The President’s Dinner

When a President assumes the mantle of office, it remains his prerogative to finalise the details of our biennial President’s Dinner. Last September, in a change to previous years, Roger Gentry arranged for a more traditional location, The Grange Moor Hotel, Maidstone. It provided a friendly and convenient, centrally placed venue, where its mock Tudor beam décor welcomed nearly fifty members and guests. Among them was our long standing member Nicholas King who had travelled from Hemel Hempstead especially to be with us.

With pre-dinner drinks available at the bar, there was a convivial atmosphere before we embarked upon our meal of: Chilled Medley of Melon served with Fruits of the Forest, Drizzled with Grand Marnier; then Roast Lamb in a Red Wine & Mint Sauce followed by Strawberry Pavlova and Coffee. The hotel service was excellent, the waitresses like Lyons Corner House Nippies: fast, courteous and efficient.

Our speaker, The Revd Canon Dr James M Rosenthal, is an organist and composer, as well as an ordained priest. He originates from the USA, born in Chicago, which was undeniably evident as he apologised — quite unnecessarily — for his accent. He is Director of Communications for the Anglican Communion Office, editor of the Anglican Episcopal World Magazine and the Anglican Communion News Service. He has visited every cathedral in England and has worked closely with Dr George Carey, and now works with Dr Rowan Williams helping to arrange visits abroad, including a trip to Bethlehem earlier last year.

President Roger Gentry with The Revd. Canon Dr. James M. Rosenthal

Speaking as an organist, he revealed his time as organist and choirmaster at St. John the Divine, Balham, south London where, among other innovations, he introduced girls to the choir. But then, stroking his beard wisely, he also spoke of tradition and the role we play in church life, not forgetting our need to encompass new ideas. In addition to our musical abilities, he emphasised the sensitive pastoral nature that a church choirmaster can sometimes be called upon to provide. Dr Rosenthal spoke openly and amusingly, his ample form providing a cascade of anecdotal experience as a musician and priest, which furnished us with an entertaining as well as a thought provoking evening.

Roger Gentry outlined a number of Association plans for the New Year and thanked those who had organised the meetings and activities of the past year. We are most grateful to Kevin Grafton, our new Treasurer, for organising the raffle, which concluded a memorable and enjoyable evening; we must thank Roger for arranging it for us.

It is unfortunate that following the dinner, a number of members were taken ill with a rather virulent tummy bug. Although not all were effected, it did seem to have been something circulating in Maidstone at the time. Hopefully, this will not prove a deterrent to future Grange Moor Hotel occasions.

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