City centre parish welcomes new leader with vision for future partnerships

MORE THAN 200 people attended a special celebration on Thursday 10th August to welcome a new Team Rector to the Anglican parish at the heart of Liverpool.

The Team Parish of St Luke In The City is made up of three churches - St Michael In The City, the most centrally located church in Liverpool, about five minutes' walk from the city centre in Chinatown; St Bride's, in the heart of the Georgian Quarter in Canning; and St Dunstan's, which serves the community around Edge Hill.

It was formed in 1981 to promote partnership and regeneration in these deprived areas of the city and named in honour of the legacy of St Luke's, Bold Place, better known as 'the Bombed Out Church'.

The parish also provides chaplaincy support for women and their families in the care of the Liverpool Women's NHS Trust at the Women's Hospital on Crown Street.

Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev Paul Bayes led the service at St Dunstan's Church on Earle Road to enable the new Team Rector of St Luke In The City parish, the Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, to begin her ministry in this important role.

Miranda has moved with her family from Durham, where she was vicar of two parishes. She is also a writer and historian, and a regular speaker at Greenbelt, the annual Christian festival held every August bank holiday weekend.

Miranda's family includes husband Phil, who is a freelance chemical engineer, and their three children, Noah (15), Tobias (11) and Zoe (7).

Miranda wrote her latest book, The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook, together with her son Noah. It won the Best Book For Teenagers category in the Eden Christian publisher's awards for 2017.

She takes on the role following a competitive interview process in which candidates were asked to demonstrate how they would 'embrace the diverse communities of our three churches, and engage key institutions in the inner city,' according to the job advert.

During the event, Miranda was formally welcomed by representatives of organisations with whom the parish already has good partnerships, including

  • Cynthia Dowdle, Governor of the Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust,
  • Kate Jewett-Williams, a volunteer with Hope+ which runs a food bank in the parish,
  • Gerry Proctor, Chair of Engage Liverpool which represents city centre residents,
  • Stephen Yip, founder of the local children's charity Kind,
  • Kamal Masjari, Cultural Manager of the Al Ghazali Multicultural Centre, which offers community projects to promote inclusion and cohesion,
  • and Methodist minister Rev John Lansley representing other Christian communities.

Each of the three churches is exploring opportunities for regeneration and growth, including how St Michael In The City can get involved in new developments in Chinatown, and the 'Reimagining St Bride's' campaign to raise £2m to redevelop the city's last surviving Georgian church as an arts venue and community hub as well as a thriving worship community. St Dunstan's has already undergone an ambitious and beautiful reordering which is helping to realise its potential as a resource for the Edge Hill neighbourhood.

Miranda is committed to helping the three churches work together better as a team, and to developing new partnerships to strengthen the role of the parish in the continuing regeneration of the inner city.

Miranda said: 'I am delighted to have been appointed to the St Luke in the City team and look forward very much to contributing to making a difference in this vibrant city. Phil and I have loved what we've seen so far of the diversity, energy and good humour of Liverpool life!'

Team Vicar Revd Mark Waters, who led the parish during the vacancy, said: 'Miranda's arrival as our Team Rector marks a new chapter in the life of our churches. We are excited about future possibilities under her leadership.'

One partnership which the parish is keen to renew is with the Bombed-Out Church, the original city centre parish church dedicated to St Luke, which re-opened as an arts venue in June 2017 following major restoration.

The Bombed Out Church is licensed for public worship four times a year, and members of the St Luke in the City Team have led activities there in recent years, such as meditation in the Peace Garden, Night Church in the crypt, and a funeral for a homeless woman.

Ambrose Reynolds, Curator and Artistic Director of the Bombed Out Church said: 'There is so many issues for those living in the city centre, especially street drinking and rough sleeping. I look forward to working together with Miranda to ease the causes of what we see outside the church every night.

'The Bombed Out Church can help to build community in ways that aren't possible in other venues - using arts as an engine of change, the old St Luke's building can be a beacon of hope for the parish and the city,' he added.

The post of Team Rector of St Luke in the City Parish became vacant in July 2016 when the former Rector, Guy Elsmore, left after eleven year to become Archdeacon of Buckingham in the Diocese of Oxford.