Appointment marks a new era for Beccles churches

The Rev Rich Henderson is the new priest in charge of the parish of Beccles.

The Rev Rich Henderson is the new priest in charge of the parish of Beccles. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The Rev Rich Henderson is stepping into a new role, but it will be in familiar territory for the former Beccles curate.

Rev Rich Henderson outside St Michael's Church in Beccles.

Rev Rich Henderson outside St Michael's Church in Beccles. - Credit: Nick Butcher

After four years in the town, he spent seven years in Reydon near Southwold as part of the Sole Bay team, and will now fill the vacancy left after John Beauchamp’s retirement.

He said: “I was at that stage where I was thinking it was about time to move on and look for another job around the country. But nothing felt right and then somebody said ‘What do you think about Beccles?’.

“I did my curacy here from 2006 to 2009 and I loved it.

“I had a one-to-one session with the Diocese and said that I had got Beccles in my head and I was supported. It felt right and I was delighted to get the job.”

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There will be a ceremony at St Michael’s for the Rev Henderson’s licencing and installation as priest in charge of the parish of Beccles later this month, and then the work begins.

He said: “It’s a big job and it’s great to be coming back as the priest in charge. There’s lots to do

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“One of the things that excited me is there’s a very strong team of people here who lead the church and I’m looking forward to having that kind of support.”

And although the church is already a key part of the community, the Rev Henderson hopes he can build on what has already been done and take the church into a new era.

He said: “I’m coming with the focus of trying to grow the church in terms of getting younger members, how it can grow in numbers and in terms of influence and how we can impact society.

“I’m interested in exploring how a church can be open, be accessible and share good news.

“I want the community to feel that this is their church.

“And I never want to lose sight of the fact that it’s a place of worship and a sacred place first and foremost.

“It’s somewhere people can come any time, any day and just pray, or be quiet. I want the place to be used. I don’t want it to be empty.”

And he paid tribute to those who have kept both churches running since the Rev Beauchamp retired, as Bishop Gavin Reid took over his duties at St Michael’s Church, while Rev Andrew Platt and Rev Philip Miller looked after St Luke’s.

“They’ve done an amazing job and left things in really good shape and they are still going to be actively involved in the church and that’s fantastic,” he said.

But above all, the Rev Henderson said it was an honour to take on the role, which he felt is what God was calling him to do.

“St Michael’s is the iconic Beccles scene,” he said. “And it’s such a lovely town, it’s thriving and growing and I want the church to be a part of that and work with other agencies in the town to build community.

“I want everyone in the congregation to feel they’ve got a part to play.”

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