Saturday the 28th was a bright and sunny day, which made for a grand end to our summer pilgrimage season at the holy well, welcoming a coach load of visitors from the Salford Team parish, with their wonderfully organized priest, Fr Daniel Burton – pity he could’t be our rector here, thought many. Then into cars and across Bradford to Holy Trinity Church, Low Moor, for the licensing of Readers in the Diocese of Bradford.
It was unusual and refreshing to have a grand service, with bishop and grandees, led by a Reader; and the church was completely full; but all the same it was a pity that the new diocesan Readers were not to be licensed in the cathedral – they deserved the gravitas and sense of occasion. As it was, we had the usual modern and informal collection of hymns and prayers. A bit thin, thought your correspondent, until he realised that it acted as a foil to Bishop Nick and his role. A fine, beautifully delivered homily, inclusive, with the fine balance of lightness and seriousness.
And then – it is wonderful how the central moment proclaims itself without fanfare – the giving of the licence to the new Readers. As each one stood before the Bishop, the simple bestowal of authority for ministry: a few words, little movement, no drama; and yet that silence of concentration from the whole congregation – the realisation that ‘this person’ has now been set aside by the Lord. Moving and memorable!
That was the general bit. But a Reader’s ministry is specific to a place. So on Sunday evening, the 29th, the Harvest Festival Evensong at Broughton church had the local licensing of Paul to our parish. After a sermon by the Curate, there followed an unadorned but serious rite, where the role of Reader was formally summarised, Paul reaffirmed his vows, and both he and the congregation committed their help and support to the other. One member of the congregation (a senior cleric) said this was the most powerful moment of all – that clear, personal connection. So, by way of acknowledging this, those promises are reprinted below.
A short presentation, some photos, some nice off-the-cuff words from Paul, and then a church-full of friends, colleagues and parishioners retired to the hall for a particularly good bun-fight (and that in a church known for the quality of its refreshments). And more good wishes to Paul and Sharon.
Paul, I ask you before this congregation whom you will serve in your ministry, will you pray for us; will you use your gifts, training and experience to make known the word of God amongst us; and will you work with us for the coming of God’s kingdom, in a spirit of service and to the glory of God? I will.
Will you, the congregations of Broughton, Marton and Thornton, welcome Paul as a Reader in our parish; will you acknowledge and respect his calling; and will you support him in his ministry amongst us by your prayers, your encouragement and your friendship? We will.