St Mary’s in Liss was packed by Deanery and visiting clergy, lay readers, parishioners and members of the local community, for the licensing service of Rev Clare Welham as their new priest-in-charge.

The service was carried out by the Rt Rev Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Portsmouth, and the installation by Acting Archdeacon Rev Will Hughes. 

The bells rang out and a sense of joyful expectancy filled the church. 

Supported by family, representatives and friends from her previous churches of Bishop’s Sutton, Ropley and West Tisted, Clare entered a full church on June 12 to make her declarations and oaths and to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

Hymns chosen by Clare were enthusiastically sung. Bishop Jonathan preached an inspiring sermon with words that were hugely encouraging and positive.  

Promises were made; symbolic gifts of a Bible, water, bread and wine, oil, keys and flowers were given and Clare was welcomed by representatives from the Deanery, a representative from other local churches and from members of the local community including the school, councillors, the voluntary community and uniformed groups.  

An excellent choir arranged for the occasion by Lucy Flint, organist, sang two hymns to the Holy Spirit and meaningful individual prayer was offered by two members of the Parochial Church Council.

Supported by Rev Will Hughes and Rev Susie Collingridge, Area Dean, Clare was also commissioned to a leadership role within the Petersfield Deanery for Growing Faith, a ministry with children, young people and their families.  

Many people stayed to say hello to Clare over refreshments of wine and savoury bites following the service.

The service felt like a wonderful welcome and celebration as well as a faith-filled and hopeful anticipation of what God will do among us in the coming years.

By Carol Richards & Trevor Childs