Norwich vicar moves on from two city churches
A Norwich vicar with a passion for inclusion is moving on from the city centre churches of St Luke’s and St Augustine’s. Keith Morris reports.
Rev David Austin will be leaving Norwich in April having accepted the post of Vicar for the parish of Holy Trinity Coldhurst and Parish of St Stephen and All Martyrs in Oldham.
David came to Norwich in June 2015 following a career in housing and health - specialising in management and care of adults with psychiatric and complex needs.
“I was attracted to St Luke’s as it had signed up to be an affiliate church of ‘Inclusive Church’ under its previous vicar, Rev Nicholas Vesey who is now interfaith pastor in Aspen, Colorado,” said David.
David has been the Inclusive Church Ambassador for Norwich/Norfolk and in this role says he has sought to remove barriers to inclusion within the Church on grounds of ethnicity, poverty, disability, mental health, gender or sexuality.
He announced to his congregations in January 2016 his intention to enter into Civil Partnership with his long-term and long-distance male partner from Ghana, who was seeking immigration to live with him in Norwich, which they did in January 2017.
Since coming to Norwich, David has worked with many faith groups in the city, including Transforming Norwich, Fishergate House of Prayer, the FGBMFI, the Congolese Fire International Pentecostal Church, the Rose Lane Bangladeshi Mosque and Norwich Interfaith Link.
David instigated a well-attended Norwich diocesan day conference on Gender and Transgender issues in October 2016 and helped organise a “Christians at Pride” stall at the Forum for Norwich LGBT Pride over the past three years. This was supported by a number of clergy and laity and, last year, by two bishops from the Diocese, with outreach funding provided to reach out to the 7000+ people who attend the event.
He is also chaplain to the local Gay pub in his parish, the Catherine Wheel on St Augustine’s Street, and is a founder member of Created - an LGBT Christian group that meets in Norwich. www.created.org.uk
David said: “St Luke’s is committed to supporting the homeless, elderly, vulnerable, disabled and marginalised through four well-attended and long-standing weekly social and lunch clubs as well as hosting the English Plus literacy classes for asylum seekers and refugees.”
Sam Pittam-Smith, lay chair of the joint PCC of St Luke with St Augustine, said: “Throughout David’s time with us inclusivity has been a core focus of his ministry. For many of us the church should be somewhere that welcome’s everyone who comes, just as Jesus did.
“It was great to welcome David’s partner, Godfred, into our church family. We wish David and Godfred all the best as they prepare for their move to Oldham and hope their time there will be rich in blessings for them both, and the congregations that David goes to serve.”
The Chief Exec of Inclusive Church, Ruth Wilde, is speaking at St Luke’s on Palm Sunday (March 25), at 10.30am, about Jesus’ controversial stand for the stigmatised and outsider. UPDATE - Ruth is unable to attend and there will be a dramatic reading of the Passion instead.
Pictured above is Rev David Austin.