The Reverend Mark Ham, the new Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of All Saints Birchington with St Mildred , Acol and St Thomas, Minnis Bay was licensed by The Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop in Canterbury and Bishop of Dover on 5th February 2020 at 7.30 pm and installed in his new Benefice by The Venerable Jo Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury.

A packed All Saints Church were first treated to performances of “This is our School” and “Shine, Jesus, Shine” by the choir of Birchington C of E Primary School before the procession of Church Choir, Readers, visiting Clergy, Area Deans, Churchwardens, Archdeacon Jo and Bishop Rose entered the church by the west door during the hymn “I, the Lord of sea and sky”.

After greeting the congregation, Bishop Rose and Archdeacon Jo presented Mark to the assembled company and commended him to be installed.

After Readers Margaret Hawkins and Jim Barber had read from John, chapter 15, Bishop Rose gave an inspiring and entertaining sermon.

Following the hymn “Bind us together Lord”, the formal, legal process of Licensing Mark began, during which he gave the required affirmations and oaths and signed the official Declarations.

After Bishop Rose led the singing of “Veni Creator” she blessed Mark and called upon Archdeacon Jo to install and defend Mark in his Ministry, after which the whole congregation spoke as one to welcome Mark. There were then personal welcomes from the co-Area Dean, on behalf of the Seamarsh Group, Kath Barham, Headteacher of Birchington C of E Primary School, Neville Hudson, Chairman of Birchington Parish Council, and Rev Bob Goode, representing “Churches Together in Birchington”.

During the singing of “Brother, Sister, let me serve you” representatives of Churches Together, Liz Stefaniak and Sue Dalgleish read out verses from Matthew, chapter 28 and then Mark tolled the church bell to herald the start of his new partnership with the Parish.

ALMs John Hawkins and Paul Webster presented a large jug of water to Mark and, after filling the font and blessing the water, Mark then toured the church sprinkling water on the congregation.

Kath Barham and Tessa Hinge, a leader of Junior Church read verses from Isaiah chapter 61 and the Benefice Readers, Margaret Hawkins and Jim Barber   presented an open Bible to Mark. The Area Dean, Richard Braddy, read verses from Mark chapter 6 and ALM Angela Webster presented a vessel of oil to Mark who then placed the oil on the altar.

Archdeacon Jo called upon parishioners Jenny Fuller and Christine Walker to present bread and wine to Mark which he then placed on the altar and blessed.

The Rev Mark Ham then led the congregation in Intercessions concluding with The Lord’s Prayer.

During the final hymn “The Lord’s My Shepherd” a collection was taken for the Diocesan Ministry Training Fund.

Bishop Rose drew the service to a conclusion by giving the Blessing and this was followed by enthusiastic applause from the congregation.

As everyone made their way to Church House to partake in celebratory refreshments, Bishop Rose and Rev Mark greeted each individual as they left the church by the south door.

“May Almighty God, who has given Mark the will to undertake this Ministry, give him grace and strength to perform it; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”