More than a thousand people from across the county watched the 'vibrant and colourful' Installation Service of the new Bishop of Blackburn.

Rt Rev. Philip North was announced as the 10th Bishop of Blackburn in January, and this weekend joined civic, community and faith leaders at Blackburn Cathedral for a special service.

For the first time, children who were present were invited to a very special ‘Messy Installation’ in the Cathedral Crypt area.

Organised by the Diocesan Board of Education, it was said to be a fun variation of the well-known ‘Messy Church’ that has grown in popularity in recent years, and it allowed the children present to learn about the Bible and Jesus through play and craft.  

The main service itself (a Eucharist of the Holy Spirit) was sung by the Cathedral Choir alongside the Cathedral Youth Choir as guests first arrived.

This featured children from Langho and Billington St. Leonard's Church of England Primary School; Salesbury Church of England Primary School; St Aidan's Church of England Primary Academy, Blackburn; St. Christopher's Church of England High School, Accrington (Year 7) and St. John's Church of England Primary School, Cliviger.

Bishop Philip, as is tradition for a new Diocesan Bishop, knocked loudly five times on the West Door of the Cathedral with an ancient Saxon hammer before being allowed to enter.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Bishop Philip knocks five times on the West Door of the Cathedral as the Installation Service begins Pictures Clive Lawrence/ Blackburn Diocese

Lancashire Telegraph:

Phoebe, Rosie and Nyla from St John’s CE School, Cliviger in Burnley, put the finishing touches to a special cloak made during the ‘Messy Installation’ and worn during the procession of children by Bishop Philip.

He was met by three young people from St Luke's Church in Blackburn, Ollie, Lacey and Kenzie, who offered greetings and led the moment of welcome alongside with the entire congregation who had turned to face the West Door.  

Later in the service, the first reading from the Bible was delivered by Maayana Cox and Oscar Newby from All Saints, New Longton.   

Towards the end of the service Bishop Philip led a Messy Installation procession through the Cathedral and down the nave, with the youngsters all wearing colourful home-made mitres (Bishop’s hats).

The Bishop also donned a special cloak made for him during the Messy Installation by the children.  

Notable figures attending the service on Saturday included the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire Lord Shuttleworth and Lady Shuttleworth, and Speaker of the House of Commons and MP for Chorley Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Other guests were the High Sheriff of Lancashire, David Taylor; The Venerable Joshua Skee and Rev. Martin Stützer (representing the borough's Diocesan links from South Africa and Germany) plus many Mayors and Mayoresses, council leaders, faith and community representatives.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Clergy from every part of Lancashire take part in one of the largest group pictures of clergy ever taken in the Diocese

Bishop Philip said: “The Church often engages in ministry to the young as a kind of insurance policy.

"We do it to make the adults feel a bit better about themselves because it suggests the church may have a future.

“But the desire for institutional survival is the wrong starting point. The right starting point is the Gospel song all ages can sing together.  

“We want young people to be inspired by the person of Jesus. This wonderful current generation, so many of them in this cathedral today, is a searching one.

"They are asking profound and challenging questions about purpose, about relationships, about the future of the planet.  

“Christians believe the goal of that searching is found in relationship with Jesus. So, let’s create the spaces where we can have those conversations.” 

Lancashire Telegraph:

Mayors and Mayoresses from every part of the County attended the service

Bishop Philip added: “Imagine every parish engaging in ministry to the young. Imagine a network of children and youth workers supporting that ministry across Lancashire. Imagine too, an even closer partnership between churches and our amazing family of church schools for the benefit of the young. 

“But equally, we want young people to inspire the church. So, let’s create the places where young people can pray, worship, sing and lead.”

Bishop Philip chose two charities as part of the celebration service; they are SportsReach and Ambassadors Football UK.