On Sunday 1st July 1990, in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban, (to give what is commonly known as ‘St. Alban’s Cathedral’ its correct, full name), I was ordained priest by the then Bishop of St. Albans, Rt Rev’d John B. Taylor. Therefore this coming Wednesday will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of that significant day. So with today being the nearest Sunday to the anniversary, within our Eucharist at St. Clement’s this morning, I renewed my ordination promises or vows.
In the absence of a bishop, I arranged for Licensed Reader Jack Noonan & American Presbyterian Minister Karen Moritz, to once more ask the questions that were put to me within that Ordination Service twenty-five years ago. I found it both moving and challenging even when putting together the printed text for today’s service. All the more so, as I responded to each question in front of the St. Clement’s congregation this morning. If you want to know what exactly is asked at an ordination service, go here and scroll down to ‘The Liturgy of Ordination’.
After I had responded to the questions and had also received the loud support of the congregation, promising to both pray for me and to continue to uphold and encourage me in my ministry, I knelt and we sang the ancient hymn Veni Creator Spiritus – ‘Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire’, which is when the photograph at the beginning of this post was taken. Karen then led us in intercession, using the form of intercession from the ordination service.
Whilst I was warmly greeted when sharing the Peace, what I wasn’t expecting was what occurred just before the end of the service. In advance of the final hymn, I was giving the notices when both of the Churchwardens got up, wishing to also make an announcement. There followed an effusive eulogy written and spoken by Churchwarden Stephen Weeks, the text of which I was later told, had been approved by fellow Churchwarden Gordon Truefitt and gained the blessing of Jack Noonan. I was then given a most humbling long standing ovation by the congregation.
This afternoon, I have been searching through two boxes that sit in my office, famously ‘waiting to be sorted’, trying to find a photograph of me standing before St. Alban’s Cathedral in cassock, surplice and stole on that special day. Unfortunately, I’ve drawn a blank. But below is a scan of the legal document confirming my ordination, signed and sealed by Bishop John. I do love the line, ‘Of whose sufficient learning and godly conversation We were assured’ 🙂