A NEWLY licensed church leader in Boscombe has started a project aimed at providing religious and pastoral support to the whole community through nearby schools and other churches.

Revd Tim Matthews, of St Swithun's, was formally licensed the Priest in Charge of St Clement's Church at a service last week seeing some 200 people turn out for the occasion.

While the normal turn-out at the historic site is currently only around 25, Revd Matthews says the relaunch of St Clement's services - both contemporary and traditional - should see a sharp rise in congregation numbers through the work they're doing in the community.

It is hoped the more informal services will help draw in the younger crowds - particularly families with children at both Bethany Junior School and St Clement's and St John's Infant School who form part of the partnership.

"The message is everyone is welcome," Revd Matthews said. "We want the church to be a real resource for both schools to enhance the great work they are already doing. They are doing critical work in this community.

"The core value is love. God is love and that's what we want people's experience to be. And we want the children to experience God's love in all its forms.

"There is great work already being done locally by a range of churches and Christian charities in Boscombe. Together, we all sense that God is on the move in Boscombe and Springbourne and it's tremendously exciting to be in on it."

Andy Poole, head teacher at St Clement's school said their school currently has family worship on Thursdays which they plan to move to the church because, at present, parents are standing in the corridor such is the demand for the school's service. Lawrence Woodward, headteacher of Bethany school, said there are similar plans for their pupils and parents as the schools continue to form their partnership with the church.

Simon Nicholls, the site pastor and curate-to-be, is the school chaplain for both premises. Debi Matthews - Revd Matthews's wife - has been working with others to provide a parenting course at both schools for some time.

St Clement's first service under Revd Matthews will be held tomorrow (SUN, JAN 22) from 10.30am with refreshments, followed by contemporary worship at 11am.


St Clement's Church was founded by patron Edmund Christy in 1873.

It's architect was John Dando Sedding and the building is made entirely from stone from Combe Down near Bath.

St Clement was one of the early Bishops of Rome. In his letter to the Corinthians he deals with the appointment of the clergy in early times. Nothing certain is known of his death but it is believed he suffered martyrdom by drowning by being tied to an anchor and flung into the Sea of Azov. There is a depiction of this in the windows above the church's west door.