Stone is set to welcome a new bishop. The new bishop of Lichfield, the Right Reverend Dr. Michael Ipgrave OBE formally takes on the role at a special service in Lichfield Cathedral on Saturday 24th September. His diocese covers the Black Country, Staffordshire and much of Shropshire.
In the nine days before the ceremony, Bishop Michael will be travelling around his new diocese in a “Season of Welcome”, meeting and praying for local people, and asking for their prayers as he begins his ministry.
As he takes up his new role as 99th bishop of the diocese, Bishop Michael will be arriving in Lichfield on foot. In the three days leading up to his installation as bishop at the cathedral, he and a party of fellow pilgrims are walking along the Two Saints Way pilgrimage trail from Stoke-on-Trent to Lichfield.
Stone is on the route of the “Two Saints Way” which runs from Chester to Lichfield. Several times during the year “pilgrims” visit the town. In medieval times the pilgrims brought a stone or a pebble to place on the shrine of St. Wulfad and St Rufin. Today they still bring the stones but as the shrine no longer exists they place them in a basket by the window depicting Wulfad and Rufin in the church.
He is due to arrive at St. Michael and St. Wulfad’s Church at 4.45pm on 21st September and after a short service and the old pilgrim custom of bringing stones to Stone, he will unveil a board giving details of the history of Stone, the old Priory and the present church. This board has been sponsored by H.S.B.C.
The following morning Michael will begin the walk by praying in the 12th century crypt of the old Stone Priory before walking to Stafford via Aston and Burston. At Aston he will be shown the small chapel where the bones of St. Chad were kept before being taken to the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham.
On Friday 23rd, when he arrives in Lichfield, Bishop Michael and his party will join people renewing their vows of baptism at St Chad’s Well, where Chad baptised the Mercians of his time.
On Saturday 24th at 11am is the morning service, called ‘the Enthronement’ which brings together representatives of the local Diocese, the county, other Christian churches and our link Dioceses in the Anglican Communion and Europe as they gather to welcome him.
The heart of the service is ‘the Installation’, when the bishop is placed in his Episcopal chair. The Dean will present Bishop Michael with the pastoral staff or crozier belonging to the Diocesan Bishop, left on the altar by his predecessor Bishop Jonathan Gledhill.
In the afternoon (3.30pm), Bishop Michael will preside and preach at a special Eucharist service. His wife, Dr Julia Ipgrave, will read one of the lessons.
Bishop Michael is married to Dr Julia Ipgrave, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Humanities at Roehampton University. They have three grown up sons. Michael and Julia are enthusiastic about things Japanese. They enjoy walking, and are looking forward to exploring Staffordshire and Shropshire on foot. Bishop Michael is a supporter of Leicester City FC.