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Avon Valley Churches' Girl Bishop delivers final address

by Michael Ford last modified 20 Jan, 2022 08:59 AM

Avon Valley Churches’ Emily Albury gave her final address as Girl Bishop at St Mary’s Church in Fordingbridge this week. During a heartfelt sermon, in which she focused on her passion for nature and the environment, Emily encouraged and challenged us all to try and help preserve the wonderful natural world God gave us with a list of achievable aims for the year.

For some years, St Mary’s Church in Fordingbridge has appointed a Girl or Boy Bishop, usually from the choir, who ‘reigns’ from the first Sunday of December to the first Sunday of January. This mediaeval tradition was originally customary in cathedrals when the Bishop (traditionally a man) would leave his throne and the Boy Bishop would take his place - a reminder that ‘the first shall be last, and the last first’ (Matthew 20:16).   

Emily was enthroned on the first Sunday of December 2021 when she was robed in a stole, vestment, pectoral cross, ring and mitre, and given a pastoral staff. She remained robed during Advent and Christmas and lead parts of the main Morning Service.  

When asked how she felt about being Girl Bishop, Emily said: “I really enjoyed being Girl Bishop because I liked being able to share my thoughts about God and the environment when I did my sermon. I also liked being a Girl Bishop because it shows that girls can be bishops as well as boys.”  

On the first Sunday of the New Year, on which Epiphany is celebrated, the Young Bishop delivers their traditional ‘Sermon’ – a short address on a topic of their choosing. These have been very memorable at St Mary’s over the years, ranging from care for a disabled friend to the story of Baboushka. In Emily’s inspiring address, she spoke of God’s gift of nature and the many species of flowers and animals prevalent in the nearby New Forest but also countless others which are endangered throughout the world. The reaction from AVC’s seven churches and online congregations has been enormous and many have responded with promises to react to her inspiring appeal.  

Emily recommends that we all try to: use renewable energy at home, avoid driving when we can and try walking instead, plant a tree, eat less meat and recycle as much as possible. Watch out for Emily in spring as Canon Gary Philbrick of St Mary’s in Fordingbridge has given her permission to flower bomb an area of the graveyard to help encourage more wildlife to flourish!  

To see Emily's sermon on Facebook, click here 

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