Sunday 10th January was Father Jack’s last day with us. Over the course of our 9am and 1030am services we sadly bid him a virtual adieu over our devices, and children from our 9am families/Wanstead Church School presented him with drawings and paintings.

Jack’s four years with us as Rector have simply flown by. It would be impossible to condense his achievements into a few paragraphs (this letter sets out exactly what our parish has achieved under his leadership), but if we had to choose, then let it be his legacy of social action and inspiring our parish to be a kinder, more inclusive community.

In 2018, Jack oversaw a total overhaul of the parish website and digital communications. With what now seems like great foresight, the upgrading of our digital platforms meant that we were more than ready to meet the challenges of moving church online and engaging with digital worshippers when the Covid pandemic began in 2020.

In 2019 we saw our parish truly become an ‘Inclusive Church’ – not just in words, but by action. Under Jack’s leadership, the parish reached out to the local community and got everyone inspired to help us raise funds to host our first winter night shelter in our parish halls. The Covid crisis has not stopped our efforts in this area, and this year we are helping to house homeless guests in hotel accommodation.

In 2020 we joined forces with other local churches to form a Community Sponsorship group, seeking to bring a Syrian refugee family to the safety of Wanstead. We look forward to welcoming our family this Spring.

2020 was a year of highs and lows. Following the restoration of St Mary’s, we received a huge boost of a further £72,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, enabling us to work with consultants and architects to secure and plan the longer-term future for both St Mary’s and Christ Church. Our parishioners stepped up to ensure food got on the plate by setting up the ‘Tin in a Bin’ network of doorstep foodbank collection points, vital once our churches closed.

We also had to shut our church doors, learn to embrace Zoom, and Jack and the ministry team had to sadly take more funerals and comfort more bereaved families than they ever thought possible.

As we enter 2021 in yet another lockdown, Father Jack leaves this parish in an undoubtedly better place. ‪Not the way we wanted to say goodbye, Jack was presented virtually with gifts and a most generous cheque – testament to just how much he is loved by the parish. ‬He will be greatly missed.

Thank you, Jack, for inspiring us to be better. We will keep going!