Delight and joy as new Bishop of Bath and Wells tours the diocese

29th April 2022

On the day the it was announced that he was to become the 80th Bishop of Bath and Wells, Bishop Michael spent the day in the diocese. He met with a variety of people, undertook media interviews along the way in his ten hour day which saw him visit events in each of the three Archdeaconries and cover 84 miles in the process.

He started with morning prayers and breakfast with colleagues at St Mary’s Church in Bridgwater. There was time to introduce himself before taking a few selfies with those in the café who had come in early to make breakfast. 

  

It was then on to St Mary’s Church of England School in Bridgwater, where he was introduced to Headteacher Morwenna Dunstan and shown round the school by a group of year six pupils. The children said Bishop Michael was “Very friendly, he looks like a joyful person and just looks really cool. He's quite tall and looks like he might be good at running.” “He’s really nice, I think he’ll do quite well as the bishop.” Fist bumps with the children as he headed out of the door and Bishop Michael was on to his next stop.

Little Bankland, North Newton is a farm on the Somerset Levels owned by Richard and Carol Jenkins. Richard and Carol, their son Andrew and members of the farming community joined Rob Walrond, Deanery and Parish Development Adviser, Lorna Hasell chaplain to Junction 24 livestock market, and Rev Preb Jane Haslam, Area Dean of Sedgmoore, gathered to meet Bishop Michael and talk to him about the concerns of the farming community in Somerset. “It was great to meet him. He listened to the things that we are worried about and understands farming in Somerset as his wife’s family are farmers in the county.”

 

It was then down the motorway to St John’s Highbridge, where Bishop Michael, an epidemiologist and part of the Archbishopship’s covid response task force, was shown the Community Covid Art installation. 500 origami butterflies, created by artist Sami Green, and made by members of the Highbridge community. Speaking after the visit to St John's one of those who helped make some of the origami butterflies said, “The new bishop is lovely, I’m quite honoured to have met him today.” Bishop Michael also chatted with Rob and Trish Munday who used their narrow boat as a Covid vaccination clinic for boaters and Revd Scott Patterson who, with his wife Rowan, set up Twin my Vaccine.

 
Then it was off to Weston College to meet staff and students. Bishop Michael chatted with a group of students about faith and science. They also had some challenging questions for him. A Level student, Greg, said: “It was interesting meeting the new Bishop. He gave us an understanding of his role and answered questions we had about his religion.” Bishop Michael and those with him were treated to lunch cooked by the students from the college catering course. Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of the Weston College Group, said of the visit: “It was a pleasure to welcome Bishop Michael. From his visit it was clear how involved he is going to be with the local community, which is fantastic to see.” 

  

The next destination on Bishop Michael’s whistle-stop tour of the diocese was St Andrew’s in Cheddar, where he took time to talk and pray with those who are part of a deanery wide plan to provide wraparound care for Ukrainian refugees; everything from offering a home to stay in, taking people out for the day, teenage befrienders, meals and lifts. Bishop Michael praised their determination, passion and patience as they work together to support those in need and prayed with them for peace in Ukraine. 

  

Last but not least, Wells. At Flourish House he met support staff, was treated to tea and cake and spoke of his delight at becoming the new bishop for the diocese and how much he was looking forward to getting to know everyone and to working with them.

 

Bishop Michael ended a long and busy day with Evensong at Wells Cathedral where he was welcomed and prayed for. Afterwards there was an opportunity to meet the Cathedral Chapter, the Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset Mrs Annie Maw, the High Sherriff of Somerset Mrs Jennifer Duke and the Mayor of Wells. He also took time to talk to some of those attending the Cathedral’s Organ Fundraising appeal before heading home.

 

 

Read the announcement

We've captured some of the lovely tweets welcoming Bishop Michael and some of the images people shared throughout the day.

For more photos visit the Bath and Wells Facebook Page.

Bishop Michael was interviewed by BBC Bristol's Lucy Tegg on her Sunday show on 1 May. Listen again at 2hrs 37mins in on BBC Sounds.