A FORMER researcher with BRMB and Radio WM has been chosen as the new Church Warden at St Stephen’s in the town centre.
Elaine Whitfield takes over from the retiring Keith Abbotts and joins Bethan Cramer in the role of supporting town centre chaplain and vicar Paul Lawlor and ‘keeping order’ during services.
Elaine has been the driving force the ‘Church on the Green’ project, an initiative to open up St Stephen’s to all local residents and bringing hundreds of people to concerts, talks and shows at the church.
“The whole idea of the Church on the Green was to make it more accessible to the community,” said the long-term Redditch resident.
And she says you don’t have to be ‘religious’ to go in.
“Whether or not people go regularly to church, if there is something happening in their lives, whether happy or sad, people will come down, and that’s good. Coming to this church is like being given a great big warm hug.”
Elaine started at Radio WM in the 1970s, working as a researcher on their consumer programmes before moving to BRMB.
And she’s made good use of the contacts she’s forged over the years to bring major names – like saxophonist Julian Smith – to play at the Church on the Green.
She first got involved with St Stephen’s two-and-a-half years ago when both her parents passed away.
“Paul (Lawlor, vicar of St Stephen’s) and the Church held me and looked after me and became like a second family to me and I will always be grateful to them,” she said.
Church wardens are the Bishop’s representatives and must be prepared to step in and take over a service if sickness strikes.
“You don’t apply to become a church warden, you are asked by members of the congregation to stand and when I was asked no one was more surprised than me, but also delighted,” said Elaine.