Platinum Jubilee: St Anne’s Cathedral service told leader should aim to emulate ‘the Queen who serves’

A congregation at St Anne’s Cathedral has heard that the Queen’s Christian faith has been instrumental in shaping her style of ‘servant leadership’ – and in her leading reconciliation on the island of Ireland by her own example.

Sunday afternoon saw a service of thanksgiving to mark the Platinum Jubilee take place in the Anglican cathedral, with Presbyterian Moderator Dr David Bruce addressing the assembled crowd.

Among those present were Conor Burns (a Belfast-born Catholic Tory who is now a minister in the Northern Ireland Office), the PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, Belfast Lord Lieutenant Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle and new Belfast Lord Mayor, Sinn Fein’s Tina Black.

Rev Bruce called to mind the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. ..”

Conor Burns MP (with hand raised) speaking to Chief Constable Simon Byrne, alongside other dignitaries, including Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast Tina Black (far left)

He added: “These words I believe, have been exemplified in the Queen’s life of service as our monarch through these 70 years.

“Throughout her long reign, she has spoken freely of her love for God, and her desire to follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ in all she does. On her 90th birthday a book was published in her honour by the Bible Society, entitled ‘The servant Queen and the King she serves’.

“The Queen has repeatedly demonstrated that this has been the practice of the years, and what an example she has been, navigating the great joys and the deep tragedies of both family and national life with dignity and grace.”

He then quoted the Queen’s own words, from her 2014 Christmas broadcast: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ ... is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.”

He noted that during the Troubles she suffered “the deeply personal loss of Lord Mountbatten in an IRA bomb attack in the west of Ireland in August 1979”.

However, “with the prospects of peace growing through the 1990s, including the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the way was opened for the Queen to engage more fully – and she led the way by her own example of reconciliation, including an important and memorable State visit to Ireland in 2011”.

He added: “If reaching out, and receiving a hand of greeting was needed – and it clearly was – she has been ready to do it, and with genuine grace, both a remarkable testimony and example indeed.”

“Leadership is not an arm-wrestling competition, with winners and losers. Jesus’ self-description as gentle and lowly in heart, is neither spineless nor soft, but a robust challenge to those of us called to lead, that we do so to bless the people, not to control them; to restore the sinful, not to alienate them; to bind up the broken, not to worsen their hurt.

“In other words to act as ambassadors of Christ in such a way that he will say to us at the end ‘well done, good and faithful leader’; well, actually no. He will say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.

“For it must be evident to all, that it is this which has marked out and defined the reign of Her Majesty the Queen ... we gladly join in thanksgiving for the years of her reign. To God be the Glory.”