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New vicar for St James, Milton
BISHOP Jonathan has appointed a new vicar to the parish of St James, Milton.
It was announced yesterday that the Rev Darren A’Court will move from rural Wiltshire to urban Portsmouth – one of the most densely-populated parts of the UK.
He has been parish priest at Amesbury Parish Church for more than eight years, and will take up this new role at St James, subject to DBS check.
Fr Darren, who describes himself as liberal Catholic, was attracted to the idea of urban ministry, having ministered in the Diocese of Salisbury since his ordination in 2008. And he’s keen to help the parish of St James take the next step in mission and community engagement.
“There are so many good things already going on at St James, and my goal is to build on that in an organic way,” he said. “There are lots of things that have drawn me to the parish, not least the tradition which is very important to me.
“I have wanted to serve in an urban environment, and I’m impressed with the set-up at St James. It’s a beautiful church with the amazing potential of two church halls to help with outreach to the community. And there is a beautiful vicarage. Everyone I’ve met so far, from the bishop downwards, has been really warm and welcoming.
“So rather than upturning things, I’d be very interested to find out what the next steps would be, in terms of connections and involvement with the community.”
Fr Darren used to work as a social worker, manager and trainer in the area of childcare before ordination.
He served his curacy in Weymouth and was rector in a rural benefice of five parishes before heading to the Abbey Church of St Mary and St Melor in Amesbury in 2015. The historic church there dates from the 10th century, and is believed to be the final resting-place of Queen Eleanor of Provence.
The 52-year-old is married to Jeanette, who works as a quality manager in a care home. They have three adult children, Jack, Emily and Lucy. Both daughters are currently at university, while Jack works as a barber.
Although he appreciates that Fratton Park will be within his new parish, and that there are historic links between St James and Portsmouth Football Club, he has no specific sporting affiliation.
“I’m a reluctant sportsman, but I can see this is a ready-made opportunity for engaging with the community,” he said. “I can sense a new football affiliation coming up!”
Fr Darren will be licensed in St James on Thursday 11th January at 6pm.
St James, Milton
287 Milton Road, Milton, P04 8PG