New priests at St Mary’s, Broughty Ferry


On Saturday, 22 September Professor Francis Bridger and his wife Helen were instituted as Rector and Associate rector respectively of St Mary’s, Broughty Ferry. By way of introduction they write:

It’s always an exciting thought to be moving to a new ministry, but even more so to be doing so in a new diocese and indeed a new country. So we are very much looking forward to becoming the Rector (Francis) and Associate Rector (Helen) of St Mary’s, Broughty Ferry in an innovative jobshare arrangement that will be as new to us as to the parish!

Francis was ordained in 1978 in London where he served a four year curacy in an inner city church on the edge of Hackney and Islington. After that, he moved to St John’s College, Nottingham as Lecturer in Social Theology and Ethics to train men and women for ministry, and, incidentally meet Bishop Nigel for the first time. Then came parish life for nine years as Vicar of St Mark’s, Woodthorpe, a suburb on the northern edge of Nottingham. Following this, in 1999 he was appointed as Principal of Trinity College, Bristol – another Church of England theological college – where four years later he and Helen met, she having gone there in 2003 to train for ordained ministry.

We were married in December 2004 and Helen was ordained the next year in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. Prior to her ordination training, Helen worked for seven years at the Nottingham Trent University as a pastoral adviser to students. At the same time, she worshipped at an inner city church in Nottingham where she became involved in lay ministry and community groups. Fast forward to 2005 and yet another move! We flew west to Southern California where we spent three happy and rather unusual years immersing ourselves in life and ministry.

Francis joined the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena as Visiting Professor of Pastoral Theology, and then full time Ecclesiastical Professor of Anglican Studies. He also set up, and became Executive Director of, the Fuller Centre for Anglican Communion Studies which continues to the present day. Meanwhile, Helen served first as a deacon and then as a priest for two congregations in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

In 2008 we moved back to Nottingham. Francis continued working for Fuller as the director of a long term research project, and also part-time as Principal of the East Midlands Ministry Training Course until its closure earlier this year. Meanwhile Helen served as a curate in three churches in and around Nottingham and also worked part time at Nottingham City Hospital as a volunteer chaplain. In 2010 we set off for Norfolk, for Helen to take up a position as Chaplain at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, a pastoral role which she has been privileged to occupy and which very much built upon her years at Nottingham Trent.

Along the way Francis has written a number of books on a variety of topics including: ministry to children; pastoral counselling; the death of Princess Diana; Harry Potter; the credibility of Christian faith; and grief, loss and bereavement. Our move to the Diocese of Brechin is an exciting step for us as we seek to serve the people of Broughty Ferry and get involved in the life of the diocese – we can’t wait to be there!

Categories: Broughty Ferry, St Mary's