After more than two years without a vicar, St Barnabas Church in Sea Road has been upgraded and now has the services of a retired bishop.
The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, former Bishop of Blackburn, was asked by Bishop Martin Warner of Chichester to give pastoral oversight to this Anglican church.
Bishop Nicholas arrived at St Barnabas at the beginning of November, but did not have to travel far, having retired to Bexhill two years ago.
Indeed, he grew up in the town, attending three schools, all of which “have now been pulled down.”
Many of his previous roles were in Sussex, before he went to Blackburn.
At 68, Bishop Nicholas seems re-fired rather than retired. By his side is wife Christine and they have a married daughter and are proud grandparents.
Even since retiring he has been helping Bishop Martin by serving as Assistant Bishop in Chichester and in Europe and has also been Assistant Priest at All Saints in Sidley.
He commented: “There’s a sense in which ordination is for life. You do retire from your paid post, but can continue to serve where needed. I’m very pleased to help at St Barnabas – there are so many good people and really encouraging signs of growth.
“They’ve done wonderful work by way of outreach and caring for those on the margins of society.”
What does he think of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York’s new book on caring for the poor in British society which has attracted controversy in the lead-up to May’s General Election?
“I think the new book is prophetic and I hope people will read it seriously and not make shallow comments. It transcends the party political side of our nation’s government.”
Now he is hoping that together they can take the ministry of St Barnabas a stage further and “get stuck into” town centre mission. “We have a real heart for mission and to see the church growing in holiness and numerically.”
He sees his role as having a time limit, though, until a permanent incumbent can be found. “I hope there is settled leadership in the not too distant future. You can’t keep using old lags like me!”
On Sunday (February 8) the newly appointed Bishop of Lewes, Rt. Rev. Richard Jackson will be celebrating mass along with Bishop Nicholas at 10.30am. This will be a special occasion for St Barnabas with two bishops officiating for the first time in it’s history.