A new permanent vicar has started at St Nicholas’ and St Barnabas’ Churches in Kenilworth over a year after its previous vicar retired.
Rev Stella Bailey was officially installed as the churches’ vicar last week, replacing former vicar Rev Richard Awre who retired in the summer of 2015.
Rev Bailey spoke highly of the congregation and is enjoying living in Kenilworth so far.
She said: “I have received the most warmest of welcomes from the congregation and I look forward to getting to know everyone better.
“It is a real privilege to be called to minister amongst them and to journey with them through this stage of their life.
“I knew a bit about Kenilworth before, however being a visitor and living here are two different things. Everyone is so friendly and I’m slowly getting used to the fact people smile and say good morning.”
A former police officer in Coventry, Rev Bailey was ordained in 2009. She became curate at St Mary’s Walsgrave then vicar at St Mary Magdalen Chapelfields before moving to Kenilworth.
She said: “God had taken me on a journey to starting to consider leaving my former parish and the more I read about and heard about the life of St Nicholas’ the more I got excited by the challenges and opportunities.
“When I read the parish profile I could see that where my passions, strengths and experience lay was the sort of priest they were looking for. Through prayer and reflection I was gently encouraged by God that this was the right next step to take.”
Rev Bailey has said she hopes to bring fun to the church in her time as vicar, and aims to create a more relevant and engaging place to worship.
She admitted her gender and sexuality may not have been what some people would have expected from a new vicar, but she pointed to the difficulty of representing everyone in the Church of England and said there had been no backlash from anyone.
She added: “One of the great strengths of the Church of England is its depth and breadth of social, ecclesiastical and theological views.
“St Nicholas’ is a church made up of people from the breadth of the Church of England and no one vicar can fully represent the views of such a diverse group.
“We can read so much into the labels others use to identify themselves when in reality our true understanding of a person can only be shaped when we are in relationship to them.
“Probably the most controversial thing about me so far is that I’m an Aston Villa fan.”
Former churchwarden Rosemary Spencer was confident Revd Bailey would perform well in her new role.
She said: “We needed a permanent vicar at the helm and I think she’ll be very good - she’s a very positive person.”