New chaplain of Ilford Hospital Chapel announced

PUBLISHED: 07:40 05 December 2014 | UPDATED: 07:47 05 December 2014

Rev Martin Howse, the new chaplin at Ilford Hospital Chapel

Rev Martin Howse, the new chaplin at Ilford Hospital Chapel


The new chaplain of one of the oldest chapels outside central London has been announced.

Rev Martin Howse, who is also vicar St Augustine’s Church, in Rush Green, has been interim at Ilford Hospital Chapel, Ilford Hill, Ilford, since Father Mervyn Jennings passed away in August.

But last week Rev Howse, a former Redbridge Council worker, was announced as Father Jennings’ permanent replacement.

He is still presides over both places of worship and regularly makes the 10 minute journey either by bus or train to lead a service.

“It is a great privilege to be chaplain of this chapel too,” he said. “I hope to keep this chapel central to those of a Christian faith within the borough.”

Congregation members have expressed concern in the past few months about the need to attract a younger congregation to the church, built in 1145.

“It is not a conversation I have had with them,” said Father Howse, before adding: “It is true however both of this chapel and any other church that if you do not account for a younger audience you will eventually go extinct.

“I am trying to get it just right – so we account for all ages – by changing things like the style of worship and ensuring accessibility.”

Although Rev Howse is aware of the need for accessibility, he is wary of the need to stick to the chapel’s high church Anglo-Catholic style.

“Label are never helpful though,” he added.

Rev Howse, though, said the task ahead did not leave him “excited” because Father Jennings had been a “great friend” of his.

“I will keep the festivals of the church going in addition to the weekly service,” he said. “People like to know that the building is being used for its historic purpose.

“I am honoured to have taken over from Father Jennings on his site.

“People have been worshiping here for nearly 900 years - that is pretty much an unbroken run.”

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