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1986-2005: George Day - taking the story forward

1987 saw the introduction of a Thanksgiving and Blessing Service for children as a first step for those asking about baptism. It certainly hasnít solved the problem of parents who ask for their child to be baptised but who have little grasp of what Christian faith is about. However, it has proved helpful for a number of people in different ways, and for the children of church members it is lovely to be able to have a Thanksgiving the very first Sunday the new baby is brought to church, sometimes when only a few days old.

The church todayIn autumn 1988 the physical appearance of the church changed quite abruptly - the original spire had become badly corroded and needed to be replaced. Unfortunately the architects made many mistakes, and the first attempt at fitting the new spire was a total failure because the mountings on the spire did not match up with the mountings on the roof. Eventually this was corrected, and the spire was erected late in 1990.

The outstanding event of 1989 was the "Who Cares?" mission led by Daniel Cozens, returning to the parish some 15 years after his time as curate here. Although only short, just 4 days, the mission made a major impact. There was a great deal of contact with people outside the church, and some were converted. However, the greatest impact was within the church, with many people finding their faith revitalised or deep hurts healed. There was a huge boost to the homegroups, with the numbers attending rising to about 80, and this proved to be a long-lasting effect.

One thing that resulted from the mission was that the Music Group started taking a much more prominent part, no longer leading the music in morning services from the gallery at the back, but leading from the front of the church. This, together with growth in confidence and ability, and better amplification, has meant an increasingly capable and strong lead for the music side of the worship, with the great joy that the group is equally at home with classical hymns and with modern worship songs.

In June 1989 an extremely important event took place - the first meeting of what was to become Churches Together in the Crays. Most of the local churches are involved, and warm links have been established between the churches and also between many individual members. There has been a growing sense of partnership in the Gospel, and this is undoubtedly one of the most significant developments of recent years.

Another major development has been in the area of women's ministry. In May 1995, Jane Rawling was ordained priest and presided at Holy Communion for the first time in June, and in 1996 Serena Willoughby became the first married woman member of staff. When she was ordained priest a year later she became the first full-time woman priest on the staff. Serena and her husband, John, both made a very important contribution over the next three years, particularly in the work with young people.

In June 1999, St Barnabas was involved with other churches in the Crays and in Petts Wood in Walk Kent. We were assisted by a tremendous team of men, and working with them was a great privilege, but it has to be said that the results were very limited. However, it did continue to foster the sense of the local churches working together.

During the summer of 1999, a bid by Bromley and Bexley Boroughs for Single Regeneration Budget money was accepted, which made large amounts of money available for development and regeneration in the Cray Valley area. To work with this, a Community Forum was set up to cover the Crays and Ramsden, with a very high representation from the local churches on this Forum. Not all the results were as great as had been hoped, but one very significant advance for the local community was the start of The Centre in Cotmandene Crescent, and most of the local churches have had a very strong involvement with this.

In 2001 for the first time a Christmas pageant was held, with a nativity procession, including a donkey, from the church down to Cotmandene Crescent, where the outside of one of the shops had been artistically converted into the stable. Carol singing followed. This has been repeated each year since then, although sadly the donkey was no longer available in 2004!

In 2002 a Fun Day was held in the church and the church grounds in celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee, and in conjunction with various other groups. Another similar very successful Fun Day was held in 2004 in association with the celebrations in Rochester Diocese of the 1400th anniversary.

During summer 2003 the area at the back of the church hall was completely revamped, providing a wheelchair accessible toilet and refurbished men's and women's toilets. In a second stage in summer 2004 extra storage space was created, partly for the Pre-school, but also for the various other groups that use the hall and need various amounts of equipment. This has made a huge difference particularly for the pre-school staff, and has meant the clutter has now gone from the corridors. In summer 2005, the hall and lounge windows were replaced - just think, no more painting of metal windows at church work-parties!

In June 2005, George Day left St Barnabas after 19 years, to be vicar of St Barnabas, Joydens Wood. After a vacancy of one year, in June 2006, St Barnabas was pleased to welcome its first woman incumbent, Alyson Davie.

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