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'Racism and anti-Semitism are light sleepers' - new Bishop's first sermon warns against hatred

PUBLISHED: 18:26 09 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:57 10 November 2019

The Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, gives the sermon during his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, gives the sermon during his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

Seated as the Bishop of Norwich for the first time the Rt Rev Graham Usher has used his opening sermon to warn racism and anti-Semitism are "light sleepers".

Some of the congregation at the enthronement service of the Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, at the Cathedral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSome of the congregation at the enthronement service of the Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, at the Cathedral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

1,800 people filled Norwich Cathedral on Saturday as the 72nd Bishop of Norwich was enthroned, including the Lord Mayor of Norwich and Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.

The Bishop was brought to the cathedral by shire horse and cart, symbolising the rural and agricultural history of the county.

After striking the Great West Door three times with his pastoral staff he was welcomed by the organist playing a Sefton Cottom flourish composed for Bishop Graham's wedding exactly 23 years ago.

He swore his oaths on the same Bible on which Queen Victoria signed her coronation oath, before the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, addressed the congregation.

The Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, strikes the Great West Door of the Cathedral with his pastoral staff to enter for his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, strikes the Great West Door of the Cathedral with his pastoral staff to enter for his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In his first sermon Bishop Graham said: "On this 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, and nearer home in this city where Jews first faced accusations for the ritual murder of Christian children, we must never forget that scapegoating, racism and anti-Semitism are light sleepers.

"We desperately need to model and encourage good conversations - in families, in churches, in politics, in society at large - marked by love and forgiveness, of hope and generosity.

"Conversations change the world, for good and for ill."

He added he hoped to use his position to reach out to communities in need.

The Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, as he arrives at the Cathedral for his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, as he arrives at the Cathedral for his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"I come knowing the great honour and heavy responsibility of being your bishop in Norfolk and Waveney, as well as my inadequacy for the task," he said.

"I slip in as bishop number 72, to sit at your table.

"I fear though, that my cathedral throne is perched far, far too high.

"A high chair is usually for the youngest, still needing to be fed. I promise to use the height of that seat to ensure, as best I can, that all have bread."

The Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, arrives at the Cathedral for his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Rt Rev Graham Barham Usher, the new Bishop of Norwich, arrives at the Cathedral for his enthronement service. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said the church had a responsibility to take risks, including "promoting social inclusion and denouncing the scourge of poverty."

Bishop Graham was anointed by refugee Mahmood, who became a Christian in Iran before seeking asylum in the UK. He was then clothed in stole, cope and mitre by the Archdeacons of Norfolk, Norwich and Lynn, before the procession moved to the High Altar for the enthronement.

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