The Reverend Martin

The Reverend David Geoffrey Martin was licensed as Parish Priest of All Saints on June 21st 1985. Father David was coming to All Saints’ just as approval for a new South Wimbledon Group was announced by the Bishop. He was described by the Wimbledon News as “a man of wide experience. He has,” the paper said, “been a parish priest for three years in Western Australia, lectured in theology at King’s College, London, and taught religious studies at Wandsworth Boys School.” For his part, Father David was delighted that he and his family were coming to All Saints’, but felt that the parish had a difficult task ahead and, in his first address said that “we should co-operate with God, not to save our own souls, but in easing the world’s pain.”

A provisional date of 26th January 1986 had been set for the inauguration of the South Wimbledon Group and, possibly in anticipation of this, Fr. David was licensed as Vicar in the Bishop’s Chapel on December 4th. The ‘Group’ comprised the four churches of All Saints’, Holy Trinity, S. John the Divine, High Path, and S. Andrew’s, Herbert Road and came under the Archdeaconry of Lambeth.  The group was intended to be ‘self sufficient’ and one of the consequences of this was that it was proposed that Mass would be held in only one of the four churches during August on a rotational basis.  This was never popular at All Saints’ and in truth the differences in churchmanship were always going to be a problem.

A nave altar was introduced again during Fr. David’s incumbency and much emphasis was placed on spiritual growth. Father David was positive for the future saying that “All Saints’ had a faith and traditions of loyalty and commitment which provided a unique opportunity to renew and build up the church. But to do this they had to act as a team.”     This core team comprised eighteen members of the P.C.C.  – a third of whom would stand down each year. In a year with the theme – ‘The Nature of Evangelism’- one of their first tasks was to begin a campaign aimed at arousing awareness of ‘the enthusiasm of the church.”

In 1987 a report on the four parishes in the South Wimbledon Group suggested that all four parishes be amalgamated into one with its Priest living equidistant from a common centre of worship.  All Saints’, S. Andrew’s and S. John’s churches would be sold and the monies raised used for the design and construction of a ‘Composite Worship Centre’ on the site of Holy Trinity. Other points addressed transport to and from the centre and the provision of specific chapels to be integrated into the new building.  Maybe the new Archdeacon of Lambeth, the Venerable Richard Bird, thought it a fine idea, but not so the P.C.C. of All Saints’ which passed the following resolution: “The P.C.C. considered stage 2 of the discussion document and wish to record that they were unimpressed for a variety of reasons with the arrangements advanced, and wish to discuss it in more detail in the months ahead.”

A new heating system was introduced in 1988 and essential repairs to the roof carried out thanks to the generosity of the congregation. There had also been a considerable amount of work done on re-painting parts of the church – a task in which Father David got fully involved! He commented that All Saints’ as a church was blessed in many ways and the devoted work of a large number of people gave them a strength that was missing in a lot of other churches.

Fr. David left All Saints in 1990. His inspiring preaching and genial manner would be sorely missed. He moved to S. John The Divine, Upper Norwood where he remained until his retirement. He then moved to Fletching in East Sussex where he took up a ‘House For Duty’ post at the parish church of St Andrew and St Mary the Virgin. He died there in July 2005 and is interred in the churchyard

%d bloggers like this: