Meet the newly appointed songwriting team rector of Emmanuel Church, Northampton

Reverend, Haydon Spenceley.

Reverend, Haydon Spenceley.

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A singing and songwriting Reverend, who is seeking to encourage greater participation in the leadership of churches by welcoming people with disabilities, has been newly appointed as a team rector in Northampton.

Reverend Haydon Spenceley, 32, of Little Billing served as an assistant curate for three years at the Weston Favell church, starting on the job training in 2014.

Prior to training for ordination, Haydon worked as an intern at St Giles Church in the town.

He said: "I am excited to have begun this new role but I am mildly daunted watching my hair change colour and recede at an increasing pace.

"I hope to continue the good work done in the Emmanuel Group over almost 43 years in drawing people together around the core values of faith in Jesus, being a beacon of light to the community and Emmanuel being a home and a place of welcome and hope for all."

Haydon is also part of the Church of England Disability Task Group, which seeks to encourage greater participation in and leadership of churches by welcoming people with disabilities.

The team rector has Cerebral Palsy, which affects him in various ways including necessitating the need to use a manual wheelchair permanently.

He said: "I would blame my Cerebral Palsy for my terrible sense of humour but sadly I have to take full responsibility for that myself.

"I write regularly on faith, music and disability for various organisations and websites and have been a Northampton Town season ticket holder since 1991 and was formerly a national junior record holder in the 100m backstroke, but I've eaten quite a lot since then, sadly."

In his spare time, the Reverend has also been touring and recording musician for several years with various bands and his most recent album, Mirrors, was released under his own name in 2013.

The Emmanuel Group of Churches is one of the "key points" of gathering and community building in the Eastern District of Northampton, with offices and a coffee shop situated in the Weston Favell Shopping Centre.

As well as meeting in the centre, the parish has around 34,000 people living in it, including nine schools and the Booth Lane Campus of Northampton College.

The group has congregations in Boothville (which meets in Boothville Community Hall) and Rectory Farm (which meets in Rectory Farm Primary School) as well as a monthly 'Messy Church' for families, which meets in the church's sports hall.

The sports hall is a community space, regularly used by various groups for sports and leisure activities, which was recently revamped by staff at the Weston Favell Shopping Centre who redecorated the hall as part of a charitable initiative.

"The church also runs a weekly foodbank distribution service in partnership with Spencer Bridge Foodbank under the Trussell Trust, which serves a varying, but an alarmingly large number of clients who receive enough food for three days," he says.

"They can receive this three times in a six-month period."

Sunday services take place at 10.30am with a midweek communion service on Wednesdays at 1.30pm.