Staff Pastors at St Paul's Shadwell
On the ‘Who’s Who’ section of our website the first entry reads ‘Ric and Louie Thorpe lead the church’. This is a deliberate statement of partnership in marriage and a shared sense of calling, as well as reflecting their gifting and experience as leaders. Ric has the official authority and ultimate responsibility, following his appointment by the Bishop of Stepney as Rector of the parish.
This leaves Louie and the other clergy spouses, Heather Atkinson and Fuzz Dix, with an option, offered by Ric, of an unofficial church leadership role, in which each person’s gifts can be offered according to the time available. With nine children between them, each has chosen to be a full-time mother and this ministry takes priority over any other church work. However, in recognition of the unique and extensive support given to the church and to the staff, and in line with their gifts as leaders, Ric has appointed Louie, Fuzz and Heather as members of the staff team, under the title of ‘Voluntary Staff Pastor’. They attend staff meetings and join with the other staff pastors, (Ric, Adam, Ed and Andrew) for regular prayer and consultation. Each staff pastor has area(s) of expertise and focus.
In a church in which all the senior staff are male at present, this model brings to a senior level, with some degree of visibility, women leaders in the church. It reflects the election of a male and a female churchwarden and the diverse faces of leadership on the PCC, in Connect Groups and the various ministries here. It seeks to send a message of value to the many volunteers, (be they male or female, single or married, old or young,) whose energy and gifted contributions enable St Paul’s to flourish as a worshipping, missional community.