Fr James Gilder
Rector of Wanstead
A Norfolk boy originally, Fr James read Law at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Before ordination, he practised as a solicitor and a teacher, in Essex and east London. He trained for the priesthood at Westcott House and spent his curacy at St Edmund’s, Chingford. James, who has a long association with Kenya, served for several years as the Diocesan Environmental Officer. He sits on the Diocesan Advisory Committee and is a local Justice of the Peace. In his spare time, James enjoys making music, D.I.Y., and sailing (badly).
Fr Charles Brown
Associate Priest (Half time)
Although Charles comes from Georgia, U.S.A., he has spent almost all his working life abroad, first in Istanbul, Turkey, where he worked for an American Christian mission. In 1998 he came to the U.K. to train for the priesthood at Westcott House in Cambridge. After ordination he served in the Parish of Boston, Lincs. From January 2006 until September 2023 he was priest for Crowland Parish, Lincs. along with several village parishes. Charles writes: "Mission is what makes the priestly life exciting for me. By mission I mean not only trying to live a Christian life and speaking about living it, but listening to others and trying to help them see God at work in their lives." In his spare time Charles enjoys reading, walking, music, and gardening.
The Revd Olive Thursby
Associate Priest and High Street Chaplain
Olive was ordained Priest in September 2021 but has been actively involved in the parish for a number of years. She became a Licensed Reader in 2009 after theological training at St Mellitus College, becoming Licensed Lay Minister in 2015. Olive has a heart for chaplaincy and a big focus of hers is connecting with Wanstead High Street, and all who work and shop there. With a spiritual focus on the mission of the church, her other interests include playing the organ, travel and attending arts events.
The Revd Richard Wyber
Honorary Assistant Priest
For Richard, the call to ordained ministry came towards the end of a varied career in accountancy and he joined our ministry team on ordination in 2006. With an interest in small groups as a supplement to formal worship, he is the driving force behind a number of adult nurture groups in our parish. In addition to his church duties, Richard also serves on the board of a substantial benevolent association.
Fr Chris Mackenna
Honorary Assistant Priest
Fr Chris grew up in West London - so may be the only Chelsea supporter in E11! After several years as a Benedictine monk, he read Theology with Psychology and Psychology of Religion at University. Afterward ordination, he qualified as a Jungian Analyst. Now gratefully married to Mother Anne, he spent his working life in ministry and mental health. Pushing 80, he is overwhelmed by the mysteries of the cosmos and the splendour of the Christian Way.
Mthr Anne Mackenna
Anne has spent most of her life around Wanstead. She attended Wanstead Church School along with her two sisters and brother. A large number of significant family events took place in Christ Church. She lives with her husband, Chris, daughter, Ellie, Ellie's three dogs, a rescue cat and a Ukrainian refugee! In working life, she qualified as a nurse, midwife and psychotherapist, and lived for a while in Zambia and Lebanon. She loves ballet, opera, Chopin and gardens. Her favourite venues in London are the Royal Opera House and Kew Gardens. She is excited about 'coming home' to work at Christ Church.
Weddings, Baptisms and Thanksgivings Coordinator
As a lifelong worshipper in Wanstead Parish, Jan has worked as a general nurse, managed a large city dental practice and has been employed in a local school. She also ran the 1st Wanstead Guide unit, attached to Christ Church for over 25 years. She is now the first point of contact for our Baptism, Thanksgiving and Wedding families.
Parish Administrator and DBS Administrator
Lorraine left her career in banking to bring up her children, starting to attend Christ Church when her first son was a few months old. She has been involved in numerous aspects of the church ever since, from running Nursery Church to arranging flowers for weddings. Lorraine helped to set up and run the parish office.
Hall Bookings Manager
Lauren has been an active member of the Christ Church congregation for over twenty years. For the past twelve years she has worked at Wanstead Church School as a classroom assistant. As our Hall Bookings Manager she is responsible for arranging and overseeing all group and individual bookings as well as maintaining the smooth running of the halls.
