A near-capacity St Paul’s congregation saw prayerful hands laid on Canon Tim Dakin as he became a Bishop on Wednesday 25th January.
Cathedral staff estimated that they hosted a crowd of around 2,200 for the two hour service which saw the Ordination of two new Bishops. One was our 97th Bishop of Winchester Designate and the other will shortly become Bishop of Bradwell in Chelmsford Diocese: the Ven John Wraw, formerly Archdeacon of Wiltshire.
It might be reasonable to find a service booklet containing no fewer than 40 pages mildly dispiriting, but this act of worship was transcendent. The sense of being among a vast expectant crowd who had been praying for this moment was uplifting in itself. Put that into Wren’s great Cathedral resonating with highly significant words and echoing choral music; add a sermon from the Bishop of Chelmsford, characterised by well-judged laughter and a sharp sense of the reality of Episcopal life, and the whole was a memorable service indeed.
Instruments in God’s hand
Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s sermon in St Paul’s on the feast of St Paul picked up the theme of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus and his subsequent period of enforced blindness, during which God sought to give this clever, strategic and effective man – first rate Episcopal material! – a new identity and “completely new direction for his single mind”. That period was one of refining, said Bishop Stephen as he rooted his message to the new Bishops with a final comment that God be allowed to “cleanse and refine them as instruments in God’s hand that they might make Christ known…”
This service demonstrated yet again that the Church of England is suffering no lack of enthusiasm for what God might be wanting to do in the future of our land. What we saw at St Paul’s was real energy among the people of God to discern His will in selecting and recognising new leaders. Our new leader will not join us as Bishop of Winchester until his formal Service of Enthronement in his own Cathedral on 21st April. But that day grows ever closer and we now look forward to welcoming the man who is now ‘Bishop Tim’.