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Mansfield vicar first to be licensed in online service

by Cara Bentley

A former primary school teacher has become the first person to be licensed virtually as a vicar - with all the Church of England traditions and legal requirements being done over livestream.

Revd Chris Lee, who is now the vicar of St John's with St Mary's church in Mansfield said: "There was a great sense of community even though we were connecting remotely, with some people supporting me online and other people praying for me during the service."

Chris and his wife Ruth, who met each other at Spring Harvest, were at home and the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, Rt Revd Paul Williams, joined them virtually from his study.

Bishop Paul gave the welcome, which was followed by the legal requirements of oaths and declarations, and the signing of the license, then a reading, a reflection, prayers and a final blessing.

Commenting afterwards, Chris said: "Though I could not have expected to begin my incumbent ministry in such unusual circumstances, it was deeply meaningful. This is a special diocese to be part of and I look forward to seeing everyone in person and having a proper celebration when things are a bit more normal."

St John's and St Mary's has not had a full-time vicar in four years, making his appointment even more important to the community. 

Bishop Paul said: "Chris and Ruth bring energy and vision to sharing in mission at St John's with St Mary's, but also a delightfully personal touch through their transparent kindness and interest in others. We will look forward to welcoming them properly once we are through the present restrictions."

Once lockdown measures are lifted, there will be a welcome service for Chris and Ruth in the parishes and Chris will be installed by the Archdeacon.

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