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A letter from our new Rector …

Mike Pearce, Editor of The Herald, recently contacted our new Rector for a few words of introduction for the parish newspaper.  The letter is published in the latest edition of the Herald but you can also read it below …

First, I would like to say how delighted and excited I am to have been appointed Rector of East Barnet.  When I first visited this parish, I was struck by many things: the strong sense of community in East Barnet; the vigour and diversity of St Mary’s Church’s congregation; the deepening relationships St Mary’s enjoys with the Brookside Methodist church, and other churches and faith communities; the beauty and potential of the ancient church building; the joyful, industrious hubbub of St Mary’s School; the strong “outward-looking” sense of the parish community; the lively relationships that exist between the churches, the schools and businesses of the parish, not least the Prince of Wales pub!

St Mary the Virgin East Barnet will be my third appointment since my ordination.  Following three years of theological training in Cambridge and the United States, I was ordained in Norwich Cathedral and served as Assistant Curate of St Peter Mancroft, the large mediaeval church that dominates Norwich’s Market Square and has a significant civic ministry.  While in Norwich, I was also chaplain to the Norwich Sea Cadets and enjoyed very much supporting their excellent work with young people.

Then, in 2008, I took up the post of Assistant Priest of St Peter’s Eaton Square in the centre of London (Victoria Station is at the heart of the parish).  At Eaton Square, I have worked alongside the congregation to build many relationships between the church, the local business community and those who use the church’s facilities, from large multi-national fund managers and the local Business Improvement District organisation to Alcoholics and Drugs Addicts Anonymous.  At Eaton Square, like East Barnet, there is a very successful Church of England Primary School, and I have worked extensively with its pupils, staff and parents, and know how valuable the relationship between Church, Church School and other schools can be.

You probably want to know more about “me”.  I was born in Bristol and raised near Salisbury Plain (my father was in the Royal Air Force).   Before ordination, I led a rather less cloistered life as a professional singer.  After reading Music at university, I sang with various cathedral choirs and then went freelance, with the majority of my work divided between ensembles and solo work in London, Birmingham and Belgium.  As a singer, you sometimes find yourself in extraordinary, bizarre or overwhelming situations and meeting remarkable people.  For example, I can not think of another career where I could worked with people from such a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities, been to so many extraordinary churches, concert halls and restaurants throughout the world, received a tour of Nagasaki by a Japanese Second World War veteran or performed on the Acropolis in Athens alongside Whirling Dervishes, Mongolian Throat Singers, an Aboriginal Didgeridoo Consort and a Southern Dixie Band!

My call to ordained ministry came through my experiences as a singer.  There’s something very powerful about the experience of a group of people, a choir, orchestra or both, being formed by a musical performance and sharing that experience with those who hear these performances.  Everyone is changed by this process.  In some ways, the task of any Christian community is similar: to work together, to sing the Lord’s song, to tell the story of God’s love for the world in Jesus in Word and Sacrament, and to share it with the wider community in the hope that all will in some way be transformed and brought nearer to God.

This is a very exciting time to be moving into East Barnet.   In addition to a deepening relationship between Brookside Methodist Church and St Mary’s, the 1000+ campaign is well underway.  We have the wonderful opportunity to safeguard and honour the great inheritance the village has received in its ancient church building.  The reordering of the interior will make it a welcoming sanctuary, an asset for the whole community and enable fresh expressions of Anglicanism in East Barnet in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Of course, the church is not simply about buildings.  Fundamentally, the baptised community is Christ’s church and we are nourished by the studying of scripture and the breaking of bread.  But it is among you all, church goers and non church-goers, Anglicans, Methodists, other Christians, people of all faiths and none, that I will have the privilege of ministry.  I am looking forward to very much indeed to this task.  It’s a wonderful challenge and I will be grateful for your prayers in the months before my induction.  I look forward very much to being among you from 25 April onwards.

Oh yes..,and I enjoy cooking, singing, walking, canoeing, spending time with friends, going to concerts, the theatre and cinema.  I also like cars and I’ve already noted that the Rectory driveway has space for a car restoration project…

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