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29 September 2018: OrdinationsA bishop flanked by priests, all robed

This morning my wife and I went to a large church in a nearby village for the ordination as priests of four people we know. The new priests are to serve at four different churches and the church was packed with people from those churches plus their own friends and families. We were there at the invitation of one of them.

In his address the bishop said that priests were to be the shepherds of the people they served but cautioned us all against seeing that in the light of the view we have of today’s shepherds as nice people. In New Testament times they weren’t seen as nice people. They were outcasts. Apart from anything else, they slept with the sheep to protect them at night and consequently smelled as bad as the sheep.

The bishop told the new priests that they too were to be “smelly shepherds”, living with the sheep and protecting them from the evil influences that assail us all in today’s world. The priest was not in an exalted position but alongside those whom he or she served.

The bishop then formally enquired of the archdeacon whether the new priests were prepared for the new roles they were to undertake. He then asked the new priests whether they believed themselves to be called by God to be priests. They had previously declared their belief in the Christian faith as set out in the “historic formularies” of the Church of England. (I had to do the same when I became a Reader in 1979.)

All the robed priests took part with the bishop in the ordination of their new colleagues. The ordinations were followed by Holy Communion, during which the new priests handed out the bread.

As you can see from the photograph, after the service the bishop, the new priests and some of their incumbents posed for photographs outside the west door of the church.