THE new Bishop of Basingstoke is a man on a 100-day mission as he embarks on a tour to reach out to all corners of the local community.
Last Friday, The Reverend Canon David Williams was consecrated at a service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby.
About 1,400 people attended the service at Winchester Cathedral, including Basingstoke MP Maria Miller and North West Hampshire MP Sir George Young.
As previously reported by The Gazette, Bishop David was chosen to succeed The Right Rev Peter Hancock, who is now the Bishop of Bath and Wells, in June.
The father-of-two has served in the Winchester Diocese for the past 13 years and, together with his wife Helen, has played a leading role in the growth of the church and has worked closely with the local community, including the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester prison and The University of Winchester.
Bishop David, who is 53, will now embark on a tour of the 196 churches across the area as well as community groups over the next 100 days.
Following his consecration, Bishop David told The Gazette: “It was a moving day. There were 1,400 people in the cathedral, including people from every church across the diocese and friends, family and people I have worked with over the last 13 years.
“I had all my family there. The singing lifted the roof of the cathedral and people were really happy and supportive, and it just felt that it was a great way to start work as a bishop.”
He added: “I have got to take the lead from the Church of England and take the Christian faith into the 21st century. I have 100 days until Christmas and I am going to visit all the 196 churches to help and support them.
“I want to accept every invitation in the Basingstoke area, and they are starting to flow in.
“I really want to get to know Basingstoke and the surrounding villages in the first three months.
“I think we have got to do all the things we do well, such as public service and drawing people to places of worship, but as the percentage of people coming to church has slipped, we have got to find ways to connect to people.
“There are a lot of church schools in the town, and I want to inspire them to make them the best possible schools they can be.”
Bishop David made his first official appearance in Basingstoke at St Michael’s Church, in Church Square, last Sunday.