Five pupils from St John’s CofE Primary School, Dorking, were given front row seats when the new Bishop of Dorking was consecrated at Canterbury Cathedral on Wednesday (June 29).
The pupils aged 7 -11 were issued with special invites after the appointment of new bishop, the Rt Revd Jo Wells, was announced at their Goodwyns Road academy in March.
Realising that the children’s view was obscured, cathedral staff ushered the pupils to the front where they sat on the floor for a perfect view of the service which was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Revd Justin Welby.
Afterwards the pupils were photographed with Bishop Jo and the Archbishop who said he was thrilled the children could be there to support their new bishop.
Headteacher Mark Richards, who accompanied the children together with teacher Mrs Debbie Harrison, said: “What an incredible experience it was for us all. The children felt so welcome and special. To be there and witness the consecration first hand was an unforgettable experience.
“The seats were first come first served and so we started off on the back row.
“When the Archbishop came in he gave us a smile as he walked past and Jo gave us a big smile and a wave and that was so special in itself. But then it just got better and the children were taken up to the very front and to the altar so they could see the service right before their eyes.
“St John’s school is thrilled to have been able to welcome Bishop Jo and be part of her journey towards taking up her new role. We wish her every blessing.”
During the service Jo formally become bishop, and was anointed with oils as well as being presented with of a copy of the Holy Bible, an episcopal ring, a pectoral cross and a pastoral staff.
The pupils who made the trip were Samuel Naing (6), Grace Rivers (9), Karol Sadlisz (9), Maia Ciolac (10) and Noah Cripps (11).
Karol and Maia had both met Bishop Jo before when she washed their feet at St John’s School as part of Maundy Thursday celebrations on the day of her announcement. Karol said: “It was a once in a lifetime day in Canterbury.”
Noah added: “The service was quite long and there was lots in it, but it was well worth it. What an awesome day.”
The Bishop of Dorking is a ‘suffragan’ or assistant bishop in the Diocese of Guildford, who supports the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, in leading the whole diocese which covers much of Surrey and north east Hampshire.