Gallery: New bishop at St Edmundsbury eager to ‘harness’ the Suffolk’s ‘energy and commitment’
- Credit: Archant
With brass fanfares, ancient custom, great ceremonial and touching informality – Suffolk’s new bishop has been enthroned. James Marston was among the congregation.
Suffolk was in celebratory mood as the county’s great and good, civic leaders, military top brass, clergy, and laity came together at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Saturday.
The occasion – The Welcome and Enthronement of the Right Reverend Martin Seeley as the 11th Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich – was the culmination of a fairly lengthy process of election and the official start to the new bishop’s ministry in the diocese.
Speaking before the service one of the county’s senior churchmen, The Venerable Ian Morgan – Archdeacon of Suffolk, said the new bishop will provide clergy with “someone to unite behind”.
He added: “Bishop Martin has been appointed after a vacancy of two years and today is a celebration for the diocese and whole county as he starts his ministry.”
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Reverend Canon Jonathan Ford is priest at Moreton Hall in Bury St Edmunds – a growing church with a congregation of 120.
He said: “Today is a wonderful end to a very long wait. I feel that Bishop Martin will help us move the diocese forward.”
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The service itself started with a civic procession including mace bearer, the scarlet-robed mayors of Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, and representatives of Suffolk’s police and armed services.
Speaking before the ceremony began Glen Chisholm, Mayor of Ipswich, said: “I am here to support the new bishop in his post and represent the people of Ipswich at this occasion.”
The Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff followed.
And then, as the organ swelled for the first hymn – Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken – came the church procession.
Vergers, choirboys, lay canons, ecumenical representatives, the chancellor of the diocese, the Archdeacon of Canterbury – created quite a spectacle leading the way for the county’s most senior clergy in all their finery – the archdeacons, honorary bishops, cathedral canons and dean.
The cathedral dean The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward began by welcoming the archbishop’s representative – the Venerable Sheila Watson – who handed over the Archbishop’s Mandate which in turn was double checked by the chancellor of the diocese The Worshipful David Etherington QC.
The legal formalities over, the attention of the congregation, which included representatives of churches in Tanzania and New York, turned to the cathedral’s west door on which the new bishop knocked three times before another fanfare and official welcome.
Imbued with symbolism, the ceremony reiterated the role of bishop as a pastor, leader and teacher. The service also included a superbly-delivered reading by the new bishop’s 14-year-old daughter Anna as well as oaths and declarations before the climax of the ceremony – when the new bishop was placed in the episcopal chair – or cathedra – near the high altar.
Bishop Martin preached on a theme of God’s friendship, highlighting the links of “honesty and trust” between all of Suffolk’s faith, business, military, and political communities.
He said: “We have had, within the church, huge disagreements, painful and seemingly intractable, but we find we are bound together in divine friendship and what binds us is far greater than what divides us.
“We are all connected in God’s friendship and it is to that I commit myself today to encourage and foster that friendship in God and that friendship in one another.”
Prayers followed before a touching and personal moment of official and public welcome by the dean to the new bishop’s wife Jutta and children Anna and Luke – a moment which drew long applause from the congregation. And then the bishop – presented with the ornate silver diocesan crozier – blessed the congregation, county and diocese.
Speaking after the service Dean Frances Ward said: “It has been a glorious day that has been long awaited.
“Bishop Martin will be tremendous and is already bringing a quick mind and strong grasp to where we need to go next as a church. He will serve the county and all its communities.”
As he accepted congratulations, warm wishes and posed for pictures, Bishop Martin said the occasion had been “deeply personal and profoundly public”.
He added: “There is a great deal of energy and commitment in every congregation in every community. I want to harness that energy and commitment for the good of everybody in Suffolk.”