The day began with the Ven Dr Jane Steen introducing herself to a Year 5 “bubble” of pupils at Whitefriars Primary Church of England Academy in King’s Lynn. While there she answered some of their questions, took part in their Collective Worship, and had a chat with a few of them outside. She was also warmly welcome by the school’s dog, Poppy!
One of the pupils asked her how she was feeling about being the first female bishop in Norfolk. Jane responded that she was excited and hoped others would be too, but that it was important to remember that both women and men can serve as bishops. Another pupil asked if it was stressful being a bishop. Her response: “Well, I’m not actually a bishop yet, but I guess it’s a bit like you might feel just before your birthday party: a little bit worried, but looking forward to the fun!”
After conducting a number of interviews with local media, Jane led the Midday Office at King’s Lynn Minster and met some of the local clergy and civic leaders.
In the afternoon, Jane met Paul and Tracy Richards on their small holding, Manor Farm, to be shown around. Paul is a Churchwarden at Little Dunham and spoke about sustainable farming and rural issues.
“The environment, animal welfare, and high-quality food are really important to us so we work hard to ensure our own food is produced in a caring and ethical way. We have mixed rare breed chickens, Ryland sheep, and Norfolk Black turkeys who are all bred and reared on the smallholding and we get weaners annually from another smallholder who breeds award-winning Berkshire Black pigs.”
After that, it was a trip to the coast at Blakeney Parish church, where Jane had a chance to sit and enjoy a delicious afternoon tea and meet with parishioners who either help to run or who benefit from the enormously popular breakfast and lunch events that usually run in non-COVID times. Jane heard about the important role they play in combatting loneliness and creating community among a wide age range. They’re looking forward to getting them up and running again. The welcome she received was as warm as the much-needed cup of tea!
Then it was off to the Bishop’s Garden to meet some of the senior staff in the Diocese of Norwich before ending a long, busy, varied, and welcoming day with Evensong at Norwich Cathedral.
Speaking about the visits, Jane said: “I was thrilled to spend the day in the area in which I will minister. This is a part of Norfolk with fantastic clergy, laity, churches and schools and I am so much looking forward to being part of it all.”