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Helping an ‘intriguing collection’

by
25 October 2013

Supporter: the Revd Howard Such and his wife, Lucy, with Adrian Plass

Supporter: the Revd Howard Such and his wife, Lucy, with Adrian Plass

THE College of St Barnabas, Lingfield, in Surrey, is a residential community for retired Anglican clergy and their spouses.

Founded by Canon William Cooper, it started in 1895 with one dwelling; it now has eight flats for couples, 20 for singles, and a nursing wing.

The author and speaker Adrian Plass is a patron. "I first got involved because the warden, Fr Howard Such, pursued me like a bloodhound, and would not let up until I said I'd be a patron," he says. "I was also very intrigued by a collection of ancient Anglican ministers gathered together in one place."

The college can bring valuable security to the lives of clergy at the point of their retirement. "I know when they reach the end of their time at churches, a lot of ministers get very troubled on a number of levels," Mr Plass says. "These might be practical, or financial. There is a very prominent promise by the college that no one will ever be turned away because of financial problems."

Crucially, clergy and their spouses can move in before their property has been sold, removing a great deal of stress. Despite the enormous life-change that leaving a vocation brings, Mr Plass believes that the College of St Barnabas is a place where retired clergy can retain a sense of identity. "It's a place where you can continue to be who you are, to keep on the mantle of your calling, because you're among people who understand what you've done."

Legacies are vital, Mr Plass says, especially since no one is denied a place for lack of funds. "It couldn't possibly survive on the amounts that are paid by the people who come; so they are pretty reliant on donations. Legacies give the college security for the future. It's an ongoing task to make sure there's enough finance to support that."

Mr Plass says that the college is a place of real engagement. Community life revolves around worship, and there are three services a day; there is a well-equipped library, and a variety of activities for residents. "There are groups that meet who argue - sometimes, I gather, very vociferously - about theological topics," he says. "The fact that it's called a college means that there's a sense of progress, of its being alive - of its not being a place where people go to finish, but a place where they go to continue.

"At St Barnabas, what they want is for these people who've worked so hard all their lives to advance into a living body of people who will help them stay alert and bright."

Mr Plass feels that legacy gifts touch individual lives for the better. "People always talk about the big picture in the Christian Church, but the Jesus way is always the little picture. What legacies have achieved is that the Reverend Thingy Whatsit is living in a flat at St Barnabas; that's the most important thing in the world."

www.st-barnabas.org.uk

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