Bishop’s consecration to reflect Cumbrian heritage
Cumbria’s heritage will be strongly reflected at the forthcoming consecration of the new Suffragan Bishop of Penrith.
The Rev Canon Rob Saner-Haigh, will be consecrated in a service at 11am at York Minster this Friday (15 July), marking a return to the Diocese of Carlisle where, until 2020, he served all his ministry.
Rob will wear a silver Bishop’s ring, which includes a tiny gold cross of St Cuthbert - a famed northern saint - and which will include the engraving ‘Robert, a servant of Jesus Christ’.
Members of the congregation of Kendal Parish Church (KPC) where he served as vicar for 10 years have gifted him a wooden pectoral cross - worn around the neck - and which has been fashioned from Cumbrian oak by Staveley-based furniture company Peter Hall and Son.
And the Diocese of Newcastle – where he served for two years as Residentiary Canon Director of Mission and Ministry – has gifted him a Bishop’s crozier (a staff) with a handle fashioned from the horn of a Herdwick sheep.
Rob, 49, said: “You can go as fancy as you want to with a bishop’s ring, but I wanted to keep it simple. The Cuthbert cross is an important symbol of being a northern bishop. As for the engraving inside the ring, that’s who I am, a servant of Christ. As disciples we can strip away our surname, our job titles, everything else, and at the root of it all we are servants of Jesus Christ.
“Peter Hall is a great local firm near Kendal and when members of KPC said they wanted to buy me a cross I asked if they could make it. That’s symbolic for me of the ties I’ve had with Kendal and represents a gift from precious friends who I had the privilege of ministering alongside.
“I must say that the crozier is quite a big stick! The Herdwick horn is really beautiful, and it will always remind me of the wonderful people in the Diocese of Newcastle who I was lucky enough to work alongside and who have blessed me and are sending me back to Cumbria. In a sense this is a Cumbrian shepherd’s crook and will be a further reminder of the care I have for this county.”
The service – at which the Rev Arun Arora will also be consecrated as the Bishop of Kirkstall in the Diocese of Leeds – will be something of a family affair for Rob.
His wife Emma will give one of the readings from the book of Proverbs and he has been able to pick one of his family’s favourite hymns O for a thousand tongues to sing.
Rob explained: “We have it at family weddings and it was also a favourite of my parents, so we had it at each of their funerals. It’s the first hymn which will be played at the start of the service. As the organ starts and we stand to worship God, I shall be remembering my mum and dad.”
Rob will take up his role from 1 September and will once again live in Kendal. He will have a particular responsibility for continuing to develop the county’s ecumenical God for All vision and strategy, based around its four key themes: Follow Daily, Speak Boldly, Care Deeply and Tread Gently.
He originally served his curacy in Appleby Deanery before serving in the parishes of Dalston with Cumdivock, Raughtonhead and Wreay. He was Bishop’s Chaplain for three years and Director of Ordinands for two and from 2010 was the Vicar of Holy Trinity Kendal and assistant Rural Dean for seven years. He is also currently a member of the Northern Mission Centre Steering Group, a collaboration between God for All and Church Mission Society to support creative and innovative mission which has its base in Penrith.
He was born and raised in Birkenhead on Merseyside prior to studying for a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham University, later completing his MPhil research in Archaeology. After working as an archaeologist, he worked for a church in Birmingham and then as a project manager in an IT firm before training for ordination at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford. He and Emma have three children: Ollie (20), Jemima (18) and Hal (16).
Rob added: “I am so looking forward to both the service and my new role. Of course, there will be challenges along the way but I am full of hope for the church across this county. This may be a new start for me, but it is part of the continuing story of all that God has done and will do through his people as we seek to share the good news of Jesus and serve our neighbours and communities.”
The consecration service will be livestreamed on the York Minster website.
Notes to editors
The title of Bishop of Penrith is an historic one, dating back initially to 1888, and then to 1944 and designates the Bishop who assists the Bishop of Carlisle - in technical terms the Suffragan Bishop.
The Bishop of Penrith lives in Kendal, and with the Bishop of Carlisle serves the whole of the Diocese of Carlisle which is largely co-terminus with the county of Cumbria.
For more about the God for All vision and strategy visit: www.godforall.org.uk.
For more information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Head of Communications, on 07469 153658 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.