What a wonderful evening it was! An example of how you can have pageantry, tradition, community, worship, informality and the presence of the Holy Spirit all at the same time and in the same place. A wonderful snap shot of the spirituality of the Itchen Valley at its very best!
The procession was led by Richard Hunt as crucifer, and (in order of processing) included Revd Amanda Grant and Revd David Chattell representing the Deanery Clergy, LLM Gerry Stacey and Revd Alex Pease, Revd Phil Collins as Rural Dean, Barbara Griffiths as Lay Chair of the Deanery Synod, the Queen’s representative and our new Rector, The Ven. Dr. Peter Rouch Archdeacon of Bournemouth, the church wardens with their staves of office: Charlotte Appleby, Anna Burness, Andrew Impey, Sara Janssen, Isobel Pinder and Chris Wilson, the Bishop of Basingstoke and Revd Rebecca Fardell acting as Bishop’s chaplain.
We robed in a wonderful reception room at Frits and Sara Janssen’s home Dymoke House overlooked by an old oil painting of a man in a cassock, who looked to be very like the Rector of the Parish before Revd Andrew Micklefield – Revd Jonathan Cruikshank, benevolently, as it seemed to me, looking down on proceedings.
After assembling for a photograph and being led in prayers by Bishop David Williams, we walked slowly towards the church whilst the bell ringers, led by Judy Bishop, released some wonderful peals across the Valley.
In his welcome, Bishop David managed to give real substance to the whole occasion whilst maintaining a sense of informality as well – which was totally appropriate to the occasion and to the Valley.
Some wonderful hymns were played with gusto by John Purver and sung out with enthusiasm by the congregation: Be thou my vision, Amazing Grace, Before the throne of God above, Tell out my soul and Thine be the glory.
The reading, 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2, was beautifully read by Jane Anderson. Bishop David Williams then gave a sermon on the theme of the Mind of Christ.
The Patron, in the form of the Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire Dr Pearl Hettiaratchy acting as representative of HM the Queen, presented Amanda to the Bishop to take up her new post with the formality born of hundreds of years of history. This was so apparent when Dr Hettiaratchy read out the letters patent for Amanda’s appointment which were written in a formal English which must surely even have preceded Cranmer!
The Archdeacon administered the two oaths – one of loyalty to the Queen and the other of Canonical obedience to the Bishop of Winchester and then Bishop David instituted Amanda in the ‘Cure of Souls’ for the Parish of Itchen Valley.
Then followed the induction and installation which involved the Churchwardens and Archdeacon leading the Rector designate around the church building: to the church door; where she received the keys to the parish churches; to the belfry where she tolled the bell to indicate the start of her ministry in the parish and thence to chancel step where she was placed in her stall – literally ‘installed’. Amanda was also commissioned by the Bishop as Deanery Discipleship Adviser to Alresford Deanery a post which will occupy one day a week of her time.
Then a number of symbols of ministry were brought up to be received by Amanda and placed on the altar: a jug of water by Robin Greenwood; a prayer book by Sarah Shirley; a Bible by Theo Mezger; Oil by Sara Mason; Wine by Jessica Cragg; Bread by Jessica Duke and a bell by Judy Bishop.
The Lay Chair of Alresford Deanery then welcomed her and led the very many institutions in the Valley in welcoming her as well.
The newly appointed Rector then led us in intercessory prayer and announced that she will be leading worship at 8am, 10am and 6pm on Sunday 12th April.
The Bishop closed proceedings with a blessing and the procession made its way out of the church.
And then the pews were stacked (yes it is possible to have such pews and we do have them in St Mary’s Easton), the floor was cleared and Itchen Valley showed the hospitality for which it is famous:
Thank you so much to all those who organised the evening – particularly to Anna Burness who masterminded it all. So many people were involved – particularly those who produced the 900+ canapés led by Jill Croft (from her wheelchair). Thank you to Andrew Impey for organising the wine; to Chris Ellis and H for the sound system; to Sophie Jackson for the photos; to Simon Ffennell and Patrick Appleby for organising car parking and Frits and Sara for their great hospitality at Dymoke House before and after the service.
Anna Burness writes: “a special medal to David Poole who helped me get it all set up and this morning he and Christopher took all the chairs back to Itchen Abbas and Di Wilson , who helped me to re-convert St Mary’s from a banqueting hall to a church”
A wonderful Valley evening! And a great start to the new era…..
Revd Alex Pease