News from the Diocese of Southwark
New Bishop of Woolwich tours Episcopal Area
23 Mar 2012
'I'm only one day old' This is what the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, the Bishop of Woolwich, told those whom he met as he travelled around his Episcopal Area on Thursday 22 March just one day after he had been ordained Bishop. Travelling with the Venerable Christine Hardman, the Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich, he began his day in prayer at the Franciscan House near Blackfriars.
From there they journeyed to Blackheath Bluecoat School where he met Barnaby Ash the Headteacher, Mrs Pamela Draycott, the Assistant Head, and the Revd Liz Newman, the Chaplain as well as students from the school council and sixth form social action team. They presented him with a card in which they promised to pray for him and asked for his prayers as they deal with the impending closure of their school.
Next stop was HMYOI Isis in the far east of the Episcopal Area. There he and the Archdeacon met with Revd Susie Simpson and the (Governing) Governor Graham Hawkings and toured the Young Offenders' Institution.
The Greenwich Mosque provided the next stop in his busy schedule. Here the Bishop was welcomed by the Imam Ali and Imam Swalehl and also met Dr Tariq Abbasi. During the visit the Bishop was able to observe prayers and to listen to a party of primary school children question the Imam and learn more about the Muslim faith. The Venerable Christine Hardman also had the opportunity to met with and talk to some of the women who had been at midday prayer. Lunch followed and the Bishop spoke of how eating together always leads to good friendship, and all expressed the hope that further conversations and cooperation will lead to fruitful collaborations as people of faith.
A busy After School Club greeted the Bishop at All Saints, Peckham and some of the children were delighted to beat him at table tennis and on the games console. Here too Bishop Michael was able to talk to the vicar, the Revd Jonathan Mortimer, about the after effects of the disturbances in Peckham and the community collaboration in which the church is involved to try to help the local community deal with what happened.
Sir Steve Bullock was there to greet Bishop Michael and Christine Hardman, with whom he has worked closely for some years, as they arrived at the Town Hall in Catford. Joined by other senior members of the Mayor's staff they were able to talk together about the local situation in the Borough and how the church and the local council can continue to work collaboratively especially on education and matters of social cohesion.
The final stop was the Chapel on the Hill where Bishop Michael was able to end his day of travel in the way it had begun: by praying with the people in the Forest Hill Team Ministry who were meeting in the beautiful chapel in the old church of Christ Church, Forest Hill.
Wherever the Bishop went he was greeted with warmth and excitement as he began his new ministry. At the end of the day he said, 'It has been a joy to visit some of my area and to meet some old friends and begin to build new relationships too. I was especially pleased to be able to do this in the company of Christine Hardman with whom I have worked for the last seven years and with whom I am pleased to be continuing to work in spreading the gospel in the Woolwich Episcopal Area'.
'I have said to those whom I have met today that I cannot do this on my own and in asking for their prayers I have assured them of my prayers for all they do too. I am humbled and excited by the new challenges ahead and have been overwhelmed by the welcome I have received. I look forward to building on this wonderful beginning in the coming months.'