“Walking with a group of people from various places around the diocese was a most enjoyable thing to do.
"It was good to have the chance to get to know Bishop Michael a little bit, hear about how God led Him to Lichfield and be a part of the journey to his enthronement.”
Susie Goodchild - Shrewsbury
The path to finding a new Diocesan Bishop to take over from Bishop Jonathan Gledhill who retired in Sept 2015 was a long one.
It began with the Vacancy in See committee drafting a Statement of Needs outlining the character, shape and hopes of the Diocese for a new bishop. At the same time, Appointments Secretaries for the Archbishops and Prime Minister conducted many interviews in the Diocese in order to advise the Crown Nominations Committee which shortlists, interviews and nominates a new bishop to be recommended to the Prime Minister who presents this to the Queen.
It was announced on 3 March that the 99th Bishop of Lichfield would be Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE. The Diocese had its first chance to learn about and meet Bishop Michael on that day as he visited churches and projects in Wolverhampton, Stoke, Market Drayton and Lichfield.
The full ancient and legal process that installs and empowers a diocesan bishop is complicated - as described in part here - but the final part is the joyful Installation and Enthronement in his Cathedral towards the end of the 'Season of Welcome' during which he endeavoured to meet as many people as possible around the Diocese.
The Season of Welcome had two main elements: over nine evenings, he visited, prayed with and was prayed for in churches in all parts of the diocese; and over the three days immediately before his enthronement, he along with many others walked a significant portion of the Two Saints Way between Stoke and Lichfield.
Following the formal Service of Installation and Enthronement - which involved representatives from the Diocese, the wider Church of England and civic society - there was a celebratory Procession of Witness around the City of Lichfield leading back to the Cathedral in time for a Eucharist for parishes from across the Diocese. On the following day there was a particular emphasis on the links the Diocese of Lichfield has with other Dioceses and churches around the world - and as well as representatives from our Companion Dioceses, all continents were represented with an old friend of +Michael's, +Laurence Yutaka Minabe from Japan; +Ross Bay from New Zealand (and successor to +Selwyn, missionary to the Pacific, first bishop of New Zealand and later bishop of Lichfield) and another from Bolivia.
Below are a number of short videos from the Season of Welcome, including +Michael's three sermons from the weekend.