Meet the Team at Blyth Valley

Edward Rennard: Team Rector | biography

The Rectory, Highfield Road, Halesworth, IP19 8SJ
Tel: 01986 872602 Mob: 07958 191975 (Monday off duty)

Liz Cannon: Team Vicar (Half Time) | biography

The Vicarage, Beccles Road, Holton,
Halesworth, IP19 8NG
Tel: 01986 874548
(Mon, Tuesday & Wednesday off duty)

Anna Wright: Team Priest| biography

Tel: 01502 478411

Jan Bunday: Team Vicar| biography

Tel: 01986 873766

Malcolm Walkey: Honorary Associate Priest

Tel: 01986 872594

Bill Mahood: Honorary Associate Minister URC

Tel: 01986 872759

Team Administrator

Tel: 01986 875941
Normal working hours—Tuesday, Wednesday and
Thursday from 9.30am to 2.00pm.

Jane Held: Lay Chair of Team Council
Tel: 01986 781318

Ministry Team Biographies

Edward RennardThe Rev'd Edward Rennard, Team Rector

Responsibility: Leading a Team of ordained and lay people in worship, ministry, outreach and administration in the Team benefice and across its eleven parishes

Being an Anglican Incumbent (Rector or Vicar) I’m accountable only to God and the Bishop for my priestly ministry, whatever current ‘management-speak’ in the Church may say. I’m passionate about the care of the people for whom, with the Bishop, I have the ‘cure of souls’. I share this ministry with ordained and lay colleagues. Much of my time is spent nurturing and enabling people to carry out their vocations as Christians. Before even that comes discernment; all of us are called to serve and we just have to work out how. Celebrating the Eucharist (Mass, Holy Communion) is at the heart of the  ministry of a priest – always remembering that it’s the whole People of God who celebrate. My colleagues and I between us chair the Team Council and eleven Parochial Church Councils. For me, administration is both a necessary evil and a way of ensuring that kingdom values are proclaimed and lived in a reasonably ordered, integrated way. We are finding that our ministry embraced by the term ‘pastoral offices’ is growing – there are more baptisms and weddings than in recent years, and there is also the support of the bereaved through the funeral ministry. Worship has to be at the heart of all we do.

In my youth, I was once nearly chucked out of a pub for discussing religion and politics. There is, however, no way that religion, or Christianity, can be described as ‘private’. The Christian Faith starts with meeting together in community, or it does not start at all. And in many instances, belonging comes before believing. The Church is not a collection of individuals who happen to have ‘God’ in common. Rather, it is through the Church, particularly through the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, that God nurtures and nourishes individuals and helps them to grow in love for him, for one another and for the big wide world.

If you’re considering being a part of the Church in the Blyth Valley Team Ministry, you need to know that you will be radically accepted and cared for just as you are. We do not ask you to dress in a particular way or agree with everything you hear, or to believe six impossible things before breakfast (Alice in Wonderland style). We ask you rather to come on an exciting journey with us. We have signed up to the Inclusive Church Statement. Even in north east Suffolk, where there are few people of non-British origin, we are already a multi-ethnic Team and proud of it. God makes us gloriously diverse, and so all are welcome: old and young, gay and straight, able or differently able. It’s important to remember that, as with any group of people you join, it takes a while to grow into membership, to get used to the language and ways of being the Church. You won’t ‘get it’ in one or two visits. Try about six months!

Remember that the Bible is not a Haynes Car Maintenance Manual, in which, if you don’t follow all the instructions, the engine falls out. It’s rather a collection of all sorts of literature about how all sorts of people, over 3,000 years, have encountered and experienced God. Having said that, my favourite bit of the Bible is one single sentence: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12.32) Jesus is saying that when he is crucified, he will draw absolutely everyone to himself, and so to the never-ending love of God. This knocks on the head any idea that only a certain sort of person will be ‘saved’ – whether that idea is in the Bible, the Church, or anywhere else.

I was born in Liverpool in 1951. I grew up in a non-Christian family, although my mother told me Bible stories from the book she had been given at Sunday School and sang me “Away in a Manger” at Christmas. After my father’s death, she returned to the Faith. On his death, I was sent to the Royal Masonic School in Bushey. (Although I have no connections with Freemasonry, my father had.) At school, the Revd Fred Jenkins (ex-II Para and noted for his tone-deafness and inability to control the boys) inspired me by his gentleness and perseverance and I think, looking back, that my vocation was kindled then. I have two brothers who are quite a bit younger: Chris, Baron Rennard of Wavertree, a former CEO of the LibDems and a life peer, and Peter, a travel rep in the Maldives.

