Heather's new role at Heartsease church
St Francis Church in Heartsease has welcomed Revd Heather Cracknell as their new vicar. She will be building on the strong sense of community already in the church and also pioneering a new project on the estate.
The community at St Francis Church is small but active, with initiatives including a lunch club, parish nursing, messy church and youth work through close links with local Christian charity ENYP.
Heather and her family moved into the vicarage a month ago and she has spent the time meeting people, learning about the area and focusing on prayer. This has sparked lots of ideas but no definite plans yet as she is keen to build up a picture of the assets and skills of the local community and discern what God is saying.
Heartsease has endured a bad reputation – something that Heather feels is no longer deserved. Although there are many areas of need, she has encountered friendly people who look out for each other and value their community . Heather’s reception in the estate has been really positive and she has found people open and loyal to their church community. There is a softness to new ideas that she has found very encouraging.
Heather’s previous role at Cringleford involved establishing a community hub from scratch at the brand new Roundhouse Park development. Her first few weeks at St Francis have been quite different as there are existing provisions in place – the previous minister, Revd Peter Howard, retired last year. Heather’s approach has been to celebrate what is already happening and to look for gaps and opportunities to make the work flourish further.
St Francis is the only church in the Diocese that offers Messy Church as the main Sunday morning service once a month. Heather is adamant that messy church is ‘proper church’. She said, “The children and families know they matter to us. They consider themselves part of St Francis.”
Alongside her role at St Francis, Heather is also a Pioneer Missioner for the Diocese of Norwich, which means she has a particular calling to reach people who are outside of church – and her desire is to help people connect with God in a place that is culturally relevant to them. The old doctor’s surgery building next door to the church was purchased by the Diocese of Norwich last year. Heather and the church members are prayerfully thinking about how to use the building. Heather’s vision for it is to be a “creative space for people to belong and grow together”.
Heather is looking at some creative ways to help people connect with God and with each other, for example by offering variety in worship and growing Messy Church. She is willing to try new things and has an eye for making things visually engaging.
Over the coming weeks, she will build relationships with the local schools – Heartsease Primary Academy and OPEN academy, one of the only Church of England high school in Norfolk. She said, “I’m really looking forward to working with them.”