From our Team Rector

December's letter from Revd. Ren.


I am delighted to have been appointed Team Rector for the newly-expanded Bexley Team and want to thank all those who have offered words of encouragement and support. It has to be said that I start with a bit of an advantage, because I already know the four churches in the Team, and have worked with all of you in the past. The announcement of my appointment came in the middle of my Extended Ministerial Development Leave (aka Sabbatical!), and so I have been able to use some of that time to begin thinking about how the Team might go forward. The primary task of my leave, however, has been to study the work of a medieval mystic, called Walter Hilton, who was passionate about helping all people develop their faith – not just a religious elite!


In studying Walter’s work (we are on first name terms now!), I have spent a fair bit of my time in the wonderful British Library.


It seems that whatever time I visit, the huge building is packed with people. At the heart of the Library is a vast and valuable collection of books. Wherever you go, people are following their own line of specialist research. In the Reading Rooms, you’re expected to be absolutely silent. No conversation is permitted. I observed one comically mimed discussion as a lady politely asked a young man to silence his phone which was making a small ‘clicking-shutter’ sound as he took a photo of a page that he wanted to refer to later! 

In contrast to the silent Reading Rooms, the Public Study areas and the many coffee shops (do we really need all that caffeine?) are abuzz with earnest conversations, interspersed with much laughter. Everywhere there are young students from the nearby colleges who are, I assume, typing up their essays and dissertations. There are older people, surrounded by piles of books, possibly authors doing research for their latest novel. There are members of staff behind the counters, busy locating urgently needed volumes on obscure subjects and delivering them to those engrossed in their study topics. It is a well-ordered hive of academic activity!


After one visit, sitting on the number 91 bus on my way back to Charing Cross, it struck me that the activity of the British Library is rather like the activity of the Church. (And not because you are expected to be quiet in church!) You see, at the heart of Church is the valuable collection of books we call The Bible, as well as lots of writings that have come down to us from Christian writers and thinkers over the generations. Then, the congregation is a bit like the students and researchers, and the church leaders are a bit like the library’s backroom staff.


Each person in the church community is like a dedicated student who is seeking some kind of knowledge of God in their own way, responsible for their own ‘research’, that is, their own growth in faith. They might be reading the Bible or other Christian literature for themselves. They might be thinking deeply. Or perhaps they are just looking for somewhere warm and safe to shelter from the rain outside. Sometimes they will be deeply engaged in conversation with other people, discussing and learning through conversation and exchange of ideas. Or just enjoying each other’s company.


In the background, hopefully enabling all this to happen, are the ‘staff’ who are keeping things ticking along, responsible for creating the right atmosphere for learning and growth, using their own knowledge and experience to suggest new material for consideration, and where they can, offering advice and support.


So, this is my vision for the Bexley Team, as we move forward together!

That we will all take the Bible seriously and be willing and eager to learn from it. That each and every person who connects with the four churches will feel encouraged to explore their own religious and spiritual understanding, in whatever way is best for their character and temperament. But that their individual growth in faith will be supported and encouraged by others, who are themselves embarked on a similar ‘journey’. And helping all this to happen, the ‘staff’ – clergy and lay leaders – who are deepening their own knowledge and seeking to put in place a range of things that will support the worship, growth and development of us all.

God bless

Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

The Vicarage, 6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, DA5 2BB   

01322 528923;



Printer Printable Version
Page last updated: 11th December 2018 9:13 PM