Spotted in the Marks and Spencer’s Gemini store in Warrington on Wednesday evening last week was the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Rev Paul Bayes.
He wasn’t there to do his weekly shop or even try on a new shirt, but to conduct the licensing service for the new Pioneer Team Rector for the Church of England in West Warrington - Rev. Jeremy Tear.
Following the service, in this far from usual venue, Bishop Paul commented: “It was a great pleasure to celebrate Jeremy’s new role within the Team, and especially to do so in a service held in Marks and Spencer’s Cafe in the Gemini Trade Park. The Church is called to be present in the midst of every community, and this was a wonderful way of expressing that commitment. It was clear how much Jeremy is valued and respected by all in the Team and in the wider Church and community. I wish him well in his new role as Pioneer Team Rector, and I am confident that under his leadership the whole Team will move forward together, building a bigger church and making a bigger difference in West Warrington."
Drawing inspiration for his talk from the stores’ displays Bishop Paul showed how expressions such as “Sweet, savoury, rich, zingy, zesty”, “We’re changing (for the better)” and “Shaped and supported” applied to the modern church as much as to Marks and Spencer.
Holding the service in a store was considered particularly appropriate, as pivotal to the new role includes making the church known and relevant to the wider community as well as leading the clergy and other members of the four existing churches of the area: St James’s Great Sankey, St Mary’s Great Sankey, St Paul’s Penketh and St Philip’s Westbrook.
The new Team Rector was warmly welcomed by representatives of other denominations and the wider community as well as by fellow Anglicans. Store staff offered all those attending light refreshments.
Speaking of the service, Rev.Jeremy Tear said: “I am delighted to have been appointed to this pioneering role for the West Warrington Team. Holding the service here in Marks and Spencer Gemini seemed a very apt way of expressing the pioneering nature of our team which is about taking our faith out to where people are rather than waiting for them to come to our churches. I am very grateful to James Gibbons and all at Marks and Spencer for being so accommodating of us.”