The Cathedral is full of dinosaurs 

The Cathedral is full of dinosaurs – and no, that’s not a dig at my colleagues, I hasten to add! 

No, this summer, we’re hosting the Natural History Museum’s Killer Question exhibition, which explores what the famous T Rex was really like and shows what he/she and a number of other of these ancient creatures possibly looked like. 

What on earth has this to do with the Cathedral’s primary purposes of worship and mission you may ask. Is this just a money-making gimmick, and has the Cathedral lost its spiritual bearings? 

Well let’s first of all be honest enough to say that we are hoping to make quite a lot of money from the exhibition and from the thousands of visitors who come to see it. And that will be quite an important element in helping to keep the doors of the Cathedral open 365 days a year, the roof on, its staff paid and its ministry resourced. 

But it’s not just about the money. We believe this is a real missionary oppor-tunity. 

Many people never darken the door of a Church building, of any sort, from one year to the next. Even rites of passage like weddings, funerals, christenings are becoming increasingly secularized and coming to church is no longer the norm. Events and exhibitions like this however, bring a huge number of families and young people through our door and into our extraordinary and awesome space, which dinosaurs or not, unmistakably speaks of Christ at the centre of all that we are about. 

Visitors entering the West Door won’t see a dinosaur they will see the great cross that hangs at the head of the nave – and the figure of Jesus whose death and resurrection is at the heart of our faith. 

Our past experience, (we have hosted space capsules, moons and Gaia earth in recent years) tells us that com-ing to the Cathedral offers many people a chance (an excuse maybe) to connect to the faith we proclaim; to light a candle, say a prayer, have a conversation with a chaplain. It really can be a small step (perhaps the first) on the journey of faith. 

And as for dinosaurs – well it also gives an opportunity to dispel some of the myths about science and religion, for example that the Church doesn’t “believe” in evolution. Perhaps it will help us make the connection with the really important issues about the extinction of species, which isn’t something that only happened millions of years ago. It’s hap-pening now – and what are we planning to do about it and the big issues of bio-diversity and climate change? 

Widening our imaginations, encouraging questions, attracting new people, engaging creatively with those who come, and also supporting our mission financially. We think that’s a win win! 

Happy holidays to those who are having them 

God bless you 

Chris Dalliston 
Dean of Peterborough