The History of St. Mary's Part 3

1978 - 2002


1978 Revd. Andrew Couch, Royal Army Chaplains Dept, stayed with his wife and children and covered the Christmas services. Torrential rain caused damage to church. 2500 restoration fund launched by Bishop.
1979 Mrs. Valerie Allen, a Methodist local preacher, was licensed by the Bishop and responsible for worship. Padre John Slegg, RAChD on island in August. Edward Canaan enthroned 11th Bishop on November 4th.
1980 Revd. Richard Davison arrived with wife Margaret and three children in January. Instituted during the Bishop's visit in July. Church re-wired, repairs to tower and roof. Vicarage garden fenced and planted.
1982 British Task Force en route to the Falklands Conflict. Greatly increased population. RAF Station set up at Airhead, and also quarters at Travellers Hill.
1982-1984 Royal Air Force Chaplains ministered to the island, living in the Vicarage. None stayed more than 4 months. 1982 - Noel James & David Mackenzie, 1983 - Kenneth Brown, Michael Howes, Geoffrey Huddleston & Michael Hawes.
1983 The Rt. Revd. Stuart Snell, Bishop of Croydon and Bishop to the Forces, stayed overnight (April 5th/ 6th) en route to the Falklands to conduct a Memorial Service for all those who died in the conflict, and consecrated cemeteries there.
1984 Revd. George Bradshaw appointed. Two Memorial Windows commemorating the Falklands War were installed: Virgin Mary & Child, and St. Michael. An anonymous gift, dedicated in July by Bishop Edward Canaan. An electronic organ, built from a kit on the island under the supervision of Mr. Shacklady (BBC) was also dedicated. The East Window of 1899 was by now in a dangerous condition, and was replaced by frosted glass as a temporary measure.
1985 Revd. Bradshaw retired to UK due to ill health. Short visits by RAF chaplains. Bishop Canaan visited and took the Christmas Services. New bell given by Maersk Shipping Company.

Bishop James Nathaniel Johnson, a St. Helenian, consecrated. Visited Ascension in May.

Revd. Michael Stark, chaplain of Exeter Prison, took Easter services.

Revd. Ron Cottingham appointed Vicar. Electronic piano purchased.

1987 Bishop Canaan visited in May.
1988 Bishop visited in April en route for Lambeth Conference. Sanctuary arch strengthened, sanctuary redecorated. Revd. Cottingham exchanged parishes with Fr. Michael Houghton (Vicar of St. James, St. Helena) for 2 months.
1989 Mr. Mark Parker of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel arrived in May, the first representative of the Society, which had actively supported the Diocese since 1704. A new illuminated Cross was dedicated by Bishop Canaan on Cross Hill. A new Junior Church Building, the work of Mr. Cyril Leo, who had run the Sunday School for 5 years in makeshift accommodation, was opened. Mr. Leo then built a garage for the Vicarage.

Bishop John Harry Gerald Ruston, OGS, was enthroned. Rt. Revd. Edward Canaan, formerly the Bishop, instituted as Vicar of Ascension and Assistant Bishop on April 21st. The 1899 stained glass window, which had been repaired in the workshops of Salisbury Cathedral with the help of a 1000 grant from the Royal Marines, was installed and re-dedicated on the St. Georges Day Parade.

Bishop John on the island from 24th July until the 28th August as Priest-in-charge. On the 25th of August he instituted Revd. Fr. Nicholas Turner as Vicar and his wife the Revd. Anne Turner as Deacon.

A Tabernacle from St. John's College, Broadstairs, given by the Sisters of the Community of John the Baptist, Clewer, was installed.

1992 A brief visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Revd. George Cary. Bishop John visited and confirmed 15 candidates.
1993 An appeal was launched to raise 25000 for a complete renovation of St Mary's Church. In the event the cost was 66000, of which the RAF gave a generous 54000. 6000 was donated by the Church Council, and 6000 by the various companies on the island. The work, which included re-roofing, was carried out by Messrs Turners, using mainly St. Helenian labour. A service to mark the completion of the work and the 150th Anniversary of the Church's foundation was held on September the 5th, attended by the Chaplain in Chief of the RAF. There is a brass plaque in the porch to commemorated this.
1994 Bishop of Baisingstoke, Bishop to the Forces, visited and confirmed 8 people. Bishop John Ruston visited.
1995 Bishop John Ruston visited. On Sunday 13th August, during a service to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War, a memorial was dedicated to the 55 American servicemen who died whilst serving of flying from Ascension Island. (Further research has resulted in another 8 being identified.)
1996 Bishop John Sherborne, Bishop to RAF visited. Fr. Nicholas and Deacon Ann Turner left. Revd. Norman Clarke appointed as Priest-in-charge. Revd. Canon Claude Rutter Priest-in-charge accompanied by his wife.
1997 Revd. George Punshon Priest-in-charge.
1998 Revd. W Martin Payne Priest-in-charge. Bishop John Ruston visited, confirmation of 8 candidates. Revd. Fr. Keith James appointed Vicar. Arrived with his wife Ginny on 29th September. Installed by Revd. Ian Thomas, Command Chaplain RAF, on Advent Sunday. on the 4th of January.
1999 Bishop John Salt OGS enthroned 14th Bishop of St. Helena. A short service was held on the American Base to mark the 4th of July.
2000 Bishop John visited in January. The kit-based organ was replaced by a Hammond, a gift from an American church through the work of Mr. Bruce Steo of the American Base.
2001 Bishop John visited in March on the RMS shuttle. Fr. Keith and Ginny had given notice to leave during the year.
2002 Fr. Keith James and his wife left.

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Last revised on the 1st of September 2002. For any comments or questions about the Society and its work, or this website, please e-mail us via this link in Ascension.