Gorleston vicar serving the community
A Gorleston vicar who was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List, has been explaining how he came to be in Gorleston and about some of the work taking place in his community. Tony Rothe reports.
Revd Matthew Price, vicar of St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, was awarded the BEM for services to the local community during the first lockdown of the pandemic. Working in partnership with other local organisations, Matthew and his small team co-ordinated a group of over 100 local volunteers delivering, driving, collecting, phoning, praying, donating, door-knocking, cooking, cleaning, organising, packing and doing desk work such as databases and references.
Matthew Price grew up in East Anglia, mainly in Cambridgeshire, going on to study law at Chester and Cambridge. At university he became a Christian through the work of the Christian Union. After qualifying as a solicitor, he specialised in Intellectual Property Law for a major London firm which led to four years of working on top level assignments, often involving deals worth over a million pounds,
In 2006, he and his wife joined the Baptist Missionary Society and moved to Kampala in Uganda with their three-month-old son, developing a legal aid ministry working in prisons for three years. He returned to the UK as International Director for the Lawyer’s Christian Fellowship. They lived in Peterborough and were actively involved in an Anglican church which had been planted in a large and growing estate.
It was there he felt called to full time ministry and he trained in Oxford, working in a church in an area of the city not dis-similar to the Magdalen Estate in Gorleston.
Rev Price moved to Bradwell in 2016 with his wife Anna and children Barnabas, Charlotte and Rosanna. He transferred to St Mary Magdalene at the start of 2017, a church at the heart of the deprived Magdalen estate in Gorleston. The congregation had dwindled to below 20 and a failure to draw any applicants to the post of vicar led the Diocese of Norwich to appoint Matthew to the post of ‘Curate-in-Charge’ in January 2018. He was subsequently inducted as vicar on October 16, 2019.
Since his arrival congregations have grown, a thriving youth club and other youth work has been established, and Christmas and summer fun day events have been organised on the adjoining green which have attracted huge crowds. St Mary Magdalen also takes an active role in the local Foodbank and runs a weekly drop in, the Bridge, which provides a full hot meal. The church was visited last year by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Matthew said “At St Mary Magdalene, we are seeking to embody the priorities and concerns of Jesus Christ on the Magdalen estate and beyond. We want to see the transformation and flourishing of all aspects of life on the estate, not only the spiritual, but physical and emotional also. This means we are focusing on the individual and the local community rather than structures.”
The growing church, which currently has about 60 active members of all ages is engaged with many activities within the community, including a flourishing youth outreach and children's work, coffee mornings, food for children in school holidays, a parenting course, support for local schools, hot lunch club, Men’s Shed, Foodbank, telephone helpline/befriending, supported housing, door-to-door welfare checks, care home support, Christmas Day Lunch, and various community events.
Rev Price said “One of the most heart-warming things that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the way in which it has brought communities together. There has been so much to celebrate and much of what has happened would not have been possible without the amazing support and generosity of our community."
Read our story about Rev Matthew Price being awarded the BEM here.