The group, dressed in an assortment of fancy dress robes ranging from typical priest, via Monks to a Roman Catholic cardinal, moved quickly up the central aisle. One of their number, who would later give their speech, was restrained in the aisle by a member of Minster staff, and by this time various ministers were seen moving about frantically.
The woman giving the reading at that time made a valiant attempt to continue, but gave up when the group were obviously going to out-shout her. The organist shortly launched into the next hymn (leaving the reading abandoned), with the group on the stage receiving a short and highly visible audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. It appears that at this point it was agreed that, following the gospel and the next hymn, their ring leader would be invited to make a short statement and then leave.
There was a noticeable sense of eagerness amongst many to listen, surprising given the cold reception given to Peter Tatchel 12 months earlier. Amongst the congregation were the 500+ members of General Synod who had come together to make decisions for the future of the church. Storming the service gave the protesters certain access to around 40 Bishops, and both the Archbishops of Caterbury and of York, as well as many senior lay members.
In their speech they informed the congregation of cases where the church has turned a blind eye to those seeking to continue communication with their children. A debate some ten years ago was cited where Synod talked of the need for a family upbringing, and how it should no longer be silent on an issue which has deep significance to family cohesion in a day and age of family break ups. Where Synod had said that children need the upbringing of both parents, the group felt nothing was being done to preserve this when marriages failed. The particularly concerning case of Fathers unable even to observe their childrens baptism (traditionally the time a child is welcomed in to the church) was of obvious significance to some, who evidently saw this as an important event for all parents.
The groups spokesperson asked for forgiveness for interupting a service, and then the group left to some surportive applause. With this the service then picked up its path again, with the Archbishop of York giving his sermon on the Good Samaritan, and the service ended as normal with the Archbishop of Canterbury celebrating communion; sharing out the bread and wine for the symbolic meal.
Outside, a 20ft x 20ft banner was hung by the faux-cardinal, displaying clearly the logo of the group. The familiar activists blue-and-white megaphone was in evidence as the group assembled below sang typical rewrites of familiar songs. The police, ambulance and fire service were all on hand throughout.
Just a day earlier, the church took moves to make selection of a church as a marriage venue simpler, and narrowly defeated an amendment which would have moved down the road of ending the legal aspect of the church ceremony; bringing the church into line with the rest of Europe where Christians must undergo two ceremonies, one civil, the other a blessing of marriage in church. During the debate much agony was shared over the continued bar on priests marrying couples outside of churches, even within woods and other areas of natural (and presumably God created) beauty.
The corporate press had made much of a debate on so called "Heresy Courts" which proved a little of a let down and resulted in no real action, with the vote being lost in the house of clergy by just four votes, and thus lost overall. This reflected clergy concerns that Bishops would be given too much power, and the evangelicals among the laity would be given a new route to end free debate amongst the highly studied members of clergy like Dr Jenkins (former Bishop of Durham) who raised questions, the thought of which angered many.
(The Author apologises for lack of photos, however, the corporate media will probably supply them in due course).