The new Rector of Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham, the Rev Mike Smith, started his new ministry with a licensing service, led by the Rt Rev Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading, and the Ven Olivia Graham, Archdeacon of Berkshire, at St Peter’s Church, Caversham on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon in March.
A large congregation from the three churches of the parish were joined by Mike Smith’s former boss, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, and by three more bishops: the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, the former Bishop of Hulme, who was Mike Smith’s bishop in Manchester for eight years, the Rt Rev Christopher Boyle, Assistant Bishop of Leicester, and the Rt Rev Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford, together with a number of clergy from the local area.
After the introduction and greeting by the Bishop of Reading, the new rector was introduced and commended to the congregation by the Bishop of Leicester. The Ven Martin Gorick, Archdeacon of Oxford, one of the committee who selected Mike for the position, presented him to be instituted and inducted. The members of the ministry team, Revs Jeremy Tear, Marion Pike and John Dudley, welcomed Mike to the team, and undertook to work together in fulfilling the ministry of Christ.
Following the sermon by the bishop, the choir sang the anthem ‘To thee, O lord’ by Rachmaninov. The liturgy of Institution was performed, during which six symbols of ministry were presented to the new rector: water for baptism, oil of healing, a bible, a copy of Common Worship, bread and wine for the Eucharist, and a map, to help him find his way around the parish. He pledged himself to care for the church community, and to make the church a place where Christian people are equipped for their life in God’s world.
The archdeacon, Ven Olivia Graham, then inducted Mike into the possession of the three churches, with all the rights and responsibilities belonging to them, and a churchwarden presented the keys of the churches to him.
Mike was then welcomed to the parish by representatives of the church and community: Deacon Becky Lovatt (Caversham Methodist Churches), Helen Lambert (chair of CADRA), Ed Hopper (Thames Ward councillor), and churchwardens on behalf of the churches.
Mike’s children presented three token gifts: a picture of a sheep to remind him of the flock he has to tend, a pair of spectacles to help him see the way ahead, and a child’s folded paper game, which opened to reveal some advice for living.
Following the service, all who attended were invited to a reception at the Caversham Canoe Club, where a buffet tea was provided, and everybody had the opportunity to welcome Mike and his family to Caversham.