This page is about the circuit's current staff. You can find out which ministers have been appointed to the circuit (and its predecessors) from 1815 to the present day. There is a checklist in Our Circuit's History.
Sonia worked as a Bank Clerk for four and a half years before training for the Methodist ministry at Queen's Theological College, Birmingham. Sonia and her husband Conrad (who is also a Methodist minister) were then stationed to the High Wycombe Circuit for two years followed by four years in the Watford Circuit.
In 1998, the family went to serve in the Jamaica District of the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas. Having job-shared whilst in the UK, both were appointed as Superintendents in neighbouring circuits. Sonia was assigned to the Manchioneal Circuit with pastoral charge of five rural congregations.
After five years, Sonia and her family moved to Ireland where they spent nine years working in the Dublin North Circuit in the Republic of Ireland.
Sonia and Conrad have three adult children: Nathan, Olivia and Nyasha. Nathan is currently working as a Special Needs Assistant in an East London primary school. Olivia has just completed a Masters in Comics at Dundee University. Nyasha will be completing her Modern Languages degree course at Birmingham University having had her year abroad in France and Japan.
Conrad is presently stationed in the Hants Surrey Borders Circuit as well as serving as one of the Assistant Chairs of the South-East District.
Sonia is the Superintendent Minister with pastoral charge for Ledger's Road, Burnham and Cookham Rise Churches.
Gary, Vicky and Sarah came to Maidenhead — and to the Thames Valley Circuit — after seven years in what the Chair of District called the "leafy lanes of Kent". (Sarah, of course, remembers only two of those seven years — the two in which she was Head of the Homewood household!) In his last appointment Gary had charge of six churches and seven congregations with chapels as much as twenty miles apart. The roads were indeed mostly leafy, but traffic reduced to the speed of the slowest tractor is actually on a par with the M4 for the banishment of peace of mind and punctuality!
Gary trained for the Presbyteral Ministry at S.T.E.T.S. (Southern Theological Education Training Scheme), based at Sarum College in Salisbury, where, throughout the three years of the course, he worked and studied alongside both Anglican and U.R.C. students.
In a much more dim and distant past, Gary worked for the National Health Service in his home town of Brighton, and it was at this time, when he and Vicky attended Patcham Methodist Church, that they penned, produced, directed and starred in the most notorious of their pantomimes (see Crimewatch for details), and also produced shows like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Godspell (in which Gary played God … for the only time in his life). And, no, you do not ever ask Gary to sing!
Meanwhile Vicky is far the more sensible half of the team. A Welsh-born life-long Methodist, she has variously been a Lay Worker and a Youth Worker for the Methodist Church, and most recently she was Head of Religious Education and Head of Upper School at Kent College, Pembury, one of a number of schools actually owned by the Methodist Church. Vicky is also a Local Preacher.
Sarah Carenza Homewood, arrived on 6 September 2008, and Gary had the great joy of baptizing her on her first birthday at Headcorn Methodist Church (Kent), where, in 1887, Gary's grandfather had been baptized.
Although originally appointed for five years to minister in the Thames Valley Circuit, finishing in August 2015, Gary agreed to extend his appointment to 2017. He continues to have pastoral care of both High Street Maidenhead and St Mark's Crescent Churches, and, from September 2015, also has a measure of pastoral oversight of Woodlands Park, working alongside Deacon Andy Packer.
The rest of his time promises to be well filled with the challenges of Gary's ministry to three churches, two of which will be pursing major building projects, and one of which hosts a winter night shelter for the homeless. Gary will also continue to support and value the work of Churches Together in Maidenhead and the Windsor & Maidenhead Community Forum, whose annual faith gathering is hosted by St Mark's.
Gary is also a member of the District Candidating Committee.
Gary continues to produce highly original worship material, and more recently he has branched out into secular literature with his first novel, called UP, published in 2014.
Fortunately, Gary will be relieved of many of his domestic duties in the future — as Sarah is clearly preparing to take on the mantle of Head of the Homewood Household. Gary's wife, Vicky, continues to do all the real work, and Gary does (mostly!) as he's told. So, no major changes anticipated there …
Margaret worked as a teacher first in Guildford and then Thanet between 1978 and 2002, finishing as Head of Faculty. This time included seven years in Whitstable as a full-time Youth and Community Worker, and as leader of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme in the area.
Through school and youth work, she qualified as a badminton coach and later as a fencing coach! After a career break to enable her to care for her mother, she returned to teaching in 2007, this time in a secure training centre.
Margaret is single with one surviving sibling. She and her sister Jennifer are both religious historians who share a lot of interests including a love of Guiding and for visiting Malta, which is an annual activity.
