The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


On the 29th June 1971 I was Ordained in All Saints Cathedral Derby, which was a tremendous occasion, being the first large event at the Cathedral since a major renovation. There was good crop of ordinands to be ordained apparently one of the largest for some considerable time so the Cathedral was packed to bursting. I had been trained at Lincoln Theological College on a combined course with St. John’s College Nottingham University.

I served my title as Curate at the parish church of St. John the Baptist Dronfield North Derbyshire which had three curates. This was a large lively church, which had a strong choral tradition and the longest chancel in England for a parish Church. I was Curate in charge of a Church Centre on a housing development within the parish boundaries so I had a lot of responsibility from the beginning of my ministry. The Centre was used seven days a week with numerous community projects and for worship on a Sunday. My training in Dronfield could not have been better owing to a very able Parish Priest, from whom I learned much.

From then my ministry moved further North to the diocese of Newcastle, spending a short time in charge of St. Michael and All Angels set in a coal mining village within the parish of Delaval Northumberland. I eventually became vicar of St. Hilda’s Jesmond within the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, which incorporated twelve hours a week as Industrial Chaplain to Wills Embassy as part of the North East Industrial Mission Team.  This was challenging and rewarding work.  I moved on to become vicar of St. Cuthbert’s the Civic parish of Blyth Northumberland, and I had a ‘walk in role’ as chaplain to the Port of Blyth amongst the Dockers. It was here that I became involved with the Life Boat Service. Blyth is a very large town, which featured a large coal mine that went out under the sea and shipbuilding, now sadly both finished. I was quite involved with the diocese of Newcastle being the chairman of  the Children’s Work Committee on the Diocesan Education Board for several years.

I enjoyed a full and enriching ministry in the diocese of Newcastle but I decided to train in Mental Health as a Psychiatric Nurse so I became a non-stipendiary priest working for the National Health Service.  It was whilst working in this capacity that I became very concerned about homelessness amongst families, which lead me to move south to become manager of the Robert’s Centre for Homeless Families in Portsmouth, a job I really enjoyed. After a while I began managing within the Mental Health Hostels of the company until I had to take early retirement following heart surgery. It was at this time that I became involved with Rowan’s Hospice in the Day Centre and Bereavement Support continuing to do so ever since. This led to me training members of Help In Bereavement Portsmouth for a good number of years, and within the Diocese of Portsmouth I have had an active role as tutor in Reader Training and the Bishop’s Certificate of Theology.

Bishop Timothy invited me to become Acting Social Responsibility Officer for the Diocese on a part time basis, which I did for a while until becoming Non Stipendiary Priest at St. Peter and Paul Fareham. When the vicar left I became Assistant to the Rural Dean of Havant. This meant covering for the Rural Dean and looking after parishes in Interregnum and during absence owing to sickness. This was a very varied ministry, which brought me to St. George’s. It was here that June and I decided to settle down as we had been feeling for a while that we had moved around too much.  We have had a very happy eight years within the St. George’s Family and I have enjoyed having a continuing role assisting when required, and enjoying the fellowship of colleagues.  So thank you Fr. Mike for making this ministry possible.

Therefore, I invite all members of the St. George’s family to join with me on the 29th of June at 7.30 p.m. at St. George’s for a service of Thanksgiving for my forty years of ministry. This will be a Sung Eucharist followed by an informal reception for all in the Church Hall. June and I hope that you will all come to make this a happy occasion in which all members of the St. George’s family can share.

Thank you all for your kindness and fellowship to us over the last eight years of my forty within the ministry of the Church. God Bless.

Fr Ray Chapman

Festival Edition 2011

40th Anniversary of Ordination of Fr Ray