cHRISTCHURCH UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

Carnarvon Road, Clacton on Sea, Essex

Minster: Reverend Chris Wood - Tel: 01255 224598

 

 

Background to the Rev’d Chris Wood

 

It is strange to imagine that I never wanted to leave our beloved ‘North’, but here we are, over six years later, very happily settled among people whom we have grown to love greatly.

I was nurtured in a traditional style of church and ministry. At the age of six, I had walked mostly twice a week the 30 minutes to the Congregational Chapel at the other end of the village (in 1972 becoming URC, but now merged with a Methodist Church in the next village). Worship and Sunday School became an important part of my developing life, as had Pilots, a mid-week non-uniformed organisation sponsored by the then Congregational Church. It was a situation in which everyone was valued, encouraged and challenged to work out their own faith story in the midst of its fellowship and outreach.

It was through the encouragement and support of the folk at Lightcliffe that I enlisted for a course in Community & Youth Work as a means of testing a call to ministry within the Church. That had led to 25 years of service to ‘Community Ministry’ on Merseyside and in West Yorkshire, both as a Community & Youth Worker as well as a Community Minister. I trained at Westminster College (1980 - 83) and was ordained at Brackenhall URC in December 1983.

Looking back on this time as a 'Community Minister' there were times when life was extremely difficult, challenging and demanding, but it is a time I will cherish for a long time to come.

Jayne was born and bred in Hunslet, South Leeds, and comes from a strong Methodist background, but with an appreciation of other traditions including Anglican and Evangelical Free. She played leading roles in Pantomime as well as Guides within the local fellowship, before responding to a call from the District Guides to take on board the leaderless and failing group at Belle Isle United Reformed Church. She turned things round, and left a thriving group (Rainbows through to Guides) and a strong leadership team.

We married on 5 November 1995 in South Leeds and continued to serve the churches of the South Leeds Team Ministry. Eventually, I felt that it was time to change direction within my ministry, both because of the frustration I felt at the time of being more involved in community than local church, but also because we were blessed with a beautiful son, Aaron, born on 5 August 1998 and South Leeds was very demanding on my time and energies.

Little did we realise that a visit to Christ Church in November 1998 while on holiday should eventually lead to a move ‘Down South’. I had known of Christ Church, Clacton, over many years but had never considered for a moment that it would be a situation to which I might be called. In the November of 1999 we had attended the morning service led by Rev’d Colin Knight.

Following the morning service, we were approached by numerous people in the hope that we’d consider looking at their situation with a view to becoming their minister. ‘We were just the kind of family they were looking for’ emphasised Catherine Grimsey and others at the time. Surprisingly (and somewhat reluctantly!) we believed that the church fellowship might be the kind of situation which I needed if I was to develop my ministry in the right and appropriate direction. We felt as a family very much at home in its midst, and that had encouraged us greatly.

It was with great delight and thanks to God when the call was eventually issued – albeit with a delayed introduction from the wider church that slowed the process down somewhat. It was at the end of August 1999 that we said our fond farewells to the good folk of South Leeds, and headed ‘down South’ and the challenges that await us, nervous but grateful that the Lord has led us to this place that very few people in Yorkshire had heard of. The apparent change of direction of my ministry may have seemed strange to many at the time, but not to Jayne and myself. We have always seen it as part of Gods mysterious involvement with each one of us in the working out of His greater purpose

The last six years have reinforced so many times and in so many different ways that those who seek to trust and follow where He leads will be blessed and sustained in their journey and confirmed in their calling. In that time, the worshipping fellowship has increased along with Junior Church and other church groups, the Eldership has been strengthened, our premises have been redeveloped to make them more ‘user friendly’ and we have a strong and healthy relationship with the wider community and Clacton as a whole.

We give thanks for all those who have supported and encouraged us in this stage of our ministry. We are very proud of our son, Aaron, who is now in the third year at St. Clare’s Roman Catholic School, and developing an acute sense of humour. Jayne is also happily settled at St. Clare’s as a Learning Support Assistant, a post she began in June 2005.

Rev'd Chris Wood, Jayne and Aaron

 

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