Monthly Letter

Fr. James was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in 1965. Aged 14 he moved to Colchester. He has been married for 30 years to Kate. They met at Thomas Lord Audley School (Monkwick) in 1981. They married at St. Margaret’s Church, Berechurch in 1988. They have been blessed with the birth of four children, Robert, Lara, Paul and Alicia (all now in their 20s). They also have a beautiful grandchild called Evie Dot McCluskey.All their children are much loved by their parents, not least because they are their own kin, but also because they have journeyed as children, through teenage years to adulthood seeing their dad ordained and their beautiful mother raising the family within the spotlight of James’s commitment to public Christian ministry in the Church of England. This is no small matter given the level of love, commitment, support, sacrifices and changes the whole family have witnessed over the yearsAll this began when James was converted to Christianity and Kate renewed her faith on a Sunday evening on February 26th 1989. That happened following a ‘mission week’ at St. Margaret’s Church, Berechurch, led by Reverend Chris Harvey. A Gospel message was preached the night James was prayed with and subsequently gave his life to Jesus Christ and Kate too renewed her Baptismal promises.

James was baptised and confirmed and married life took on Christian purpose as they were discipled in the faith not just at St. Margaret’s Church, but also at St. Barnabas Church, Old Heath Colchester, with James taking up worship there under the tutelage of Fr. Robert Beaken.

This mix of evangelicalism and rich Anglo-Catholicism made for a heady fusion of spiritual life, knowledge and experience of the sacraments of the church and prayer. Often leading to a sense of call to serve the church as a priest, then following a time of discernment a Bishop’s Advisory Panel approved James for ordination formation and training.

In 2001 James and Kate moved their family with a sense of being ‘sent’ by both St. Margaret’s Church and St. Barnabas Church to the College and Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, Yorkshire. Whilst there James also attended Leeds University 2001- 2003 where James’s theological education and formation as priest took place.

Kate has supported James throughout the years, not least when James was Ordained Deacon (2003) and Priest (2004). Both Ordinations were by the former Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev, John Broadhurst, and they took place at St Mary’s Church, Swanley, North Kent where James served as Assistant Curate under the wise care of Fr. Michael Brundle (RIP). His Curacy was a wholly positive experience.

In 2006 Fr James became the Parish Priest of St. Luke’s Church, Prittlewell, Southend on Sea. Huge positive transformational change occurred in those 12 years. Not least with the new building of a large scale church centre but moreover in terms of missional work that grew the church spiritually and numerically amidst the faithful church members and certainly the wider community. A community of great needs with three local schools that welcomed his ministry.

Fr James will remain forever blessed and grateful to God for the faith, friendship, hard work, support of all as those people in Southend on Sea who worked with him and helped bring about a ‘transformative presence’ of God (even before the document was written). There was so much Christian witness and constructive positive change. So many good news stories could be told amidst the mixed emotions of journeying together in prayer through times of great sorrow, ill health and death. Now those vibrant years of public ministry by the Southend on Sea side end. It was a very tough decision to leave. . . but the right decision.

James and Kate are now living in Colchester and as Rector of St James with St Paul he will serve the people in his care with prayer, energy, and hard work. He is very much looking forward to celebrating the Masses in the parish church and the School of St James, teaching, proclaiming afresh the Gospel to this generation, organising missional works and starting programmes of discipleship that renew faith and pray God will seek the Holy Spirit in all things. He gives thanks to the ministry of all past incumbents of this great mediaeval church; not least for those priests (along with any family members) living or departed who leave behind the positive legacy of Christian faith and witness that will grow. It will enable James to start a new and fresh works in this new era. He doesn’t look to the past with disdain and neglect but will certainly move forward towards what God will do amongst the people of this ‘East End’ of Colchester.