Capital says goodbye to Bishop of London in farewell service

London said goodbye to the 132nd Bishop of London last night at a Candlemas service held at St Paul’s Cathedral, celebrating Bishop Richard’s thirty-three years of ministry in London.

Before beginning the formal service, the Bishop and a procession of 200 clergy welcomed crowds at a ‘pop-up’ cathedral in Paternoster Square. The Bishop told the crowd “I began life as an ink monitor in a primary school. I retire in a digital world. It’s a long distance from steel nibs and copperplate to smart apps and the Twittersphere, but it gives us an opportunity of communicating”, before sending his first tweet:

The invitation to post social media messages of praise and thanks had the event hashtag #BF2L trending at 9th place in the UK, while a live report by BBC London News emphasised the growth that the church in London has seen during Bishop Richard’s tenure.

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While the service took place inside the cathedral, over 200 people watched highlights and took part in parallel acts of worship at the pop-up cathedral led by the Bishop of Edmonton, Rob Wickham, the Archdeacon of London, Luke Miller, and the Revd Pete Hughes. Holy Communion was shared by everyone inside and outside the cathedral as the whole body of Christ comes together with the Bishop.

During the service the Bishop handed over his Crozier – the hooked staff he carries as a symbol of his office – to the Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, who will be Acting Bishop of London until a new appointment is made. Bishop Pete delivered a farewell tribute.

Bishop Richard gave his valedictory sermon which discussed his time as Bishop and the team he has assembled in London. He also spoke of the need to tackle climate change, and embrace difference and diversity. In particular, he called on the church to remember its identity in a post-denominational, multi-polar world, saying “we are simply Christians seeking to serve the world in a spirit of humility. Jesus Christ, as our second lesson reminded us, teaches that the first step in becoming a mature human being is to refuse to be a little god. He came in the form of a servant and so should we.

The farewell service was attended by clergy from across London and the UK, as well as by a number of visiting bishops and clergy from across the world. Guests included the Archbishop of Westminster; the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, the Primate of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Bishop Jovan of Slavonia, and the Secretary of the Methodist Conference. There were also representatives of the Bishop of Berlin, the Diocese of New York, and the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.

Following the end of the service, Bishop Richard came to the West Doors of the cathedral and blessed the capital and its population one last time, a mirror of the blessing he performed when he was first installed as Bishop of London.