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News Community priest heads north

FORMER street pastor, the Rev Jackie Cray is leaving for North Yorkshire after six years as parish priest of St Faith’s Church, Maid- stone.

Along with her husband, former Bishop of Maidstone Graham Cray (67), Jackie (65) will be heading for the hills when she retires from the ministry at the end of April. Although raised in Gillingham,

where the pair met and married more than 40 years ago, itwas dur- ing their 17 years in York that the Crays really put down their roots and made many life-long friends. The couple, who currently live in Harrietsham, have bought a cot- tage near Pickering, from where Graham will almost certainly con- tinue to write and teach. The couple came to Kent from Cambridge, where Graham was principal of a theological college and, at the time, Jackie was the Church Pastoral Aid Society’s na- tional consultant for work with families and under 5s. A former teacher, she was only ordained 10 years ago, when the subject of women priests was still something of a hot potato. Jackie has been an ardentworker with the Ringlestone mums and

toddler group and has been spear- heading fundraising for a new community centre. After many months of meetings,

she was thrilled to see the Fremlin Walk chaplaincy set up in Decem- ber, and is now one of six clergy who work on a rota system to visit the 45 retail units and offer a drop- in service once aweek at the House of Fraser coffee shop, for shop- keepers, staff, security staff, clean- ers – and anyone else involved with FremlinWalk. Jackie said: “Times are tough and

there is a lot of insecurity around, whether it be financial or job-re- lated. Sometimes, it just helps that we are there for managers to say ‘It’s been a tough week’.” Jackie was also instrumental in setting up the churches’ night shel- ter scheme for the homeless this winter, which she says she would definitely do again. Jackiewas chair of the street pas-

tors for four years, until six months ago, and a keen supporter of the Urban Blue bus. The move to Yorkshire will mean

the couple are just two hours – by car or train – from each of their two daughters, one a station manager for London Underground and the

Jackie Cray, centre, with the Ringle- stone mother and toddlers group

other a social worker in Notting- ham. But it will also put them within striking distance of York, a city they both love – and potentially closer to God on those wild and inspira- tional Yorkshire moors. Jackie, a former president of the Scripture Union Council for Eng- land, said: “I am going to take a ‘sabbatical’ for six months and then see what God has in store for me.” Moving into a rural community

where the vicar has six churches to manage, one can only imagine.

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JACKIE’S face is probably better known around the town than that of her husband, although he held the more senior role of Bishop of Maidstone for nine years. He was then promoted by the Diocese to work as an Arch- bishop’s missioner, to promote the Church of England and its Fresh Expressions programme. The approach has seen churches

set up in coffee bars, skate parks – even beaches. Jackie has even started a “café service” in Ringle- stone once amonth.

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