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The new Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones, was officially welcomed by the local Church and wider community, at a special service in Rochester Cathedral that took place on Sunday 2 September.
You can read Bishop Simon's address here.
Following his consecration as a bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury at St Paul's Cathedral earlier in July, Simon - the former Archdeacon of Rochester and a self-confessed Simpsons and West Wing fan - was formerly welcomed as a bishop within the Diocese of Rochester, which represents the Church of England in north west Kent, Medway and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley.
The occasion saw him installed into his bishop’s ‘seat’, which is known as a ‘cathedra’ and where the word ‘cathedral’ originates.
Large numbers of people from across the region attended, including senior clergy, ordained and lay ministers, as well as other local civic dignitaries. The service was presided over by the Rt Rev James Langstaff, the Bishop of Rochester.
Simon also received three items to symbolise his office as bishop: an episcopal ring, a pastoral staff and a pectoral cross. All were made by local craftsman Andrew Lapthorn, who is based at Chatham Dockyards.
Two of the items were crafted from 4,500-year-old ‘bog wood’ and Simon was personally involved in their design, incorporating within them symbols of significance to him, that he explains in three short films.
Originally from Lancashire, Simon says he is excited to be able to serve others as Bishop of Tonbridge: “Kent has been my adopted county for over twenty years and we have brought our children up here. Having received so much from its people, I can continue to give something back and contribute to the well-being of its different communities.”
Speaking to a group of secondary school pupils recently about the role of a bishop, he explained it as being like the lead singer of a rock group: “You’re like the front man of a band, setting the tone for everyone else and bringing them along with you. It’s a bit like being Dave Grohl – if my children can forgive me for saying that!”
As Bishop of Tonbridge, Simon will focus on evangelism and growth. He will also have oversight and leadership of education, youth and children, as well as community engagement work among churches across the Diocese of Rochester.