I had the privilege of being invited to the Installation of Dame Sarah Mullaly as our new Bishop of London in St Paul’s Cathedral last Saturday (12 May). Bishop Sarah is 56 and was educated in Surrey and London. For five years (from 1999) she was the UK’s Chief Nursing Officer and the NHS’s director of patient experience for England. Recently she has been Bishop of Crediton, a bishop in the Diocese of Exeter. As she mentioned in her sermon, 12 May is a significant day for her as it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale and also marks International Nurses Day.
Several hundred clergy were present including our Area Dean, Richard Frank. As well as various representatives of the City of London, the Masters and Prime Wardens of many livery companies processed in their finery to their seats under the dome. Bishop Sarah struck the Great West Door three times with her pastoral staff and the door was then opened to permit her to enter. The main procession, which included Archdeacon Stephan and Bishop Graham, moved through the nave to “Christ is made the sure foundation”. It was quite an emotional (and historic) moment to see our first woman Bishop of London, who was literally beaming with joy.
After the legal parts of the service, the Dean of St Paul’s, Very Rev David Ison, said “Brothers and sisters in Christ, I present to you Sarah, our Bishop, duly installed as Bishop of London” to which there was rapturous applause which continued for around one minute.
Bishop Sarah’s sermon was on the theme of “being subversive for Christ,” taken from John 21 – the story set by the sea of Tiberius of Jesus calling Peter into a new ministry. In her sermon, Bishop Sarah said “Today as I respond to the call of Christ to a new ministry I recall my first calling to follow Christ; to know him and make him known to the world. In the words of St Augustine ‘For you I am your Bishop but with you I am a Christian.’”
Bishop Sarah ended her sermon with the words “A church which is rooted in scripture and tradition but not afraid to reimagine the future. This is the sort of church and community that I believe the Lord has called me to assist in fostering, here in this Diocese. Will you join me?”
Bishop Sarah, photo taken from London.anglican.org