New Bishop of St Germans welcomed by one and all
Over 500 people from across Cornwall, including many local dignitaries, packed the nave of Truro Cathedral at 6pm on Sunday 19 May, Pentecost, to welcome the Right Reverend Chris Goldsmith to his ministry as Bishop of St Germans. There were also many friends and family members from ‘up country’ too.
“Well, here I am at last, in Cornwall. I can hardly believe it,” Bishop Chris began his sermon. “I expect you are wondering what I’m going to be like, because that’s certainly what I’m wondering about you! … I’m here to serve you as a Bishop and I shall bring all that I am, and all that I have, to serve the people of Cornwall.”
At the beginning of the specially composed Service of Welcome & Installation, Cathedral chief executive’s son, Finlay Wallace, had challenged Bishop Chris: “We greet you in the name of Christ. Who are you and why have you come to us?” To which he replied: “I am Chris, a servant of Jesus Christ, and I come as one seeking the grace of God, to travel with you in his service together.”
And as Bishop Tim reminded Bishop Chris of his baptismal vows, a young girl, Phoebe Gregory, who had herself been baptised only eight days earlier, anointed him on his forehead.
In his sermon, Bishop Chris referred to his “Episcopal namesake”, St Germanus, “truly a Boys’ Own hero of a bishop” who had “bravely sailed over the channel to sort out British Christians who had lost their way”. He explained that it was the roughest of crossings, and the Christ-like Germanus had slept through the storm of storms, until he awoke and stilled the waves by sprinkling them with holy water. “If only the Scillonian could pull off the same trick today!” he added.
Drawing on the Gospel reading, John 20.19-23, and the fact that his arrival coincided with Pentecost, Bishop Chris concluded: “Sometimes we need that life-giving and life-saving inhalation of the breath of God’s Holy Spirit, restoring us and healing us with his Shalom.
“But at other times we need to be stirred into action by the wind of God – powerful, creative, restless. Pushing us out to where we are needed by others. That is why as a Bishop among you, I shall seek both – to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
“Tonight, one and all, may we breathe deeply of the transforming presence of God’s Holy Spirit. May we say ‘Yes’ to God and willingly be sent out by him; back to our communities; back to our workplaces; back to our churches – where God’s heart of love beats for the lost, the lonely the lovely and the unlovely. Peace be with you.”
Bishop Chris was joined on the podium to great applause, by his wife, Revd Ellie Goldsmith, who had read the first lesson, Ephesians 4.1-6. He described her as “one of the best priests it has ever been my pleasure to work with”. Earlier in the day, he had told listeners to BBC Radio Cornwall that Ellie would not be exercising her ministry straight away as they both wanted time to see how the demands of his role worked out.
And if, by the end of the service, Chris and Ellie still needed reminding of where they were and what Kernow folk were like, the Cathedral Choir’s moving interpretation of Russell Pascoe’s arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer in Cornish left them in no doubt.