People and Groups in our Churches

The Vicar

My name is Richard Williams and in July this year I will have been the Vicar of Alveston for 25 years, a quarter of a century! I have a degree in Theology from the University of Hull, I was trained for ministry at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, and so all my higher education took place in Yorkshire!

I have been married for 35 years to Alex and we have four ‘children’, three of whom are now independent adults, Lucy has just finished her 'A' levels at Stratford-upon-Avon School.

We have a dog called Pippa who is a Border Collie and never wants to stop playing!

During my time here I have been Rural Dean, Clergy Chair of Diocesan Synod, and a member, now Chair, of the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches.

As a Church we are always looking for ways of engaging with the community and helping in any way we can. After all, as William Temple famously said, “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members."

My own faith journey began in a Presbyterian Sunday School where I learnt that Jesus wanted me to be a sunbeam, moved through Methodist Bible Class, to High Church of England in a Church where “Bells and smells” were very much the thing.

The College at Mirfield, where I trained, stands very much in that Catholic tradition of the Church of England, being attached to a religious community, the Community of the Resurrection or, “Mirfield Fathers”, as they were often called. They gained notoriety in the 1950’s for their work in South Africa and the stand against Apartheid. Bishop Trevor Huddleston being a name most remember from that time and a member of the Community of the Resurrection.

Consequently, I see myself, and our Church, as standing in that same “Catholic” tradition of inclusivity and openness. At St. James’ we seek to be a welcoming and inclusive Church without ‘dumbing down’ the important task of worshipping God. We try to make that worship inspiring and as attractive and accessible as possible, even for those entering the doors for the first time.

The Parochial Church Council

Who are we?
Please keep the members of the PCC in your prayers:  Julie Bellamy, Simon Richardson, Juliette Dale, Jenny Cobley, Sarah Coton, Kiri Harbottle, Neil Johnson, David Johnston, Richard Lane, Trevor Lloyd-Adams, Allyson Richardson and Jacqui Scrimshire.

The PCC MEETS NEXT via Zoom on Tuesday 9th June we agreed to take part in the 8 Essential Qualities of a Healthy Church, a tool being used in the diocese to measure the health of Church Communities. More details to follow.

Copies of the Minutes of our PCC meetings are available here.

As a Parish we want to be known for:
the warm, open and inclusive welcome that we offer

the way in which we care for members of the parish, understanding their needs and valuing their contributions

inspiring worship - spiritual worship that is enlightening and strengthening and that challenges sensitively

the way in which we serve our local community
To achieve this:
We want to reach out more effectively to everyone in the parish to encourage and support people who might like to become part of our church.

We realise that church services can be challenging if you’re not used to them. Therefore we want to try to make our services more inclusive.

To help us become a key part of our local neighbourhood we want to understand the needs of the people in this area and ways in which we can try to address them.

We also want to develop ourselves as a church community. To do this we need a strong foundation – so we want to develop our own approach to prayer and to strengthen our discipleship. We also want to offer opportunities for everyone to feel part of a small group within our church – these groups offer a variety of different approaches to develop a relationship with God.

To make all of this happen we need to help church members to identify and use the gifts and talents that each has, we need to ensure that we have the resources in place to sustain the Parish, and the PCC needs to ensure that it is working in a way that ‘makes things happen’.

The Friends of St James (FoSJ)

What do FoSJ do?
The Friends of St James' was formed to raise funds to restore and preserve St James’ Church for all; the young and old, visitors both regular and occasional, and those who simply wish to preserve our heritage for posterity.

We are a registered charity (No: 1133470) and have already raised a considerable sum to support the restoration of the tower and exterior of the church. Having mad the Church weatherproof we have moved on to repair plasterwork, redecorate the interior of the Church and clean the Rood Screen with it;s impressive figures. The Chancel arch was cleaned and the topmost medallion revealed after over 40 years of having been covered up, mistakenly, by decorators in the 1970's.

Our next big fundraising effort will be for the organ which needs a complete overhaul and rebuild, as well as for one or two smaller projects which need attention. We will be holding a variety of fundraising events over the next year with this in mind.

How can you help?
Other than by coming along to support our events you can become a member of FoSJ by simply making a one-off donation of £10. By becoming a member you can be assured that you will be first to hear of planned events.

If you can offer practical help, please contact the Chairman, Richard Lane.

The Senior Choir

Who are we?
We are a mixed ability group of people who like singing, and together we lead the Sunday worship at St James' on most Sunday mornings at 10:30am, and prepare special music for the significant Feasts which occur throughout the Church's year. Although we are the Senior Choir, there are no age requirements or restrictions; the title 'senior' merely identifies us as separate from the Youth Choir. Young people are especially welcome.

We are pleased to announce that we now have a new Organist and Choirmaster, Matthew Smallwood. We are looking to recruit new members to the senior choir, come along on a Tuesday at 6.00pm to meet Matthew and get to know the choir.

Who can join?
Anyone who would like to sing - you don't necessarily need to have any experience or read music (although these things are an advantage naturally). More important is a willingness to learn, and a good sense of humour (this will develop very quickly once you join us!) There are 22 members at present, singing Soprano, Alto, Tenor or Bass. Perhaps just a third read music, and come with some experience. You can come along to observe practice, or have a go, on a Tuesday evening (18.15-19.30)  without any obligation.  Although there is no formal 'audition', acceptance into the choir is at the discretion of the Choirmaster.

Our Aims
Our number one aim is to 'sing with the spirit and with understanding to enhance the worship of God in our church'.

We also seek to constantly learn and improve our musical and spiritual understanding.

Last, but certainly not least, we are a community, we enjoy our time together, and we are like a large family.

What sort of things do we do?
You'd be surprised! Our main repertoire is drawn from the wealth of standard church music, crossing all centuries and styles. We try to sing lots of different styles, and the choice of music is governed by the time of year.

Music by: Bach, Mozart, Handel; Rutter, Chilcott, Kendrick; world music and gospel.

We also sing some secular music (that means not churchy!) - about once every three years the Junior and Senior Choirs put on a joint concert. This allows us to explore some non-church music. Our recent concert included 'The Sound of Music', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and even 'Bohemian Rhapsody'!!

What else do we do?
We sometimes take our singing out and about. At Christmas time we sing carols at local Care homes, and the local pubs. We make occasional visits to St Peter's to sing (especially around St Peter's Day). We take part with other singers in the annual Choral Festival at Coventry Cathedral, and events organised by the Royal School of Church Music

For more information, please contact the Vicar.

The Bellringers

The ringers meet on Wednesdays at 19:30 to 21:00 for ringing practice. We also ring before Sunday morning services at 10:00 all year round. We have a nice ring of 6 bells, of which one is very historic, having been cast by the Bagleys in a field in Northamptonshire in the middle of the 17th Century.

We have around a dozen regular Ringers at various levels. We ring 'Bob Doubles' well and we are working on 'Bob Minor Grandsire' 'St Simons' and 'Reverse Canterbury Pleasure'. We also have several team members who are most comfortable with rounds, call changes and 'Plain Hunting'.

New Members are always welcome, whether you have rung before or are a complete beginner. Being a regular church-goer is not a pre-requisite, some of us are and some of us aren't, but we all try to make a contribution to the life of the Church, by joining in with the wider activities of the Parish.

We are a friendly bunch, we have fun, we work hard on our ringing and we enjoy going for a quick drink at The Baraset after practice. Contact Julia Lucas for more details or come along on a Wednesday.

Please contact the Bell Captain, John Harbottle, for more information.