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Christopher Chessun enthroned as tenth Bishop of Southwark

London SE1 website team

Southwark's new Anglican bishop was enthroned at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday afternoon.

Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun pictured outside Southwark Cathedral before the service
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
Bishop Christopher received an icon of St Paul as a gift from the Bishop of London
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
The Bishops of Southwark and London met at the centre of London Bridge
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
Bishop Christopher knocked three times on the cathedral door with his pastoral staff
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
After the service the new bishop blessed the city and the diocese from the steps in Cathedral Square. He is flanked by the bishops of Kingston and Croydon, and the megaphone is held by the new bishop's chaplain, Revd Mark Steadman
Most Revd Peter Smith
Ecumenical guests included Most Revd Peter Smith, RC Archbishop of Southwark

Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, previously Bishop of Woolwich, was named as Southwark's new diocesan bishop in October 2010. He succeeds Rt Revd Tom Butler who retired a year ago.

Before the service Bishop Christopher met the Bishop of London, Rt Revd Richard Chartres, in the middle of London Bridge where the two dioceses meet. They exchanged gifts and affirmed their commitment to working together across London.

Just after 3pm the new bishop knocked three times on the cathedral's south west door with his crosier. The acting dean, Canon Andrew Nunn, replied "Let the doors be opened" and the bishop was able to step into the building.

The enthronement ceremony, which took place during Choral Evensong, brought together representatives of national and civic life, other faiths and the many places and peoples whose ministry Bishop Christopher has touched, including Southwark’s link dioceses in Zimbabwe. The four bishops from these dioceses were present at the service.

Mayors from across the diocese, which covers south London and east Surrey, were present for the service. They included Southwark Mayor Tayo Situ and Lambeth Mayor Dr Neeraj Patil.

The first lesson was read by the Mayor of Southwark using the Authorised Version of the Bible in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the translation undertaken with the help of Lancelot Andrews who is buried in the cathedral.

Southwark Council's leader Cllr Peter John, chief executive Annie Shepperd and Cathedrals ward councillor Geoffrey Thornton were among the congregation.

Parliamentarians whose constituencies are in Southwark diocese were also present, including Simon Hughes MP and Streatham's Chuka Umunna.

Ecumenical guests included the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark Most Revd Peter Smith, Canon James Cronin, dean of St George's Cathedral and Rt Revd Paul Hendricks, Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop in Southwark.

"Fast flowing, vibrant and exciting"

"Southwark is one of the largest dioceses in the Church of England with three episcopal areas of Woolwich, Kingston and Croydon, 25 parliamentary constituencies and 16 local authorities of which 12 are London boroughs," said the bishop in his sermon. "The diocese is served by nearly 750 licensed clergy and readers."

"People look to Southwark as a diocese for a confident expression of Christian discipleship. It is my hope that boldness will always be matched by generosity and mutual love.

"Like the River Thames, life is fast flowing, vibrant and exciting in this diocese with the river as many of you will know forming our northern boundary."

Welcoming the presence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark "from the other Southwark cathedral", Bishop Christopher said: "I pledge myself, and take this opportunity publicly to do so, of my continuing commitment to the ecumenical journey which I have always valued very highly."

Describing it as a journey towards unity with many companions along the way, he added: "It is the will of Our Lord that we should be one and remains a scandal to the world until this has been achieved."

Applause broke out when Bishop Christopher mentioned the presence of four Zimbabwean bishops and praised their ministry carried out in ther face of "continuing harassment and intimidation".

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