Fr Philip entered the sanctuary to celebrate the Parish Mass on Sunday as Priest-in-charge. Ninety minutes later he left it as Vicar.
His changed rank was due to the traditional Anglican Church formalities carried out by Archdeacon David Lee on behalf of the Bishop of Bradford. The formal language of the induction and institution emphasised the importance of the occasion. The Archdeacon declared 'I confirm that the Revd Canon Philip Charles Gray has made the Declaration of Assent and taken the Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Oath of Canonical Obedience to the Bishop of Bradford.'
Minutes later Fr Gray's hand was placed on the handle of the church door before the incumbent was ushered to his stall near the altar. The deal was done. Four-and-a-half years after succeeding Fr David Hope at St Margaret's – and eight years after the last Vicar, Fr Richard Hoyal, left – Fr Philip was in command! As he explained the anomaly, he was appointed as 'threequarter time' priest his other duties being as fresh expressions minister with Otley Deanery. He was operating under a licence from the Bishop rather having the legal privileges of 'Vicar'. New Bishop Nicholas Baines has changed that arrangement, ruling that once again the three Ilkley churches will each have a Vicar...
Not that Sunday's congregation was preoccupied with episcopal detail at the parish lunch following the service. Blessedly-brief speeches were heartily applauded. Churchwarden Janet Kish praised Fr Philip and his family for their parochial work; he replied that they could do little without the enthusiastic backing of parishioners. With everyone pulling together, it looks like a bright future for St Margaret's!