The year was five ninety-seven A.D.
When Augustine met Ethelbert
And helped him see
That Christ was the real thing
The biggest, baddest king
Berthie got baptized – it wasn’t just a fling!
From The Canterbury Rap – break it down now!
“This was the beginning of our Canterbury rap,” writes Rebecca Doebler in the current Convocation Quarterly, “which Thomas Sandlin, my younger brother, Robert, Jennifer Adams-Marrann and I performed at the 2005 Convocation Convention. ‘We were putting forward a motion that our convocation’s delegates request [to the 2006 General Convention] that Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert of Kent be added to the Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.”
A communicant at Church of Christ the King in Frankfurt, Germany, Doebler, a convention delegate, was in the confirmation group that had visited Canterbury last summer. “We decided that Queen Bertha was definitely important enough to be given a feast day,” she said.
(Queen Bertha, a Christian, invited St. Augustine to England and supported his mission. Her faith and St. Augustine’s teaching led the king and as many as 10,000 of his people to become Christians.)
“Ethelbert believed in freedom of religion, so no one was forced to convert,” Doebler said. “He gave his royal palace in Canterbury to Augustine for his use, founded a cathedral there and laid the foundation for many other churches.” She said the youth knew their idea was a good one when delegates passed their resolution unanimously:
“Resolved that the Convocation of American Churches in Europe meeting in Frankfort-am-Main, Germany, 13-16 October 2005, requests that the 75th General Convention direct the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music to add Queen Bertha and her husband King Ethelbert (baptized by St. Augustine in 597 and died 616), early Christian witnesses in England, who shared with St. Augustine of Canterbury in reestablishing Christianity in England and who practiced religious tolerance, to the Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, with appropriate Propers and biographical materials.”