Diocese of Portsmouth

    Bishop Jonathan appoints new priest for Copnor

    20 Nov. 2023

    THE new priest-in-charge of St Cuthbert and St Aidan, Copnor, will prioritise children and young people – and working with the local community.

    Bishop Jonathan has appointed the Rev Clive Gardner, who is currently team vicar in Wimbledon, to take charge of the parish from next Spring, subject to DBS.

    Before becoming ordained, he studied the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, worked in human resources in London, and worked as a youth worker at the Christian community of Lee Abbey, Devon.

    He trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, served as a curate at Beverley Minster from 1996-98, as chaplain to the Bishop of Liverpool from 1998-2001 and as vicar of Cumnor in Oxfordshire from 2001-06. He then spent some time training as an accountant and working as an auditor.

    He became team vicar within the Parish of Wimbledon in 2011, with particular responsibility for St Mark’s Church. He has developed its work with children and young people, engaging with primary schools and developing a children’s choir.

    Clive also has experience in helping to develop people’s spirituality, and is a qualified spiritual director. He has written a course that introduces people to the range of Christian spirituality, from across the world and throughout history. It’s designed to be used by Christians and those who might consider themselves spiritual, but not religious.

    The 55-year-old is also a keen motorcyclist and hopes to test out his bike on Hampshire’s rural and coastal routes.

    “I’ve been a Christian since the age of 11, and grew up in a ‘mega-church’ in Ashtead, Surrey,” he said. “The main reason that I became ordained is that I encountered the love of Christ and wanted to share it.

    “Out of the blue, a friend sent me the details for this post and I thought it looked really attractive. It felt like a parish that had an extraordinary outreach to the local community already, an inclusive ethos and a desire to grow.

    “When I came for interview, I could see a lot of love between church members. They were also very open to new ideas.

    “Now I’ve been appointed, I’m keen to work with the PCC to find a vision for growth, as I know God will speak through all sorts of people in the congregation. I want us to work out how the church can do more with families and young people, and reach out even more into the local community.

    “In Liverpool and in Cumnor, I’ve been involved with alternative ways of worship, so I’m willing to explore that. The most important thing to me about worship is that it should be relevant and help people connect with God in their everyday lives, Monday to Saturday.

    “My vision of what a church can be is where everyone is awake to the mystery, truth and wonder of Christ, where a community of grace is nurtured, and where all are welcome with no exceptions. It should be a place where risks are taken, forgiveness is sought and freely given, and where laughter is commonplace because we see that sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. Where the local community uses ‘church’ as a synonym for people who are with us and for us.”

    He will be licensed by Bishop Jonathan at St Cuthbert's on March 11, at a special service starting at 7pm.

    St Cuthbert, Copnor

    St Cuthbert's, Hayling Avenue, Copnor, PO3 6DE. St Aidan's - Sundays at 9am in The Lodge, Sywell Crescent, Anchorage Park, PO3 5UB, PO3 6DE

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