More than 1,000 people witnessed the new Bishop of Blackburn be officially inaugurated into the diocese on Saturday.
The Rt Rev Julian Tudor Henderson used the occasion at Blackburn Cathedral to declare himself “a very ordinary man”, and demonstrated his humility by leading a procession of 150 clergy members through Blackburn town centre, wearing only a simple cassock.
Although he also broke with tradition by walking alongside his wife Heather, he did carry out the custom of banging a Saxon hammer three times on the cathedral doors to mark his entrance.
During his sermon, Bishop Julian said: “This time last year it was quite impossible to predict all the changes that would be coming to our lives as a family in 2013, not least the invitation for me to serve as the ninth Bishop of Blackburn.”
He joked: “It feels at times this is part of a dream, and one day I will wake up and discover I’m still an archdeacon.”
During the service he spoke of poverty, oppression and violence, as well as the challenges facing the Church of England, including a decline in attendance and the struggle for women to become bishops. Music included Bishop Julian’s favourite hymns, including The Lord’s My Shepherd.
He added: “There are high expectations of leadership that a new bishop will give. Let me assure you from the start that I am a very ordinary man, a sinner like everyone else, who became, in my teens, one of his disciples.
“If you ever see the role I’m given going to my head, take me to one side, because there’s nothing worse than an arrogant minister of the gospel.”
After the service, which included greetings and prayers from members of the community and churches throughout the world, Bishop Julian said: “I feel over-awed, it was a beautiful occasion, with great music, and I’m grateful so many people came to give their time for prayer and support. It’s very daunting. There is a lot of responsibility, but this is not a solo performance – I will be sharing the tasks with a great team.”
Bishop Julian was previously Archdeacon of Dorking, in Surrey, before his appointment as Bishop of Blackburn in March.
He was consecrated by the Archbishop of York, The Most Rev. and Rt Hon. Dr John Sentamu, at a service in York on October 10.