Two new ‘Community Mission Enablers’

Commissioning of Stuart Budden and Debbie Ellisdon on 12 April.Ramsgate welcomes two new ‘Community Mission Enablers’ at special commissioning service

  • ‘Community Mission Enablers’ will work to establish a community hub
  • Bishop of Dover led service with Mayor of Ramsgate in attendance
  • Commissioning took place in church hall – site of former old soup kitchen

A joyous congregation of family, friends, colleagues and dignitaries packed St. George’s Church Hall in Ramsgate on the evening of Tuesday 12th April, to mark the commissioning of Stuart Budden and Debbie Ellisdon as new ‘Community Mission Enablers’ in the parish. Following their successful work in establishing a café style church called Ignite in the parishes of St. Paul’s, Cliftonville in Margate, and St. Christopher’s in Newington, the pair are now set to listen to, and explore the needs of, the community in Ramsgate, with a view to creating a form of community hub for local residents.

The project is initially funded for the next three years and will also see Debbie and Stuart work to:

  • establish good relations with other local stakeholders in order to be able to provide resources for those needing advice and support
  • share the Christian faith through prayer groups and Bible study groups
  • develop local leadership and engagement from the local residents

The Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, led the commissioning, and spoke about how the journey they were about to embark upon was one of trying to listen to the ‘heartbeat of God’: “This development is not critical for the church, but rather it is critical for God and for the community. For too long we have perhaps thought, what should we do with St. George’s? But now it is perhaps time to turn that question on its head and say, what can St. George’s do for the work of God and for the people of Ramsgate?”

The service took place in the church hall which the Bishop said was significant, as it was the site of the old soup kitchen which ran up until the Second World War and was a recognised part of St. George’s history: “It is said that people came in through one door and received a welcome, not as someone who was poor or deprived, but as an equal person in the eyes of God. They would leave through another door nourished and strengthened. May that be the experience of those who attend this place through the work of Debbie and Stuart.”

The Mayor of Ramsgate, Cllr Trevor Shonk, attended the commissioning accompanied by the Mayoress, Mrs Mandy Shonk. He said he was delighted to welcome Debbie and Stuart to the town: “I have a long established relationship with St. George’s Church and so I am very pleased to be here tonight to support the work that Debbie and Stuart hope to establish here in Ramsgate, which I am sure will be of great benefit to the wider community.”

Reverend Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, Director of the Diocese of Canterbury’s Communities and Partnerships Framework which will support Debbie and Stuart, said that it was exciting to see the new Mission Enablers finally on the ground: “Due to their involvement in other areas like Margate and Newington, local Police Community Support Officers and other stakeholders have really seen the impact that low-level mission can have and how it can develop into a much larger piece of community engagement. It’s why they have suggested that Ramsgate might benefit from a similar activity and so we’re really excited that Stuart and Debbie are finally here and what might develop.”


Notes to Editors:

Photos show:

  • Stuart Budden receives a blessing from the Bishop
  • Stuart Budden and Debbie Ellisdon affirm their commitment to their new roles in front of Bishop Trevor
  • (Left to right) Mayor of Ramsgate Trevor Shonk with Mayoress Mrs Mandy Shonk welcome ‘Community Mission Enablers’ Stuart Budden and Debbie Ellisdon, along with Canon Caroline Pinchbeck from the Diocese of Canterbury
  • Debbie Ellisdon has worked in Thanet with her husband Patrick since 2001. Debbie has been involved in a number of local projects using her skills as a trained counsellor. She is a director and chairperson of Thanet Food Link which was set up in 2013
  • Debbie feels that the new Ramsgate project is a real privilege to be involved with and feels God has been calling her to work in the town for some time. She feels that this new project is an exciting opportunity to build new relationships and serve the community.
  • Stuart Budden has also been involved in a number of mission projects. In 2001 while living in France, he began the Monday Club which is still running and has over 100 members. On return to England he became involved in the London Christian Taxi drivers Association, which encourages people to talk about their faith
  • Since Stuart’s arrival in Thanet in 2010 he has been involved in the Thanet Kidz Club, Community pastors, Pub ministry and has been a mentor with Porchlight and a Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer.  Stuart was commissioned as a Church Army Captain in 2014. He is a looking forward to working and partnering with other ministries in the town.
  • St George’s Church has been identified by the local Deanery as being one of the most central and accessible locations to people in the town, making it a suitable place for the work of the Community Mission Enablers.  St. George’s is an iconic building in the town, mainly because it was built by public subscription by the people of Ramsgate; it’s been at the heart of the community since it opened in 1827.
  • The Deanery recognised that the parish has limited capacity due to the size and age its congregation and though it is well connected and regarded in the wider community, would welcome the involvement of the two new officers. The Deanery has asked the Diocese’s Communities and Partnerships Framework to offer administrative support and guidance to the PCC in their application and fulfilment of the project.