We have a beautiful church that people find conducive to worship and reflection. The building was considerably refurbished in 2006 to mark the centenary of the ‘new’ church. It has been described as one of the most attractive church buildings in Southend. As well as the normal run of church activities, the church has played host to a number of choral concerts as it has good acoustic qualities.
The church’s worship is liberal Catholic, with an emphasis on celebrating the Christian year and a strong choral tradition, which continues through our large choir.
OUR NEW PRIEST
Following the retirement of the Rector, we undertook a wide ranging survey of members of the parish asking a number of questions particularly what they would look for in our new priest. The most overwhelming requirement was that his or her churchmanship should be compatible with ours and that the Gospel should be preached. We look forward to working with our new priest in taking forward the following opportunities for development:
- encouraging and growing our children’s and youth work;
- enriching our prayer life and spirituality, through Bible study and an active prayer group;
- expanding and enhancing our pastoral team;
- strengthening our role in the local community and building on our reputation as a welcoming church;
- working with other parishes in Southend Deanery to implement the Diocesan strategy through Transforming Presence and Reimagining Ministry.
We also look forward to working with our new priest in the following areas:
- fostering vocations within the whole congregation;
being more pro-active and energetic in meeting financial challenges and in raising giving levels.
OUR STRENGTHS AND CONCERNS
Our consultation with the parish revealed the following strengths and concerns:
· A loyal, welcoming and caring congregation, which is one of the largest in the Deanery.
· A rich provision of traditional worship.
· A strong choral tradition
Although we value the excellence of our director of music and our large choir, it is the continuing of our style of liberal catholic worship which is important to us. In our services, which include sung Eucharists and weekly sung Evensong (a rarity elsewhere), we include hymns and Anglican chants which are treasures of the Church of England. Continuing this tradition becomes more important as we seek to work closer together with other churches. We are anxious not to lose the distinctiveness of our tradition which blends the best of Anglican liturgy, old and new.
· A beautiful and historic building, which underwent major renovation in 2006.
Taking into account the results of the parish consultation, we are looking for a priest who will lead us in taking forward the following opportunities for development:
Children and youth
We have our ‘Wise Owls’ group which leaves the main church during the first hymn of the 9.30 am service and returns during the distribution for a blessing. There is a variable attendance but our Associate Priest endeavours to stimulate the children before the final hymn by asking them to tell us what the have been studying. Apart from that, we currently offer little for children.
Prayer life and spirituality
We have suffered recently in that both our pastoral assistants have moved on. This has left us with a relative weakness in the area of pastoral care, although we are currently putting together a new pastoral team to cover this loss.
Outreach and integration of newcomers
Holy Trinity does not have an evangelistic tradition, but we want to ensure that we are seen as a place of worship which plays a full part in the local community, welcomes newcomers and is open to all.
Beyond these areas of future opportunity, the survey of members revealed two other concerns.
· Reliance on a relatively small group of volunteers
Similarly, more ‘volunteers’ need to come forward in order to address the wider issues in the coming years. While we have the usual group of willing people happy to come forward when needed, they only represent a small proportion of the whole membership. We need everyone to realise that ‘Church’ is much more than attending on Sunday mornings, important though that is. We therefore wish to foster vocations within the whole congregation.
· Church Finance
Church administration and committees
The PCC meets at least six times a year, with the Standing and Finance Committee meeting at least monthly. The PCC has a highly efficient secretary, who diligently carries out many administrative tasks, including production of our parish magazine, Trinitas. PCC committees include a Worship Committee and Buildings Committee.
Transforming Presence and Reimagining Ministry
I feel Transforming Presence has meant for Southend Deanery at least three things:
i. we are engaging in a week long Deanery Mission in September 2014 called ‘Hope-on-Sea’. This is in response to our Bishop’s Call for a Missionary initiatives in the Diocese’s Centenary Year;
ii. three possible clusters have become apparent in West Southend, Central Southend and East Southend (which would include Holy Trinity). These, however, need much more work upon them;
iii. we have had some success already in fostering vocations from amongst our congregations notably with regard to Locally Deployed Ministry’.
The Council confirmed that it did not wish to pass a resolution under Section 3(1) or (2) of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993, and would therefore be happy to accept a woman or a man as the incumbent or priest-in-charge of the benefice.
