St Michel du Valle, Guernsey

Having felt that God was preparing me for something new, I started exploring. It felt that we had been set free for something completely different and, after some different discussions and explorations, I enquired about the parish of St Michel du Valle, Guernsey.

After an initial enquiry and a conversation with the Dean I was invited to apply. And so, after popping over with Natalie to explore for a day, I returned again to interview.

As is often the case with these interviews food was provided to chat informally to some members of the church, alongside some formal interviews. The following day I was asked whether I would accept the post, which led to a long wait before it could officially be announced.

When everything necessary had happened we waved goodbye to North Holmwood and set sail for a new life in Guernsey, a British Crown Dependency just off the coast of France (near to the better-known island of Jersey). I was licensed as Priest in Charge by +Trevor, before later being inducted as Rector by Tim, the Dean.

Vale Church, as it is known, has been in the Anglo-Catholic tradition in recent years with an annual pilgrimage to Walsingham but – as is the case in most churches – is made up of a wide variety of people and traditions.

Stuart in the Sacristy at Walsingham
A deanery pilgrimage to Walsingham

Since arriving I have been involved in parish and island life, often giving interviews for the local radio or writing articles for the press, as well as getting to know the community, leading worship, and supporting the Deanery in whatever way I can (such as becoming webmaster and providing ICT advice). In fact, one of the first things achieved upon my arrival was installing internet access in church and our community building.

Stuart and Natalie at the Lt Governor's house
Stuart and Natalie at the Lt Governor’s House for the Queen’s birthday

Within Guernsey I am involved in the New Wine Leader’s Network and Churches Working Together, whereby we arrange a free Easter Fun Day every Holy Saturday, a free event which regularly has over 2000 attendees, as well as a Light Party on All Saints’ Eve. Additionally, at a more local level in the north of Guernsey I work closely with my Methodist and Salvation Army colleagues, meeting regularly for prayer and our churches joining together for worship a few times per year.

Stuart, Natalie, and Bridget
On occasions the serving team can be a family affair!

One thing I have been very interested in for some years has been live-streaming worship online to allow those who are unable to attend for whatever reason to participate in worship. This meant that, when the first Lockdown happened in 2020 we were ready – initially streaming worship from the Rectory but transferring to church. And, in fact, we have continued to live-stream throughout the past year – whether public worship has been possible or not. For me, we need to use this technology to allow people to remain connected to a worshipping community.

The serving team
Unusually, a full serving team!