A Message from Jessica
20/10/2021 - I’m Jessica, the new vicar, and I’m really excited to be here among you and starting work in the parish. I’m looking forward to meeting you and getting to know you and to us discerning together what God has for us, the Parish of Holy Trinity with St John’s Penge, in this new season. Thank you to everybody who has welcomed me, prayed for me, and worked so hard to bring us to the stage we are at now.
This is an exciting time, but it may also feel at times like a confusing and anxious time, as you wonder whether the things you love about being church here will survive the merger process, and about how much change you are going to have to experience. As I said last Sunday, there is (as yet!) no Grand Strategy. Decisions about the future of our worship and witness will be taken over the coming months, out of a process of joint prayer, conversation and discernment, and will be decisions of the PCC, not simply whims of the new vicar! My promise to you is that we will communicate with you what is being discussed at the different stages of the process, inviting your comments and suggestions, and being partners with you in prayer for our new parish. My request to you is that you talk to us, that concerns are brought into the open and discussed, rather than our anxieties growing like weeds in the dark. I am aware that you may not all have my contact details yet, and they should be printed below. Please do get in touch if you have any anxieties about the merger process or anything else you would like to talk about – or just to say hello!
Over the summer, I have been praying regularly Paul’s prayer for the church community in Philippi in Philippians 1: “that our love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight, to help us to determine what is best, so that, on the day of Christ, we may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). I pray this with joy, excited about our partnership in the gospel in this season, and, like Paul, “confident that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion by the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
May God bless you richly in this coming season.
We had a great service of celebration on Wednesday 13th October 2021, as Jessica Smith was licensed by Bishop Simon and installed by Archdeacon Paul as the new vicar of Holy Trinity with St John's. We look forward to working with her in her new role in Penge as she gets to know the churches, the area and the local community.
Introducing the Revd Jessica Smith
Although the Medway Towns have been home to me for the last 19 years, I am, in fact, a South Londoner, born in Lewisham Hospital, brought up in Blackheath and going to secondary school in Dulwich. Many of my early experiences of independence as a teenager involved catching the 261 bus to Bromley to meet friends in the Glades.
Having attended Sunday School from childhood, I became a Christian aged thirteen. I will always be grateful for the prayerful, creative children’s and youth leaders who ?rst nurtured my faith.
After university, I spent twenty years teaching modern languages (French and Spanish) and, occasionally, had the opportunity to teach my real love – Latin!
Although I enjoyed teaching, from around 2011 the sense that God was calling me to something else grew stronger and stronger and, after some ups and downs along the way, I found myself, somewhat to my own surprise, starting ordination training at Ridley Hall in September 2016.
My curacy has been served at St Francis of Assisi church in Strood, and it has been a great privilege to walk alongside the people of that parish over the last few years. In my spare time, I enjoy making music with others. I play the piano and violin, and sing, and am actively seeking recommendations for local choirs and orchestras!
I am so looking forward to getting to know you, the people of Holy Trinity and St John’s, at this exciting moment in the shared life of our parish. No doubt there will be challenges ahead as we begin to discern the shape of the new thing God is doing among us, but I am con?dent that “the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ.” [Philippians 1:6]"
Confirmation of our new vicar from the bishop
"The Bishops of Rochester and Tonbridge are delighted to announce that The Revd Jessica Smith is to be the next Priest-in-Charge (Vicar-designate) for Holy Trinity, Beckenham and St John's, Penge.
Jessica has just completed her curacy at St Francis of Assisi, Strood, which is a busy town-centre parish in the Medway Towns.
She has a real passion for and commitment to the community, and is looking forward to building on the excellent links already in place and finding new opportunities to demonstrate Jesus' love for all. It is clear the outward-looking focus of both Holy Trinity and St John's will suit Jessica very well, and she is looking forward to getting to know both church families and working with them as they come together with a shared vision and purpose.
Before training for ordination at Ridley Hall, Jessica spent 20 years in education where she taught French to grammar school students - and for more than a decade was Head of the Modern Languages Department. She is an enthusiastic musician, playing violin and piano in the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, as well as singing in the Rochester Choral Society.
Please do hold Jessica in your prayers as she prepares to move in readiness for her new ministry in the parish."
Jessica's licensing as the new vicar for Holy Trinity with St John's is on Wednesday 13th October, 7:30pm at St John's Church, Penge.
Future plans For
St John's and
Holy trinity SE20
We want to announce an exciting, new and unique situation in our church and local area.
St John’s, Penge currently has a vacancy for a new vicar. At the same time, Nick Read, the vicar at Holy Trinity SE20 in Lennard Road, is approaching retirement. These two churches are within a few hundred yards of each other and will be going through change at the same time. Holy Trinity and St John’s are similar in style, approach and priorities, with committed congregations dedicated to serving God through social outreach within, and for, the local area as part of their worship. They also face comparable challenges in relation to this service, both in terms of people power and of finances.
Given the proximity of the two churches to one another, the two vacancies, and their resemblance in size, income and outlook, we plan to merge St John’s and Holy Trinity into one church to benefit us all, to consolidate our resources and to enable us to better serve God and our community together. We see this as embracing a fuller, more powerful version of our existing identities.
The merger will involve appointing one vicar but retaining both church buildings; having one church family but retaining both heritages; having one voice but carried and influenced by all of our members. We will have one vision that is shaped by us all, as we seek God’s will together.
As we have been considering this new phase in our church’s life, we are reminded of God’s words to the people of Israel:
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”