Your stories: Matthew Hutton

The Revd Matthew Hutton is a Self-Supporting Minister in the Diocese of Norwich and is Associate Priest within the Mitre Benefice, with a particular focus on St Barnabas Church in Norwich.

I write this at the grand old age of 67, having come to ordination rather late in life in 2014, after being a Reader for 22 years.  The calling developed as I was doing a part-time Theology Degree as an independent student at St Mellitus Theological College in London and it all came to a head quite rapidly in just over a year, including ordination. I did a curacy with the Revd Canon Madeline Light, serving at St Stephen’s where I had been a Reader.  The last Bishop Graham then imaginatively granted me PTO across the whole Diocese for a year, for my wife Annie and me to explore where we felt called to serve.  This turned out to be St Barnabas in Norwich, part of the Mitre Benefice, where we have been since August 2018.  So, I am now licensed as an Associate Priest within the Mitre Benefice, with a particular focus on St Barnabas.

I was the so-called ‘Site and Service Pastor’ (hardly an Anglican title) at St Barnabas for a year from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.  As for many churches and people, the arrival of Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact, with Annie and me continuing to co-lead a weekly prayer group  on Zoom over the Spring and Summer and very much focusing on pastoral care for the 25 or so people within the ‘St Barnabas family’.

Since mid-September we have held services in person at St Barnabas, which means a reversion to the Thursday morning 10:30 Communion Services.  And a Mitre Benefice Communion Service on Sundays at 9am (11am from November) – instead of a St Barnabas 10:30 Sunday Service followed by coffee.  The new Site Pastor, Curate PJ Brombley, and I alternate in leading on Thursday mornings, and with the Revd Joanna Payne on Sundays.  I also play my part in occasional Sunday preaching within the Benefice, as also sometimes leading ‘Mission Partnership’ (ie, including Earlham and Costessey) Zoom Sunday Morning Prayer, hosted by St Anne’s Earlham.

The other five clergy (or six, before the Revd Ian Dyble leaves for Weybourne in November) within the Benefice are stipendiary, though not all full-time by any means, but are rather more involved in the life of the Benefice than I am.  Life outside continues to be fairly busy, as I manage the family farm in south-east Norfolk (though with our next-door neighbour doing the agricultural operations) and am very involved in caring for ex-offenders, chairing the Trustees of the Charity, Community Chaplaincy Norfolk. Up until lockdown I was taking Sunday services quarterly in HMP Norwich and will resume this once prison regulations allow.

Increasingly, I am finding involvement pastorally with friends outside St Barnabas, which is a trend I expect will continue.

What has happened to me over the last six years is an increasing sense of the infinite and undeserved love of God for me (which has engendered a new and completely unexpected love in me for others, especially those on the margins, including the ex-offenders – though there’s a long way to go on that!).  And, I believe as intimately connected with that, a growing awareness of who I am as a son of God (identity).   So, thank you, Lord, for the calling and for the ministry.

The Revd Matthew Hutton / 12 October 2020