CURRENT CHURCH ACTIVITIES
Holy Trinity has a regular pattern of services which seeks to blend the best of the old and the new. The main weekly services are:
- a Family Eucharist at 9.30am on Sunday, which follows a traditional format in modern language and celebrates the seasons of the Christian
Year, and is followed by coffee from our servery at the back of the New Church;
- a monthly Family Service with Eucharist, which replaces the Family Eucharist, which involves our children and young people, including Guiding and Scouting organisations;
- Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer at 8am each Sunday morning;
- a sung Evensong according to the Book of Common Prayer each Sunday evening, with full Choral Evensongs on special occasions. This is occasionally replaced by special services, such as a Service of Healing, a service using Taize chant or a Service of Commemoration at All Souls’ tide;
- a mid week Holy Communion at 10am on Wednesday morning, which immediately precedes the weekly coffee morning in church.
In addition, there are seasonal services, such as weekly Compline in Advent and a study group in Lent.
Much of our worship during the interregnum is led by Fr. Frank Smith, our Associate Priest.
In 2012 83 adults and 9 children attended church services on a normal Sunday. At the annual parish meeting in April 2013 there were 135 names on the Electoral Roll.
Director of Music and choir:
Holy Trinity’s Director of Music, Roger Humphrey, is a leading figure in the musical life of the Borough, and the director of the acclaimed Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs. The church choir has a membership of more than 20 at full strength, and can sing the full range of Anglican choral music. The choir is visiting Canterbury Cathedral to sing the office in April 2014.
We have a small group for young children, with numbers attending varying between a handful and a dozen. Their teaching takes place during the Family Eucharist, and the children are invited to show their outputs to the congregation at the end of the service.
Rainbows, Brownies, Guides:
We have thriving units for all three sections of Guiding, who attend our Family Service with Eucharist on the second Sunday of each month.
Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals:
In 2012 there were 7 baptisms, 9 marriages and 5 funerals in the church. The total number of funerals including those at the crematorium was 20. In the churchyard 16 cremated ashes were interred.
These are held in church every Wednesday morning at 10:30am following the 10am Holy Communion. We have a mixture of visitors and regular members, some of whom stay on following the Holy Communion Service. Home made cakes are on sale on the first Wednesday of the month, with Fair Trade goods available to purchase.
Other social events:
The church organises a variety of social events throughout the year, including lunches and quiz nights.
Holy Trinity church is a beautiful building with superb acoustics, which regularly hosts concerts, including recent concerts by a group of choral scholars from St Martin in the Fields, Hamburg Girls’ Choir, Canterbury Cantata and Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs.
There is a group of volunteer flower arrangers of a high standard who prepare imaginative arrangements, in preparation for the following Sunday and any weddings that may take place during the weekend. The linen is regularly laundered and the church professionally cleaned.
The church’s pastoral care is being led during the interregnum by our associate priest, Fr Frank Smith, with a small team of Eucharistic lay ministers who visit people in need.
There is regular administration of communion to the sick and housebound.
There has been a branch of M.U. at Holy Trinity since 1911. Membership has fallen from more than 90 members in the 1960s to 23 members today, but the branch is still very active. It has hosted many events including Deanery meetings and quiet mornings and has been involved in many social events at the church. The present group meets on the second Thursday of each month in a member’s home, with a variety of speakers covering a range of subjects. The Family Eucharist on the second Sunday of each month is corporate for members.
SOUTHCHURCH AS A PLACE IN WHICH TO LIVE
Southchurch is a suburb of Southend-on-Sea, lying to the east of the main town along the Thames estuary. In the past 150 years Southchurch has changed from a sparsely populated rural area to a largely residential area.
Southend-on-Sea, which is the largest town in Essex, is located on the north side of the Thames estuary, 40 miles east of London. The town has always been a holiday magnet for people from London with its 7 miles of quality beaches and, indeed, in the middle of the school holidays gets very busy indeed. One of the main attractions is the pier which is the longest pleasure pier in the world. You can reach the end by using the train (an adventure in itself!) or the more able can walk the 2.66 mile return trip!
