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29 October 2014

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You are in: North Yorkshire > Faith > Inauguration of the Archbishop

York Minster

The Nave of York Minster

Inauguration of the Archbishop

The service of inauguration for the Archbishop of York was attended by over 3,500 people. But of all the various parts of the service, the only thing that really needed to happen, was the Archbishop sitting in his seat...

All Cathedrals have a special seat. The Cathedra, or Bishop's seat, is what makes the building a Cathedral rather than an abbey or just a great big church.

During the service of inauguration for the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu was installed/inducted/enthroned/inaugurated (choose your favourite word). He sat in the Bishop's seat and that's more or less all that had to happen according to Church law.

The service didn't make John Sentamu the Archbishop of York; that had already been done. The inauguration service is more a public declaration of his position and it formally begins his public ministry.

So the service could, in principle, be very short. The Archbishop could come in, sit down, and then everyone could go home.

To be there, or not to be there...

According to Jeremy Fletcher, Canon Precentor at York Minster, until 1847 it was rare for an Archbishop to be there at all. They would send a representative instead.

"There's a lovely example from 1808 I saw that said: The Precentor, on a rare visit to York, standing in for the Dean installed the Archdeacon, standing in for the Archbishop, after evensong.

"We've actually made more of it in the last 150 years than perhaps had been done before"

Rev Canon Jeremy Fletcher

"So we've actually made more of it in the last 150 years than perhaps had been done before."

While most of the legal issues around making John Sentamu Archbishop of York had already been dealt with, there is a legal element to the service.

At one point a lawyer reads out the mandate, a legal document that basically says "This is the person you should install, I want you to do it now."

Then the Dean and Chapter of York Minster accompany the Archbishop into the Quire area and the Dean places the Archbishop on his seat.

Each to their own

Of course an individual Archbishop can put their own stamp on the service. Jeremy Fletcher has looked over the last four inaugurations to see how they varied.

"They're all very different to each other. In this one there's been be some dancing by a group of Ugandans from London to celebrate the Archbishop's Ugandan roots and there was music from across the church spectrum.

"John Sentamu particularly wanted to be anointed with oil and prayed for in that way. One unusual thing for this service is the Archbishop of Canterbury will be present, they want to be seen to be working together as colleagues so one Archbishop will pray for another.

"He also wanted to flag up the service as being a provincial occasion. So the Diocesan Bishops of the Province of York surrounded him as he took the oaths. When he shared the peace, offered the peace of Christ to everybody, they were with him at that point. And they accompanied him down to the west end as he prayed for and blessed the city, county and province."

last updated: 26/06/2008 at 17:12
created: 29/11/2005

You are in: North Yorkshire > Faith > Inauguration of the Archbishop

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