A new chapter in the friendship between St James’s Piccadilly and St Pancras New Church, Euston Road.
When I was licensed as the priest-in-charge of St Pancras Euston Road at a lunchtime Eucharist on Wednesday 29th November, a new chapter in an old story was begun in the link between these two parishes. I am remaining firmly Rector of St James’s Piccadilly, with this new role in addition, and our whole clergy team will share the Sunday duties between the two churches from now on.
Not geographically neighbours, St Pancras and St James’s are close in other ways. When St James’s historic graveyard was full in the late eighteenth century, some land was bought in Euston which eventually received the remains of 60,000 parishioners of Westminster, including thousands of those who lived in our parish. And in more recent times, Bill Badeley, who some of our older congregation still remember, the Rector of St James’s until 1980, was formerly Vicar of St Pancras. At a recent meeting between St James’s and St Pancras people in their vestry, Bill’s portrait was hanging on the wall. There are many other connections between us and our people, between Camden and Westminster, and we are venturing forward together in hope and faith.
What is this new partnership and how will it work?
It came about after a mutual recognition of needs. At St Pancras, the church wardens have seen that the covid pandemic has been a really hard time for the church and it has been difficult to recover both the level of activity and numbers of congregation. The parish has been without a vicar for just about a year now, as the much loved previous vicar has moved to the Southwark Diocese. And so in discussions with the Diocese, they wondered if there was another parish that they could work with to see if two parishes could be stronger together. At the same time, St James’s, raising funds for our Wren Project, knew we would need a place for our congregation to worship during the restoration works to the church itself. At the invitation of St Pancras, St James’s congregation will now have a place to be during that time, hoping to start in 2025.
Leading up to that time when we are physically in the same place, the PCCs have resolved to work together, gently and slowly at first as we get to know each other, to find ways to live out the gospel in London in our respective places. Euston and Piccadilly are very different places, but have some clear similarities; both are areas where the population is transient. Both have strong and different cultural institutions and identities, both churches have a strong track record of welcoming people going through homelessness and campaigning on the environment. There is much synergy between the congregations and some synergy too between the areas within which they are set. St Pancras runs a foodbank from the church hall, which is providing more than half the food bank provision in the whole of Camden and the challenges of HS2, the project’s development, controversy and now pausing, have been a vivid part of the story for the past few years.
For St James’s congregation, we will take steps to get to know St Pancras in 2024, and our clergy team will be travelling there to take services on a Sunday from now. Each week in the newsletter we will let you know who is going to be there.
The future ahead is not completely clear, but St James’s PCC have followed the movement of the Spirit in exploring this new partnership. There is much to cherish, much to look forward to and much to find out. The adventure continues… so please keep the people of St Pancras in your prayers and let’s see what 2024 brings.