Bishop of Norwich enthroned
9 November 2019
On Saturday 9 November in a cathedral packed with 1,800 people, the Rt Revd Graham Usher was enthroned as the seventy-second Bishop of Norwich in a service rich with symbolism.
Entering into a history that stretches back another four centuries beyond the foundation of this Diocese of Norwich, Bishop Graham was welcomed, placed into the Bishop’s seat and anointed for ministry.
He was brought to the Cathedral by horse and a 19th-century carriage, organised by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association and Harveys Shires. This symbolised the significant part that agriculture and rural life play in the life of the County and Diocese.
As the first hymn ended, the Bishop struck the Great West Door three times with his pastoral staff. As the doors opened, the organist played a composition by Sefton Cottom (1928-2011) written especially for Bishop Graham and Rachel’s wedding, twenty-three years ago to the day.
The Bishop was welcomed at the Great West Door, where he affirmed his legal duties within the church, the nation and this Diocese. He then began his pilgrimage through the Cathedral.
Stopping first at the Font where the Christian’s journey begins, he affirmed his Christian faith. From there he moved to the Nave Sanctuary where he preached his first sermon as Bishop of Norwich in the Cathedral.
“Vision and gladness and hope are what this ancient place of prayer and all 650 churches in our Diocese stand for; treasure troves of their communities’ memory and imagination, marking the making and breaking points of human existence. Fonts of living water stirring new life. Holy ground hallowing vows of marriage. Resting places where the mournful are held in God’s gentle hands. Palaces of prayer and hospitals of healing, libraries of learning and cafes of chatter. Crucibles where salt is made, light is generated, and the prayer of silence meets the silence of prayer – all more than we can ever dare imagine.
“I pray that finding such life in all its abundance in Jesus Christ will be what is ‘normal for Norfolk’. Seeking to tell others how Christ has surprised and heartened us on the way will be ‘normal for Norfolk’. As it will be to hear him saying ‘This is my body, broken for you,’ every time bread is shared; ‘This is my blood, shed for you’ every time we raise a glass; ‘normal for Norfolk’ that every dining table, every kitchen table serves as Christ’s altar.” (see link below for full sermon text)
After his sermon, he moved eastwards again to be anointed for this new ministry and clothed with the vestments used by the Bishop in the Cathedral.
In a long-standing tradition, The Archdeacon of Canterbury The Ven Jo Kelly-Moore, on behalf of the Archbishop, placed the Bishop in the Bishop’s throne and asked God’s blessing upon him.
Bishop Graham was then placed into his stall in the Choir of the Cathedral, surrounded by the Cathedral Chapter and the College of Canons who prayed for him as he begins his ministry. Following this, Bishop Graham greeted other Christian leaders and leaders and members of other faiths together with civic leaders.
Returning to the High Altar, he was joined by children with lighted candles representing schools across the Diocese who commissioned him and accompanied him on his journey through the Cathedral.
The Bishop mingled with the guests at the end of the service while refreshments were served. Individual honey cakes had been made by Jarrold’s of Norwich, using honey from Bishop Graham’s bees (pollinated in Dudley, made in Norwich!).