A brass band-led procession through a city’s streets, a fanfare from West Yorkshire Police trumpeters, oaths made on a town’s medieval Bible, a single note sounded by the Ripon Hornblower and bishop-shaped biscuits.
It could only happen in the new Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales as a momentous week in July saw three separate enthronements of the new bishop, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, in each of the three cathedrals of Wakefield, Bradford and Ripon – an historic first for the Church of England.
There was a simple solemnity to the final and most recent enthronement service on Sunday July 20th at Ripon Cathedral. After Bishop Nick had knocked three times on the great West Doors, a young member of the congregation , Phoebe Hall welcomed him to enter and he processed to the alter to the sound of Hubert Parry’s anthem, ‘I was glad’ sung by the Cathedral Choir. He was placed in his ‘cathedra’ by the new Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson, and then welcomed by Lord Crathorne, the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire as well as representatives from across the region including Gary Verity of Welcome to Yorkshire, civic leaders, and representatives from the armed forces.
In his address Bishop Nick spoke of St Wilfrid whose own life and experience in Ripon and the North East showed that the church had always been ready to change and move on as society changed and developed. The Bishop of Colombo representing the diocese’s link with Sri Lanka was among those present to witness Bishop Nick taking his oaths on the historic Ripon Bible, dated 1260. And the city’s hornblower blew the Ripon Horn to mark the new bishop taking his seat (or ‘cathedra’).
At Wakefield on Tuesday (July 15th) (pictured below), civic leaders, local and regional dignitaries, clergy and lay people from across the diocese gathered in the city centre of Wakefield to be led by a brass band through the streets to the Cathedral to wait for their new bishop to arrive at the west door, strike it three times with his staff, and wait for permission to enter.
Once inside, trumpeters from West Yorkshire Police band played a fanfare as Bishop Nick was welcomed into his cathedral church by the Dean, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener. After signing legal documents Bishop Nick was escorted by local children into the nave to be anointed by fellow bishops – and as the choir sang he was taken to his seat or ‘cathedra’ for the enthronement itself.
In another break from tradition, the service then moved outside onto the precinct where Bishop Nick
preached in the open-air and blessed the city. In his sermon, Bishop Nick spoke about the responsibility each of us has in this new diocese of accepting God’s call and offering ourselves to the world. He said, “Our job is to change the rumour of God and the Church, and we can do that by the drip, drip of our daily lives. But we have to start by allowing God to change us, because in Jesus Christ we can be set free to see differently, to think differently and to live differently.
“The disciples said to blind Bartimaeus, ‘Get up, take heart, he is calling you’. And that’s the invitation that lies at the heart of this diocese. It’s an invitation for all of us. We need to grow in confidence in shaping who we are for the future, knowing the transforming power of God. And if we offer that to the world we will see the rumour change”.
Around 700 people – and many onlookers in the city – witnessed the first enthronement service, with some parts seen by BBC Look North viewers.
A wide variety of music marked the second enthronement service held on Thursday July 17th at Bradford Cathedral. After he had ceremoniously knocked three times on the Cathedral west door to be admitted, Bishop Nick was led into the Cathedral by the dramatic sound of the drums of the Punjabi Dance Academy (pictured) who led him up the nave. Music of a different sort was provided by the City of Bradford Brass Band which played before and during the service - hymns were led by the Cathedral Choir.
In his sermon, Bishop Nick revealed that it had not gone unmarked that this was the second time he had been enthroned there. “When I was put into my cathedra, I looked down at that solemn moment and saw this, “Welcome back” .. then I looked a little further along and saw, “ PS we are not doing this a third time!” In his address, he talked about the changes to the diocese, drawing parallels to the changes the people of Israel went through. Drawing on the reading from Jeremiah Chapter 29, he said, “One of the things Jeremiah says, and this is my language not his, is ‘stop whinging … don’t be a victim, you’ve got to put your roots down in the place of exile and pray and work for the welfare of the city. Stop complaining that it isn’t what it used to be … start to shape your future from the place you find yourself.’ He is speaking to exiles and is asking them to look differently at where they are and who they are and what it means to belong there. Are you a victim, or a shaper of change?”
Civic, community, police and faith leaders from across the area were represented at the service and readings wee given by representatives of the link dioceses - Bishop Mark Bourlakas of Southwestern Virginia, and Bishop Ismael Gibreil Abugigin of El-Obeid in the Sudan.
Bishop Nick also met and prayed with people in the two other Episcopal Areas of the diocese - Huddersfield and Leeds – in the same week. On Wednesday July 16th, he was welcomed at a service in Halifax Minster - and two days later he was welcomed by civic dignitaries and local community leaders at Leeds Minster.
The enthronement at Bradford with Dean, Very Revd Jerry Lepine
Greeting guests after the service.