I am enormously thankful to God for each member of our staff team at St Mary’s. It’s a privilege to work with a team who love the Lord Jesus and are passionate about knowing him and making him known. The staff are so grateful to the whole church family for all the ministry you do and the encouragement and support you give us.

We have some changes coming up in the staff team over the next few months, and some vacancies that I would love us all to pray about.

I am thrilled to announce that Scott Bedford will begin later this month as our Facilities Manager working three days a week. Jan Strydom has done a brilliant job maintaining, improving and running our extensive town centre site and other properties. At the end of December Jan and Elna will complete the process of moving house to South Wales, however Jan will also continue as St Mary’s Facilities Manager for two days a week. With Jan and Scott sharing the role I believe God has provided us with the dream team!

At the end of March 2024 John Blackbeard will step down as Operations Manager after six years in post. John and Dick West have shared the Operations Manager job since 2018. Together they have done so much behind the scenes to serve the Lord and keep St Mary’s running smoothly. I am very grateful to John and we wish him well as from April he is able to spend more time with Ann and the family. I am delighted that Dick has agreed to increase his working hours from the start of April 2024. This means that once again we will have one Operations Manager and Dick will take on many of John’s current responsibilities.

In September I shared the sad news that Melinda Stylo will step down as our Youth Minister at the end of December this year due to the medication she needs to help with her long-standing kidney disease. Melinda has been absolutely marvellous as our Youth Minister and we will miss her immensely on the staff team. Melinda will continue as part of the church family at St Mary’s and will be able to help her successor settle into post. The Youth Ministry is of first importance to all of us at St Mary’s. We have advertised for a new Youth Minister. Please pray for the Lord to raise up a godly, faithful man or woman to take on this role. In the meantime, other members of the staff team and volunteers will step forward to lead the various elements of our Youth Ministry.

We have also advertised for a Part-Time Director of Music to join the staff team during 2024. Matthew O’Donovan, James Ainscough, Paul Leddington Wright and the entire team of singers and musicians do a wonderful job in leading our music on a voluntary basis. The new Director of Music will not replace what they do, but build on it especially in encouraging new musicians, developing our repertoire and exploring opportunities for outreach through music. Again, please do pray that if it is the Lord’s will he will raise up a godly, faithful and capable person to take on this role.

Jon Drake

November 2023