Humbled at jewel’ in the town

GIVING a speech in front of royalty and the Archbishop of Canterbury would be a nerve-wracking experience. This is something which Stevenage Mayor Simon Speller faced on Saturday at the inauguration of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St George at Shepha

GIVING a speech in front of royalty and the Archbishop of Canterbury would be a nerve-wracking experience.

This is something which Stevenage Mayor Simon Speller faced on Saturday at the inauguration of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St George at Shephalbury Manor in Stevenage.

It is the Coptic Church's first purpose-built church in the UK - the manor house was refurbished after being purchased by the church in 1991.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches in the world and has preserved the orthodox Christian faith in its earliest and purest form.

The Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of Gloucester were present among many other distinguished guests at the service.

Cllr Speller told The Comet: "I've not been so nervous in years. It was humbling to be in such company, and a real honour for Stevenage.

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"The Cathedral of St George is a wonderful piece of architecture, and a new jewel in the crown for Stevenage."

During Cllr Speller's address he said: "It is my hope that this cathedral, the centre for a range of religious, social and youth activities and a retreat from the 'busyness' of everyday life, will play its full part in our local community.

"This cathedral and the centre represent what we in Stevenage and Hertfordshire hold dear, a commitment to be an active community, working with and for each other first and foremost.