The new Church was run as a ‘daughter’ Church of St James’ Church and, in fact, was part of a Tunbridge Wells parish called St James with St Philip, which was the largest parish in the Rochester Diocese.The Church didn’t have its own Vicar; it was staffed by a Priest-in-Charge, who reported to a Parish Rector. Perhaps, you might remember one or two of the Priests who have served you? (See left for some helpful hints!)
As time went on and the Church gained its own congregation and identity in the growing community of Sherwood,as it was then, it increasingly became clear that it would need its own identity. In October 1981, St James’ Church Centre was renamed 'St Philip the Evangelist’, a name it retains to this day. Between 1985 and 1987 the SPACE Project - St. Philips Action to Care for Everyone - saw extension to the Church building including adding a day centre, kitchen, chapel, offices, meeting rooms and toilets.
As the identity of the Church developed, its status was changed, and in 1997 St Philip's Church became a Team ministry with St James. The Team ministry was led by a Team Rector, based at St James, with a Team Vicar based at St Philip's.
The Church continued to develop and in April, 2004 St Philip’s formally set up a Ministry Leadership Team and on August 1, 2004 separate parishes of St Philip the Evangelist, and St James were created. This was a big moment for the church – a real recognition that the area we serve should have its own parish church and that St Philip’s could stand on its own two feet. The Team Vicar appointed in 1998, Revd Brian Senior, took over the post of Vicar of St Philip’s in 2004 – a post he is delighted to take forward into the Church’s second decade. He was joined in 2012 by Revd Simon Taylor, who, following his ordination in September this year, becomes the latest priest to join the St Philip’s clergy team.
Residents of the local communities may also remember seeing some extensive building work to the front of the Church, taking place in November, 2010. This work has redeveloped the chancel (roadside front) area. The flat roof of the chancel has been replaced with an apex roof to allow the incorporation of three stained glass windows and the external cross has been relocated to the wall adjacent to the chancel. Completed in February, 2011, this work has completely transformed both the external and internal appearances of the building.
The stained glass window in the chapel is by Judy Hill and in the window God's Grace radiates from the Cross of Jesus into Creation in the fire of the Spirit and the water of Baptism.
The stained glass windows in the chancel were designed and made by Isobel Ackary and incorporate ancient symbols for the Trinity into a modern design with each window having a Trinitarian theme.
Each of these windows brings wonderfully uplifting colours and shafts of light into the church on a sunny day. Why not come and join us one Sunday and see for yourself? Services run each Sunday at 8am and 10am, and you are most welcome to come.