St James, Millbrook - The power of faith

Curate, Revd Charlie Laver,  explains how faith has given a new sense of energy and rejuvenation to St James, Millbrook, a church facing some very difficult decisions just a couple of years ago. 

The church sits in the outer reaches of the Northeast tip of the Diocese of Chester, on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District. It's less than two miles away from Holy Trinity in Staybridge, a church that has a vibrant culture and a congregation of around one hundred people.

Despite the two churches' close geographical location to each other, in some ways, they were miles apart. The numbers of those attending St James were not as high as Staybridge and their much-loved vicar, Rev Chris Viney, who had been faithfully working with the congregation for 7 years, was soon to retire. It was a time of uncertainty for St James and many questions were being asked. Could the church continue as it had been doing, would it be possible to grow the congregation, can a new vicar be found to build on Chris's legacy? 

Holy Trinity. wanted to help, and so began a period of discussions among their congregation about what they could do. One of the congregation members was Charlie Laver, who was not ordained at the time. She began to get a sense that this might be her calling, to help to re-build St James. A plan formed, among her and the congregation, that she would apply for ordination training and then work out her curacy at St James, under the guidance and mentorship of the Vicar at Holy Trinity, Gary Kennaugh. 

Cut to a couple of years later and Charlie is now the curate at St James, just as she and her previous church had envisaged.  Charlie's arrival, just like the vicars and members of the congregation at St James throughout the ages all started with them putting faith in God, and then good things happened.

In the words of Vicar at Holy Trinity, Gary Kennaugh, "We believe that God is a generous God and calls us to give away our best and give away of ourselves". His church didn't give away just one of their congregation, they prayed that others would also leave, to worship at St James, and that is what happened, People left because they too felt the calling to help a neighbouring church. For a while, Holy Trinity had to find a way to manage without some of their congregation including their valued Treasurer. They gave away, but their faith gave back. The empty spaces left in the pews were soon filled to the extent that "We now have a bigger congregation than before," says Gary.



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