26 August 2003

New leader for East Anglia's Methodists prepares to take office

The Rev Graham Thompson has been appointed as the new Chairman of the East Anglia Methodist District. A welcome service was held for Mr Thompson at Chapel Field Methodist Church, Norwich, on Saturday, 23 August, at 3pm.

The British Methodist Conference has designated Mr Thompson to be Chairman of the East Anglia Methodist District for a period of six years from 1 September 2003. He succeeds the Rev Malcolm Braddy - who has retired to Worcestershire - as the leader of the region's 8,900 Methodists.

Mr Thompson becomes the most senior Methodist minister in a region that includes 280 churches across Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of north east Cambridgeshire including Ely, March and Wisbech. In his role as District Chair he will work closely alongside Anglican Bishop Graham James, Roman Catholic Bishop Michael Evans, and other Church leaders in the region.

Methodists from across East Anglia, as well as friends and family of Mr Thompson are to attend the welcome service on Saturday. The ex-President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Ian White, was preacher at the service. Among other guests was the new General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain, the Rev David Deeks.

Born in 1957, the Rev Graham Thompson was educated in Manchester and trained as an accountant, before undertaking theological studies at Cliff College, Derbyshire, and Wesley College, Bristol. After ordination, he served as a Methodist minister in the Bristol Kingswood Circuit (1986-91) and Newark & Southwell Circuit (1991-99). During the latter appointment, he was chaplain to The Minster School, Southwell, and Chair of Churches Together in Southwell.

For the past four years he has been Superintendent Minister of the North Walsham and Aylsham Circuit, with responsibility for six Methodist churches in the area, as well as an alcohol-free outreach bar. He was Chair of Churches Together in North Walsham in 2000-1.

Mr Thompson has served on a number of national Methodist bodies, including being a member of the Methodist Day Schools Committee (1991-99) and a district representative to the Methodist Council (2001-3). He is currently a director of the Methodist Ministers' Pension Trust.

In East Anglia, Mr Thompson has been co-ordinator of the District's lay workers for the past three years, as well as being a governor at Millfield County Primary School. He has also been part of the District's Policy & Executive Committee.

He has undertaken a sabbatical study on effective communication with the elderly mentally infirm - which included a month-long placement in a residential home for the elderly - as well as another study on the doctrine of the 'priesthood of all believers', which included a short period working in the United States. He has a concern for rural issues and is a respected preacher and communicator.

He lives with wife Alison and two sons Adam (13) and Andrew (10) in Norwich. His interests include reading, watching cricket and candle-making.

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