HUNDREDS of worshippers gathered at Christ Church Cathedral to welcome the new Bishop of Oxford, who confessed he was still learning how to be a Christian.

The Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft formally became the 43rd Bishop of Oxford at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace in July and was enthroned yesterday at the cathedral in St Aldate’s.

During the inauguration service the Bishop told the congregation he was still learning to be a Christian and surprised worshippers by opening his cope to reveal two L Plates.

He said:”I come here as a learner, a disciple.

“I would have liked to have pinned a large L Plate on the back of my cope today, not because I am learning how to be a Bishop, although I am after seven-and-a-half years, but I am learning how to be a Christian still.”

Rt Rev Croft said he bought the L Plates in WH Smith on the morning of the service and had difficulty pinning them to his cope.

He added that churches across the diocese were “remarkable” places, drawing people together from different backgrounds.

“They are communities which combat loneliness and isolation,” he said.

The Bishop said the diocese was creating a partnership with local government and the voluntary sector, “attempting great things to make life better.”

He added: “I will be able to bear the weight of this ministry by the grace of God and your love and support.”

Rt Rev Croft said he was not blind to the weaknesses and imperfections of the church.

He added that the Church continued to wrestle with deep questions of ministry including sexuality, and sometimes the imperfections could seem “overwhelming.”

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Bishop’s ministry in the Diocese of Oxford, which covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

The Rt Rev Croft arrived at the cathedral off St Aldate’s following a procession through the city centre.

Before the service the Dean of Christ Church the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy said: “We warmly welcome the ministry of Bishop Steven.

“He brings a great a wealth of experience to the role and the tasks that lie before us as a diocese.

“We rejoice in the gifts that he brings us, and look forward to working with him in the mission and ministry we all share.”

A series of welcome services, which the Bishop will attend, will take place around the diocese, including one at Dorchester Abbey on Sunday, October 9 at 3.30pm.