Minister

A Little about the Reverend Rosemary Fletcher and her husband James Rowley

At the end of June 2010, Rosemary returned from Sri Lanka, where we had been living and working at the Theological College of Lanka, near Kandy, Sri Lanka, the college where all Methodist, Anglican and Baptist ministers are trained. We were there for 5 years as Mission Partners. Rosemary was the New Testament lecturer (and also helped out with other subjects) and I, who returned in August 2010, was the Development Officer and also a teacher of English. We had a wonderful time in Sri Lanka, meeting many amazing people and sharing, as well as we were able without a common first language, aspects of living through changing times in the country. Our time spanned the re-ignition of the war and its decisive end. The war didn’t affect us directly but many students and others we knew had family and friends who suffered – on both sides. We were very sad to leave – our main reason being the need to be closer to Rosemary’s elderly parents, Marjorie and George. Rosemary has a brother, William, and a sister, Katharine, and a total of six nieces and one nephew. My own parents both died over 10 years ago but I have two brothers – Peter, living in Croydon where I was brought up, and Mark, in Bristol. I have one niece.

Very sadly Rosemary’s mother Marjorie died suddenly at Christmas time 2010, so our lives in 2011 were very different from those we had hoped for. I was unemployed for a while on our return and then I had a six month, part time contract at USPG: Anglicans in World Mission. In December 2011, I started a permanent job as the Senior Resources Manager with the charity Missing People, (www.missingpeople.org.uk). The office is in East Sheen. Since returning from Sri Lanka, Rosemary was appointed the Superintendent of the North Lambeth Circuit (London District) where we have enjoyed our ecumenical Parish and colleagues a lot and also being so close to Central London. For one year, Rosemary was also minister of Kingston Methodist Church (2011-2012) to cover the sad death of the Reverend Dr Angela Shier Jones. She was re-stationed part time to do this and commuted there for ⅓ of her working week. This was poignant as her mother had been born in Kingston upon Thames. But this was also a very happy year. Her current circuit in London is involved with talks with the Clapham Circuit and Rosemary has been replaced by a ¾ time presbyter who is not being the Superintendent. Prior to offering to serve in the World Church, a decision that had been prompted by our experiences of a large Zambian congregation twinned with one of her churches, Rosemary was the minister in charge of the Caversham section of the Reading Circuit. This is a Circuit of about 25 churches. Here she was responsible for two Methodist churches, worked on one ecumenical parish and also involved with one church in a village called Woodcote, which had a sharing agreement.

She was Team Leader for a team comprising a youth worker, a non-stipendiary colleague, 3 lay unpaid pastoral assistants and a part time administrative assistant. The membership of her section was about 300. She began her ministry there in 1996 and I joined her after we were married in 1997. While in Reading, we were heavily involved in the Jubilee 2000 and Trade Justice campaigns. A visit to the twin church in Zambia in 1999 really brought home to us the importance of those campaigns. Rosemary returned to Zambia for a month in November 2000 to teach at the Theological College, covering the furlough of a Mission Partner, and then we both visited again in 2003.

 

Rosemary began her life as a Methodist minister in 1990, when she joined the Swindon Circuit, (also about 25 churches), after her three years of study at the ecumenical Queen’s College in Birmingham, for which she has still has a great affection.

In Swindon, she joined one of the oldest local ecumenical partnerships in the country, situated in the heart of a large council housing estate on the eastern side of the town, and also worked with two Methodist churches in the villages of Wroughton and Chiseldon nearby, where she also had some wonderful Anglican and Catholic colleagues.

Rosemary’s first degree is in music and, after graduating, she was a civil servant in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, before training to become a minister, spending nearly one year in Westminster and then eight years in the West Midlands.
My first degree is in Physics and then in 2004-5 I went to study at Birmingham University for an MSc in Poverty Reduction and Development Management before we went to Sri Lanka. I had previously worked as a Project Manager in a company developing and supplying air traffic control systems around the world.

Outside of work, we enjoy walks in the countryside, reading, sports, music, watching films and seeing friends, old and new, and enjoying our nieces, nephew and other special children in our lives.

We are currently back in Sri Lanka for the month of July 2013, having saved up our annual leave to make a return visit here – our first since we left. It has been enriching and wonderful to be back, but also emotional. We returned to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the college where we lived and worked 2005-2010 – the Theological College of Lanka. I created a website about our time in Sri Lanka which you might like to look at: www.rosemaryandjames.methodistchurch.co.uk.
Rosemary grew up in Watford and left there to go to University at the age of 18 and had not lived in Hertfordshire really since those days. However she has always continued to support Watford FC, as well as taking on the local club to wherever she has lived – West Bromwich Albion (1979-1990) then Swindon (1990-96) and then Reading (1996-2004) but she will not need to take on any new professional clubs now!

Rosemary’s father George was 90 in June 2013 and still lives in the house in Watford in which he began his married life and in which Rosemary and her siblings were all born. We are glad to be nearer him and we are much looking forward to living and working amongst you all and getting to know you all.

With all good wishes

James Rowley (husband of the Reverend Rosemary Fletcher) written in September 2010 and updated July 2013.