The Rev. Matthew Woodward

I was raised in Ealing in London, and moved to Newhaven in East Sussex on the coast near Brighton at the age of 5. I attended school there and after our family moved to the next town along the coast, Seaford, at the age of 18, I travelled to the USA as an exchange student for a year. I attended Moore High School in Moore, Oklahoma and enjoyed being a member of Marching Band, the school choir, the academic team (my area was US history) and fully taking part in the life of the Methodist church I attended, which was a departure from my experience at home where I was raised Pentecostal.

On my return to the UK I attended the London Bible College and was awarded an upper second BA hons there. Whilst at LBC I explored a wider set of theological perspective and eventually found myself joining and being confirmed in an Anglo-Catholic Church of England Parish, St Edmund the King, Northwood Hills. The clergy encouraged me to explore my previous vocation to Pentecostal ministry in this new context and I went to work at St Matthew’s Westminster in central London as a pastoral assistant to explore ministry further. I studied for my first Masters Degree, in Theological Education at King’s College London during this time (researching Religious Education amongst 10-11 year old children), and also completed a year as a school custodian. Once my vocation was tested and confirmed I trained at Westcott House in Cambridge,where I studied for a Masters Degree in Pastoral Theology (undertaking research in parochial education amongst adults). While there my second year placement was at one of the historic colleges of Cambridge, Gonville and Caius college. It was there I was able to experience the tradition of Choral Evensong, and felt fully at home in my new Anglican tradition.

After three years as curate of St John at Hampstead I was appointed as the Priest in Charge of St Saviour Pimlico. After three years, and having achieved a new stability with the people of the parish, I was made the Vicar (similar to a Rector in the Episcopal Church).

While at St John’s I was school chaplain to a Church of England primary (elementary) school, governor of another Church of England primary school, where I had a hand in appointing the principal, and was also chaplain of one of the West End Theatres.

I also began to be aware of the homelessness problems in London and would liaise with local government agencies and health care providers in dealing with the homeless in our north London location.

Saint Saviour Pimlico has a much more central location and the homeless problems there were more acute than in Hampstead. We were located close to a major mental health drop in centre and secure unit and I became aware of the relationship between mental health and homelessness in my own pastoral practice rather than just in theory.

Transfiguration Episcopal Church called me to serve them in August 2010 and I arrived in March 2011, the time lapse due to delays in processing my visa. I have been working to build up the financial base of Transfiguration, whilst also building capacity within the culture of the organization and supporting volunteer efforts.

We have seen our fundraising increase by 25% and our attendance by 30% since my arrival. This is thanks to some clear strategic thinking on the part of myself and the Vestry (the name for our church board).

I have an interest in inclusive theology, and was involved in setting up the first Inclusive Church website. I believe parishes need to be at the heart of the communities they serve, and that faith should warm the heart and inform the mind. I also have a real interest in the theory and practice of education with all ages of parishioners, but a particular love for early childhood development and spirituality.

I have a keen interest and skills in the strategy of building and maintaining communities and institutions in the charitable and church sector and enjoy serving the people of Transfiguration immensely.