The Rt Revd Gavin Collins was consecrated as the Bishop of Dorchester on Wednesday 14 April at one of three special services held at Lambeth Palace Chapel. Gavin was consecrated on the same day as the Rt Revd Malcolm Macnaughton, Bishop of Repton, and the Rt Revd Matthew Parker, Bishop of Stafford. Despite the limited numbers of people present, it was a prayerful and deeply personal service on a beautiful spring day.
“Although COVID restrictions meant this was very different from the large-scale celebration in St Paul’s Cathedral that was originally envisaged, having a much smaller service in the Chapel at Lambeth made it a more intimate and reflective occasion,” says Bishop Gavin. “It was a deeply impactful moment as I prepare to take on my new ministry as a bishop.”
As Bishop of Dorchester, Gavin now leads an Episcopal Area larger than many other dioceses. The Dorchester Area has 326 churches across 11 deaneries and a combined electoral roll of nearly 13,000 people.
Speaking on the news of his appointment last year, Gavin said, “Throughout lockdown, churches across Oxfordshire have shown us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and our calling to show and share that love with the communities around us. Jesus’ promise is that he came to give us life in full abundance, and, as Bishop of Dorchester, it will be a joy to play a part in helping the church to grow into and live out that abundance of life.”
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, said, “Gavin is known for his warmth and approachability, and he is passionate about the mission of the church. He’s experienced in bringing churches, local authorities and civil society organisations together for the good of all and is clear about the issues rural communities and towns face. I am very excited about what Gavin’s appointment means for the Diocese of Oxford.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the sermon at the consecration, speaking of “the need for the church to be flexible as we adjust to the new challenges involved in serving our communities at the present time, particularly as a result of the ongoing pandemic. This would require bold, faithful and visionary leadership from our bishops and from all local church leaders.”
The Diocese of Oxford is one of the largest dioceses in the Church of England and is divided into four ‘Episcopal Areas’, each overseen by their own area bishop. The Dorchester Area consists of the county of Oxfordshire, excluding the two deaneries in the city of Oxford, which are under the direct episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Oxford.
The Dorchester Episcopal Area is larger than many dioceses in the Church of England. It extends from the Cotswolds in the west, and Bicester in the east, down to Henley-on-Thames in the south. There are 326 churches and 117 church schools in the area, serving over half a million people.
A service welcoming Gavin to the Diocese of Oxford took place in February.