Life at Christ Church: 1991 to 2006

Life at Christ Church: 1991 to 2006

Tricky years

The 1990s were tricky years for evangelical Christianity as significant divisions opened up within the Church of England over the ministry of women following decision in 1992 to ordain them as priests. A more subtle division also emerged between those who believed the gospel should be proclaimed in a similar manner to previous generations and those who believed a changing culture necessitated a different approach. These differences also affected Christ Church, but the continuing drive, energy and commitment of clergy and congregations meant that Christ Church continued to thrive.

Korean ministry

A significant social change in New Malden which accelerated during the 1990s was the growth of its Korean population. Many Korean language services developed in New Malden but Stewart Downey’s vision for a more integrated approach led to the appointment of Seok Hee Lee as Korean minister at Christ Church from 2002-2007. The photo below shows Stewart and Seok Hee on the Good Friday Walk of Witness in 2003.


There were four curates who served at Christ Church during this period.  First was Graham Wintle (1989-92).  He was succeeded by Nigel Genders (1992-1995), who later went on to become the Church of England's Chief Education Officer.  Nigel was followed by Steve Benoy (1996-2002) - seen in the wedding photo of Iain and Jo Gutteridge below - and Stephen Kuhrt (2003-7), seen in typical guise below.


A key development spearheaded by Christ Church, and particularly its curate Steve Benoy around 1998-2000, was Oxygen – a youth project based at St Peter’s Norbiton.

Oxygen is supported by most of the churches in the Kingston area and seeks to share the love of God with young people outside the church. Under the direction of Richard James and later John Trend, Oxygen has used many pioneering approaches to do this.

New Start Service

Another major development was the introduction of the New Start service in January 2000 (the forerunner of the current 9.30 service). The aim of New Start was to remove all the cultural obstacles stopping people coming to church and then faith in Jesus Christ. Within a relatively short amount of time it led to exciting growth and vast amounts of young families, in particular, coming to Christ Church. The legacy of New Start is still very much with us today.


A significant development during this period was the election of Carolyn Lucas in 2003 to be the first woman Churchwarden at Christ Church. The picture below shows Carolyn with fellow Churchwarden Trevor Webster.

Since that point there has always been a man and woman occupying these key roles.

Services in the Lounge

During the re-ordering of the church in the interregnum (see Building Christ Church: 1991 to 2006), our services were held in the Lounge, as shown in the photo below.

FUN Committee

A surprise 65th birthday party for Stewart Downey in November 2003 ignited a desire for more social events at Christ Church.

This led to the formation of FUNC (the Friendship Unlimited Now Committee) from 2004 to plan such events and bring the church closer together.  The photos below are from a Church Picnic organised by FUNC in 2004 - being actually held in the upstairs of the Parish Halls because of poor weather! 

A Church Picnic in Richmond Park in 2006 enjoyed better weather.

Weddings at Christ Church

Weddings at Christ Church during this time included that of Jon and Helen Cook in 1994, pictured below.

Another wedding was that of Iain and Jo Gutteridge in 1999, shown below with Stewart Downey and Steve Benoy, who was curate at the time.

Snow at CCNM

Also dating from this era is the festive scene below.

Life at CCNM 1976-90 Building CCNM 1991-2006 Life at CCNM 2007-present