In front of a packed Salisbury Cathedral, with hundreds watching online, Bishop Stephen has been presented to the diocese as the 79th Bishop of Salisbury. Beginning the day with a special walk, and ending it with a huge party, the Rt Revd Stephen Lake was welcomed with joy by all.
Joined by scouts from Salisbury and South Wiltshire, Bishop Stephen first walked from Old Sarum, where the old cathedral once stood, into the centre of Salisbury. This walk was a special nod to where his faith began and grew; as a boy Scout in this very diocese.
After an all-important refuel at McDonald's with the Scouts, came the traditional robing at Mitre House, where Bishop Stephen waved to passers-by and spectators as they looked up with intrigue. Following this, he came down and greeted those who stopped to speak to him, catching a few rushed guests on their way to the service, learning their names and expressing his gratitude for their presence. Meanwhile, the cathedral bustled with activity, as 1,000 guests descended to share in the day's events.
Bishop Stephen finished his journey to the Cathedral, led to the doors and welcomed by two choristers who represented the 42,000 children in our Diocesan Schools and Academic Trusts. The service begun with reverence, as the choir sang the words from 1 John 4:16, and then the Archbishop's mandate was read.
The service proceeded, with the sprinkling of the Holy Water, the joyful singing of hymns, and the anointing and enthronement of Bishop Stephen. During the quieter moments of prayer, the calming sound of the infinitely flowing water from the font could be heard, an apt reminder of the ever-present God to whom the hymns and prayers were offered.
The most joyful moment, however, was when Bishop Stephen was finally presented to the diocese – on the very spot he had been ordained 34 years earlier. As the organ played a fanfare, the building resounded with applause, before Bishop Stephen then addressed the congregation.
Bishop Stephen began by announcing that, "In case there is any doubt, yes this is classified as a party!" He then offered thanks to all who had made the day happen, and then, with another hearty round of applause, acknowledged the wonderful work of Bishop Karen, who has been acting Bishop of Salisbury in the interim period.
Reflecting on Luke 19:1-26, which was read by Bishop Karen earlier in the service, Bishop Stephen offered a challenge to the diocese to work together - in taking our responsibility for our faith, and loving others.
In a surprise act of generosity, which you can read about in more detail in Grapevine this week, the congregation were then handed a mystery envelope each by a group of children. Together, to the echoing sound of paper rustling, everyone opened their gifts to find a £10 note, along with a letter from Bishop Stephen inviting recipients to "make it grow as a sign of the kingdom of God".
Bishop Stephen said,
"Only we can be what you asked for in a new bishop. You asked that your bishop be holy, visionary, transforming, courageous, unifying, visible, caring.
"This is my vocation, and this is now our vocation. We can do this; this is our time. You now bear the responsibility for this gift. This is His Kingdom here and now, amen"
Met with applause as his sermon drew to a close, the service then concluded, which was followed by festivities on the West Lawn. 'The Big Picture' was captured by photographers standing on scaffolding – armed with a megaphone, Dean Nick marshalled the 1,000 strong crowd.
Then, invited by Bishop Karen, a jazz band set the mood for the ice-cream and fizz filled party. The band was made up of pupils and colleagues from Sherborne Girls, Bishop Wordsworth’s and Trinity College, led by Assistant Curate Jenny Nelson in the Three Valleys Benefice.
The Revd Jenny Nelson said,
"It was humbling and a privilege to be a part of today. Exciting times ahead."
The Revd Chris Beaumont who had travelled to be at the service, like many other clergy across the diocese, said
"The service captured the seriousness of the occasion and the lightness of the occasion all in one go."
More to come on Bishop Stephen's #SalisburysGotTalent challenge, and a video of his sermon will be available on YouTube very soon. You can see all the photos from the day here, and a video roundup here.