The commercial chaplaincy

The Rectory, September 2000

Canon Andrew DeucharIn honour of Wally Huckle, who officially retired on 31st August, this edition of the Magazine is focusing on life in the city centre, and how our mission at St Peter’s connects with it.

One of the first things that grabbed my attention about St Peter’s was the innovative project to offer ministry to shops and businesses in the City centre through the Commercial Chaplaincy. Through the vision and commitment of Leslie Morley and Wally Huckle in particular, the Chaplaincy has become an established and highly-valued feature of the church’s presence in the city. I had not realised quite how valued until I arrived and began to pick up real concerns from clients about the speed (or lack of it) with which a successor to Wally was being sought.

I wonder how many people reading this article really know what the Commercial Chaplaincy is about. Well, I hope that those who were able to attend Wally’s ‘Farewell’ at St Peter’s on 20th August will now know rather more, and there is material in other parts of this magazine which will help to form a clearer picture for us all.

I simply want here to affirm what an outstanding job Wally has done in his ten years as Chaplain. Bringing with him a wealth of experience of Nottingham’s business life, its successes, its pressure points, its potential for growth, he established a pioneering ministry among a wide range of people, most of whom would never have expected the church to take much of an interest in them, and would not naturally look to us for support.

The fact that every business with which Wally has been involved has expressed their desire for the chaplaincy to continue is testimony enough. The fact that a number of people have asked, with concern, whether the ‘City Debates’ which were initiated by Leslie, with Wally’s active involvement, as a way of engaging a wider audience in discussions of major concern to all in the city, would be continuing, adds weight. The fact that, despite delays in process, the Diocese, and the Bishop especially, wants this work to continue and develop, taking on the chaplaincy at Boots in Beeston, is further evidence of the success of this initiative. St. Peter’s should be very proud of what has been achieved.

It will continue, and we are actively seeking a successor to Wally. I hope we will all engage in the question of how we can develop the ministry yet further. This is not just a question of what one person, when appointed, can do. It is about expanding the concept of Commercial chaplaincy. For all seven days of the week now, St Peter’s - and other city centre churches - are at the heart of an intense hustle and bustle. Sometimes that causes us problems. But we ought not to look at it in that way. Rather we need to ask what opportunities does that present us with? How can we use our resources more effectively to share the Gospel of God’s love, compassion and justice to all who are drawn past our doors by the commercial life of our city, whether as workers, clients or onlookers.

It is a huge agenda, but we have many gifts to offer, and wide range of people ready and willing to collaborate in developing the vision.

So, thank you Wally. We are delighted you and Jan want to remain a part of our lives here. We hope so much having handed on the responsibilities, you will continue to offer your experience as we take your tremendous work on to its next stage.

Andrew Deuchar
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 10th September 2000