Siân has been involved in Parish life for 27 years, having lived in Wanstead since birth. She sings in the Choir, rings the bells at Christ Church, and is a licensed Lay Leader. You may also find her underground giving tours of the Crypt underneath St Mary’s! Siân runs Parish communications and social media channels.
Lay Vice Chair/Treasurer
James has lived in Wanstead for 28 years. One of the lay leaders licensed to lead services at St Mary’s, James has also served as Chair of the Friends and Parish Treasurer. He co-manages the “Tin in a Bin” initiative supporting Redbridge Foodbank and is a member of the Corner House Project, which supports a number of projects supporting local families and homeless/rough sleepers.
With four daughters ranging from teens to mid twenties, Barbara has volunteered with many of the children and young people’s groups in the parish. In her spare time, outside her role as a Director of Clinical Development at GlaxoSmithKline, Barbara is vice chair of the Miscarriage Association charity.
An active member of the parish for over a quarter of a century, Ralph has served on several parish committees. Having previously been churchwarden at Christ Church, Ralph began attending St Mary’s on completing his term.
Ralph’s professional life was as a photographer, working mainly with advertising agencies.
Head, Wanstead Church School
Natalie’s career began as a class teacher at a primary school in Essex. She went on to be appointed Assistant Head and then Acting Head of a school with serious weaknesses before becoming the Deputy Headteacher of an outstanding school in Havering. Prior to coming to Wanstead Natalie was the Headteacher of a primary school in Essex, which Ofsted rated “Good” under her leadership.
Martin worked for 33 years in an insurance company in the City until he retired in 2014. Married to Sandra, they have two children. He is a keen musician and plays the organ at both St Mary’s and Christ Church, where he sings in the choir. You may notice a four legged companion by his side; this will be the latest Guide Dog puppy that he is training.
Vulnerable Adults Lead and Seniors’ Champion
A longstanding member of our community, Margaret has a background in social work and has sat on both the Mental Health Tribunal and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunals. She currently chairs the World Church Committee and acts as the Vulnerable Adults Lead on our Safeguarding Committee.
Diversity and Inclusion Advocate
Zimbabwe-born Patience moved to the UK in 2002 to train as a Paediatric Nurse, and is now a Senior Sister with the London Neonatal Transport Team. Patience lives in Wanstead with her partner and their two children, serves on the social committee and attends Little Angels toddler group with her younger child.
Parish Giving Coordinator
Jill has worked in accounting and finance in New York and London and now resides and works in Wanstead with her husband and their two children. Jill and her family enjoy travelling, especially back to the US, where she grew up, to visit family and friends.
A member of Wanstead Parish for over thirty years, having moved down from Cambridge to pursue a career in the City, Jem has been an active participant in the choir, a past (and sometimes current) bell ringer and one of the original members of the Friends Committee. He most regularly attends services at St Mary’s, where he performs various roles including reading the lesson, intercessions, sidesman, and cleaning.
Fair Trade Representative
Yvy is a sides-person at baptisms and our 8am service at Christ Church, and one of the Lay Worship Leaders. She was involved with establishing our presence at Wanstead Farmers Market and also runs the Fairtrade stall with other volunteers.
Deputy Churchwarden/ Deanery Synod/MMU Representative/
Jenny is on both the intercessors and readers rotas at Christ Church, but usually sings in the choir. She works at University College London advising on the design of new teaching in Medicine and Engineering. A keen cyclist, Jenny volunteers as a cycle ride leader for beginner cyclists in Waltham Forest. She lives with her husband and stepson in Walthamstow.
Gary is married with three grown up children and two grandchildren and has lived in Wanstead for over 30 years. He became a Christian after meeting his wife 34 years ago, and is an Environmental Health Officer by profession, currently managing a team of officers trying to improve living conditions for some of the poorest residents in the London Borough Of Hammersmith and Fulham. As Safeguarding Lead, Gary is the first port of call for any safeguarding issues concerning children and/or vulnerable adults in relation to our churches. Gary looks forward to getting to know everyone in the team of committed Christians who have dedicated their lives to the Christchurch and St Mary's fellowship. His contact details can be found on the Safeguarding page.