Claydon Benefice recently welcomed a brand-new interim Parish Priest, Revd. Canon Mark Haworth into their churches. Revd. Mark’s journey into Priesthood began back in 1988 in Cambridge, where after two years of college he did a three-year curacy and worked as a Vicar in East Cambridgeshire for nine years, having worked for the
forestry commission in four different UK locations, where he put his Forestry degree from Aberdeen to good use.
From then on, Blackburn-born Mark has gone on to be a Bishop Chaplin in Peterborough, a Canon at the Manchester Cathedral, a team rector in Salford and a Vicar at Rochdale, alongside many other roles, before settling in Exning, where he’s stayed for the last 15 months as the Associate Priest.
Alongside making his position at Claydon Benefice became a reality, Mark has enjoyed being the diocesan environment advisor, where his team work on environmental issues affecting the church alongside groups like the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. He’s also a part of the building and advisory committee and enjoys his passion of singing in church services, which has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.
In March 2020, Mark stepped back from his job as a Team Rector for the Lark Valley and North Bury Church of England team ministry and Rural Dean, where he led ten churches serving 30,000 people.
Mark told us: “I was at the hub of a big network and I decided it was time to step back after seven years into a less demanding role. I like being in Exning, I’ve lived in Exning before so it’s been a very congenial place for me to be located and now i’m keen to step back up to work in Claydon for the next two years as the interim priest in charge.”
Interim ministry has become very popular within the Church of England as the priests can be an ‘experienced pair of hands’ that can help a time of transition in the church. Mark stepped up to his new position after this most difficult time, with the Claydon Benefice having had 15 months without an incumbent. One of the voluntary clergy, Cathy, has been a big help in keeping the churches running, but she is excited to welcome Mark onto the team.
With the churches reopening again for services, Mark is making sure that online events still go ahead alongside in-person services. The team even ran an online welcoming event for Mark in late June, hosted at the Barham Church, where everyone got to meet and virtually embrace their new priest.
Mark explained: “We’ve all realised that there are some people who can never come to church, be it because they’re in a nursing home, house bound or transport is an issue, who can now come to church through a screen. It’s like a fourth church and community. It’s an awful lot better than not coming at all and we’re very delighted that we have the ability to do that and do it successfully.”
*Importantly, the churches are finally able to fully reintroduce christenings, baptisms, weddings and funerals at full capacity again and Mark is looking forward to meeting everyone in this new community and getting back to
what he loves doing the most:
“Being a Parish Priest is, in my opinion, the Church of England’s best job. Teaching, celebrating, being with people at significant times in their lives and building communities, it’s amazing. You could say it’s about seeing God’s kingdom alive and well within society. I wouldn’t say we have all the answers, but it’s a team and community so we all work together to be the best we can be.”
*Please note the latest government announcement re. easing lockdown may impact on this information so check before your travel.