A new vicar was inducted and installed in the united benefice of The Bourne and Tilford in the build-up to Christmas – or, as the Bishop of Dorking jokingly said in her address, “It was the Second Coming of Sandy”. Very appropriate for Advent!
The parishes said goodbye to the Rev Sandy Clarke as their curate three weeks prior and on Tuesday, December 6, at St Thomas-on-the-Bourne Church, welcomed her back as vicar.
A particular delight for Sandy, who is American, was that her mother was able to come over from Illinois to be with her for this special occasion, along with Sandy’s own daughter, Alex, who works in London.
The service opened with a splendid procession of crucifer; 36 choristers, more than 20 robed clergy, the mayor of Waverley, Councillor John Ward, and the churchwardens of The Bourne and of Tilford carrying their staves of office as Bishop Jo brought up the rear. How they all fitted in the chancel when the church was already packed was a minor miracle.
Magnificent music, some from the choir and hymns sung by all, interspersed the official and legal formalities, which were notable in that Sandy must be among the first clergy to swear loyalty to King Charles – and almost certainly the first American.
She seemed unfazed. Bishop Jo preached an inspiring sermon then commissioned and anointed Sandy for her new work, after which the Archdeacon of Surrey bestowed the ‘temporalities’ of her office on her, symbolised by giving her the keys of the churches and inviting her to ring the bell.
Back in the church she was given the things she would need for her work. A Bible was presented by Catherine Crawford and Sue Hoare, representing St Martin’s and Brambleton Hall Church, water for the font was brought by the Rev Michael Hopkins and Rebecca Marshall, a teacher at a church school, and bread and wine for Holy Communion was carried to the altar by Freddie and Bethany, the head boy and girl choristers.
Sandy was welcomed by representatives of Churches Together in Farnham, the Muslim Ahmadiyya community in Tilford who helped to raise money to repair Tilford Church roof, the clergy of the Deanery, youth and schools, and local organisations.
Finally the congregation was allowed to welcome Sandy with polite applause, which immediately turned into whoops of applause and a standing ovation. The churchwardens finally presented Sandy with the congregations’ gift, a cheque to help furnish the vicarage.