CDP 2020 – A Vision
The aim of the Cathedral Development Programme (CDP) 2020 is to make the Cathedral Church of St Andrew a home of Christian culture and hospitality in the heart of Aberdeen, and a house of prayer for all people by 2020.The objective is to realise this vision through a threefold programme: to keep the Cathedral open to all people for prayer throughout the week, to create facilities that will empower Cathedral staff and volunteers to make this vision a reality. These facilities will include a Cathedral Song School, a dedicated space for youth work, improved catering facilities and new office space. Thirdly, we aim to adapt the existing space to make it an attractive city centre venue for community groups and organisations engaged in a broad range of cultural, leisure and support activities. The Trustees of the Cathedral have approached this objective by forming a Board of Patrons and a Project Management Team, drawing on some of the best talent in the Diocese and the City. Close collaboration sets this programme apart in seeing the Cathedral as a heritage enterprise for both the City and the Diocese.
Our story – A People on the Move
The present Cathedral congregation of St Andrew can trace its origins to a Meeting House at the back of the Tolbooth, destroyed by the Duke of Cumberland’s soldiers during their long stay in Aberdeen in 1746. The little flock then moved to a house in Concert Close and subsequently to the Guestrow, finally arriving at the upper room of the dwelling house of John Skinner in the Longacre in 1776. The Upper Room in the Longacre, like the tent of Abraham pitched between Bethel (house of God) and Ai (the World) on his journey of faith, was located between the Merchant Quarters of Aberdeen and the Upper Slums of the Castlegate, reflecting God’s call to serve all His people, the rich and the poor, the lost and the seeking, the learned and the labourer, the native and the foreigner. It was here the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA, Samuel Seabury, was consecrated in 1784. A Chapel dedicated to St Andrew was built on the site in 1795 which remained for two decades. The present building on King Street was designed by Archibald Simpson and the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Skinner in 1816.The interior design of St Andrew’s Chapel reflected the prevailing norm of the day, where the preaching of the word took centre stage. The height and the centrality of the pulpit reflected the theology of the time. While the altar was imposing, it was remote, and the design of the galleries and the shape of the seating focused on the pulpit.Archibald Simpson’s work was augmented by George E Street, the Gothic revivalist, who transformed the Chapel into a church to the specifications of the Oxford Movement. The preaching-centered design morphed into a church for movement with rituals and ceremonials. Street added a small choir and clergy vestries to the north. Sir Robert Lorimer, the third reformer of St Andrew’s, changed the entrance of the church from a grand gothic front to a small porch of a country parish church. The idea of a Cathedral for the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney was mooted in 1912, the year when our companion Diocese of Connecticut established their own Cathedral Church in Hartford. Our Diocesan Synod felt the need for a symbol of unity and St Andrew’s Church was chosen to house the cathedra of the Bishop.Grand plans were afoot to erect a new Cathedral on Broad Street opposite Marischal College. The monies raised in the Episcopal Church of America to build a glorious memorial to Samuel Seabury, the first Episcopalian Bishop of the Americas, failed to be realised on account of the collapse of the dollar in the Wall Street crash of 1929. While the grand plans failed, the people of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney and the Cathedral congregation of St Andrew felt the call to action.In 1935, Sir Ninian Comper was commissioned to transform the parish church into the Cathedral Church of St Andrew, as we know it now. The project was completed in 1948 and dedicated to the glory of God and as a witness to the people of the Diocese and her Cathedral congregation. Comper's work remains unchanged to this day. Now we sense the call to make the next stage of our journey.
St Andrew’s Cathedral Today
Should you choose to visit the Cathedral on a weekday morning, you will find two groups of women meeting under the ceiling with the Jacobite family crests, at the foot of John Skinner. They gather between paintings hanging on the wall. The paintings, by a Syrian student from the Robert Gordon University, are Hope and Peace. The ladies meet to learn the Scottish language and culture. These are the New Scots, the refugees from Syria who are deeply grateful for the safety and support of the City and the welcome and tranquillity of the Cathedral. In the John Skinner Centre (JSC), you might find the Retired Teachers' Association having their regular monthly meeting, or the bustle of the Cathedral Coffee Shop. If you visit the Cathedral a little later, you may hear one of our organists practising or see a team of flower arrangers preparing beautiful displays for our Sunday worship. In the evening, you may hear our Cathedral Trebles rehearsing for Sunday worship, Saturday concerts or to sing in local care homes. These young choristers are drawn from schools around the City and gather each week for choir rehearsal, voice coaching and music theory lessons. Over in the JSC, people may be preparing tea and coffee for a meeting of a local support organisation. This is a sample of the rhythm of life of St Andrew’s Cathedral, serving the community and the souls of all who long for hope and peace. It is a place of prayer and hospitality for all people.
A Partnership – Diocese, Cathedral and City
St Andrew’s Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people. It is also a home of culture with its exceptional acoustic and excellent choir. It already attracts performers and patrons alike from within the City and from across Scotland. In addition, our friends and neighbours at Peacock Visual Arts, under the leadership of their new Director, Dr Nuno Sacramento, are seeking to develop the area in partnership with the City. There is a new idea of mapping this area of the City for education, history, culture and health and integrating the stakeholders in a partnership that would serve to make the City a nationally important centre. The new Cathedral facilities are an important component of this plan. The Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney wants to ensure that its Cathedral is a centre of learning in the tradition of the Aberdeen Doctors of the past. A body of contemporary Christian thought and worship forms is emerging, for which the Cathedral will be one of the locations in the Diocese, both in development and use. In the emerging complexities in the Anglican Communion, many look for leadership in bringing harmony and rediscovering the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus. The Cathedral congregation has become a microcosm of Anglican diversity. Pilgrims from the USA and other parts of the Anglican Communion visit Aberdeen in the hope of finding what was offered in former times. The enhanced facilities and increased opening hours of the Cathedral will help us to better serve our multi-ethnic and multi-generational congregation and guests.