Skegness’ new vicar is not a man to mess with - and that advice comes from the Bishop of Lincoln.
Professional Jujitsu instructor the Rev Richard Holden has been welcomed into the post which has been vacant for 22 months since the Rev Malcolm France left.
St Matthew’s Church was packed for his institution and induction on Thursday night – with a coach load of supporters from his last parishes in Old Clee.
Bishop of Lincoln the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson told the congregation: “Richard comes to us with an interesting and varied career.
“Like my own father he was a merchant navy officer, and then he went to manage Woolworths in Scarbrough and was amongst other things a van driver for the Yorkshire Post. But the thing that worries me most is that he is a professional martial arts instructor.
“My advice is be very careful. Jujitsu 4th Dan - trust me do not try what that means. He was graded 3rd Dan by the Prime Minister of Japan – how many clergy can say that?”
As well as St Matthew’s, Mr Holden will be in charge of St Clement in Skegness, St Mary in Winthorpe, St Peter and St Paul in Ingoldmells and St Nicholas in Addlethorpe.
Members had contributed to a celebration buffet to which civic guests were also invited after the service.
Before the service, the Bishop told The Standard: “When I first came to Skegness I could see the vicar was more than a priest here – he was an important part of the community. He comes from a seaside community and will fit in very well here.”
Three regular members of the congregation were among many who agreed with him.
Brenda Walsh sits on the front pew at every service with friend Diane Smith. She said: “We met though personal tragedy and the church is like an extended family to us.
“It’s very exciting to have our own vicar after such a long time.
“We are looking forward to him bringing something new. He is an important part of the community.”
Diane added: “We’ve had some really good people looking after the church for us.”
Stewart White head has been a church warden for the past three years. He said: “I was once a ruffian and then found the church.
“I can’t tell you how important this is.”
Mr Holden said after the service: “I’ve been at the seaside most of my life – so I’m looking forward to working here.”