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/ 8 April 2015

Soho priest made Rector at St Anne’s Church, Soho

The Bishop of London and the Rector with Westminster Ward Councillors and representatives of Soho Estates and Shaftesbury PLC.

Fr Simon Buckley, Priest-in-Charge at St Anne’s, Soho, has been made Rector of the church at a service presided over by the Bishop of London.

Fr Simon has been resident priest-in-charge at St Anne’s since February 2013 and his permanent position as rector comes at the end of a two-year period of significant transformation within the parish, reflected in a 275% increase in average Sunday attendance.

The church was packed for the service, in which Bishop Richard formally installed Simon and congratulated him for his work at St Anne’s; and attended by members of the congregation, fellow clergy and local councilors who applauded his appointment enthusiastically.

The service was also attended by representatives from Shaftesbury PLC, a real estate investment trust which invests in London’s West End, and Soho Estates, a property company based in Soho. Shaftesbury PLC and Soho Estates, together with the Ward Councillors joint-funded the restoration of three blitz damaged stained glass windows in the church’s historic Allen Room, which was dedicated by Bishop Richard at the service.

Since joining St Anne’s in 2013 Simon has led the congregation in reinvigorating the parish through a number of initiatives. The most recent being a competition with students from St Martin’s College of Art to redesign the entrance of St Anne’s. With the right funding support it is hoped that the new entrance will be completed by 2016 – in time for the silver anniversary of the present church building.

Simon has also worked to make St Anne’s a hub for debate in Soho, holding monthly discussion suppers in the church rectory with guest speakers on a range of subjects including prison ministry, Christian feminism and religion vs science. Other outreach initiatives have included the launch of a quarterly newsletter, a new website, and a short film on YouTube.

Speaking after the event, Fr Simon said:

“Soho is one of the most vibrant, diverse and colourful parts of London. Despite its distinctive reputation, Soho is in many ways like any other village and I have hugely enjoyed getting to know the community, understanding its challenges and reflecting that in a lively programme of work in the parish.

“Being installed as rector at St Anne’s is a huge privilege and I look forward to continuing to grow St Anne’s, offer support and counsel to Soho’s residents and further cementing the role of St Anne’s in the community.”

Prior to joining St Anne’s, Simon had a successful career as a puppeteer, performing in theatres across the UK and at festivals in Germany, Austria, France and Hong Kong. The majority of his work has been in film and television with credits including various Muppet movies, the satirical sketch show ‘Spitting Image’ along with pop videos and numerous commercials and children’s TV programmes.

Image: The Bishop of London and the Rector with Westminster Ward Councillors and representatives of Soho Estates and Shaftesbury PLC.

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