Gallery: Thousands welcome the new Bishop of St Albans

PUBLISHED: 15:46 21 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

The 10th Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith.

The 10th Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith.

TWO thousand people greeted the new Bishop of St Albans in the Abbey and hundreds of others lined the processional route to his inauguration on Saturday. Following the service to mark the start of his ministry as the 10th Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev

TWO thousand people greeted the new Bishop of St Albans in the Abbey and hundreds of others lined the processional route to his inauguration on Saturday.

Following the service to mark the start of his ministry as the 10th Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith watched as around 100 children from 10 Church of England schools released 100 biodegradable balloons, each carrying a prayer.

In his first sermon, in which he set out his vision for the future of the St Albans diocese, the new Bishop spoke about the power of the church to transform communities.

He also had a message relevant to all people in the current difficult economic times and during national anxiety about health scares, climate change and conflicts abroad.

Pointing out that, "happiness is a by-product and not an end in itself", he said we were living in an age which tended to reduce everything to measurable outcomes such as education being judged solely in terms of exam results and health measured by how many medical interventions are successful.

He added: "In contrast the good news reminds us that the most important and the most valuable things in life are relationships. If you are not convinced, think about the frantic phone messages left by passengers in New York on that fateful day that's come to be known as 9/11.

"They didn't talk about money or their house or their holidays. Instead they spoke passionately about their love."

Before the service, the Bishop walked in a procession of 150 people along the three-quarter of a mile route from St Peter's Church to the West Door of the Abbey.

The procession was led by the figure of St Alban and two angels from the annual festival pilgrimage as well as a military band.

Among those who joined the civic procession were the Mayor of St Albans, the chief executive, the Deputy Mayor, aldermen and councillors. Immediately behind them was the Bishop of Lichfield and others from that diocese where Bishop Alan served as Bishop of Shrewsbury until spring this year.

As is the custom, Bishop Alan was at the back, signifying the role of bishop as a servant leader in the pattern of Christ.

During the service, Bishop Alan was welcomed by community representatives including the Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriffs and county and district councillors.

Afterwards Bishop Alan joined the guests and market stall holders whom he had passed during the procession for refreshments outside the Abbey.

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