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Churches greet new minister

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: May 23, 2007

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THE Bishop of Derby set his congregation a riddle at Ashbourne on Saturday, of how to text a message explaining the service at St Oswald’s parish Church and the meaning of life.

In summary that message was 23-10-69.

Preaching at the licensing of the Rev Geraldine Pond as Priest-in-charge of Ashbourne with Mappleton with Ashbourne St John, the Bishop, the Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, promised to return to the answer.

Before that he welcomed Geraldine, husband Nick and family and explained that he and Geraldine had been colleagues "in a previous life". She was, he said "of the highest calibre, able and very experienced" and he was delighted she was joining them.

He also welcomed to share in the service, Dr Enos Das Pradham, Secretary General of the Church of North India – the Derby Diocese’s 30-year link would be celebrated the next day.

The Bishop thanked all in the parishes who had maintained the work and witness of the churches during the long vacancy and promised Geraldine she would be surrounded by people who worked very hard and were not going to step away now.

So many things were going on that day, the FA Cup final; the country on the cusp of a new Prime Minister and these parishes having a new priest-in-charge.

Taking his text from the reading: "Are you the one", the Bishop said many would be asking this of Geraldine.

Returning to his text message, the Bishop said it was David Beckham who wore shirt number 23 and he was an icon of what football was all about.

"If you say to him "are you the one?" what are we looking at – him as a footballer, father, husband, fashion icon, celebrity, ambassador? The answer is very complicated, for if you say the name Beckham you get all of those answers. Being a human being is a stressful thing and we all wear 23, or whatever, and wonder if we measure up.

"People look at us and put us under pressure. Are you meeting this expectancy or that one. The more complex society gets the more difficult it is to answer are you the one."

Turning to the number 10 of his text message, the Bishop pointed out political people said Gordon Brown would be the next Prime Minister and 10 was a symbol of the Prime Minister.

"We have to live in systems and structure which hold us together. When we look at a Prime Minister we say are you the one. The one to cut taxes, provide better education, grants and pensions. Think of the nightmare of trying to be the person living under the sign of number 10, and the question are you the one, to which there are so many possible answers."

In the real world, everyone lived under 23 and in the political system under number 10.

As to 69, the Bishop said that Geraldine would be the 69th priest at St Oswald’s Church.

During the service she would be going to the font – a reminder that God calls us to be baptised, with everyone having a Christian name.

"Whatever the stresses of being 23, at the core is the person to whom God has given life and a Christian name.

"Geraldine is the 69th priest in this place and will call us to the holy communion which is what this fractured world needs, and at the lectern will teach about the power of forgiveness and new life and to be one community."

In licensing Mrs Pond the Bishop was assisted by the Archdeacon of Derby, the Venerable Dr Christopher J Cunliffe; the Rural Dean, the Rev Christopher Harrison; Registrar Nadine Waldron; and churchwardens of the three churches, Clive Chipchase and Celia Yates (St Oswald’s), Christine Moss and Stuart Miller (St John’s) and Jennifer Radford (St Mary’s Mappleton).

The Bishop’s Chaplain was the Rev Prebendary Derek Tinsley and other robed clergy included the Rev Harold Dobbin, the Rev Christopher Mitchell, the Rev Canon Edmund Urquhart, the Rev Dr Bill Rumball, the Rev Chris Eddy, the Rev Canon Elaine Jones, the Rev David Hewlett, the Rev Stella Langdon-Davies, the Rev Susan Blagdon and the Rev Michelle Massey.

Robed Lay Readers from the area were also in the procession.

During those parts of the service relating to the life and ministry of the people of God, the water was carried by Linda Torr, the Bible by Michael Hyde, and the bread and wine by Paul Elliott and Ruth Daughtry.

The lesson was read by Clive Chipchase, lay chairman of the Deanery synod, and the choir sang the anthem "Rejoice, the Lord is King" by Malcom Archer with the oranists and choirmaster Michael Halls and John Elwell.

The large congregation included the Mayor and Mayoress of Ashbourne, Coun and Mrs Alan Hodkinson; the Vice-Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales, Coun Ken Bull, and Mrs Bull; also Coun Joyce Sanders, chairman of Derbyshire County Council, and Randall Sanders; Inspector Glyn Bevan, officer in charge of Ashbourne Section Derbyshire Police; Dr Roger Wilkes, Headmaster of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, and MrsWilkes; and Rebecca Wood, Head of St Oswald’s CE Infant School. Also there was a party of about 50 from Mrs Pond’s previous parishes.

Following the service refreshments were served in the church hall where a cake welcoming Mrs Pond and her family was served.

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