The service was held in the Cathedral’s Nave and was attended by representatives from the Nigerian Government, Diocese and members of the Ghanaian Royal family.
The Archbishop’s sermon focused on thanksgiving and repentance. A full transcript can be read here.
Samuel Ajayi Crowther was perhaps the most outstanding African Christian of the 19th century. On 29 June 1864 – 150 years ago – he was consecrated bishop at the Cathedral, becoming the first black Anglican bishop.
The following extract provides a beautiful insight to that marvellous day 150 years ago.
“Canterbury has witnessed many wonderful events, but St Peter’s Day, 29 June, 1864, will rank as a red-letter day in its annals. It was no ordinary occasion. Special trains were run from London and elsewhere, and as early as eight o’clock an unusual crowd were present. Among the thousands filling the seats with expectant faces were many friends of Crowther, but we will only notice two who had a special interest in the service. One in naval uniform is Admiral Sir H Leeke, who was the young captain on board HMS Myrmidon to first take in his hands the little rescued slave boy, from the captured slaver off the coast of Lagos. This boy, who was soon to be consecrated as Bishop had never lost sight of his friend, who now forms one of the congregation.
An elderly lady slowly makes her way to a front seat, where she might easily see and hear; but one of the churchwardens reminds her that this place is reserved for a distinguished lady who had a ticket. She turns round and quietly says in answer: “I think I have a right equally to this seat, because that black minister to be consecrated Bishop this morning was taught the alphabet by me.” The Dean and the lady referred to, hearing this, at once begged the visitor to retain her seat. She was the widow of Bishop Weeks, of Sierra Leone.
When the Archbishop and other prelates had taken their places, the Bishop of Lincoln read the Epistle and the Bishop of Winchester the Gospel, and the sermon was preached by the Rev H Longueville Mansel, Professor of Philosophy at Oxford. Then the choir sang Mendelssohn’s ‘How lovely are the messengers,’ while the Bishop-elect walked to the vestry to put on his rochet, and on his return, was this letter patent read:
‘We do by this our licence, under our Royal signet and sign manual, authorise and empower you, the said Samuel Ajayi Crowther, to be Bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland, in the said countries of Western Africa beyond the limits of our dominions.'”