Suffolk welcomes the new Bishop of Dunwich
Suffolk has welcomed the new Bishop of Dunwich, who will focus on Church growth into the county, during a service attended by hundreds of people at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Saturday.
Young people and adults from churches across the county led prayers and responses during the ceremony at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, on February 27 at which the Rt Revd Dr Mike Harrison was welcomed into his new role.
Bishop Mike, 52, was consecrated as a Bishop at Westminster Abbey in London on February 24 and he came to Bury St Edmunds with his wife, Rachel, and children Suzie, 21, Rebekah, 16, and Sarah, 13. Eighteen-year-old son Nathaniel was unable to attend because he is currently teaching English in South India, during a gap year.
The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, presented the new Bishop with the Dunwich Crozier and said the ceremony was the perfect opportunity for the people of Suffolk to welcome Bishop Mike and his family.
He said: “Mike is committing himself to working with us as we seek to grow in Suffolk. We will grow in our faith, building up our congregations, engaging with young people and their aspirations, and in our service to the wider community.
“Our vision is to grow in depth, numbers, influence and to attract more younger people too. Mike will be a key part of this. It was a wonderful occasion with representatives from across the county and from all walks of life.”
Bishop Mike, who will live at Mendlesham near Stowmarket, is the 10th suffragan bishop and he will work closely with Bishop Martin.
Bishop Mike said: “It’s wonderful to finally arrive here after months of anticipation and I am very grateful for the warmth of the welcome and for the prayers in which I and the family have been held.
“I am aware of joining a diocese steeped in a long and rich history of Christian mission and am greatly looking forward to joining others in this work, not least through the ‘Growing in God’ strategy.
“One of the pieces of advice I hope to embody from a wise retired bishop is being an attentive bishop. There is a danger in coming into a new role of making assumptions from previous work or ministry that are simply inaccurate. So I hope I can listen carefully, encouragingly and deeply, to the movement of the Holy Spirit, to people’s needs, concerns and aspirations, and not make false assumptions. One of the earliest bishops, Ignatius of Antioch, suggested it was the bishop who kept silent who should be especially commended! I imagine that among other things he was getting at this point of being attentive.”
Stowmarket Churches Together Food Bank, Kesgrave Youth Group, Newmarket Town Pastors and recently confirmed worshippers were among those taking part in the service.
The Very Rev Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury, said the new bishop would have particular responsibility for encouraging and enabling the Church’s mission in Suffolk.
She said: ‘‘We pray that Bishop Mike will be inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit as he takes forward the work of God's grace in the Church.”
Bishop Mike was Director of Mission and Ministry in Leicester Diocese. His previous work before he entered the ministry included management consultancy and social work.
He served his curacy in the inner-city London parish of St Anne & All Saints, South Lambeth, where the highlights included refereeing football games between MPs and homeless men from the nearby Bondway hostel. From 1998 until 2006 he was vicar of Holy Trinity, Eltham, set in suburban South London, before taking up the role in the Leicester Diocese.
Pictured above, Bishop Mike Harrison, left, and Bishop Martin Seeley after the ceremony.