New Vicar of Hatch Warren & Beggarwood talks exclusively to the Rabbiter
The evening of Wednesday 3rd September 2014 saw the Rev’d Michael Smith licensed as the new vicar of Immanuel Church of the parish of Hatch Warren and Beggarwood. The ceremony was held in a packed hall in St Mark’s school. Originally Immanuel was part of the parish of St Mark’s in Kempshott and worked as an ecumenical church with other ministries but since becoming its own parish in 2008 it has been a Church of England church that is ecumenically supportive.
The service was led by the Archdeacon of Winchester, the Venerable Michael Harley, with support from the Area Dean of Basingstoke, Rev’d Arthur Botham, with many other members of the clergy as witnesses. The Deputy Mayor of Basingstoke & Deane, Cllr Anne Court, who lives in Kempshott, represented the borough council.
As well as many local people there were friends and ex-colleagues of Michael Smith from his time in Chandler’s Ford together with family relations from around the country that helped swell the congregation in excess of two hundred. The service was a mixture of religious, civil and legal obligations with the signing of the license being witnessed by all present.
So who is the Rev’d Michael Smith who is now installed as the vicar of Hatch Warren and Beggarwood ?
Born in Norfolk in 1969 Michael Edward Smith grew up in Essex with his parents, two younger sisters and brother leaving school at sixteen to work in a small insurance broking firm. In his late teens he spent eighteen months in France at the ecumenical Taizé Community as a volunteer and returns there on an annual basis. He returned from France to work in the insurance business eventually working for an American company, initially based in the West End of London and for the final five years in the City. He was involved in sales, marketing, communications and relationship management gaining a post-graduate diploma in Marketing Management from Lancaster University Management School. He was then elected a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Michael married Nikki in 1992, a school teacher, who prior to their recent move to Hatch Warren was working as a supply teacher in Chandler’s Ford and will be looking to continue that work locally. They have three sons, Christopher, 19, who is about to go to Sheffield University to study Aerospace Engineering, Alexander, 14, who is away at boarding school and Matthew, 13, who became a pupil at Brighton Hill at the start of the autumn term. The family lived in Fleet before Michael was ordained. He studied part time for three years at the Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme in Salisbury. He was ordained in 2011 taking up his first post as a deacon in Chandler’s Ford and was a curate there prior to being appointed vicar of Hatch Warren & Beggarwood.
Michael’s pastimes include social media, film, good coffee, keeping chickens, rugby (particularly Harlequins RFC), cycling, jogging, wine, marketing and music of every variety and tries not to add too much to the 15,000 or so tracks on his iPod.
The appointment as vicar is a lengthy process starting with the creation of a Parish Profile that sets out the aims for Immanuel Church and attributes that are sought in the ideal candidate. After approval by the Parochial Church Council a selection committee is elected of representatives of the PCC. It also included the Archdeacon of Winchester the Venerable Michael Harley and the Assistant Area Dean of Basingstoke Rev’d John Wigmore who is the rector of St Thomas of Canterbury in Worting. Candidates submit a substantial written application setting out their abilities and how close they match the criteria set out in the Profile. The short listed candidates jointly spent a day being shown around the parish and then adjourned together with the selection committee and other representatives from the parish for lunch followed by individual interviews. Michael was telephoned the same day to offer him the post of vicar.
Michael is sure that he will spend a considerable amount of time just listening and looking in order to get a feel for what is going on in the parish.
“I realise that because Immanuel Church is situated within the St Mark’s school buildings it is not highly visible. Traditional churches tend to have substantial, dedicated church buildings that everyone recognises so we shall have to shout louder to attract the attention of more people.”
“Yet it is fortunate that because of the physical connection of Immanuel with St Mark’s school that I am able to get actively involved in the school community and to meet so many parents of the children who attend. I‘ve been spending time at the school gates to say hello and hope to be able to continue to do this on occasion.”
“With baptism services on the second Sunday of most months there is the opportunity to encourage greater involvement within the church community. It would be good if those baptised grow up and were able to participate in the life of the church.”
“I’d love to hear from the residents what they would like me to do because I am not here just for the congregation on Sundays but for the whole community. There are lots of things happening out there that create time pressures on people but I believe many are searching for something. The church has to be more proactive in its mission and people need to know how to get hold of us.”
The Rev’d Michael Smith has taken on the task of vicar of the parish of Hatch Warren and Beggarwood with vigour and enthusiasm. It could be a lonely job as he will be left very much to his own devices. His commercial background will stand him in good stead as these days many people work remotely and have to be self motivated. And this discipline will become very evident as time passes and yet he will become more fulfilled as progress is made.
If you need to contact Father Michael, (as he is known at St Mark’s school) you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him on