St Barnabas, Bexhill on Sea
St Barnabas has been a Partner Church with HEART for nearly five years and we are delighted to be able to share their good news
AFTER MORE THAN TWO YEARS without a vicar, St Barnabas Church Bexhill has been upgraded and now has the services of a retired bishop!
The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, former Bishop of Blackburn, was asked by Bishop Martin Warner of Chichester to give pastoral oversight to this Anglican church, which lost Fr Roger Crosthwaite to ill health over two years ago.
Initial reaction is enthusiastic: “He’s so good – we needed a leader, someone pulling all the threads together,” says PCC member Mary Morgan, who also describes herself as “passionate about the present and future of St Barnabas as the heart and centre for the whole community in Bexhill!”
Bishop Nicholas arrived at St Barnabas at the beginning of November, but did not have to travel far to his new parish, having retired to Bexhill two years ago. Indeed, he grew up in the town, attending three schools, all of which “have now been pulled down.”
Many of his previous roles were in Sussex, before he went to Blackburn as bishop. Before that he was Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings from 1997-2003, and vicar of St Mary’s, Old Town, Eastbourne, as well as being the town’s Rural Dean. From 1982-88 he was vicar of Mayfield and Rural Dean of Dallington.
At 68, Bishop Nicholas seems re-fired rather than retired. By his side is his wife Christine whom he met at Leeds University in 1966; they have a married daughter and are proud grandparents of her two young children.
Even since retiring he has been helping Bishop Martin by serving as Assistant Bishop in Chichester and in Europe and has also been Assistant Priest at nearby All Saints Church, Sidley.
Of his latest honorary post at Sea Road, he says, “There’s a sense in which ordination is for life. You do retire from your paid post, but can continue to serve where needed. I’m very pleased to help at St Barnabas – there are so many good people and really encouraging signs of growth. They’ve done wonderful work by way of outreach and caring for those on the margins of society.”
What does he think of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York’s recent controversial video comments for the launch of a book on caring for the poor in British society?
“I think the new book is prophetic and I hope people will read it seriously and not make shallow comments. It transcends the party political side of our nation’s government.”
Now he is hoping that together they can take the ministry of St Barnabas a stage further and “get stuck into” town centre mission. “We have a real heart for mission and to see the church growing in holiness and numerically.”
He sees his role as having a time limit, though, until a permanent incumbent can be found. “I hope there is settled leadership in the not too distant future. You can’t keep using old lags like me!”