St Mary’s, Andover gets set to feed the 5,000 with new vicar
5th March 2019: On Sunday Bishop David Williams installed the Reverend Chris Bradish as the new vicar of St Mary’s, Andover, as the parish announced its hope to ‘feed the five thousand’ in Andover over the coming year.
New vicar Chris Bradish said, “It is a great privilege to be vicar of St Mary’s. I can’t wait to meet the people of Andover and food brings us together, so let’s eat! – at the burger van, in schools, on the high street, in homes and in church – It’ll be great fun, we’ll make new friends and build community. If Jesus fed 5,000 in one sitting, 5,000 meals in a year should be easy!”
Andover is one of the fastest growing towns in Hampshire and Chris’s arrival is part of the Church of England’s response to the changing face of the town, as growing numbers of people, particularly young professionals and families continue to move into the area. St Mary’s is set to become a ‘resource church’, one of five such churches in the Diocese of Winchester.
As a resource church, St Mary’s will build a new vision focused on loving and serving the people of Andover. As part of this, St Mary’s is working with Winchester University to explore opportunities to promote wellbeing across the town community, and will start by aiming to share 5,000 meals with others over the course of the next year.
New vicar Chris Bradish said:
“Like many others in Andover, we have moved as a family from London to be here. I am looking forward to meeting people from all walks of life over the coming months and to learning what it means to be an Andovarian! Andover has a proud and rich history. St Mary’s is an important part of that story, but I am looking forward even more to Andover’s future – it’s all to play for and I can’t wait to be part of it!
“My prayer is that St Mary’s will be a beating heart for Andover which pumps life around the town. I hope many people will consider joining us as we begin this exciting new chapter in the life of St Mary’s. St Mary’s is Andover’s church - everyone is invited and welcome!”
Chris was ordained in 2016 and served a curacy in nearby Alton before serving on the clergy team under Revd Nicky Gumbel at Holy Trinity Brompton (‘HTB’) in London. Before training for the priesthood, he worked as a lawyer in the City of London. On Sunday he was installed in his new role by the Right Reverend David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke.
Bishop David said:
“As Andover develops and changes, it is so important that our local church evolves with it. Our role as a Christian community should be to reach out to everyone, whether they have previously encountered faith or not, and make them feel welcome. St Mary’s already plays an important role in doing that in Andover, but I hope with Chris’s arrival its place at the centre of the community will only grow.”
St Mary’s has been the site of Christian worship in Andover for over 1,000 years. The present Gothic church is the third church to have been built on the site, and dates back to 1844. St Mary’s plays a vital role in the life of Andover, and plays host to many major civic events.
This project is the latest initiative of Winchester Mission Action, the Diocese of Winchester’s ambitious plan to engage with the ‘missing generations’ of young people across Hampshire and East Dorset, bringing the Christian message to people who have not previously interacted with the Church of England.