Pioneering Vicar on Thetford’s Abbey Estate
Rev Tony Heywood, a member of the Church of England’s Thetford Team Ministry, is looking forward to celebrating Mothering Sunday with a pioneering service on Thetford’s Abbey Estate.
Rev Tony Heywood moved to Thetford with his wife, Helen, last year to take on a new role as Team Vicar. His focus is to try to establish a new church on Thetford’s Abbey Estate.
An estimated 4,500 people live on the Abbey Estate, an area with a number of socio-economic issues such as a high percentage of unemployment, low levels of aspiration, a disproportionate number of young families and lone parents. Currently no church is based there.
On Sunday 18th March at 4pm Tony is extending an open invitation to the neighbourhood to come along to a Mothering Sunday service in the Art Centre of the Bishop’s Primary School on Canterbury Way. It will be the second service that Tony has hosted following a successful carol service before Christmas. The carol service attracted around 60 people, and was well supported by members of Thetford’s existing congregations.
Tony, who moved to Thetford following a curacy in South Cambridgeshire, said: “I was immediately attracted to the job partly because of the location and also because of the green light to start up a church.
“People have been very positive. To quote someone who helped out at our recent carol service: “Thanks for caring about this estate because not many people do”.
“It’s been lovely having the warmth and encouragement from the wider Thetford Christians Together group. No one has been at all parochial about it – they have genuinely been pleased that I’m here and am trying to get things going.”
In order to begin his ministry in the area and to start to get to know people, Tony has been taking weekly assemblies at the Bishop's Primary School, taking a fortnightly service at the Priorsmead Care Home and helping with a local Kidz Klub.
Looking ahead, Tony has plans for a service to be held on Easter Sunday, followed by a 6 week Christianity Explored course on Thursday evenings. He is also organising a summer holiday club for primary school children on the 9th -11th August with an Olympics theme leading into an all age service on Sunday 12th August.
Tony says: “I don’t have any set plans on when a more regular congregation might be up and running. We are just going to try these things and see what God does. We will pray hard and see what comes of it.”
Pictured: Rev Tony Heywood with his wife, Helen.