Village Archive

26th Jul 2017 Last updated at 17:06

The Jackson’s Time in Chipstead and St Margaret’s

The Revd. Phil Jackson conducted his final service at St. Margaret’s Church, Chipstead on 23rd July 2017, after 3 years and nine months as Rector. Phil and his family moved to Reigate where Phil took up his new post as school Chaplain at Reigate Grammar School.

Throughout his time at Chipstead Phil was universally liked and was popular with everyone associated with the church and those elsewhere in the parish who knew him.

Phil has written a short account of his time in Chipstead here:

We arrived in Chipstead during September 2013 ready to start at St Margaret’s in November.  In fact my first Sunday was Remembrance Sunday which whilst a very sombre Sunday to arrive on was a good opportunity to meet lots of local people who perhaps don’t come to church on a normal Sunday.

The impression we had of St Margaret’s before we arrived was of a church that was friendly and welcoming and in good heart.  We did recognise that there had been a huge amount of change in previous few years much of which was appreciated but there had been some difficulties too.  I had always felt that my ministry was to be one of consolidation, encouragement and with a pastoral centre.  I felt that some sections of the more traditional congregation needed to feel a little more valued and to have the reassurance that their worship was not going to be marginalised.  I found St. Margaret’s to be as I expected a friendly and outgoing congregation but one that was incredibly diverse as well in terms of styles of worship and approach.  I came committed to grow and sustain each of these different styles.

I also came with a young family (Sam, Katie and Isabelle) all of whom were primary aged children when we arrived in Chipstead.  The children’s and families work was growing already when we arrived and we had a superb Children and Families worker in Kathryn who had built up the ministry over a short period of time.  Many others in the congregation had been committed to the children and young people over a long period of time and it is this foundation that enabled us to continue to build.  When Kathryn moved on after we had been at St Margaret’s for a year, my wife Steph took over the role.  She built on the already great work and expanded the provision for young families in the area as well as expanding MessyChurch and the JuniorChurch on Sundays.

The Jackson Family

The Jackson Family

This was added to with the appointment in 2015 of a youth and schools worker.  Charlie Day was with us for about 16 months and did a great job at building up the work among teenagers of the church.  He also worked with SparkFish- a local schools work charity working with vulnerable teenagers in the local schools.  Charlie was replaced in April 2017 with Amy Reeves who is doing a brilliant job at continuing and developing the work that Charlie started.

So, the priorities of building up the children’s and youth work seemed to be an obvious need and one that we committed ourselves to straight away.  One of the other key things that I felt when I arrived at St Margaret’s was the need to have more of an outward focus and to try and be more welcoming and connected to the wider community.  To this end we set up CAMEO which is a drop in afternoon in Hooley village Hall once a month.  We also attempted to make connections in Netherne on the Hill in various ways including Steph going up to spend some time at their stay and play toddler group.  We also started a monthly service at the Care Home in the village- Chipstead Lodge and enabled some visiting there as well.  Another part of our Mission Action Plan is to reach out to lonely and isolated older people with a visiting programme and to see if we can plant a ‘fresh expression of church’ in Netherne.  We’ll see where we get to on those!

In terms of village life our first impressions were of a village where there is so much happening!  There are so many clubs and societies in Chipstead that you could fill every day of the week!  However it is perhaps a little harder for those who don’t connect in this kind of way to find that sense of belonging and community.  The struggle of busy roads and a lack of pavements does mean that naturally bumping into people for a chat around the village doesn’t happen as much as in some places.  Also we suffer I think from not having a natural centre or meeting places in terms of shops etc.  Of course there is the parade of shops in ChipsteadValley, but that does feel a bit removed from the rest of the village.  I think this means that for some it can feel quite hard to break into the community and we have to work hard at finding ways to relate and connect with others as a church.

We came not knowing how long we would be in Chipstead for- there was no master plan!  We have very much enjoyed our time here both in terms of the ministry that God has called us to and as a family.  However when the opportunity to re-enter school life emerged as a school Chaplain at Reigate Grammar school it felt like my two loves of teaching and pastoral care could come together in a role that would suit me really well.  It was an opportunity that was too good to turn down.

Having been here for only three years and nine months I am one of the Rectors on the board with the shortest tenure!  However, I hope it has been a good season for the church- one of encouragement, nurture and consolidation.  I certainly feel that the church is in good heart and ready for both the vacancy and for the new Rector to arrive.  I have no doubt that the future for St Margaret’s is one of further growth and life and my prayer is that the church will continue to reach out with God’s love to the communities of the parish and further afield into God’s world.  It has been a privilege to serve here and it is a chapter of our lives that we will hold very dearly as we move onto pastures new.

Phil Jackson - 11th July 2017