Bring a purple candle to Thatcham to celebrate new bishop

The Bishop of Stockport, The Revd Libby Lane Kippa Matthews

To celebrate the installation of the first female Bishop in the Church of England, the Archdeacon of Berkshire will lead a special Candlemas service on Sunday at St Mary’s Church in Thatcham – and if you’re coming you’re asked to bring a purple candle.

The Archdeacon, the Venerable Olivia Graham, will lead the service and the retired Archdeacon of Northampton, the Venerable Christine Allsopp will preach. The service starts at 7.30pm on Sunday, February 2.

The idea for the service came when the Revd Marion Fontain, of the Thatcham Team Ministry, made three purple candles back in November 2012, when the women bishop’s legislation was expected to be passed at the November General Synod.

The Revd Mark Bennet, who has been a member of Women and the Church, (WATCH), since 2006, said: “We dedicated the candles and they have been in our chapel ever since, waiting for women to be consecrated as bishops.

“When Libby Lane’s appointment was announced we decided to have a service and celebrate. It’s an open invitation to everyone and we are asking people to, if they can, bring a purple candle.”

The Revd Libby Lane’s appointment was announced just before Christmas, to the delight of supporters of women bishops.

The acting Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, said: “The announcement that Libby Lane has been appointed as the next Bishop of Stockport will, I know, bring much joy to many people both in this diocese and throughout the Church of England. As one of the eight women who has been regularly attending the House of Bishops’ meetings over recent months I have come to value her contributions very much indeed and I look forward to working with her in the coming years.

“I am delighted too that the five principles worked out by the House of Bishops will also ensure that those, such as the recently appointed Bishop of Burnley, who disagree with the development of having women bishops, will also retain their honoured place within the Church of England.”

St Mary’s Thatcham is at Church Gate, Thatcham RG19 3PN. For more details, log on to its website.