The Reverend Sarah Siddique Gill has been appointed Vicar at the United Benefice of St. Stephen's and St. James' Blackburn.
The institution by the Right Reverend Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and the induction by The Venerable Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn took place at St. James' Church in the presence of clergy and lay readers throughout the Deanery of Blackburn with Darwen and beyond.
Those also present with words of welcome for Sarah included the Churchwardens of both churches, Councillor Jim Shorrock, Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, and his Consort Mark Joyce, the Headteachers of both St. Stephen's and St. James' Schools, Mal Breeze representing Churches Together in North Blackburn and Sadiq Patel representing the Blackburn Interfaith Forum. They all welcomed Sarah on behalf of their individual organisations and on behalf of the local community.
An enthusiastic group made the long journey from Sarah's former parish in Bishop Auckland as well as friends from her earlier appointment in Bradford, and from as far afield as Birmingham and Leicester. Sarah's mother undertook a long journey from Pakistan to be a part of the institution and induction service.
Parishioners from both St. Stephen's and St. James' Churches were joined by supporters from Lammack Methodist Church and Revidge Fold United Reformed Church, with whom St. James' Church and other local churches have been working together under a Local Ecumenical Covenant for over 30 years. Sarah brings experience of working with a Local Ecumenical Partnership in County Durham.
Following the service, everyone enjoyed refreshments and a chat.