In 2014 The Bishop of Winchester, The Bishop of Southampton, The Archdeacon of Bournemouth, local Bournemouth clergy and laity in the Deanery Synod, invited HTB in London to plant St Swithun’s Bournemouth led by Tim Matthews. The vision for the new church was, and remains, the evangelisation of Bournemouth’s younger generations; the transformation of its society; and the revitalisation and resourcing of its church – including planting more new churches.
Led by Tim and Debi Matthews, a team of 11 adults moved to Bournemouth in the Summer of 2014 to begin the work. Now, Sunday attendance across both our sites is regularly over 600. A third are under 25 years of age, and nearly two-thirds under 40. One in five of the congregation are new converts or those returning to church after many years of absence.
Along with thriving children, youth and student ministries, St Swithun’s has a large relationships ministry covering marriage, marriage preparation, parenting children and teenagers, recovering from divorce and separation, and life after bereavement. A large addiction recovery ministry also tackles the unique local opportunity for mission afforded by Bournemouth’s many rehab centres. The church also partners with others to provide a crisis homeless shelter during the Winter months.
During 2016 a deep friendship emerged between the congregations of St Swithun’s and St Clement’s. This has deep roots in history, both churches having been built as sister-plants from St Peter’s in the town centre during the 1870’s. The building of St Clement’s is the work of celebrated architect, J.D. Sedding, who wrote in Arts and Handicraft (1893) that his aim was, ‘to fill its recesses with such an air of mystery and stillness that you get a strange thrill of expectancy as you enter, and say, involuntarily, “Surely the Lord is in this place”.’
In January 2017 St Swithun’s planted in to St Clement’s, partnering with the small existing congregation and the parish’s two church schools, to relaunch St Clement’s as a new community of hope, enacting God’s mission in the local area. We welcome you to join with us. Like Sedding’s intention, (and like Jacob in Genesis 28:16 who he quoted), may we look back in years to come and exclaim, “Surely the Lord is in this place!”