wilfrid, prays and works for the growth of God’s kingdom – for the benefit of everyone.

If you would like to know more about how the cathedral seeks to serve everyone in this region, please join us for coffee, cakes and the presentation of our annual review on the morning of St Wilfrid’s Parade, Saturday, August 3, 10.30am to noon in the cathedral.

Find out about our progress with our vision, Growing God’s Kingdom, and our ambitious plans to provide modern facilities.