The Ordination of Tessa Stephens

Tessa with Bishop James at Ripon Cathedral

Sunday 4th July 2010 was a memorable day for the parish. A new assistant curate. A coach trip. Our destination - the Cathedral Church of St Peter & St Wilfrid, Ripon. 

It was also a huge step along the road of faith and commitment for Tessa as curate. To be ordained deacon – a life of dedication and service to Christ.

  Two differing journeys but each well planned and prepared for.

For the parish, the journey got off to a good start as 31 of us departed from St Cuthbert’s church. We were very happy that the Mayor of Colburn and her predecessor were with us for this special occasion. Colburn Town Council had most generously paid for the coach.

We arrived an hour early for the 10.30 service, allowing time to take in the beauty of the ancient building and to welcome the Head Teacher of Hipswell C of E Primary School who joined us in support of Tessa. Nearby, Tessa’s husband, daughter and other family members had front row seats. Soon the cathedral began to fill with families and people from other parishes, equally eager to witness the ordination of their own candidate.

The well chosen hymn, All my hope on God is founded, heralded the start of the service as six candidates for ordination were borne along by the colourful procession entering from the west door.  

The Archdeacon presented each ordinand to James, Bishop of Knaresborough, and all six confirmed their belief that God is calling them to this ministry. The Registrar then declared that each had taken the necessary oaths and made the Declaration of Assent and the Bishop led us in prayer.

During this part of the service one of our very own churchwardens had made her way silently around the back of the cathedral to climb the metal steps of the pulpit. From here she had the great privilege of giving the New Testament reading from the letter of Paul to the Corinthians [Corinthians 4:1-12] before returning to her place during the hymn O thou who camest from above.

After the Gospel reading [Mark 10:35-45] the Reverend Nicholas Henshall, Vicar of Christ Church High Harrogate, gave a lively sermon. His message of encouragement for the candidates made it clear that from now onwards their whole life must be dedicated to showing the love of God to a world in need.

Bishop James repeated this theme many times during the remainder of the service, which continued with the ordinands standing before him to make the required declarations. Given the command to pray earnestly for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the ordinands knelt and silence was kept.

The Reverend Peter Clement, Diocesan Director of Ordinands then led the Litany - a series of petitions to which we all responded. The Bishop prayed and laid his hands on the head of each ordinand, after urging the congregation to add our own silent prayer for each one.

After being ceremoniously vested in their stoles, tied at the left side, each was then presented with a Bible by the Bishop with the words, “Receive this book, as a sign of the authority given you this day to speak God’s word to his people. Build them up in his truth and serve them in his name”. Then we heartily welcomed the newly ordained Deacons as fellow servants in the gospel and greeted them with a round of applause. Even better was the moment when we could greet and congratulate Tessa personally during the Peace. Her young daughter seemed to like that time best, too!

To round off this wonderful service, the whole congregation was invited to receive bread and wine during the Eucharist that followed. Our vicar, Reverend Jan helped with the serving. The cathedral choir sounded heavenly as they sang Sanctus and Benedictus. The Communion hymn was Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour, and during the final hymn, God is Love: let heav’n adore him, the Bishop led the clergy procession away.

It was almost time for us to be on our way, too but not before gathering for a little light refreshment and taking a last look round the wonderful cathedral. Such a delightful start to the day - but it wasn’t over yet!

The coach returned our slightly tired yet elated group back to Colburn for the post-ordination party. We trooped into the church hall, made ourselves comfortable and admired the wonderful banquet that was being spread before us by a well-organised team of helpers.   When Tessa arrived, Reverend Jan formally welcomed her and presented her with gifts from the parish. These included a stole, flowers, and a special cake that Tessa ceremoniously cut and shared with us. After generous applause we tucked into the sumptuous spread before us and agreed that a good time was had by all.

 Tessa – we welcome you. We promise to pray for you, and we hope that you will be very happy among us.  God bless you!

A full photo gallery of the day's events is available by clicking on the 'Photos' page from the side menu

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The Ordination of Tessa Stephens
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