24th May 2012
St Anselm’s Church
Hayes Town Centre
Diocese of London: Willesden Area
The Church and its Setting
St Anselm’s Church, built in 1927, stands on the High Street at the centre of Hayes Town. It is an outstandingly beautiful and spacious building and the fabric has been kept in good order. It has a definite catholic tradition and the church building is designed and furnished to accommodate imaginative liturgy. Resolution B is in place.
The town centre has undergone a huge programme of regeneration and reinvestment in recent years which, as the clergy of the Hillingdon chapter remarked recently, has not been matched by the Church. The appointment of a stipendiary priest to lead and develop St Anselm’s was identified in 2011 as the mission priority in the Willesden Area. A stipend is now becoming available during the course of 2012.
The congregation is fragile and has struggled since the departure of a previous incumbent and a large number of leading lay people to Rome in 1994, and having been without a stipendiary incumbent since 1998. The Electoral Roll currently stands at 56.
There is a culture of dependency and passivity in the congregation but for the past 18 months, the input a community development worker and a priest consultant has begun to reverse that situation. There are signs that the congregation is starting to move from dependency to collaboration as they look forward to the appointment of a stipendiary incumbent with whom they can work in partnership. This will be a challenging ministry for the new priest who will need to be prepared to play a long game.
Despite problems, difficulties, frustrations and setbacks the congregation has carried on courageously and has been bold in its approach to Common Fund and playing its part in the deanery.
There is a huge mission opportunity here, and vast potential for developing St Anselm’s as a community hub in central Hayes. There have been dreams of developing the liturgical West end of the building as a community space with glass doors onto the street, leading to the experience of sacred space closer to the altar. The MP, John McDonnell who is a keen supporter of developing St Anselm’s has described it recently as “the best location in central Hayes.”
St Anselm’s has suffered in recent years from being led by a succession of non-stipendiary priests unavailable, because of their secular employment during the working day when Hayes town centre is full of people. There is evidence that lots of people in the wider community would like to be able to go into the church but can’t because for much of the time, apart from the weekly food bank, a weekday mass and morning prayer on Saturday, it stands closed.
The Hillingdon Deanery Mission and Ministry Group who care passionately about the future of St Anselm’s have identified the following qualities as needed in a new incumbent. We would hope that such a person would fit the criteria we’ve listed and thus he:
• Should be a first class catholic mission priest in the mould of those who’ve developed St Michael’s Camden Town, a close parallel.
• Should begin by winning the confidence, support and collaboration of the key lay leaders to work together for the development of the laity as a whole.
• Should be able to develop a strategy for the whole congregation and major stakeholders in the wider community of central • Hayes to build a common vision for the future life and mission of St Anselm’s.
• Must be committed to developing collaborative lay ministry.
• Enable the building of links and appropriate partnerships between the church and wider community.
• Have proven experience of and a heart for urban/town centre ministry.
• Be an entrepreneur with vision, imagination and creativity to develop the building.
• Be resilient yet sensitive and able to handle conflict creatively.
• Be able to nurture the whole worshipping community across age barriers.
• Be a high profile presence in central Hayes.
A new priest will need appropriate support which could include
• The Hayes ecumenical clergy fraternal – recently relaunched
• Local Anglican clergy, especially catholics, in a reciprocal network of support
• Peer mentor
For further information or expressions of interest please contact
The Area Dean of Hillingdon, Fr Simon Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01895 633040