After school, I trained as a teacher at Christ Church, Canterbury. I taught for a few years in socially deprived areas of Liverpool and was a ‘jobbing organist’ at the weekends. I trained for the priesthood at Lincoln Theological College (which the Bishops were daft enough to close later) and Nottingham University. There, I met Margaret, who rapidly became my wife and is now a prison chaplain. We have two children: Hugh, who works for “The World of Warcraft” in Ireland and Clare, who is about to graduate in English from Plymouth University.

A church musician, I’ve never had a parish with a musical tradition. I spent my curacy at St Hugh’s in Scunthorpe, an on-the-whole pleasant place that belies both its name and its reputation. I went on to become Priest-in-Charge then Vicar of St Matthew’s, a modern church in Grimsby, which recently has sadly closed because the leaks were an architectural feature from the beginning, and tens of thousands of pounds didn’t solve it. My last benefice before coming to the Blyth Valley was North and South Hykeham, which was mostly a very happy time. I created a Team Ministry there, and had some wonderful colleagues.

Just over eleven years ago, I was invited to take a trip to Downing Street because the Assistant Ecclesiastical Secretary wanted to offer me a job. A slim booklet was passed across the desk. It was entitled, “The Blyth Valley Team Ministry.” We talked for a while, and then I wandered off with the document, promising to send it straight back if I decided it wasn’t for me. I sat down on the pedestal of a statue in Whitehall, and began to read. As I turned the pages, my jaw dropped so far that it hit the pavement. And that is why I’m here as Team Rector – a townie turned rural priest. I expect God had something to do with it too!

So what sort of parish priest am I? I don’t like handles much. I can cope with ‘Father’, but for the most part people aged 3 to 93 call me ‘Edward’. God knows me as ‘Edward’ – why should any know me as someone different? By nature I’m rather conservative, but I know that staying in the same place means that God – and society – passes us by. Remember Lot’s wife – she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt! In terms of worship, I’m towards the Catholic end of the C of E, but I’m not an old fashioned, ‘no to everything’ gin, lace and back-biting sort of Catholic. Worship of God demands the best we have. We are not just ‘wordy animals’ so using all our senses is vital. Colour, music, movement, even the odd whiff of incense is important, as are beautiful, well-chosen words. Social justice – here as across the world is vital. God is a God of justice and fair-dealing, so in our Team we support a number of aid agencies and pressure groups.

I ‘escape’ into music and reading – serious ‘classical’ music and all sorts of literature from the high-falutin’ to the distinctly low-brow. I keep resolving to find more time for walking and keeping fit!

Liz CannonThe Rev'd Liz Cannon

Hello. I am Liz and I really enjoy being part of the Blyth Valley Team in this lovely part of Suffolk.

I was born in Norwich and grew up there, but I am no stranger to Suffolk, having also lived and worked in Lowestoft and Ipswich.

I have a deep conviction that the Christian Faith is relevant and vital to every part of our lives and that Christ's way is truly about 'life in all its fullness'. Issues of justice and peace in the world, and the integrity of creation, are very much part of the biblical vision and I want to play my part in a church that communicates this.

I feel that the church needs to be responsive to people of all ages, and I believe that children have a natural spirituality that needs to be nurtured. I have been involved with Godly Play since it was introduced in the UK and I am a trustee of Godly Play UK. I also offer Spiritual Direction for adults.

In worship, I value the traditional and the way the Church Year marks the rhythms of life liturgically. I love the beauty of the language of the Book of Common Prayer, but I have readily accepted Common Worship. I also have an interest in Celtic and Taize worship. I think ecumenical relationships are vital to the mission of the church and I am pleased that there are good relations between the churches here.

I trained on the East Anglian Ministerial Training course and was ordained in 1997. I served my curacy in Norwich, before moving to West Yorkshire where for six years I was Parish Priest in a village on the edge of the South Pennine Moors in the Bradford Diocese. In October 2006 I was appointed as Team Vicar to the Blyth Valley Team Ministry, with special responsibility for the parishes of Halesworth, Holton, Bramfield and Thorington.

I have two children by my first husband who died when they were quite young. My daughter, Elissa is a teacher and my son, Edward, is a nurse. My husband David and I married in 1996. I love the theatre, dance, music and walking.

I have worked with the YMCA and in Playgroups, and have been an Inspector of Religious Education and Collective Worship in church schools. While in the Bradford Diocese I had the privilege of serving on SACRE - the Advisory Council which brings together leaders of different faiths to oversee Worship and RE in schools. This certainly gave me new insights into the rich diversity of faiths and cultures in our country.

In 2008 ago I was treated for breast cancer and I am grateful for all the care and support I received locally through the health service, church, friends and family. It was a difficult time but somehow transformative experience. I feel much more aware of how ill health and fragility affect our ability to join in the 'normal' worship of the church and yet how vital the resources of the church become when we are at our most vulnerable.

read about Liz's visit to the Holy Land (PDF) >

Anna WrightThe Rev'd Anna Wright

I was ordained as an OLM in 2002. Looking over my life experiences, I feel that all of them have prepared me for saying "YES!" to God's calling. My heart sings of God's wisdom and remarkable generosity.

