People of Hastings & St Leonards
Father David Hill
For this edition Kathryn Sutter spoke to Father David Hill, Rector of St John’s Church, Pevensey Road.
“I’ve been in the town for eight years as Rector of St John’s. Before I saw this job advertised in the Church Times I had only been to the town once, to the smugglers’ caves on a family holiday. It was a rainy and dreary day and I didn’t feel particularly inspired by the town. Eight years on I think there is a real positive feel to the place, it’s an interesting and joyful town to live in.
My calling to be a priest came at age 14. My family had never been particularly religious, but it was a difficult time for us as my parents were splitting up and family life was quite traumatic. My grandad, who was a great source of stability in my life, had a car crash and was miraculously saved. He asked me to go to church with him to thank God, he was nervous to go on his own. We were both hooked by the service and after a few months I felt that that was the life for me. I took various paths including working in the carpet trade and being an RE teacher before my ordination in 2004. I think it was good to have a bit of life experience before I was ordained, nothing could really phase me. I worked in my home county of Norfolk before coming to St Leonards.
My work in the town has helped me get to know hundreds of people and I think the mix of people in St Leonards is a good thing. I was attracted to the job as the church was LGBT inclusive and more progressive. Parishioners come to me with various problems from housing to food poverty and I am often the first point of call for issues. The area has changed but I hope that the gentrification occurring will ultimately provide an economic benefit to the town. As well
as the services at St John’s I spend a lot of time across the community; I am honorary Chaplain for St Michael’s Hospice and a chaplain for Hastings and St Leonards’ Veterans Association. I also often visit the 18 care homes in my parish. My ultimate aim is to make my patch more like the kingdom of heaven!”
• Find David at St John’s Church, Pevensey Road, St Leonards-on-Sea. stjohnspevenseyroad.org.uk
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