Reginald Heber - Bishop of Calcutta - in Office

In Office

The new bishop arrived in Calcutta on 10 October 1823, after a four-month journey. After his ceremonial installation by the Governor General, Lord Amherst, Heber preached his first sermon as bishop on Sunday 12 October, in St John's Cathedral Church. He faced many challenges arising from tasks unfinished at the time of his predecessor's death and from the long hiatus without a bishop. A major area of concern was Bishop's College, a training school for local clergy founded by Middleton in 1820, the development of which had stalled due to financial and management problems. Heber reinvigorated the project by extensive fundraising, by persuading the government to increase its grant of land, and by restarting the building programme; within a few months the college boasted a library and a new chapel. In June 1824 Heber, using a power provided to him by recent Act of Parliament, ordained as deacon the first native Indian to receive Holy Orders.

Heber was interested in all aspects of Indian life and quickly made friends, both with the local population and with the representatives of non-Anglican churches. Occasionally his easy manner and lavish hospitality clashed with the principles of the more puritan and evangelical of his clergy; one such, Isaac Wilson of the CMS, used a sermon to mount a direct attack on the bishop after what he considered were excessive celebrations following a baptismal service. Wilson was forced to apologise after Heber threatened him with a Consistory court.

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