IT was the start of a new era for Portsmouth diocese.
More than 1,100 worshippers crammed into our cathedral to see the Rt Rev Christopher Foster installed as our new bishop.
The service mixed dignified formality with laughter, inspirational choral worship with informal praise, moments of great symbolism with moments of genuine affection.
The service started with the bishop arriving at the west door dressed simply in white robes, accompanied with former colleagues from the St Albans diocese, where he was previously Bishop of Hertford.
Bishop Christopher swore an oath of obedience to the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was anointed with the oil of chrism by Bishop Ian, our commissary bishop, and our archdeacons.
Young people from St Mary’s Church, Rowner, read words from the Bible as cathedral canons dressed him in a cope, mitre and pectoral cross to signify his new role.
He was then taken to the bishop’s throne in the cathedral as the cathedral choir sang an inspiring version of Hubert Parry’s I Was Glad. There he was officially ‘enthroned’ by the Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Ven Sheila Watson, on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The first thing that happened after that was a reminder by a 10-year-old girl, Faith Draper of Rowner, of Jesus’ words that we are all first and foremost children of God. Her words were followed by a fanfare of trumpets from Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.
The new bishop was greeted by dignitaries, including the Lord Lieutenants of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, the Archbishop of West Africa and the dean of St John’s Roman Catholic cathedral.
He was then presented by the dean to the congregation, who greeted him with warm applause and cheers.
Bishop Christopher then preached, emphasising the shared nature of our discipleship, and reminding us of the pattern of that discipleship – humility, service and generosity. (Read the sermon here or see the video here).
During the prayers, five young people from St Catherine’s Church, Ventnor, and Church of the Good Shepherd, Crookhorn laid hands on him to silently pray for his ministry.
A collection was taken for St Nicholas' Anglican Seminary, Cape Coast, which prepares men and women for ministry in Ghana, where our diocese is linked to. It raised £2764.41.
After the service, the entire congregation followed Bishop Christopher out of the west doors, reminding them that they carried the gospel out into their communities.
The congregation continued singing, led by a worship band from local parishes. Portsmouth Cathedral Choir sang an anthem composed by director of music David Price and Bishop Christopher then prayed for the city and diocese.
A separate DVD has also been recorded by the new bishop and circulated to parishes. The 14-minute DVD was filmed in various parts of our diocese and will involve the bishop giving his message to worshippers across our diocese. In many churches, it was used instead of a sermon on September 19. It can be viewed here. (If you would like a copy of the "Introduction to the new Bishop of Portsmouth" DVD, please e-mail Neil Pugmire here).