Teresa is saying goodbye to her ‘church family’

MANGOTSFIELD’S vicar Rev Teresa Taylor is preparing to say farewell to her “church family” as she retires.

The vicar of St James Church will take her last service on October 8 at 4pm, bringing to an end 11 years which have seen many changes in the parish, including the development of Lyde Green and the transformation of the church building ahead of its 800th anniversary last year.

Teresa worked as an NHS local health visitor, based at Fishponds Health Centre, before she began her career in the clergy as a deacon in 2002.

She was installed at St James in 2012, having been an assistant minister in Kingswood, at first combining the post with a part-time role as a chaplain for adults with learning disabilities.

From 2015 Teresa’s work at St James became a full-time role, as the church became deeply involved with the development of the new community in Lyde Green, which led to her becoming a founder trustee of the Lyde Green Community Association, a role she continues in to this day.

The vicarage was moved to Emersons Green when Teresa took over so she was based more centrally in the parish.

Teresa says the biggest change to the parish during her time as vicar has been demographic, with Lyde Green and Emersons Green families joining the Mangotsfield residents who used to take Sunday walks across the fields where the two estates now stand.

She said: “We’ve lost some very faithful members of our church family through old age, but we’ve also grown, with younger families joining.”

Her time has also seen the church building undergo a £700,000 renovation including new flooring, heating, seating and other facilities.

Teresa said: “We realised our church building wasn’t really fit for purpose in the current century – we didn’t even have a toilet.”

Despite complications caused by the lockdown and a builder going bust, the Create 800 project was finished in time for the church’s 800th anniversary last year, and the church hall has also been improved.

The pandemic also prompted the church to move into digital communication, recording and live-streaming most of its services – something Teresa describes as “a steep learning curve” – and emphasised its growing community focus.

Teresa said: “Our mission statement is ‘Creating a Christ-centred church, caring for the community’.

“It’s always been a very caring church but over the last decade, I’ve seen us very much more involved in the community – and the community embraced the 800th anniversary.”

Teresa grew up in Bristol and, although her family moved to Wales when she was a teenager, she returned after meeting husband Chris, a fellow Bristolian who is continuing his work in social care, teaching independence skills to visually impaired people.

They have two daughters and recently became grandparents for the first time.

Teresa says one of her priorities after retirement will be to “do some granny duties”.

She also hopes to be able to return to some of the activities she has had “to lay down through the business of life”, including playing the piano, crafts and “serious cooking”.

In time Teresa and Chris plan to move to Somerset but will remain in the area for a while after she retires.

Teresa said: “There’s a mixture of feelings – of sadness, because this is the best church family, but I’m looking forward to a bit of a rest, because it has been a bit full-pelt!

“We’ve had a wonderful time in Mangotsfield, the church family has been amazing and we’ve been very happy.”

For more information about St James email stjamesmango@gmail.com or visit the website at stjameschurch.co.uk.