Ex-outreach worker named new Norwich vicar
The new vicar for St Luke’s, St Augustine’s and C3 church in New Catton, Norwich, has been named as Rev David Austin, a former homeless and mental health outreach worker. Keith Morris reports.
David, who is currently a curate at St Peter’s, Addingham near Bradford, will be moving to Norwich in June.
David grew up in Swindon and attended a local Congregational (URC) church which was an Ecumenical Partnership with the Anglicans and Methodists – the first such partnership in the country. He was confirmed as a member of all three denominations.
“A year prior to my confirmation I had a profound sense of meeting God after an intense time of bullying at school – I see this as my point of conversion or spiritual awakening,” said David. “I later got involved in the Evangelical church – through Youth For Christ and identified with the Evangelicals within the Church of England, such as Michael Green (then Rector of St Aldates Oxford) and David Watson.
“I always felt from the age of 14 that God wanted me to do something ‘special’ and assumed this was ordination. I felt an inner certainty that this was the right ‘career’ choice but had to act in faith that God would make it possible as I was intensely shy and lacked confidence. I remember my first sermon in church went okay but immediately afterwards I collapsed and was in bed for the next three days.”
David spent a year in Birmingham with the City Mission learning about Urban Evangelism – door-to-door witness, preaching in the Bullring and handing out tracts, selling Bibles in the market and running Children’s Bible clubs. The Mission also ran a traditional soup kitchen and hostel for homeless men.
“It was here that I got my first experience of homeless work and this led me to spending 20 years in Manchester and East London as an Outreach & Care Manager for the homeless and those with psychiatric needs,” said David.
“I discovered so many people living on our streets had undiagnosed severe or complex mental health needs (often combined with alcohol or drug use) and so I began training in mental health work through the London hospitals and the charity MIND. I eventually ended up as a Registered Care Manager running a care home with a team of specialist workers for adults with severe mental health needs in Hackney.”
David spent three years with a missionary society (YWAM) in London, Mexico and Liverpool and three years as a Community Member of the Anglican Franciscans (Society of St Francis) in East London, whilst testing out his vocation. He also did a two-year diploma at the London Bible College in the mid 1980s.
"For me, the essence of Christianity is ‘renewed humanity’ through the God-Man Jesus Christ. Wherever people are seeking to renew themselves by loving their neighbours and being true to what they know of God, I believe healing and transformation can occur. I believe we have the potential 'In Christ' to repair our broken lives and broken communities when Heaven breaks through to Earth and God's will is seen on Earth as in Heaven,” said David. "We need to work for the advancement of God's Kingdom and not just restrict ourselves to living within the Church."
David studied theology at St John’s (Cranmer Hall) Durham in 2009-2011 and the training included practical placements in a high security prison and a summer placement in the Durban townships in South Africa.
He enjoys walking his labrador Sam, is interested in local history enjoys the cinema and theatre, is a Dr Who fan, an avid supporter of the Eurovision Song Contest and is committed to ecumenical action and issues of social justice.
David’s service of Institution at St Luke's, will take place on Saturday June 27, at 2.30pm.
Pictured above is Rev David Austin.