New priest to help Crawley church celebrate 60th birthday

jpco 28-1-15 St Barnabas Church will be turning 60 at the end of the month. (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150126-144436001
jpco 28-1-15 St Barnabas Church will be turning 60 at the end of the month. (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150126-144436001

A newly licensed priest will lead the celebrations as his church marks its 60th anniversary.

The Rev James Grant, of St Barnabas Church, Pound Hill, was licensed on January 13 after completing his training in Cambridge and being ordained in Manchester.

Now he is preparing to welcome a VIP to the church – the Bishop of Lewes – to help celebrate six decades of serving the community.

The celebrations will continue throughout the year but will begin on Thursday (January 29) with a commemoration service to which everyone is welcome.

Describing his move to Crawley, Rev Grant said: “The move has been quite a change in scenery: leaving post-industrial and football-mad Manchester and coming down south to Crawley.

“At least now I won’t be asked anymore whether I support City or United.

“We have been warmly welcomed by the community at Worth Parish both at St Barnabas and St Nicholas and are very happy to be able to share in the next chapter of the life of the church.”

As well as celebrating its milestone, the church will be undergoing a spot of renovation, replacing its 60-year-old windows thanks to a grant from Crawley Borough Council.

Rev Grant said he was keen for the church to be seen as the welcoming heart of the community. He added: “The anniversary is an opportunity for us to celebrate community as the church was built for the expanding Crawley and the new Pound Hill neighbourhood.

“I hope that through the anniversary celebrations we will be able to renew and strengthen the ties between the church and its community.”

The foundation stone for St Barnabas was laid on a wet and windy Saturday January 29 1955 by Alderman Sir Frederick Wells. The following autumn the completed church was dedicated by the Bishop of Chichester who described it as “singularly beautiful”.

Whatever the future holds for St Barnabas, the present is in the hands of an enthusiastic young priest, determined to serve his community well.

Rev Grant said: “It has been a real privilege to be able to come here. St Barnabas is a warm and welcoming church with facilities that enable it to be at the heart of the community. I do hope that we will continue to be a hub of activity for the community a place where people can feel welcomed.

The commemoration service will be held at 6.30pm at the church in Worth Road.