Welcome service for Bishop-Designate of Dorchester joined by over 300 people online

2 March 2021

Over 300 people online and a handful of onsite key staff from the diocese marked the arrival of the Venerable Gavin Collins, Bishop-Designate of Dorchester, in a special service of welcome livestreamed on Sunday.

In a break from tradition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop-Designate Gavin has been unable to be consecrated Bishop of Dorchester and has been licensed by the Bishop of Oxford as an Episcopal Vicar for the Dorchester Episcopal Area, allowing him to begin his ministry in the diocese. It is hoped that he will be consecrated as Bishop of Dorchester at Lambeth Palace on 14 April.

Gavin used the Gospel reading from Mark 8 to illustrate the less-than-straightforward process of his consecration;

“At the risk of taking Scripture out of context, that question from Jesus: “Who do people say that I am?” feels wonderfully appropriate for me today, as we mark the start of my ministry with you here in the Diocese of Oxford and the Dorchester Episcopal area. As we know, thanks to the lockdown, the answer to the question isn’t quite as straightforward as we’d expected it to be… In fact, there were three of us due to be consecrated together as suffragan bishops last month, all now starting our ministry on an interim or limited basis, and we have set up a WhatsApp group which we’ve dubbed: The Almost Bishop’s Club – It’s a very exclusive club, and we hope and pray one that won’t be in existence for too long!”

Gavin went on to use the Gospel reading, as well as the Old Testament reading from Genesis 17, to exemplify the relationship of commitment between each one of us and God, reminding us that God describes his covenant with us –  his commitment to us, his steadfast promise to always be faithful to his people, concluding;

“I watched a video of a church service recently, where a Christian GP was being interviewed about the impact his faith had on his ministry during the pandemic, and the interviewer asked him how he could hold onto his faith in the midst of such incredibly high levels of suffering and death.

His response was that he didn’t see how people managed to keep going who didn’t have a living faith to support them. He said that sometimes people accuse Christianity of just being a crutch, something we lean on to get us through life, but he said that he didn’t see it like that, but rather that his faith was like a climbing pole that a hiker uses, something that enables them to go further, and be stronger, and faster, than they’d be able to do alone.

And that’s what Jesus gives us – a call to a life that is very realistic, and that at times can be very hard, difficult, painful and tough. But a life that is following the path that Jesus has walked before us – that Jesus has walked for us – and that, as he said to his disciples at the end of our reading here – a path that leads ultimately and securely to the glory of resurrection life with God.

Gavin is now working to a full diary, meeting people online, leading and supporting the area team of Dorchester and engaging with the wider community and diocese.

The Rt Revd Gavin Collins was consecrated as the Bishop of Dorchester at a special service at Lambeth Palace in April 2021.