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Appointment of Team Vicar by the Bishop of Southwark

We are pleased to announce today, the 19 April 2020, that the Reverend Bethany Lewis, presently Assistant Curate atSt Mark's Bromley, in the Diocese of Rochester, has been appointed Team Vicar of St Oswald, North Cheam and St Alban the Martyr, Cheam in the Cheam Team Ministry, subject to completion of the necessary procedures. Details of the public service of welcome and licensing will follow in due course after public worship has been resumed.

We very much look forward to welcoming Beth as soon as we are able to do so. This is exciting and hopeful news for St Oswald's and St Alban's as well as for our parish as a whole. Please do keep her in your prayers as she prepares for her move.

Beth has sent us an introduction:

Hello! I’m Beth, and I’m really excited to be appointed your next Team Vicar, to working and ministering with you. As we are in uncertain times and do not yet have a date for me joining you, I thought I would tell you about myself so you can get to know me a little before I arrive.

Firstly, invitations to pubs for a decent pint of ale, or cafés for hot chocolate and cake are ALWAYS appreciated and accepted! As are offers of company to Gander Green Lane to watch Sutton Utd (do not mention I have been supporting Bromley…). At home, I have a much-used sewing machine and over-flowing craft room; I watch comedies, read murder mysteries, and listen to satirical podcasts. I am blessed with awesome nieces and nephew and a large wider family who are really looking forward to visiting. If you are looking for a sense of who I will be as your team vicar, my favourite fictional priest is Father Brown. Not just for his ability to consume cucumber sandwiches, but how he meets people where they are, notices everyone and focusses on opportunities for forgiveness and reconciliation.

A biography: I grew up in Medway and having studied Development Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, qualified as a Further Education tutor, and taught at Sheppey College. I moved to Folkestone to teach GCSEs and Key Skills to teenagers who had been excluded from school. A couple of years later, I went to Tanzania to head up the education department in the Diocese of Kondoa which involved helping local churches to set up pre-primary schools, working with mosques to increase the registration of girls in local schools and farming my own farm every year when the rains closed the roads. Nearly five years later I returned to the UK fluent in Swahili, able to carry 20 litres of water on my head, and with more stories about being mistaken for a witch or hiding from lions than it would take to fill a book.

On return, I worked for an engineering consultancy in automotive factories across Europe creating training programmes for their production teams. I then moved to West London where I was a Ministry Assistant for the Richmond Team Ministry whilst I discerned whether ordination is the right step for me. In preparation for training, I became a Children & Families’ Minister in Canterbury which meant I could study at the South East Institute of Theological Education whilst continuing to work for the parish. The sudden death of my mother caused me to move back to Medway to be with my father and I ministered with a church on a local housing estate and undertook a placement in a prison chaplaincy, until I finished training.

For nearly four years, I have been Assistant Curate at St Mark’s Church in Bromley where I have particularly enjoyed creating and leading worship, working in the local community with the local schools, homeless shelter, children’s charities and debt centre. Perhaps, though, my highlight of ordained ministry so far is being able to say, “I married my dad!” as last year I conducted the marriage service of my dad to his new wife.

My life so far has been full of interesting encounters, accompanying individuals and communities on their journeys, and witnessing the joy and love with which the people of God live their lives. I look forward to finding out what God has in store for all of us as we each take our next steps together.

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