The town is blessed with good transport links to London. There are two rail links: the C2C line, which is the most reliable train service in the UK, runs into Fenchurch Street, while the National Express Southend and Metro service runs into London Liverpool Street. There are two main roads running to London. In the north of the borough there is the A127 and to the south there is the A13, both of which connect to the M25 and hence the national motorway service. The A13 is the link to the massive shopping complex at Lakeside in Thurrock. Southend also has a rapidly growing airport. Since the takeover of the airport by Eddie Stobart, Easyjet flies from Southend to many destinations in Europe, as well as much of the UK and Jersey. Check-in facilities are superb and the whole experience is a pleasure.
Southend is home to the Southend Campus of the University of Essex and South Essex College of Further & Higher Education. In an innovative joint enterprise between these centres of learning and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, a vibrant new facility called The Forum has recently opened which will provide both students and the wider community with a high-quality new library, a gallery and a new meeting place, alongside state-of-the-art research and learning facilities.
For golfing enthusiasts, we have the Garon’s Park golf course and Thorpe Hall golf course. Fitness and leisure centres are close by. As a point of interest, Tom Daley and the British Diving team used the diving pool at Garon’s Leisure centre for training for the recent Olympics (and for those who believe that Essex is completely flat, the Olympic mountain bike events were held just up the estuary at Hadleigh).
Although Southchurch has long been subsumed into the greater conurbation of Southend on Sea, local residents still feel attached to ‘Southchurch Village’. There are approximately 13,000 souls within the parish boundaries. The area is mainly residential with owner occupation mainly in the south and a larger preponderance of social housing to the north. A few hundred yards to the east we have Southend High School for Girls (Southend retains a selective education policy) and, next to the Girls’ School, Futures College, which caters for more non-academic students. Younger children are catered for by Hamstel Infants and Junior Schools to the north of the church and Bournes Green Infants and Junior Schools to the east.
There is a shopping park to the north of Southchurch which contains, amongst other shops, a Waitrose supermarket and a branch of B&Q. Further to the east of the parish, there is a large branch of ASDA. Additionally, in various areas are many smaller specialist shops.
Southchurch historically covers the whole of the area between central Southend to the west and Shoebury to the east. The modern parish covers the northwestern part of the historic parish, with our daughter parishes of Christ Church to the south and St Augustine’s to the east in Thorpe Bay. The wider Southchurch area includes Southchurch Park, Southchurch Hall (the medieval manor with which Holy Trinity had strong links) and a broad stretch of seafront.
OVERVIEW OF CHURCH BUILDINGS
The building is a Grade II* listed building, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The dedication reflects that of the cathedral priory of the Holy Trinity at Canterbury.
Early history and links to Canterbury
Holy Trinity’s links to Canterbury almost certainly go back to the Anglo-Saxon period, when a Saxon thegn named Leofstan presented the manor and church of Southchurch to the monks at Canterbury. Holy Trinity was for many years a ‘Canterbury particular’, and the Archbishop of Canterbury remains our patron.
At the west end of the Old Church are massive wooden pillars, probably hewn from the old forest of Southchurch. These were put in place in 1666, and on one pillar there is an incision giving the date. The Victorians ‘restored’ the Old Church in 1857- it is difficult to say whether this improved the church as we do not know how it looked before the restoration, but it did provide a fine set of Victorian stained glass windows.
By the 20th century the building was too small and a major extension took place in 1906 by Sir Ninian Comper, reducing the Old Church to an aisle. The New Church chancel was added in 1931-2 by F C Eden. Thus producing Old and New Church The stained glass in the New Church includes a memorial window by Comper and a beautiful East Window representing the Benedicite.
The church has two organs, a traditional pipe organ, and a more flexible modern high quality digital organ. We also have a piano, and this combination allows for a greater flexibility during worship.
The church underwent a major renovation in 2006, including the installation of new lighting and a sound system. The rear of the New Church was re-ordered to create an open area and a servery, where coffee is served after services, Wednesday coffee mornings etc.
The PCC have currently applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to carry out urgent repairs to the 15th century spire, which has suffered from woodpecker attack, and now squirrel attack. Also to carry out improvements to the ferramenta on the windows on the 'Old Church' to match that on Comper's 'New Church', and thus form a physical security barrier. (We have had two recent break-ins through Victorian glass). The project will also undertake a thorough documentary research to produce a pamphlet and adapt this for the church website. A new central heating boiler is currently being installed.
The Old School House
The School House has a garden which is used for church events including social events and children’s activities.