Our Vicar

Revd Derek Winterburn Revd Derek Winterburn Revd Derek Winterburn

The Revd Derek Winterburn is the 10th vicar of St James’s Church. Derek was installed by the Bishop of Kensington in a service at St James’s on 8th November. Read the article The Institution & Induction of the Revd Derek Winterburn and see the photo album Our New Vicar.

Born in Orpington, in Kent, Derek doesn’t come from a particularly religious family. "I was sent to Sunday School every week. The lessons, however, weren’t inspiring and I’d have said the odds on me continuing as a Christian later were no more than 50-50."  However, he began attending a church youth club – and it was here that signs of his future emerged. Inspired by the young men who took the group he became a junior leader. He later met his future wife, Sandra, and they were engaged by the time he graduated in 1982.

Derek visited a number of churches, independent, Anglican and Roman Catholic, looking for a spiritual home, settling on Christchurch Clifton. Then, in 1980, violence erupted in the St Pauls district of Bristol. The disturbance occurred against a background of increasing racial tension, poor housing and the alienation of black youth. This acted as a catalyst for Derek, who suddenly knew he wanted to work in some capacity for God in the inner city. He was offered a placement in Widnes, and less than a year later Derek was at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, beginning a Theology degree and ministerial training.

Derek at an All-age serviceOrdained in 1986, he began his ministry in Islington, an inner-city parish with high deprivation, where he started a youth club for youngsters on the local council estate. Three years later he moved to Hackney, where he became a team vicar, again working in challenging circumstances, and where he helped to get a decaying housing estate demolished and better homes built in its place. In 1996, Bishop Richard suggested he move to St Mary’s, where he had been vicar for 20 years.

He is married to Sandra, a maths teacher; they have two sons (and one granddaughter).

Derek observed in the PCC of St James a desire to develop and grow as a church. "I know Betty Stewart’s legacy opens up so many possibilities. With a willingness to face the challenges, and resources to tackle them, I am confident that God will do great things at St James’s".

Nick Bagge interviewed Derek just before he became vicar of St James's. He discovered that Derek Winterburn was a man on a mission to enrich and grow our church. But while he came with many ideas, his first aim was to listen to the congregation and get to know the wider community. "I want to visit as many of the members of St James’s as I can. I want to get to know them and what their dream is for St James’s. I will also be working with Jacky and others in thinking through Sunday worship. That will lead into working with the PCC in developing a vision. By Easter next year I would hope that things would be a bit clearer as to what are our priorities .... Some in the church have been talking about a new service and at St Mary’s we did find offering a different style of worship within the same church opened the doors for other people. In the spring I will bring forward plans to develop a new service alongside the 9.30am. It is important to stress that I am coming with a blueprint not a template. As a first step I’ll be working with the whole church to decide how St James’s appears to those on the outside .... We want to open our doors as wide as we can. As a church congregation we should have some care for every person who lives in our parish. The Church of England has always sought to be all things to all people. The challenge for a church like St James’s is how do we connect with all these people? .... My role is encouraging people to listen to God, to say, “What is he asking me to do? How is he working with me to change my life?” It’s about raising expectation that through teaching and nurture and care and support, people become more like Christ."

Derek can be contacted at any time other than on Mondays (his day off).


Revd Derek Winterburn on 020 8241 5904

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