A RURAL parish welcomed the arrival of its first vicar for more than three years with a ceremony featuring different members of the community.

Reverend Jenni Lane took up her position at St Peter’s Church, in Croft, near Darlington, in front of more than 100 people, including Bishop James Bell, the area bishop for Ripon, and 28 other priests and readers.

The new vicar, who has relocated from Halifax, will take responsibility for the parishes of Croft, Middleton Tyas, Eryholme, Barton, Cleasby with Stapleton and Manfield.

Her arrival marks the first time that the benefice has had a dedicated vicar for more than three years, during which time it has been forced to rely on visiting priests and lay preachers.

The installation ceremony included representatives from the three schools within the benefice, members of the rural community and other members of the Anglican church.

Rev Lane was given gifts of a loaf of bread and a chalice to represent the Holy Communion and a Holy Bible.

Les Baker, secretary of the parochial council of St Peter’s, said the parish had worked hard to secure a new vicar and that Rev Lane would be made very welcome.

He added: “This is a good time for the church as we’ve just had the repairs to the roof completed after thieves damaged it. All of the jobs that needed doing after the thefts have now been completed after a lot of hard work.”