Bracknell has a bit of a reputation for being difficult to navigate. Again tonight it proved it’s reputation. Despite having printed out a map, we still got lost trying to find St Andrew’s Priestwood. Having looked at the map again once we’d found it, we’d actually circled around it almost completely before actually getting there!
The reason for our trip to Bracknell was to go along and support Rev Andrew Frearson as he was licensed as Team Vicar of St Andrew’s. As you may know Andrew spent his recent six month sabbatical at St James, having been a good friend of Rev Richard for many years. Ultimately he has come back to the UK, having spent the past few years working in the Atlanta Diocese in the USA. He is also bringing with him his American wife and step-daughter, who as Beth well knows, are probably just hitting the culture shock of landing in the UK – needless to say, Beth gave them our phone number just in case they need any help from someone who has been through the same thing.
The service was pretty good, if slightly different from what we’re used to at St James. St Andrew’s is much more towards the Anglo-Catholic end of the spectrum in terms of churchmanship, so there was lots of incense wafting around. Having said that, liturgy wise it was pretty straightforward and familiar – and I was pleased to find that they used the modern Lord’s Prayer too.
In fact the church as a whole is a bit different from Finchampstead. Whereas we are an ancient country Church in an affluent area, St Andrew’s is a modern building (built in the 1990’s) in one of the first of the big post-war estates that surround the centre of Bracknell. Whilst at St James our problems are often trying to find a way to fit everybody in, whilst maintaining our ageing building, the opposite would seem to be the case at St Andrew’s. Whilst it may well be that a Tuesday evening was a difficult night, and that a Sunday morning may be better, but I was really surprised at the numbers of empty seats in the congregation – compare that with when Rev Richard was licensed at St James when we had to run a video link across into the Parish Centre in order to accommodate everybody who wanted to come. Certainly I think that Andrew will have some interesting challenges ahead, and certainly some very different challenges to those which Rev Richard has in Finchampstead.