A WELCOME service on Saturday marked the official start of the Rt Revd Olivia Graham’s ministry as the Bishop of Reading.
Earlier in what she described as a whirlwind week, Bishop Olivia was consecrated bishop in a service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Read the full story here. Talking to BBC Radio Berkshire, Bishop Olivia described Saturday’s service, which was held at Reading Minster, as a “wonderful occasion.”
“It was very different (to the consecration), but lay people and clergy from all over Berkshire were there and some of my colleagues from the Diocese of Oxford,” said Bishop Olivia. She was delighted that members of the Jewish, Sikh, Muslim and Hindu communities attended, as well as other Christian denominations; Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed, and Roman Catholics.
“We are part of one big faith family, and that is so important, particularly in this day and age where we have got quite a divided society and world,” Bishop Olivia told the presenter, Bridgitte Tetteh, who went on to ask how she felt about being called Bishop. “It’s taken a little bit of getting used to, but it’s such an honour to be stepping into this role that it feels like a huge affirmation every time I hear it,” she added.
Wearing a cope, stole and mitre made by the All Saints Embroidery Group, Bishop Olivia preached at the service for the first time in her episcopal ministry.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, gave her the Reading Crozier. With silver-gilt and adorned with precious stones, the crozier was the gift of the people of the Diocese of Oxford to the first Bishop Suffragan, James Leslie Randall who was consecrated in 1889.
Bishop Steven said: “Be among the people of Berkshire as a shepherd of Christ’s flock, teaching, nurturing, encouraging, advocating for those who are poor and marginalised, confronting injustice and working for righteousness and peace.”
Rhodri Bowen, the Parish Development Advisor for the Berkshire Archdeaconry, read from 1 Timothy Chapter 6. “It was a real privilege to read the passage in that setting to be involved as part of Bishop Olivia’s team,” said Rhodri. “I was at the consecration service at St Paul’s, which was magnificent, but the service in the Minster felt warm and friendly. It was like a family occasion, and there was a real sense of mutual support and collaboration. There were representatives of parishes right across the archdeaconry.”
Alison Jestico, Director of Finance for the Diocese, also attended the service. She said: “It was a lovely service. I enjoyed the opening Taize chants and the sung responses to the prayers.”
View a full photo gallery from the day on our Facebook Page.