Saint Mary's Church, Waterloo Park

Father John Reed's Story - in his own words! (as supplied for St Faith's Newslink, August 14th 2017.) My teenage years were spent in a sleepy village to the north of Cambridge: the parish Church, All Saints Rampton, was important in my family's life. Dad became a church warden, and mum was the first woman Reader in Ely Diocese 40 years ago. She later became a Deacon and was in the first group of women to be priested in Ely Diocese. Several years ago she became a Canon of Ely Cathedral. My two younger sisters and I were part of group that sang in Church. My guitar playing started around this time. The Church Army came to our parish for a mission; they were fun to be with but at that point I was sceptical about what they were saying. The mission team kept in touch through my parents and had an annual house party for young people they were in touch with. When I was 17 on the first of several house parties I made a commitment to follow Jesus. For my degree at Sussex University I studied Biological Sciences, and during summer holidays I went to help with Church Army Beach Missions at Bridlington and Porthcawl. I became the music for the Porthcawl Beach Meetings. During one long summer beach mission I felt a strong call to ministry in the Church Army; others confirmed this calling. After graduating, I went on a selection conference and began training at Wilson Carlile College in Blackheath the following September. It was a demanding three years of regular services, study, practical work and fun. You learned to live in community on good days and bad days. In my final year I met Ruth: we became engaged just before my Commissioning in Southwark Cathedral. The Church Army’s founder Wilson Carlile had a saying; that we were there to “go for the worst.” My first job was at St. Margaret Toxteth, a year after the 1981 riots. Besides learning a lot about parish ministry, I spent time in schools and local youth clubs. Ruth finished her Church Army Training in 1984 and we married at her parish Church in Southport. She has been the Diocesan Disability Awareness officer since 1984 and in addition more recently the vulnerable adults adviser. In 1987 I moved to The Good Shepherd, West Derby as Youth Evangelist. I began youth work training by distance learning with the YMCA College. Alan was born in 1988 and Emma was born in 1994. During nearly 9 years in Norris Green I set up a detached youth work project, which was supported by Liverpool City Council Youth workers. Years later, meeting with some of the young people I had worked with in the early years, after they had grumbled about the behaviour of the current generation of young people they asked; are you still doing this? The answer was yes, with the realisation that they now had jobs and some had families too. I never set out to be ordained, but an unexpected encounter with God shortly after Emma’s birth turned my life upside down. Two years on the Northern Ordination Course followed and during that time the family moved to Christ Church Padgate. I was ordained Deacon in Liverpool Cathedral by Bishop David Sheppard in 1997. My curacy at Padgate was short lived, as a year later the Rector announced he was leaving. In 1999 we moved to St. Margaret and All Hallows Orford. I stayed there till 2008. It was a busy time with the church school, working with a local housing association and restoring the church tower. Disabled access, wheelchair spaces and toilets were also installed. There was a huge fund-raising project around this. In between there were weddings funerals baptism and lots of services. The church also grappled with the question of whether women Priests should be allowed to celebrate in the church. I am pleased to say St. Margaret’s has joined the rest of the church on this one. I worked for the Lifelong Learning Department in Church House on clergy continuing professional development in the Diocese mainly around study leave and pre-retirement courses. I was invited to become a Scout District Chaplain on the assurance it was only two services a years. Well, it grew to County Chaplain regular meetings, county dinners and camps. It was good at the time but involved mainly working with adults. I led a service at a jamboree for 1,400 cubs. In 2008 I moved to Golborne as Priest in Charge, on the promise of a pastoral reorganisation with the two Lowton parishes. My Scout involvement grew to becoming Assistant Scout Leader. The church had very close links with the Scouts and Guides. Regular Family Services led by different Church groups, work with the Church School, a Community School and messy church were all important in the outreach to children and young people. There was a long-running visiting group, two women’s groups, a breakfast bar and other social activities. Over time it was noticeable that elderly people were having to hand on their responsibilities to others, new people had to be found and often a change in the activity was required. The churchyard at Golborne is reputedly the largest in the diocese, it is still open and church funerals are a regular occurrence, as are baptisms and weddings. Last year we replaced 120,000 clay tiles on the roof and renewed the guttering so the church no longer leaks. In 1979 there was a mining disaster at Golborne Colliery and 10 men died. They are commemorated in a window in the church. On major anniversaries the ex-mining community gather for processions and services, and there are concerts in between to raise funds for future celebrations. Recently I was asked to bless some plaques commemorating the miners who died on the benches in the town square, at an event attended by local Councillors, the Mayor, and our local MP. In December 2010, with the vacancy at St. Luke Lowton, we joined St. Mary's Lowton in a cluster of 3 parishes, 2 clergy and 6 readers. Services and times had to be changed; extra meetings, extra Schools, extra funerals, weddings and baptisms had to be fitted in. In 2013 we became the Lowton and Golborne team ministry. From the start we had the help of several retired clergy who live in the area, and from the start they were part of the ministry team. Rev. Bill Stalker left in 2014 and after a year the Rev. Jonathan Stott joined the team. Over time it was obvious the number of Readers was diminishing, and to promote ministry from the congregation with the PCC’s support worship leaders were chosen from the congregations, after a course called Worship for Today. With the Bishop's permission we were able to commission them to minister in St. Thomas and St. Mary’s within specific worship roles supported by Clergy or Readers to fulfil the legal requirements of the Diocese. That’s a quick portrait of my life so far; what is missing are all the things that happen in between times. There is the gardening, I have a history of taking very neglected gardens and enhancing them with ponds, vegetables and beautiful flowers. The garden at St. Faith's is a welcome surprise. I enjoy fishing, reading, music; particularly modern folk music, playing the guitar and related instruments. Ruth and I enjoy good food, and Socks the family dog enjoys lots of walks and meeting people. I am looking forward to sharing the next stage of my ministry with the people of St. Faith's and St. Mary's on the journey that God is taking us together.

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