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Cheering the climax

07 August 2007

by Margaret Duggan

RAISING a glass of specially brewed beer — the Bishop’s Best — the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton, toasted all the clergy and churchwardens of his diocese at the end of a year celebrating the diocese’s 125th anniversary.

He is planning to present all the clerics and churchwardens with a bottle of the dark-gold wheat beer brewed by Steve Urwin (left, with the Bishop) at the High House Farm Brewery to promote a new rural business. “Farming has had very difficult times, and the Urwin family knows more than enough about that,” said the Bishop. “But, thank God, the creative Spirit hasn’t left them, and we must congratulate them on taking the risk and trying something different.”

During the year of celebrations, the Bishop has named a 125 engine at Newcastle’s Central Station, hosted an open-air picnic for 3000 in Alnwick Gardens, and opened a new church building in Byker. The grand climax came on 25 July, 125 years to the day since the first Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Ernest Wilberforce, grandson of William of slave-emancipation fame, was consecrated.

Seven hundred people from across the diocese gathered in Newcastle Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving. The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, preached, and many former bishops, deans, and archdeacons attended. The day finished with a dinner in the Old Assembly Rooms, when bishops from Newcastle’s three companion link dioceses were special guests.

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