History of St Francis Church, Shoreham By Sea

The Church of St Francis Shoreham-by-Sea exists under the denominational flag of the Free Church of England, established in the year 1863.  St Francis was planted on 14th October 2012 by our Minister the Reverend Gerald Kirsch.

On Sunday 23rd June 2013 The Free Church Of England celebrated its historic anniversary on with a special service to be used throughout our country and Europe and the Americas, all singing from the same hymn sheet as it were.  The Church is actually much older than that, having come into existence when Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, on behalf of her churches, dissented under the Toleration Act of 1689. (The Toleration Act was brought in by the Government to allow people to start up new church denominations that were not giving allegiance to the Church of England and the Head of the Church, the reigning monarch.  Hitherto, the law provided that such extremists would face prosecution.) Her churches then continued under her name, being known as The Countess’s Churches.

Shortly after the Countess’s death, the Churches had a number of congregations who began to embrace the Congregational style of church and churchmanship whilst others remained faithful to the Countess, her Anglicism and her Episcopal and liturgical Church. The two groupings existed together under the name of the Countess for many years but 150 years ago, the two groups finally split and those remaining true to the Countess and her Anglican tradition did, through the Consistory Court, become The Free Church of England, and the other, the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion.

The Free Church of England, otherwise known as The Reformed Episcopal Church, has on its logo the words “Holding onto the Faithful Word” and for the last 150 years, we have faithfully and quietly held dear to our evangelical roots.

As mentioned earlier, we planted in October 2012 and have been a growing congregation since, witnessing the Good News of Jesus Christ around our local community.  Our Cafe Church Sunday, held on the 4th Sunday of the month, is proving to be popular. We use the Milward Court Day Centre in Wilmot Road Shoreham, meeting at 9am on the first Sunday of the month, then each following Sunday at 10:30am.

We still consider ourselves a fledgling congregation and we still need to recruit a voluntary organist, so if God is calling you to ministry in this respect, we would love you to make contact with us.  Our Minister the Reverend Gerald Kirsch is an NSM (Non Stipendiary Minister); for those not familiar with the term, he doesn’t get paid!

On Sunday 16th June 2013 we had a Bishop’s Visitation, Rt Revd Bishop Paul Hunt, who formally recognised us as a constituent church of The Free Church of England. At the same time Rt Revd Bishop Paul Hunt licensed Mr Michael Blades as a Reader. This was followed by a special lunch, and a coach trip to watch the passion play at Shoreham Fort sponsored by Shoreham Churches Together, making a fitting end to a very important day for us.

On 5th April 2014, Reader Mr Michael Blades was ordained as a Deacon of The Free Church of England by the Rt Revd Bishop Paul Hunt at the Church of St Mary De Haura in Shoreham. It was well attended by both friends and clergy.

On the 21st March 2015 Revd Deacon Michael Blades was ordained into the Presbyteriate and now has the title of The Revd Michael Blades. The service was held at St Francis and was lead by the Rt Revd Bishop Paul Hunt, assisted by the Revd Gerald Kirsch and other memebers of the clergy.

On the 12th February 2016 further history was made here at St Francis, as for the very first time the Southern Diocesan Synod met in Sussex. Some 39 delegates of both Clergy & Lay were in attendance.

Fr. Gerald retired on 29th January 2019, Fr Michael led the Ministry since, until September 2020 when he also retired.

Upon request of the PCC, Fr Gerald is once again leading the services until further notice.