Vicar's Letter - Introduction to our New Vicar

INTRODUCTION TO OUR NEW VICAR – REV. SIMON NEWHAM

Dear Friends,

By the time you read this you will probably know something about the new Vicar of Brockenhurst – at least perhaps my name!  Times of change are always challenging for all involved. Your challenge may focus around questions like, ‘What will the new Vicar be like?’ and, ‘I hope he doesn’t try to change things too much!’  Ours, as we prepare to move, are around, ‘What will the new parish be like?’ and, ‘How will we cope with the change!’

As you read this, I hope that you will come to know more about your new Vicar, my family, and why we feel God is calling us to leave a parish we have served for 9 ½ years and grown to love, and come to serve and fall in love with another one.

I was born in 1965 and grew up in small rural villages in East Anglia on the Suffolk/Cambridge/Essex borders.  I am married to Gina - we met at Sixth Form College in Cambridge. Gina has worked as a school matron and most recently in an artisan chocolate shop (we shall miss the free samples!).  We have three children, Luke (30), Zac (28), and Milly (21). Luke is the UK Deals Manager for Amazon. Zac works in Oxford producing mosquitoes that breed themselves out of existence – he’s also an artist (see logpots.co.uk).  Milly is in her third year of study to be a doctor at Barts and the London School of Medicine.

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We enjoy cooking, walking, and motorbiking.  When I find time I also enjoy horse-riding (with Milly), fishing, and running.  My background is in science - I read Geology at Sheffield University and then took an MSc in Palynology (the study of microfossils in Antarctica).  On graduating I worked on the testing and development of a wide range of construction materials for an international construction company (Redland).

I worked for Redland for nine years, including two living in Germany.  It was a career that I enjoyed - especially the variety of research projects that I undertook, the travel, and working with a small team.  I left Redland in 1998 to train for ministry within the Church of England. This involved going back to University and attending an open evangelical college in Bristol (Trinity College) where I took a BA in Theology.  I was ordained Deacon in 2000 and Priest in 2001, since when I have served at St. Mary’s, Horsham as curate; St Peter ad Vincula, Wisborough Green, as Vicar and Petworth Deanery as Rural Dean; and for the last 9 ½ years as Team Rector of Ifield and assistant Rural Dean of East Grinstead.

I served the wider diocese through being on our Inter Diocesan West African Links committee and in vocations discernment and Spiritual Direction.  We have done much together at Ifield including restructuring a parish of five churches serving a multi-ethnic, multi-faith population of 32,000 into two new parishes that are now more mission focussed than maintenance focussed and led by lay teams in areas such as mission, worship, pastoral care and healing, children’s and youth work.

So why leave?  Because I had come to feel and believe that I had done all I had been called to do in Ifield and that it was now time to move on, or as Dom Helder Camera writes;

Pilgrim:

when your ship,

long moored in harbour,

gives you the illusion

of being a house;

when your ship

begins to put down roots

in the stagnant water by the quay:

put out to sea!

Save your boat’s journeying soul

and your own pilgrim soul,

cost what it may.

It was time for a new adventure and along came the opportunity of Brockenhurst, Boldre and South Baddesley - parishes that took us back to the more rural roots that we had been missing, and ones that seemed to be very much alive with the desire to be about God’s ongoing work in the world.  We were so impressed with the warmth, joy and prayerfulness of your community that we experienced while on interview and very much look forward to becoming part of that community.

As we prepare to move I would ask all of you for one thing – your prayers – that we will be able to say ‘goodbye’ to our ‘church family’ here in Ifield with the care and attention that God calls us to have and to say ‘hello’ to our new family in Brockenhurst, Boldre and South Baddesley with just as much love and consideration.

With love and blessings,

Simon and family