THE Bishop of Worcester, Rt Rev John Inge, licensed Rev Lynne Sparks, the new priest of St Mary’s, Pickersleigh, at a service on Epiphany Sunday.

The church was filled with a congregation of about 130, including some 30 priests from Worcester and Gloucester dioceses.

Rev Sparkes was formally welcomed by representatives of local parishes, the Malvern Deanery, Churches Together in Malvern, town and district councils and others who each gave brief words of welcome.

Members of the congregation presented Rev Sparkes with a flagon of water, as a reminder that she is called to bring new believers to baptism, a bible as a reminder that her own studies will enable her to preach, a chalice and patten as a reminder that she will preside at the Eucharist, and a prayer book.

At the end of the service Rev Sparkes, who is married with three daughters, rang the church bell as a sign to the community that she has come to serve them.

Rev Sparkes said: “I just hope I will find opportunities to bring the church and the community closer together in the future.

“I’m looking forward to settling in and getting to know the community and the area.”

She will preside at her first Eucharist at St Mary’s at 10am on Sunday, and all are welcome.