Historic first as woman Bishop of Lynn consecrated
The Rt Revd Dr Jane Steen has been consecrated as Bishop of Lynn in front of 250 people at Norwich Cathedral. She is the first woman bishop in Norfolk and Waveney and the first suffragan bishop to have been consecrated in Norwich Cathedral. Helen Baldry reports.
The new Bishop of Lynn said: “I feel humbled and honoured to be the first woman consecrated as a bishop in Norwich Cathedral. It is overwhelmingly beautiful, its stones saturated by the prayers of so many generations. To God be all its glory and may the Lord Jesus be with me as I go from here to serve in this wonderful diocese.”
After yesterday's service (June 23), Bishop Jane mingled with the guests at a picnic that was held in the Bishop of Norwich’s garden. Refreshments were provided by local social enterprise, the Feed.
Bishop Jane and her husband Pip are familiar with the region, as they lived in Cambridge for 13 years and visited Norfolk many times on holiday. They have been to places like Felbrigg, Blicking, Hunstanton and Cromer – the touristy bits – and are looking forward to exploring more of the county.
Jane comes to Norfolk after over 20 years of ministry in the Diocese of Southwark. Since 2013, she has been the Archdeacon of Southwark and was previously Canon Chancellor of Southwark Cathedral and Director of Ministerial Education.
About moving to Norfolk she said, “It’s incredibly different. There’s more geography here!” Whereas Bishop Jane could cycle around most of the area on Southwark, that would be difficult to do in Norfolk! The mix of people is very different in Southwark to Norfolk, and the population is changing constantly. There are however similarities; Jane notices that people in rural Norfolk have an affinity with the church; she sees an important connection with the church in village communities. There is a sense on ownership of the church, which she also saw in Southwark where the church is a big part of life for many people who live there.
Bishop Jane is the first female Bishop in Norfolk. She trained into ministry at the same time as the Rt Rev Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich. While at college, the men knew that they could potentially be bishops. The women knew they couldn’t. This has changed, and Jane takes up her leadership role as a female pioneer, but primarily as somebody with a passion for Jesus and for supporting people to fulfil their potential.
The Rt Revd Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich, said: “Bishop Jane has a deep pastoral care for the people and communities that she served in Southwark and a rich experience of mission in the Church of England, including supporting church communities to flourish. She brings these aspects, together with her great sense of joy and fun, to the role of Bishop of Lynn. I am confident that she and her husband, Pip, will soon come to love this diocese and its people. May we be a blessing to them, as they will be a blessing to us.”
Bishop Jane is enthusiastic about ecumenism; she has seen great outcomes when Christians works together – often with most impact when people start working together at a local level across denominations and projects.
Bishop Jane’s priority is to encourage and build up people. She said, “The church and ordinary Christians have been incredibly faithful [during the pandemic] I want to work to encourage, support and build them up in that.” She is enthusiastic about outreach across the generations, from older people who have become isolated in recent months to younger people who feel disconnected from God. She believes the church has a lot to offer young people in terms of value – and of course the love of the Lord. She said, "Sometimes this gets squeezed out in our social media age."
Jane believes she is gifted in encouraging others and is keen to give people the courage to try things without fear of failure or things going wrong. She communicates with openness and honesty and has an ability to get alongside people. She enjoys preaching and teaching and “doing the very best with the gifts we’ve been given” something she is committed to herself and for the people she serves in her new role.
Photo by Diocese of Norwich