The Big Lunch

20 April 2023

By The Reverend Canon Helen Cameron

big-lunch-contentI was glad to be invited to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation Big Lunch launch which took place on Monday 17 April. To be invited to arrive at Westminster Abbey Cloisters robed formally at 8.30 a.m. for an event about lunches and to be offered very lovely food which looked very like afternoon tea was potentially confusing but it was, in the end, a splendid and joyous occasion.

The cloister garden and the Abbey looked wonderful in the early morning sunshine. There were old friends to greet, Bishop Mike Royal, the General Secretary of Churches Together in England; my fellow Presidents of CTE (the Pentecostal president Bishop Tedroy Powell, Archbishop Nikitas of the Greek Orthodox Church and of course, Archbishop Justin). There were friends from Westminster Abbey (Dean David Hoyle) and Bishop Anthony Ball, as well friends from the Jewish faith, Rabbi Rebecca Birk, Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu friends and from the world of Chaplaincy and Charity. I sat next to Blondell Cuff CBE Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund.

Dame Prue Leith, Sir Tim Smit ( the Eden Project)  and the Duke of Edinburgh were the special guests all present to encourage us, to encourage you to use the weekend of the Coronation 6 May onwards to invite your neighbours to share food with you – a big invitation to lunch ( or afternoon tea or breakfast) in order to get together, pull down barriers, build community and get to know our neighbours. TV presenter Gethin Jones from Morning Live chatted with me about what brings people together and what makes community.

The Duke of Edinburgh arrived with a Coronation Quiche from the Royal Kitchens. I don’t think he made it himself. He was an interesting conversation partner about how we really might reduce barriers between faith groups in Britain. Dame Prue cut a cake and inspected it for a soggy bottom (it passed). She was fascinating when talking with me about the impact on us all of belonging to something bigger than our own friends or immediate circle. The occasion was one of a lot of laughter and joy and coming together of some very different people.  I had a fascinating range of conversations which included the Coronation itself, the National Lottery Community Fund and how it might be distributed equitably and the community assets that church and religious buildings can become if we see them less as “ours” and more as “somewhere for everybody to find a welcome”.

So, I encourage you to find a big lunch ( or breakfast or afternoon tea) to join, or start a plan for one, and invite a range of different people who may find each other interesting, warm and joyful  – just as I did.

Get involved – Coronation of His Majesty The King & Her Majesty The Queen Consort