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New clergy chosen to lead Ryde project
BISHOP Jonathan has appointed two new clergy to help lead an exciting project to revitalise and grow our churches in Ryde.
The Rev Heath Monaghan will become the team rector for the five parishes in Ryde, and the Rev Olly Mitchelmore will be the team vicar with responsibility for planting new congregations. They’ll join the Rev David Morgan, who was appointed team vicar for traditional worship in September.
The clergy will lead a team of staff and congregation members in a five-year project which includes starting new services for contemporary worship, as well as working with the current congregations to continue to engage with and serve the local community. It’s part of a larger drive to revitalise Church of England churches across the Isle of Wight.
The ambitious project aims to help All Saints, Ryde, to grow from its current faithful congregations to include 300 new worshippers attending different styles of services. They will include a new, contemporary service, a Café Church, a traditional Eucharist and a network of young interns.
The injection of strategic funding from the national Church of England, alongside a financial commitment from our diocese over the next five years, will also allow other staff to be recruited, including an operations manager, worship leader, youth leader and children pastor. The funding will also be for some renovations to the building to take place.
Heath, who was ordained in 2021, grew up in a coal-mining community near Durham, found faith in his early 20s, worked for the YMCA, and then founded and led Aspire Ryde – transforming a redundant church building into a thriving community centre used by thousands each week. He also started a house church called Dwell, many of whose members will join the new contemporary congregation at All Saints.
Heath said: “As a pioneer curate, I’ve been given the chance to engage in priestly ministry while also learning about church planting. I had the privilege of serving as a curate for a year in Bembridge alongside helping to grow a pioneering house church in Ryde. I also spent a year at Harbour Church in Portsmouth and participated in the Church Revitalisation Trust’s Accelerator course, to become fully equipped as a church planter.
“It became clear that God was working in All Saints, Ryde, to create a more contemporary congregation that complements the existing traditional style. And I was grateful that the social capital and networking I’d done when I was at Aspire Ryde meant this project has been warmly received by the community. It has turned these parishes, with their incredible history, into hope-filled organisations that are ready to take the next step in serving their community.
“The existing congregations in these parishes are faithful and hopeful for the future. We’re delighted to also be continuing the traditional services, and we know the Rev David Morgan, who was appointed first as the team vicar to serve traditional worship, will be an asset to the team. We are excited for the future – it’s what Ryde has deserved for a long time.”
The Rev Olly Mitchelmore will come to Ryde along with his wife, Rebekah from Holy Trinity Brompton (known as HTB), in London, where he is a curate and Rebekah serves as Director of Stewardship.
HTB is one of the largest churches in the Church of England, with six sites across Kensington. It is known for its large all-age congregation including significant numbers of under-thirties, youth and children. It is also the home of the Alpha Course, which was conceived at HTB and is now running in over 30,000 churches globally.
“We have had the most incredible time serving in London, but we now feel called to be part of what’s happening in Ryde,” said Olly. “Rebekah and I have absolutely loved every moment we’ve spent on the Island so far and we just can’t wait to be part of community life in Ryde.
“We’re passionate about creating spaces where youth, young couples and families thrive, and we believe the church can be the centre for family life and support healthy relationships. We’re excited to be part of launching new services for contemporary worship, and to welcome people of all ages to a kind of service that was not previously available at All Saints.
“We’ve also been involved at HTB with running Alpha, and the Marriage and the Pre-Marriage Courses which started at HTB but now run all over the world, and we’re excited to make those courses available in Ryde. We think they’re a game-changer for helping people engage with church, especially those who may have not been to church before.”
Olly is originally from Cornwall, but has also lived on the Falkland Islands and in Swindon, and attended University in Plymouth and Southampton. He previously worked as a nurse in cardiac intensive care and clinical research before joining the Church. He was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2022. He first came to the Isle of Wight in 2012 to do a placement in East Cowes as part of his nursing training.
“I loved my time here on placement,” he said. “The people were so friendly, there was a real sense of community spirit, that coupled with the amazing natural beauty of the Island makes it a very special place. So when I saw there was a project happening here – I really felt a stirring in my heart to be part of it.”
The appointment of Rev Heath Monaghan and Rev Olly Mitchelmore by Bishop Jonathan follows a full process of discussion and discernment which included diocesan staff and churchwardens from all five churches, representing their PCCs.
The Rev Heath Monaghan will be licensed by Bishop Jonathan at All Saints Church, Ryde. The Rev Olly Mitchelmore will be licensed by Bishop Jonathan on April 24, and will be primarily based at All Saints Ryde.
They will join the Rev David Morgan, who was licensed by Bishop Jonathan on December 10 and has specific responsibility for traditional worship.