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Wanstead Christ Church’s new reverend pleased priesthood is no longer ‘about people’s gender’

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:48 02 October 2017

Rev Ann Clarke is the new priest of Christ Church, in Wanstead. Picture: April Roach

Rev Ann Clarke is the new priest of Christ Church, in Wanstead. Picture: April Roach

Archant

The first woman to preach at Christ Church twenty years ago is returning to the parish of Wanstead as the new priest.

Rev Ann Clarke is the new priest of Christ Church, in Wanstead. Picture: April RoachRev Ann Clarke is the new priest of Christ Church, in Wanstead. Picture: April Roach

On September 14, Christ Church held a licensing service to welcome its new associate priest, Rev Ann Clarke.

In the new role for the church in Wanstead Place, Wanstead, the 71-year-old hopes to engage her congregation with scripture through preaching and teaching the Gospel.

She said: “I want to focus on Christian nurture for both young people and adults in the church.

“I’m part of a great team to hopefully achieve a vision of a church that is outgoing and welcoming.”

Rev Clarke was called to priesthood at the age of 14, but wasn’t ordained until 37 years later.

She said: “It was difficult due to struggles in the church but now a lot has changed.

“Twenty years ago, I was the first woman to preach in both Christ Church and St Mary’s Church, which was a really big move back then.

“The lovely thing is that many people have changed. Priesthood is not about people’s gender, it’s about what we are bringing to God.”

Born and raised in rural south Shropshire, Rev Clarke has always been involved in the church.

Before beginning her ministry as a stipendiary priest in charge at Holy Cross Church, in Bognor Regis, Rev Clarke was a priest in secular employment for five years.

She hopes that her wealth of teaching experience and her familiarity with the area will help her in her new role.

The new priest worked as a secondary school teacher for 33 years and was the deputy head of three schools in east London and Southend before her ordination.

She said: “I like the fact that that Wanstead is semi-rural, but it’s also in close proximity to the city.

“It’s great to come back to an area that is really multi-ethnic.”

Rev Clarke admires Pope Francis.

She said: “I think he has an amazing way of proclaiming the gospel.”

Her favourite quote is from the Archbishop William Temple, who said: “The church exists for those who do not yet belong.”


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