I am Chinese, born and bred in Cebu, Philippines. My earliest encounters with God took place during my primary and secondary education in an evangelical Protestant school. I studied at the University of San Carlos run by the Roman Catholic order SVD. I finished Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) in 1974 and obtained my MA in Statistics (University of the Philippines) in 1978. Whilst in Cebu, I taught psychometrics, researched for the US Bureau of Census and worked as a thesis adviser for graduate students. My interest in humanities and statistics give me the curiosity and pleasure in engaging with complex entities, both numerical and human, though not necessarily in that order!

In 1982, I married a fellow teacher Paul, an Englishman, and settled in his village Wenhaston, Suffolk. Having grown up in a beautiful archipelago, I was enormously grateful to live near the sea. Sadly, Paul died in 1990, and I became a sole parent to two lively boys Alexander and Christopher (who were 6 and 4 at the time). Alexander now trains as a barrister in London, and Christopher works in a software company. Family life keeps me firmly grounded.

My approach to faith draws on the themes of forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, hope and grace. I respect the traditions of the Church whilst remaining acutely aware of the provisional nature of our understanding of God and our collaborative life as God's people. Revelation is constantly unfolding. It is both joy and privilege to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ through discipleship, worship and sacraments, practical theology (eg ethics) and social action.

Care for the environment is important for me because we cannot speak of faith if we cannot guarantee human existence on earth. I would have coveted the title 'green goddess' or 'green warrior' had I not been short, flat-nosed and clothed with yellow skin!

During my time in the Blyth Valley team ministry, I feel that I have learned most about holiness and generosity from the people I serve. The idea of inviting people to dance with God who is our Maker, Lover and Keeper remains utterly compelling and intoxicating.


The Rev'd Jan Bunday

Hello, I'm a Janet really, but known as Jan, and I'm a newcomer to Suffolk. I arrived in the Blyth Valley one extremely cold and snowy February, in 2012. Since then I have discovered that Suffolk is beautiful in all weathers!

For the previous 25 years I have lived in a Cambridgeshire village just outside Royston with my three children, now grown up, and my husband Morgan who works in IT and teaches Bridge. When the children were smaller we enjoyed keeping hens and geese and we bred call ducks. I'm a teacher by profession, and have also had long career spell working in Local Government in HR. In most recent years I combined some supply teaching with life as a lay minister in 6 rural Cambridgeshire parishes.

This eventually lead me to Ordination training at Ridley Hall in Cambridge. I don't think I'll ever get over the opportunity of being a student in Cambridge, -and at my age! There clearly isn't any ageism in the Divine! Before coming to the Blyth Valley I was curate to 3 rural parishes in Bedfordshire.

I grew up going to church! Sunday school, choir and church parades were all part of my young life, and in all that churchiness I found something for myself, the companionship of God who was with me in all the ups-and-downs of life. Quite wonderful!

In early adulthood I became rather disenchanted with churches locally, and went off in  search of a more authentic expression of faith. I found this through reading the Mystics. What grabbed me about them was that they spoke about God from their own experience, from 'I'. There was nothing second hand, or theoretical about them; they were a breath of fresh air.  Favourite Mystics: Teresa of Avila, Mother Julian, John the Divine, and Jesus Christ. There is something mystical about our faith, something that we can't quite get our heads around and that lives in us, at a level deeper than our intellect.

Music is one of my hobbies, I've loads of enthusiasm and no skill! I am a 'music for all' person and have spent some years looking into how very young children learn music under the Kodaly programme. I've lost count of the number of choirs I've belonged to. I've enjoyed leading teams of handbell ringers. Apart from church, I involve myself with garden design and gardening, and am just about to embark on my fourth major garden project. I love being outdoors and close to nature. 

I think we all have a religious or spiritual sense, and that it is a vital human part of each one of us. This is why it's important for me to be part of church, because church focuses attention on this aspect of our humanity which can so easily get missed or forgotten.

I believe that church, at its very heart, tells a human story. From the baptismal font, where parents celebrate new life in their children, our faith speaks of the earliest beginnings of human life. And then into the body of the church, where countless people have sat and knelt in times of sadness and celebration, we see how church embraces both the  pains and joys of human existence. And finally, at the altar table, we recognise the full stature of our humanity, told in a story about self-sacrificing love, and how that unites us with something bigger than ourselves, that we might call God.

What I love about church life is the opportunity to work with people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, and from all walks of life.  I'm committed to a radical inclusiveness because this is what I believe Christ models for us. I love art in music, poetry and image, and worship that includes all three.