The Revd. S.R.J. French
The Reverend Stephen French
is the Rector of the
Church of England Benefice
of Bugbrooke, Harpole, Kislingbury and Rothersthorpe.
Stephen was inducted on the 12th of February 2006 in Bugbrooke.
The church was packed with people from the parishes of the benefice.
Stephen grew up in the Scotlands area of Wolverhampton, and left school to serve an apprenticeship and work as a toolmaker
in the town.
In his late teens he was increasingly drawn to God and His church, and gained the 'O' and 'A' levels that would eventually enable him to later study for the priesthood.
During the next decade he met and married Chris, his first wife.
They bought a house and raised two children.
Growing closer to the church, Stephen was invited to study for the priesthood. In 1987 he was ordained as Team Curate at Chell in Stoke on Trent. Two years later he took on the role of Team Vicar at Chell Heath, where he remained for 5 years. In 1994, Stephen returned to Wolverhampton as Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Heath Town.
His daughter became seriously ill, while there, eventually needing a bone marrow transplant.
Sadly, Chris died of cancer.
At this stage Stephen took almost a year out
and lived in a Vicarage in Liverpool, 'in the shadow of Bill
Shankley's statue at Anfield'.
During this period, Stephen met and married his second wife Gill, a redheaded Scouser.
In 2001 he returned to full time work as team vicar in Hemel Hempstead with responsibility for two churches.
He sees his achievement there as helping these churches accept the changes necessitated by falling congregations.
While there, he introduced them to contemporary church music!
He will clearly be missed there, judging by the number of parishioners who travelled to be present at his induction.
This is Stephen's first rural experience and he has taken to the
village like a duck to water.
Running four parishes has meant some streamlining in the services.
Stephen's intention is not to let the practical workings of the four parishes get in the way of providing, delivering and enabling good quality,
accessible and relevant worship across all four churches.
Stephen has an open mind to change but will keep the church identifiably Anglican.
He will question what is it we are inviting people to, and work to improve the 'church' experience.
His message is "God loves you. Come along for faith, fellowship and fun".