On Sunday 2nd June congregation members, family and friends gathered in the heart of Ronkswood's community, The Punch Bowl Inn, for the licensing of new vicar, the Revd Rob Farmer. 

The service took place in the pub's main function room, adjacent to the skittle alley in which regular Sunday worship takes place. Bishop Graham of Dudley led the service, welcoming Rob with support from the Archdeacon of Worcester, Robert Jones, and other vital members of the community.

Bishop Graham and Revd Rob Farmer at the bar

Taking the opportunity to use pub-related puns, Bishop Graham said "With Christ every hour is happy hour; his barrel of love and compassion never runs dry; he's always on tap; no need to show ID as all are welcome with him; he brings the zest of ice and a slice to our lives."

Rob was installed on a bar stool, whilst the sound of glasses chinking could be heard from the other side of the bar. At the end of the service, the congregation moved on to the site of the original church, where Rob received the 'key to the door' and rang a hand-bell, to announce his installation to the community.

Rob said, "The opportunity to serve in a parish that doesn't have a church building doesn't come around very often. Although it's a challenge to try and build a new church in the twenty-first century, it's one we face with excitement and determination. We have the chance to offer not just a place for worship, but also a purpose-built community facility to be used for many other activities."

Installation on the church site

St Matthew's church building, commonly referred to as 'The Drum', was demolished in 2014 due to irreparable structural damage. Since that time, the church and its local community has been tirelessly fundraising for a new church building, whilst worshipping in the pub, as well as in Perry Wood Primary & Nursery School and the various care-homes in the area. The church continue to fundraise for their target of £500,000, with a vision to reinstate a building in the centre of the community in the future.

"The church without walls is a very Biblical model," Rob continued. "As we approached Pentecost, the birthday of the church, we remembered how that was a church without walls, and so we take our inspiration for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in our community from those first apostles."

Join St Matthew's Church at the Punch Bowl every Sunday morning at 10am to worship together! All Together in Church (ATIC), a relaxed, informal service, takes place on the second Sunday of each month. Find out more on their website: www.holytrinityandstmatthewronkswood.co.uk.