Churches in the existing East Ham Parish Ministry
“St Bart’s” is a contemporary Church and Community Centre opened in 1983. It replaced a Victorian (1901) building which was no longer suitable.
The Building consists of the Church reached via a foyer/café area with catering size kitchen, activities/meeting room, (with separate office), a large hall and two “Vestries”, one also used by groups. On the first floor there is the Parish Office and further offices and meeting rooms.
Behind the offices are several flats (on two levels with separate lift/stair case access), for the elderly, managed by a housing association and a Doctors’ Practice Surgery: both of these have separate access.
To the rear of the Centre is the original, Georgian Grade-II listed rectory (Fellowship House) which has been extended and converted to provide affordable housing, again managed by a housing association. The ground-floor space is leased to a Children’s’ Day-Care Centre.
Income from the various lessees, regular room hirers and occasional users covers the cost of maintaining and staffing of the Church and Centre.
Adjacent to the site is the 1983, 4-bedroom Rectory with garage and large garden which the Diocese has upgraded in recent years.
St Bart’s vision for the future
The role of the Centre.
The Centre, and the Church and chapel area, is open every day from 8.30 am till 5.00 pm and again into the evening to accommodate a variety of local and community groups such as Community Counselling, Al-Anon, as well Scouts and Guides and more commercial users such as Weight-watchers. During the day the principal users are the playgroup and a Council-funded group which cares for vulnerable adults.
We have a busy café (The Kitchen Table Café) which, although run as an independent enterprise (Community Interest Company), works in association with the Church. In addition to staples it serves meals throughout the day, and organises its own program of social and community events.
The Centre and its community provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere and attracts people of all ages, abilities and ethnicities, drawn from the congregation, from neighbouring Churches and from the wider community. We hold regular tenants’ and users’ meetings and regard all our Centre and Fellowship House users as stakeholders and partners in the joint venture of the Church and Centre.
The Worship at St Bart’s can best be described as being in the liberal, “light” Anglo-Catholic tradition. We have a 10.00 am Sung Eucharist with liturgy adapted to the church seasons and rites such as baptism. The service for the first Sunday of the month is slightly shorter and less formal in order to attract worshippers of all ages. On the other Sundays the young people take part in “Sunday Club” in a separate room and join the rest of the Congregation after the Eucharistic Prayer.
There are many opportunities for Ministry within the services (serving, interceding, reading etc) and every other month a chance for the whole congregation to take part in “open intercessions”. Every other month a small team offers “laying on of hands” as an extra ministry during the distribution of the bread and wine.
We hold a Thursday lunchtime Communion which is increasingly popular and attracts people who are not all members of the Sunday Congregation.
Newham is one of the most ethnically mixed Boroughs in the country and our Congregation very much reflects that diversity - we have members who are traditional East-Enders (some of whom have vivid memories of the Blitz!) and newer, often younger, members whose ethnicity may be Caribbean, African (East and West), Asian and, most recently, Eastern and Central European. We very much value this richness and are working on incorporating some those different Christian traditions in our thinking and in our worship, as well as in our Church leadership.
At our open meeting we felt able to say that we were open to a greater variety of forms of worship – “jazz it up a bit”. We would welcome a flexible and sympathetic moderniser!
Newham has one of the youngest populations in the country (30% are under 20) and, again, this is reflected in our congregation. We have a lively and enthusiastic Sunday School for younger children and a small group of teenagers who have been meeting regularly for Fellowship as part of a Sunday afternoon “Club”. This is an area of our ministry which we are keen to see developed, particularly with regard to teenagers, and recognise the potential for co-operation with other neighbouring Churches in this work.
One of our best-supported activities is the annual weekend away for young people at a local outdoor activity centre. We get participants from neighbouring churches and the wider community and often have to turn people away. We would like to see more of these kinds of events!
Pastoral Care and Lay Ministry
Whilst we expect the incumbent to exercise the normal aspects of pastoral care we would also recognise that some of these responsibilities could be shared with lay ministry – something we are keen to continue to develop. Several of our congregation have been or are taking part in Christian education and training courses.
We also have a licensed Pastoral Assistant much of whose present ministry takes place among Café users and finds engaging in conversations about life and its problems to be the best opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love. We now have a real fellowship of people sharing their joys and pains. A few have joined the church through this route without any overt evangelism.
In addition we hope to set up a Pastoral Team to exercise care e.g. home, hospital, baptism and bereavement visits for congregants and to develop schemes to minister to those in the wider community.
The church dates back to the eleventh century and is Grade 1 listed. Over the past few years there has been significant investment in the building with a major appeal that has raised over £300,000 for the restoration of the church.
St Mary’s is a thriving church within the catholic tradition. There is Children’s work with weekly Sunday School and regular first communion classes. Once a month, there is a Children’s liturgy. The majority of baptisms and weddings in the Parish take place at St Mary’s. There are numerous rotas for lay participation within the running of the Church. We are a racially mixed Congregation with recent arrivals to the Borough and long established church members. There are a growing number of young families. There is a long established Team Vicar based at St Mary Magdalene Church who is joined in ministry by a NSM Priest and a local lay preacher.
There is a Church Hall with a variety of user Groups including a pre-school. The Nature Reserve Building in the ten-acre churchyard is run by a local charity that works with the Church to manage the churchyard. Many of the local schools regularly visit the Church with over 800 pupils visiting the Church before Christmas 2011. This links in with the mission of the Church within the wider community.
St Alban’s was rebuilt in the early 1980’s. The small complex of buildings is made up of office space, a large hall with a seating capacity of about 150. This is presently used by the Newham Pre-School Leaning Alliance for their offices. They also run a nursery on the site.
Joint Parish activities
We very much appreciate the worship and fellowship we enjoy together. We have joint Sunday worship services throughout the year, alternating between the two churches. We hold a number of spiritual and social events together such as the Advent and Lent courses, a regular monthly Bible study and the Autumn Fair and Parish outing and try to support each others’ congregational activities as much as we can. We value being in a team partnership.