Special ceremony to welcome new Rector of Bath Abbey

The Revd Canon Guy Bridgewater will be licensed as the Rector of Bath Abbey in a special service of welcome in the Abbey on Monday 29 November at 7pm.

A formal induction ceremony will be led by The Right Reverend Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and will establish Canon Bridgewater as the new Rector of Bath Abbey. He will be only the 29th Rector in the last 450 years. The Venerable Dr Adrian Youings, Archdeacon of Bath, the Abbey’s clergy and churchwardens will also be taking part in the ceremony which will formally mark the beginning of the Rector’s ministry.

During the ceremony the Bishop of Bath and Wells will read out the 'licence' – called “the cure of souls” – that authorises Canon Bridgewater to be Bath Abbey Rector, and hands it over with the words: “receive this cure of souls which is both yours and mine” symbolising the fact that Bishop and Rector share the responsibility for the spiritual care of the people of Bath Abbey and the wider community. Later, the Archdeacon of Bath will lead Canon Bridgewater to the church door and place his hand on it, signifying the new Rector’s “possession” of the Abbey. Once Canon Bridgewater has been installed as Rector of Bath Abbey, representatives of the community - both the church and the civic ones – will present symbols of his ministry including a bible, a prayer book, bread and wine.

The Abbey is expecting a large number of people to attend including members of the Abbey’s own community, Canon Bridgewater’s friends, family and many of the congregation from his former parish, as well as industry leaders and representatives from various charities and organisations across the city of Bath. In order to accommodate everyone who would like to be there, entry to the service will therefore be by ticket only and anyone who would like to be present is invited to apply for tickets via the Abbey website or the Abbey Office at 11A York Street.

Canon Bridgewater said: “I am deeply overwhelmed by the magnificent warm welcome to Bath Abbey, and by the honour of serving this great city - and I pray to become deserving of it. This is a thrilling time to be joining the Bath Abbey team, with the visionary ‘Footprint’ project helping us renew a bold vision of what it means to be ‘A People and Place Fully Alive’ at the heart of our city life.

“My own role as Rector is twofold within the Abbey; to be both at the centre of things, and at the edge of things. At the centre of the Abbey’s life, there is a need for spiritual leadership, prayer and pastoral care. At our public edge, I am keen to serve as an ambassador for the Christian faith, partnering with all kinds of local residents and groups – such as schools, businesses, charities & other churches – as we seek to enrich our community life together.

“I look forward enormously to getting to know the people of Bath, and learning from you about this fascinating home we share. Together with the whole Abbey family, as Rector I hope you will have a chance to come & experience the Abbey Church in person soon - to enjoy a sense of God’s presence, His loving welcome and invitation to belong. I look forward to meeting you!”

The service will be led by The Bishop of Bath & Wells. He said: “I am delighted to be officially welcoming and licencing Canon Bridgewater as Rector of Bath Abbey and to working in close partnership with him to serve the Bath Abbey community and all who live and work in  this special city.  Bath Abbey has a long and wonderful history and an exciting future ahead.  As the Abbey seeks to step out in mission and ministry with confidence and faith may God’s blessing and guidance be with Guy and all at the Abbey.”

On the following Sunday, 2 December, The Revd Canon Guy Bridgewater will be welcomed to the Abbey with a special joint Eucharist service at 10.30am that will see the Venerable Dr Adrian Youings, Archdeacon of Bath, commissioning the full Abbey Chapter. Everyone is welcome to attend this service and ceremony and no tickets are required.

Canon Bridgewater is currently Team Rector and Rural Dean of Horsham, a role which he has held for eleven years. He was ordained in the Diocese of Salisbury in 1987 and has since served the church in many different ways. Prior to Horsham, he was Diocesan Missioner and Residentiary Canon in the Diocese of Gloucester. He has also held posts in Dorset, at Lee Abbey in Devon, and as Vicar of Cranbrook in Kent.

James Playfair, one of Bath Abbey’s Churchwardens, who was involved in the appointment of the new Rector, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Guy at a particularly exciting time in the Abbey’s history. Not only are we engaging with nearly half a million worshippers and visitors per year, we have just started work on our innovative Footprint project which will transform the Abbey and improve how we serve our congregations, the local communities and visitors. The Abbey needs the best leadership at this crucial time, and we are fortunate to have been able to appoint Guy. He will bring vision and leadership, and has the relevant skills and experience that we prayed for within our community.”

Please click here for further details about the Licensing service.