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Andrew Presland, 2008
A New Parish in Rushden

 Rushden gains an extra parish

On 1 January 2008 a new Church of England parish was born in Rushden, Whitefriars Anglican Church began as a children’s holiday club in 1991, grew into a Sunday club for children, then gradually into an all age congregation which was a daughter church of St Mary’s Church in Rushden town centre.  The Whitefriars Sunday congregation is now up to 120, and the new parish has been created out of the parishes of St Mary’s and St Peter’s in Rushden.

Outside the meeting hall
Whitefriars is unusual as a Church of England church in meeting in a school – Whitefriars Junior on Boughton Drive.  Two years ago the church opened a community office, known as the Bridge, in the school grounds.  The new parish is also unusual in that it comprises two separate parts – one in the south part of the town in the area around Whitefriars School, but the other in the north part of the town – where a new monthly café-style church, VENUE2, now takes place on once a month on a Thursday evenings in Rushden Community College in Hayway.

The Rt Revd Frank White, Bishop of Brixworth, said, “I am delighted that Whitefriars Church has become a parish in its own right.  Fine work, involving many people, has been growing there for over fifteen years. The wide range of community projects based at the church is an indication its firm commitment to the neighbourhood.”

The parish’s first Vicar is the Revd Philip Evans, who over nearly five years has steered the complex, sometimes challenging discussions and legal process to make the new parish possible.  He said, “It is really positive and exciting to see a new parish born, when too often we hear of churches in decline or closing.  This is a sign of new life and health in the Church in Rushden, for which we thank God.”

beating the bounds
Church members “beat the bounds” of the new parish by walking its perimeter on Saturday 26 January.  This involved two walks, one round each part of the parish, which contains about a third of the population of Rushden altogether. The southern part is, roughly speaking, the area between St Margaret’s Avenue, Blackfriars, the bridleway along the county boundary, Wymington Road and High Street South. And the northern part includes, again roughly speaking, the area bordered by Hayway, the River Nene, the new estate near Smith’s Containers, Northampton Road, the footpath behind the big warehouses north of John Clark Way, some land east of the A6 bypass, Allen Road, Portland Road and Rectory Road.

Whitefriars Sunday worship is at 10.15am each week.  There is a crèche, and groups for children and young people of all ages. Through the week the church runs a wide variety of groups, for adults, children and young people.  These include home groups for adults, the well-known Alpha course for anyone wanting to find out about Christianity, a tots group, a KidzKlub on Fridays for 5-11s, youth groups for 11-14s, and cell groups for over 14s.  Its community youth project Access All Areas runs a mentoring project and community service activities, based through Rushden Community College.  The youth activities are run by the church’s Youth Minister Steve Chadwick.

The Whitefriars Church website is www.whitefriarschurch.org.uk/history and further details are available from Andrew Presland on 01933 316927.

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