I had the great privilege of representing Church House at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday 6 July, for Bishop Steven at the Confirmation of the Election. This is an important, very traditional ceremony. This marked the moment that our Bishop of Sheffield formally became the new Bishop of Oxford (or the longer version: Bishop and Pastor of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry the Eighth and Chief Pastor of the Diocese of Oxford).
I thought I would share a brief history of the Confirmation process and tradition. It is a fascinating process, and one that I imagine is very rarely shared with people in the parishes. I am very new to this so do bear with me.
It is a very formal and legal process, one that the Diocese of Sheffield’s own Registrar, Andrew Vidler, was also present for.
Firstly: our Queen confirmed approval for the appointment (and ‘The Letters of Patent of Our Sovereign Lady the Queen were issued under the Great Seal of the Realm’). Second, Bishop Steven was ‘identified and presented’ (i.e. confirming he is who he says he is) ensuring that no ‘objections’ from opposers were received (a similar process to the Bans of Marriage). Third, the Court undertook a number of formal legal duties ‘pronouncing the definitive Sentence of Final Decree (...) and (to ...) porrect* (* = produce) a Schedule’ for appointment, which was variously: ‘read’, ‘declared’, ‘signed’, ‘issued’, ‘decreed’ and ‘prayed’).
Last but not least, the Archbishop of Canterbury was able to give his ‘charge’ or job description to the new Bishop of Oxford. It was at that moment, when Bishop Steven was simultaneously no longer the Bishop of Sheffield and additionally no longer a member of the House of Lords (for a brief period). To close, it was fitting that the new Bishop, in turn blessed us all.
It was a moment of mixed emotions. It is very hard to say goodbye to Bishop Steven and yet such a pleasure to welcome Bishop Peter in his new role. As it turned out, it was an evening full of mixed emotions following the fortunes of Andy Murray at Wimbledon and Welsh Euro 2016 semi-final results. And this continues as we look forward to a very special farewell service for Steven and Ann, in the Cathedral on Sunday 17 July at 4pm. I have my Eventbrite ticket ready. I hope to see many of you there.