Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The Bishops Visitation.

The Bishop with his people.

The Bishop with the Churchwardens and the Parish Priest.

The Bishop at the back of Church before the final blessing.

The end of the litany.

With Louisa by the Sunday School board.


More Gin!

The local Police dropped in as well.

Settling down before the service.

Ken Savage, Church warden and local history expert, tells of the building of the Church.

Louisa De Montes talks about our (excellent, busy) Sunday School.

I present the Bishop with his baton before he goes.

At the end of the service of prayer when the Bishop arrived.

There were, of course, plenty of candles to light, lest the Bishop not notice our Anglo Catholic credentials!

Our Diocesan Bishop, Nigel, is visiting all three hundred and fifty of his Parishes as part of his 'Run the Race' mission, to see his people and to encourage them in their mission. Yesterday it was our turn and, it must be said, we all had a wonderful day. He arrived at four o clock and we had a short Office of Prayers in the Church with a few members of the congregation who could not come in the evening, then he went off to visit some parishoners, with our Parish Priest, his Missioner, Canon Roger Hall and Yvonne, a Parish Reader from Newton Heath and Anthony, a Curate from Sedgely Park, the latter two helpers change regularly so the Bishop not only meets congregations, but also his clergy and readers. After a tour of local shops and homes they returned to a packed, yes, packed Church for a reception for the whole community where the Bishop met Churchgoers and non Churchgoers who had been invited alike. We then had a service of thanksgiving, where the history of the Church, in salvation terms, was recounted, we sang some hymns and we were all anointed individually by him for the times ahead. It was touching to see so many, many, people come forward, from the local community, for this special blessing.

The key visual theme was the use of the baton which was carried around Manchester by various sportsmen and women at the opening of the Commonwealth Games here in Manchester in 2002 before being handed over to the Queen in the new Manchester Stadium by David Beckham (a local footballer) during the opening ceremony. Many of us were a little sceptical of this beforehand, it has to be said, particularly because it flashes with a blue light, but it was a rather emotive symbol, given the explanation given it by the Bishop. I handed it back to him at the end of the service, as a sign of our love for him and commitment with him in proclaiming the name of Jesus in this Diocese, then he went to the back of Church for a final litany and then he bade everyone farewell. Happily, there was a bottle of Gin, some tonic, ice, lemon and cashew nuts in the sacristy so once everything was cleared away there was chance for a drink!