A lifelong Methodist, Margaret has held many posts in her various local churches and circuits, plus a time as District Secretary for worship among young people. Margaret has wide ecumenical experience, and has been heavily involved in leading and working in ecumenical youth projects. She has worked in town and city chaplaincy, and provided pastoral care in schools. After responding to the call to become a minister, she trained for the Methodist ministry at Wesley House in Cambridge. Margaret completed her training while in the Thames Valley Circuit, and was ordained and welcomed into full connexion at the Methodist Conference in Birmingham in 2014 (see the July / August 2014 Smaller Churches Newsletter — pdf download).
Her hobbies include playing the keyboard and "prayerful painting" (which uses art and creativity for healing). Since coming to the Thames Valley she has joined the Trefoil Guild and enjoys regular Guiding activities.
Margaret has pastoral charge of the congregations at Windsor, Old Windsor, Eton Wick and Colnbrook & Poyle.
I am a Methodist presbyter. Before coming to the Thames Valley Circuit I served 10 years in the uniquely ecumenical Milton Keynes Circuit. There I looked after a variety of congregations and enjoyed getting to know the people. I find leading worship, teaching and pastoral work is a privilege, a great joy and a challenge which I relish. I took delight in working with others to shepherd some new expressions of church into being while in the Milton Keynes Circuit, including Cook at Chapel: a Fresh Expression of Church, an annual Blessing of Animals Service, Youth Movie Night, and Cross Purposes (an ecumenical youth-led congregation).
In 2005 I arrived in the UK with my husband, ready to serve for a year through the British American Methodist Programme (BAMP). I enjoyed the work of ministry and as we felt fulfilled by our lives here, we chose to stay in the UK. In 2008 I was ordained and welcomed into full connexion at The Methodist Conference in Scarborough. There are many things I appreciate about the (British) Methodist Church and chief among them is the teamwork style of ministry to which both lay people and clergy contribute.
As a child growing up in the metropolitan Los Angeles area, I followed my parents and grandparents in attending the First United Methodist Church of La Puente. It was there as a youth that I started taking on leadership roles, serving as the Youth Leader when I was still in secondary school. I studied Anthropology at University and, after graduating, joined the Mission Intern Programme of the United Methodist Church, where I served for three years in social justice organisations in two settings unfamiliar to me — Hong Kong and Gainesville, Georgia, USA. After this I spent some time as a faith-based community organiser with local NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and then went to seminary at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
My life-long interest in cultures and travel served me well when adjusting to life in the UK. Though we (mostly) speak a common language there have been many cultural adjustments, but I like to celebrate our God-given diversity.
Life has changed a lot for Ted and me since we arrived with two suitcases each at Heathrow airport. We now have two children, Morgan aged 5 (when we came to the Thames Valley) and Cyrus aged 3, who keep us busy but amused. Ted is a secondary school maths teacher. In our free time we enjoy activities with our family. The adults in the family share a great fondness for Radio 4, though the kids prefer music. I especially enjoy cooking and creative crafts where I get to get my hands messy alongside my children. When I have time to myself I enjoy reading, knitting, photography and I came into the circuit looking forward to setting up my new wood turning lathe at the manse before my appointment started on 1st September 2015!
Rev Melinda (Mindy) Bell has pastoral responsibility for the Slough churches of St Andrew's and Hampshire Avenue.
Andy was born in Okehampton (Devon) where he spent the first 30 years of his life. His father was a carpenter and both grandfathers were farmers, hence his love of being outdoors. He is married to Lynn and they have two daughters, Leanne and Maxine. Lynn (in Andy's words "the better half of our partnership") was born in Rainham (Essex). In 1983/4 she spent a year at Cliff College before training in Family and Community Care in Plymouth.
Andy's career includes working as a Builder's Labourer (while learning a few skills), as a Cheese Factory Operative, and for ten years at a Builder's Merchants where he qualified as a Wood Machinist ... and a few other things!
In 1992 he left his beloved Okehampton and Dartmoor and trained for the Diaconal Ministry at Westhill and Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham. He came to the Thames Valley after completing ten years in the Peterborough Circuit after previous appointments in Telford (Shropshire) and Bristol.
Andy was brought up in a strong Methodist tradition. However, his involvement with a number of denominations over the years has emphasised for him the importance of being "Christian". He has been involved with youth, schools, Chaplaincy, community, outreach, all with a strong ecumenical basis.
Andy describes himself as easy-going, friendly, open, reflective, someone who enjoys meeting people and always ready for a laugh. He loves the "great outdoors" including walking, photography and bird-watching. He loves watching sport when possible, especially rugby union and cricket. He is also a follower of Man U.
Andy is concentrating his efforts on outreach in the community. Initially this was in the Chalvey and Manor Park areas of Slough, but has now been extended to include other parts of the circuit — in particular Woodlands Park, where he is working alongside Gary.