Lancashire’s new Bishop has spoken of how he has been left ‘humbled’ by his inauguration into the diocese.
More than 1,000 clergy, parishioners and community leaders from across the county were present to witness the inauguration of the Rt Rev Julian Henderson as the new Bishop of Blackburn – the most senior cleric in the Church of England in Lancashire.
The service, held at Blackburn Cathedral on Saturday, saw hymns, songs and Bible readings all chosen by the bishop himself.
He also delivered his first sermon as Bishop of Blackburn, during which he spoke about the challenges facing the church, such as declining attendance and the issue of female bishops.
Before the service was held, dressed in a plain cassock, he led a procession from Blackburn Town Hall along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackburn, Coun Salim Mulla and Mrs Sayeeda Mulla, and all the Diocesan and visiting clergy dressed in colourful clerical robes.
At the cathedral itself, following the first hymn, the Bishop entered with his wife Heather by knocking on the West Doors with an ancient Saxon hammer – a Stone Age hammer which was originally discovered on the bed of the River Ribble.
The Bishop said: “To become the ninth Bishop of Blackburn is extremely humbling. It is an honour to be entrusted with such an important and significant responsibility.”
He told the service: “Let me assure you I am a very ordinary person, who by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ many years ago in my teens became one of his disciples.
“The call to faith and Christian ministry at every level is always a privilege, of which none of us is worthy, and if you ever spot the role I have been given going to my head or making me proud, please take me to one side. There is nothing worse than an arrogant minister of the Gospel.”
The Dean of Blackburn, The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong, conducted the service, which saw visitors from across the world.
Bishop Dintoe Stephen Letloenyane, who made the trip from the South African link Diocese, Free State, was among those in attendance.
Following readings, hymns and the taking of oaths by the Bishop, the cathedral bells and applause from the congregation greeted his official installation.
Bishop Julian, who is 59 and has two children, was previously Archdeacon of Dorking, in Surrey, before his appointment as Bishop of Blackburn in March.
Educated at Keble College Oxford, he became an ordained Deacon in 1979 and a priest in 1980.
The Archbishop of York, The Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, conducted Bishop Julian’s consecration service earlier this month.
The new Bishop had visited towns across Lancashire in the run up to Saturday’s service. Last week he visited Blackpool Tower.
The Church of England said Saturday’s service was held with an eye on the austere times many people in the Diocese currently face. Everyone who attended was asked to bring a contribution for local foodbanks.